Murder, Inc. is finally back.

By Marc Snetiker
March 23, 2015 at 07:31 PM EDT
Mitch Haaseth/ABC
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SAM, DO NOT LIE TO ME. I know you forgot what happened on How to Get Away with Murder. You and that little slut Lila, I know you binged Transparent and Black Mirror over winter break and forgot what went down in the midseason finale. Sam, do NOT lie to me. I know you don’t remember that you attacked Rebecca and Michaela knocked you over the stairs and Wes cracked your skull with the Lady Justice statue. Kill me, damn it, but don’t you DARE LIE TO ME SAMUEL!! I know you forgot that right after you died, Wes went back to the house to get the trophy and apologized—APOLOGIZED!—to your cheating ass! And I was there! I left but I came back, you J.Crew-looking piece of trash, and I heard Wes say he’s sorry and I said, “Don’t be.” AND THEN WE TOOK TEN WEEKS OFF! DON’T LIE TO ME SAM! THIS IS UNFORGIVABLE!!! DO NOT LIE TO ME!!!

*scene*

Sooo, we’re back. Welcome! If you’re just joining us in this crazy burrito bowl we call #TGIT, welcome back to the investigation! Or, what’s left of the investigation. Because let’s remember: Sam is dead. And Wes killed him. And it’s probably accurate to say that Sam killed Lila Stangard, lest the first nine episodes of the best guilty pleasure you’ve ever witnessed stand for absolutely nothing. There’s not much investigating left! Just two birds, one bloody statuette of Tilda Swinton (which is missing its scales, by the way), and a giant pool of blood that the kids of Murder, Inc. had to Swiffer the shit away before the cops arrived the following morning.

No, we’ve moved on from investigating who killed whom and how and why and who they’re wearing and why it’s an honor just to be nominated. Now, part two of the first season of How to Get Away with Murder is all about the clean-up. The consequences. The cover-up. The metaphorical Purell of it all.

A QUICK REMINDER OF WHAT EVERYBODY DID AFTER THE MURDER:

Connor took hyperventilating refuge at Oliver’s, but lied that he was simply high and has a drug addiction; Laurel took the bleached murder weapon to Frank, claiming she stole it from Asher and needed Frank to replace it; Michaela, having lost her engagement ring, signed the pre-nup for her future mother-in-law; a spurned Bonnie ejaculated her sadness away at Asher’s apartment; and Wes destroyed the USB drive of Generic Incriminating Villain Data in Rebecca’s hotel room, lest the evidence place them at the scene of the crime.

In fact, the scene of the crime is all anybody can talk about. And it’s where we begin.

In police interrogation, Annalise recounts a false story about returning home from their fight and discovering Sam was missing. In reality, we see Annalise discovering Sam is dead before we find out what Annalise said to Wes immediately after the “Don’t be” heard ‘round the world.

Wes explains what happened and why he killed Sam, and Annalise confirms what plenty of recap commenters have been saying for months. “You listen to me closely and do exactly as I tell you,” she says, proving that every decision Wes made on the Night of the Flying Cheerleader was based on her advice of, YOU GUESSED IT, how to get away with muuurder. “Remove the body. He cannot stay here. Your DNA is under his nails, on his skin. So the only way to get rid of it is to burn the body. Then you need to get rid of the remains.” (Cue: A flashback/flashforward/flashsideways/Grant Gustin to Wes manipulating the coin toss and following all of her instructions in the woods and beyond.)

But Wes is concerned about Annalise’s part in all of this, since she’ll take the blame if the police ever find out she was present. “I’ll take care of myself,” she insists, and that’s when we see flashes of what she did that night: sleeping with Nate, calling Bonnie in a scared frenzy, leaving a conciliatory voicemail on Sam’s phone. They all appear to be things she did to cover her bases and establish an alibi, although I’m still thrown by the timing of the Nate visit. (Surely she actually did visit Nate before she discovered Sam’s body? Or did she just wait in the car for an hour or two listening to smooth jazz and B*Witched?)

Either way, Annalise has set up her own set of pawns to eliminate her liability—because the scorned wife is always the first suspect, as we learned from the pilot episode. Annalise insists that Wes take necessary charge of the rest of the students, but he can’t tell them that she’s involved. Annalise insists that the kids, including Rebecca, can know as little as possible about her involvement. When Wes starts to cry, she comforts him in a much more maternal, much less Mary Kay LeTourneau way than the pilot. She tells him everything will be all right, and he gives her Sam’s wedding ring, which he salvaged before they disposed of the body.

From here on out, the name of the game is ACTING. Annalise needs to get everyone on board with her big lie, including:

Bonnie and Nate: Annalise has two pawns in place—Bonnie, to whom she made a frightened and thereby naïve phone call, and Nate, who let her Ariana his Grande in a moment of reconciliatory passion—so she’s got to keep them both close from here on out. For Bonnie, that means shutting her out of any personal conversation, which poor Bon-Bon is pretty used to by now, but Nate becomes doubtful of Annalise after he’s interrogated by the police (“I’m a cop, Annalise. You don’t think I can ignore the fact that you were with me at the same time that Sam went missing.”). But she does a swell job of quelling Nate’s suspicions and winning him back, thus keeping her alibis—both emotional and physical—in place.

The cops: The two interrogating detectives—let’s call them Mr. Brad and Mrs. Angelina—are already finding cracks in Annalise’s initial story. For one thing, Annalise keeps saying that Sam is “gone,” while Mr. Brad reminds her that he’s simply “missing.” I picked up on two lies that Mr. Brad provokes from Annalise, which could come back to haunt her: She says she found out about the affair that night and that she didn’t recognize Sam’s dickpic when it went public. Mrs. Angelina serves major arched-eyebrow-side-eye skepticism about everything, and rightly so—suggesting that maybe some of these lies will come back to bite Annalise somewhere down the line. Particularly, Annalise’s declaration that she didn’t recognize Sam’s dirty photo for Lila—which was broadcast all over TV like some kind of sexy state of the union, or sexier state of the union, depending on who you ask—is cause for worry.

Frank: When he delivers the DNA test that confirms Sam’s paternity of Lila’s baby, Annalise’s sheer happiness (that her suspicions were right) alerts Frank that something’s up. In a moment of decision, Annalise tells Frank everything, thus gaining an ally and bringing him into the fold, provided that he agrees to leave Bonnie in the dark. (Please, like that’ll last very long.)

D.A. Parks: The other naysayer to Annalise’s morning-after-mourning is the district attorney, who thinks Annalise’s 15-hour missing-persons case is a desperate attempt to detract suspicion from her client Rebecca and throw it onto another suspect, who just happens to be her now-vanished husband. (Because that’s not batshit crazy at all, right?) And so Parks chugs along with her plan to pin Lila’s murder on Rebecca and Lila’s ex-boyfriend Griffin.

So with all this madness going on about Sam’s disappearance, Rebecca’s trial is three days away, and in order to clear her client’s name, Annalise enlists Connor, Laurel, Michaela, Asher, and Wes to prove, finally, that Sam killed Lila.

Ohhhhh, I bet you want to talk about Connor, Laurel, and Michaela now, don’t you. Yeah, Sam, I know you do. You dirty, slimy douchebag. Let’s talk about it. DON’T YOU LIE TO ME, SAM, I’M DONE LOVING YOU.

NEXT: Murder, Inc. goes under the magnifying glass

On a bright, fresh Saturday morning, when Connor should be lazily cruising Humpr and Wes should be watching cartoons and Laurel should be trimming Frank’s beard hair and Michaela should be Instagramming brunch, the four students of Murder, Inc. are doing anything but their usual routines.

Outside on the Keating porch, suspicions are running wild about what the cops know about Sam’s disappearance—and what Annalise, who’s the first to be interrogated at the station, might be telling them. “What if one of us cracks!?” asks Connor, looking straight at Michaela because he’s rude like that. “Then the rest of us will pin everything on that person,” deadpans Laurel. “It’s four against one, so don’t even try it.” (And oh shit! I suddenly remember how much I love post-murder Laurel!)

And so they put it behind them, toiling away trying to study for exams AND clear Rebecca’s name AND implicate Sam’s, all the while letting the paranoia chip away at their fragile psyches. So, basically just regular college stress. But Connor is the first to fall victim to the paranoia—which is no surprise considering how manic he became on the murder night. Connor becomes convinced that Annalise is going to turn them all in, despite reassurance from Wes (who still hasn’t shared the secret with any of them, including Rebecca). When he approaches Michaela with a gasp-inducing sales pitch, we’re reminded of the snaky, selfish Connor Walsh we forgot we loved.

“No one else is thinking clearly about this except us,” he whispers to Michaela. “I think that we should go to the police and confess.” (Did you GASP!? Because I did and all my Pop Chips fell out of my mouth.) Connor’s got it all laid out: who to blame, how to absolve themselves of guilt, how to take a felony conviction and recover from the speedbump to save their future careers and still become lawyers. But Michaela, to her credit, doesn’t want to hear it… until her police interrogation goes horribly off plan.

Everyone in the Keating house has submitted to police inquiry, and their stories are somehow both sound and yet incredibly wobbly at the same time (although maybe that’s just me projecting my nervousness as every person’s interview makes me more and more tense). Everyone seems to stick to the consistent story of Wes’s study group-then-bonfire, but a few things emerge during the interrogations:

Wes admits that Rebecca is his girlfriend, which isn’t a huge deal but establishes a link between them that could be important in the future.

Laurel confesses that Sam Keating used to look at her sexually, which I’m not sure is entirely true but which helps aid their case nonetheless.

Asher reveals that Connor’s SUV was parked in the Keatings’ driveway, which is a HUGE implication that places them at the house despite none of the murderers factoring that into their story.

Michaela lies that all four drove to the bonfire in Connor’s SUV, which then forces her to quickly tell another lie about why they parked at the Keating house (thanks to Asher’s testimony).

Because of the unexpected SUV account, a very freaked-out Michaela approaches Connor, convinced that the police already know everything.

“You were right,” she says, getting on that Walshy wavelength. “Everything we did that night is defensible. Rebecca went to the house alone. When he attacked her, we were simply defending her, and after, we were suffering from PTSD.” Michaela also says she doesn’t care about Aidan—she’s reinvented herself before and can do it again. (Has Michaela Carmen Sandiego-ed herself in a former life?)

But Connor and Michaela agree that no matter how they move forward, they need Laurel on board, and they threaten to sell her out unless she agrees. She does, but she double-crosses them at the police department. The reason: Laurel made a fatal mistake in trying to cover their tracks with Frank, who confronted Laurel after Annalise told him everything that Laurel wouldn’t. So Laurel then approached Wes, and the result is a shocker when Annalise and Wes emerge from a car and stop Michaela and Connor from going through with their confession.

“Mr. Walsh, it doesn’t matter how I know, I just know,” says Annalise, holding Connor like she once held Wes. “I can give you a million reasons why this plan won’t go your way, or you can just trust me. Listen, you’re scared, I know. I understand. And what you’ve been through, there’s nothing more horrible. But listen, I don’t blame you. If I did, I would have turned you in the night that it happened. Let me help you. Let me help you. Because if you do, I promise, you will get away with this.”

And so, they’re all on the same page… at least for now. With no hard feelings, right? Michaela goes off to a wedding dress fitting, seemingly intent on forging ahead with her nuptials despite losing her engagement ring; Laurel tries to make amends with Kan, whom she unceremoniously ditched in favor of Frank; Wes returns to his apartment where Rebecca has a celebratory they-dropped-my-charges Christmas tree; and Connor goes to his interrogation, where he makes some general comments about Professor Keating not being as tough as she pretends to be. It’s Connor who ultimately vouches for Annalise’s character in all of this mess.

Annalise, meanwhile, returns to her home, where she stows Sam’s wedding ring and smells his pillows. And then the phone rings, and it’s Connor, who has just gotten out of his interrogation and overheard the cops meeting with one MARCIA GAY HARDEN, who’s arrived on the scene as Hannah Keating, Sam’s sister and Annalise’s sister-in-law. Annalise’s eyes widen. Hannah’s narrow.

And the countdown.

Is.

On.

NEXT: Rebecca’s freedom, Oliver’s cold shoulder, and MY THEORIES!

ANNALISE’S PIECES:

Rebecca’s charges have been dropped, and in a fun turn of events, it’s thanks to her own actions, not her law team’s. She’s the one who suggested that Lila’s trip to an abortion clinic may provide a motive for Sam, and sure enough, Annalise procures footage of an argument between Keating and Dead Girl Lila that results in a witness who can testify to Sam’s insistence that super-religious Lila get an abortion. It’s just circumstantial evidence, but it compels D.A. Parks to hand over Sam’s laptop, which then results in proof that Sam was at Lila’s sorority house for 20 minutes in the exact window when she was murdered. So Rebecca’s a free lady, and Annalise is now the heartless animal who turned in her own husband (whose disappearance is now hugely important rather than moderately).

When Annalise overhears two bitches chatting about her in the bathroom, she emerges with the ferocity of a tiger and the cold eyes of a Narnian witch. It’s breathtaking.

Oliver’s still pissed at Connor for his drug addiction, yet he’s still doing Connor’s dirty work! Why does Oliver continue to help Connor use illegal IT means to give him a legal leg up? The heart wants what it wants, even when what it wants is to bitch out your ex. Connor asks why “the one with the biceps” wasn’t at Oliver’s place, and Oliver sasses back, “You don’t get to ask me about who I’m dating right now.” The flirtation is there, though, underneath Oliver’s anger, and it’s only a matter of time before they rekindle their romance… but with the kiss-and-make-up, will there also be a real confession on Connor’s behalf?

Poor Asher. He’s a goofus looking for his gallant, and he thinks he’s found her in Bonnie, but icy Bonnie says that the fun they shared was a one-time offer. “You had fun. I was drunk and desperate.” Asher’s reaction alone is the reason why they shut down puppy mills.

A weird Michaela-Connor partnership emerged tonight, and even though they didn’t go through with their confession, their team-up resulted in a rare moment of compassion as Connor encouraged Michaela that “If Aidan doesn’t want to marry you, it just means there’s someone better around the corner.” Aww. If they end up literally killing each other at some point in this series, they’ll always have this random tender moment.

So Wes didn’t tell Rebecca about Annalise on the night of the murder, lying right to her face in bed. Rebecca is suspicious that something’s up after Annalise apologizes to her for not turning Sam into the police earlier, and so Rebecca’s eventual discovery could result in some kind of lovers’ spat, although Wes and Rebecca are obviously staying together since they’re just like that one couple you knew in high school that you didn’t really like but could still objectively agree are at least better together as a couple than intolerable separately.

Annalise teaches a class again! Remember when she used to do this? Oh, good times! (And in a jarringly on-the-nose assignment, the final exam asks the class to prove how four people who helped cover up one person’s murder could get away with it. Seems super random though, you know?)

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

As the rest of the season progresses, there are a few things that we might see happen. How long until the inconsistences of the Night of the Flying Cheerleader come into play? Think about the convenience store surveillance tape, the drunk couple in the woods, the campus cop, the bump into the doorframe, the dumpster with Sam’s remains… everything! What will come back to haunt Murder, Inc.?

Will another dead body suggest that maybe the real killer of Lila Stangard is still out there—and it wasn’t even Sam after all?

Will someone end up in jail, charged with Sam’s death? Or will they, like, literally get away with murder?

Will Connor tell Oliver, or Michaela tell Aidan, or Laurel tell Kan? When does a secret become so burdensome that a person can’t help but share it with their loved one?

If Viola Davis and Marcia Gay Harden get into a fistfight, can Lynn Whitfield please also get in on the action?

Above all, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see someone behind bars and someone six feet under by the season’s end. The death and destruction cannot simply end at Christmas!

Episode Recaps

Viola Davis stars as a law professor where she teaches, wait for it, how to get away with murder.
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