'How to Get Away With Murder' recap: Shot through the heart...
Annalise has a lot of fish to fry — numerous court cases, worrying about the governor and Xavier Castillo, and trying to protect the Keating Four. So it’s understandable that she’s not all that interested in dating — but that’s not gonna stop handsome lawyer Robert from giving it a shot, so when we start the episode off, he’s trying to woo her over the phone.
Annalise’s call quickly takes a more worrying turn when she fears she hears an intruder in her apartment. She takes a gun out of her safe and threatens the person jimmying the door, but it’s just a mixed-up woman looking for her Airbnb. Which has now officially made me terrified that I might get shot if I go to the wrong door while looking for my Airbnb. Thanks, How to Get Away With Murder writers.
Meanwhile, the Keating Four are actually being productive and installing security cameras in their home to protect themselves against the Castillos. Frank is trying to get his body back into sexy-times shape so what he looks hot when Bonnie decides she’s ready to get hot and heavy.
Back in class, Gabriel is holding court — because Annalise thinks his idea is the future of the criminal justice system. He brings Michaela up as an example, saying she has wronged him — and we see a flashback to her breaking up with a month prior. She insists it’s not because of Asher or her father, but because she’s going to graduate and move on and has no room for him in her future.
Asher is annoyed that Gabriel is using class time to vent his drama with Michaela. But he’s actually not. Gabriel explains the concept of restorative justice — a way to reconcile other than a criminal trial that involves a defendant facing the victim’s family in a public forum. He wants to try it with their current client, a school teacher who accidentally shot one of his students when he believed one of his students, Ryan, was going to attack him and his class.
The defendant wants to serve his full 25 years in prison; he doesn’t believe he deserves forgiveness because he shot an innocent teenager without actually ever seeing a weapon. But Gabriel convinces him to consider this unconventional approach where Ryan’s grandparents will be able to confront him — this way their tragedy can result in something meaningful for all parties.
First, they have to convince Ryan’s grandparents to agree to this approach. Gabriel suggests a faith angle, but Asher offers to get personal with his story of how avoidance after a tragedy tore his own family apart.
Annalise is perturbed to learn that Nate is Tegan’s new client and that Tegan intends to file a wrongful death suit naming the governor. She warns the governor will hit back and out things none of them want revealed (namely that Nate and Bonnie killed Miller, but Nate seems to think that won’t come out — is he delusional?). Nate called Bonnie in (in spite of her firing) because he wants her to help with the suit.
Nate is adamant the suit will be filed without Annalise’s approval, so she calls on “Bad Frank” to scare Tegan to prevent the suit from being filed. Primarily so that Bonnie and Nate won’t ever find out Miller was innocent.
Asher and Annalise visit Ryan’s grandparents. Asher encourages them to come and speak their anger, grief, and rage. But it’s Annalise’s argument that convinces them to try their approach. She insists a court case will lead to Ryan being raked over the coals as a dangerous outsider if they don’t opt for this course of action.
So, the case moves forward and a litany of students testify about the murder in the public forum. They defend their teacher, saying they thought when Ryan reached into his bag, he was pulling out a weapon. Calling Ryan a bully, they reveal he regularly joked about learning how to make a bomb. In their eyes, it was a terrible accident as a result of their teacher trying to protect them.
A fellow teacher also comes to defend David, but she lets it slip that what Ryan was pulling out was his phone — to show the class David’s dating profile on an app for men. It’s a Catholic high school, so he could be fired for his sexual identity. She wonders out loud if David shot Ryan to prevent anyone from finding out he is gay.
Annalise wants to know if there’s a secret sexual relationship at play here, but David insists no. Ryan merely saw him on the app while he was overseeing detention one day. But now he’s doubting himself — he doesn’t think he shot Ryan because of this, but perhaps some part of him did do it on purpose. Annalise puts the guilt-ridden David on suicide watch for the night.
The Keating Four squabble back at home, recalling all the various “straight” men Connor has convinced to sleep with him. But they’re most concerned with why this teacher feels more guilty for his actions of self-defense than they all do over real murder (<whispers> Because you’re all sociopaths, that’s why). Asher wants them to get all touchy-feely and discuss what happened. He still doesn’t know what they all did to Sam, and he’s tired of all the secrets.
But Gabriel is outside wanting to talk to Michaela. He misses having her support and someone to talk to. He’s fretting about the case and if he’s made David’s situation worse with his approach. She tells him to stop making it out about him. Which is just a reminder to him why he needs her in his life. Asher is watching out the window, hoping she’ll break Gabriel’s heart again. And she does — she’s pissed that he’s not respecting her wishes. She needs time for herself.
As Tegan leaves her office, she’s horrified to discover a USB drive taped to her steering wheel. It’s Frank’s dirty work, but she doesn’t know that. She takes it to Annalise and is frightened to find it’s full of surveillance photos of Cora. She knows it’s meant to scare her into silence — and it’s working.
Annalise applauds Frank for a job well done, but he says this wasn’t even Bad Frank. It was his best instincts because he’s protecting the love of his life — Bonnie. Ok, Frank, isn’t it a little soon to be calling her that? She’s not even all in on you, dude! And Annalise agrees — he’ll never have her approval because he’ll end up hurting Bonnie. But, what’s the point of fighting so hard to stay alive if they’re just gonna die alone? Annalise takes his reasonable question to heart and agrees to meet Robert for a date.
Tegan backs out of filing the suit and tells Nate. She admits the Castillos got to her and shows him the photos of Cora. There’s no winning with them, just more death and she doesn’t want Cora to get hurt.
Ryan’s grandparents are reluctant to continue with the restorative justice approach after the revelations about David’s sexuality. But Annalise opens up to them about understanding the pain of losing a child. And how much she’s craved an apology from the hit and run driver that took her baby’s life. This is their chance to get the apology she’ll never receive.
Gabriel wants to go all Dr. Phil on Annalise’s dead baby. He never knew, which surprises Annalise as she assumed his mother told him about it. He surmises the loss of their child is what soured her marriage to Sam. But Annalise shuts him down, accusing him of using this restorative justice approach as a way to exorcise his desire to confess his own guilt about killing his mother’s ex.
The grandparents say their piece to David. The grandfather wants to forgive him, but grandma not so much. She’s enraged she’s had to sit and listen to what she views as lies about Ryan when David was the one who brought a gun to a school. She castigates David for fearing and hating Ryan, rather than trying to help a troubled student. She hisses, “I’ll die suffering, but it’s you who should be suffering in jail for life. That might make me suffer a little less.” So, this lady has totally never heard of turning the other cheek then, right?
Finally, David gets his chance to apologize. He insists he doesn’t deserve forgiveness, but that Ryan did. He admits he had hate for Ryan in his heart because the student knew the secret that fueled his self-loathing. He let his hate take over, and that’s undeniably part of why he pulled the trigger. He wishes he could make their suffering his own. This show has had its ups and downs plot-wise, but I will miss how ably it can handle hot button issues like a school shooting with dignity and nuance on a weekly basis.
The case gets to Michaela, and she confesses to Gabriel that she actually did break up with him because she cheated on him with Asher. But there’s no time to discuss because the judge has a sentence. The judge ultimately sticks to the original terms of the plea deal, 25 years in jail. Gabriel believes the experiment failed, but Annalise insists the hearing and experiment in forgiveness and justice was a better use of tax dollars than any criminal trial that would’ve been argued in court.
Back in the hall, Gabriel tells Michaela he doesn’t care if she cheated. Asher throws that in his face, saying it’s proof that he doesn’t really love her. So, Gabriel throws a punch and the two are brawling in the hallway. Michaela is not here for the old school display of toxic masculinity. So when Gabriel calls to apologize later, she lets it go to voicemail and refuses to accept Asher’s in-person apology too. Asher admits he blacked out with rage and doesn’t even know what happened. That does not bode well for whatever is happening in the flash-forward.
Annalise finally makes good on her date night. Robert invited her for a quiet dinner at home, and though this show has conditioned me to expect this as a prelude to murder, it’s actually just a nice gesture. He gives her a speech about being in therapy, feeling unworthy, and wanting to share his love with her. She tells him he’s not ready for her — and that is probably the understatement of the year. But he keeps pushing, wanting her to let him get close. He asks her to dance, laughs when she immediately starts leading, and begs her to trust him.
Tegan is spinning out. She leaves a voicemail for Cora, trying to make sure she’s still alive. Then, she calls Annalise wanting to hang out, but of course, Annalise is dancing with her new beau.
Robert’s not the only one cooking dinner — Frank tries to do the same for Bonnie. But she ruins the mood with the revelation that she was at Nate’s working on the wrongful death suit. When Tegan backed out, she took over as Nate’s lawyer and insists they all can only move on by getting to the truth of what happened. Frank objects, but it’s too late. She’s already filed the suit with the governor’s name on it. Either the governor goes down or they do.
And it might just be Bonnie and friends going down. Because the governor immediately wants to know more about who Bonnie is upon receiving a copy of the suit. Of course, she’s asking Xavier Castillo, her favorite henchman, for the details. She wants everything they might possibly have on Bonnie. Xavier calls up his source in Philly, and oh, crap, it’s the woman who said she was lost looking for her Airbnb. It was a set-up all along to get her close to Annalise.
Back at home, Connor and Oliver are having a heart-to-heart. Connor admits he’s done terrible things he never told Oliver about. Oliver says he can tell him everything and he’ll never stop loving him. But he never expected Connor to admit he was the one who chopped up Sam’s body.
Oliver is stunned. But now he’s in the flash-forward, standing in shock in the lobby of the police station. Frank comes to retrieve him, but Oliver snaps and starts screaming, “I did it. I’m the murderer. Arrest me!” Ok, then Lady Macbeth.