'How to Get Away with Murder' recap: 'Mama's Here Now'
Annalise's mother pulls her out of depression, while Wes and Laurel discover the truth about Rudy.
There are a lot of reasons why a person might say the word “wet.” Perhaps he is complaining to a landlord about a leak. Maybe she is a party guest handing back a baby. Is he or she in a school production of The Miracle Worker? Is someone playing Taboo and trying to describe Waterworld? Or did this person say “wet” because, perhaps, he encountered his neighbor one dark August night, dripping with water (and maybe covered in blood?), and the shocking sight coupled with an unstable drug-addled mind was enough to make this person go so crazy that the mere mention of the girl and memory of that fateful night reduces them to a single syllable?
Did I confuse you? Let me say it this way: Rudy saw Rebecca dripping with water the night Lila Stangard was murdered in a water tank. I mean, I think he did.
It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots here—Rebecca Sutter, the on-again goth-again lover of Wes, has been lying. A lot. There are so many questions that rise from this major drenched development, borne from Wes and Laurel’s visit to the psychiatric hospital where Rebecca had Rudy committed the night of Lila’s murder. Here’s just a small appetizer platter going through my head:
- Did Rebecca kill Lila?
- Did she dump her body in the water tank?
- If she didn’t do the water tank dumping, did Griffin help her?
- Or did she try to rescue Lila from the water tank, but realized she was too late yet still got wet?
- Is this why Rebecca had Lila’s phone?
- Is that why Rebecca got into an argument with Griffin?
- Is this why Rebecca was a damn mess the first time we met her?
- Is that why we’ve frequently seen Rebecca wet throughout the season in various people’s showers? (Fact, look it up.)
- What else has Rebecca been lying about?
- ARE HER PIERCINGS EVEN REAL?
- And where does Rudy come in?
- What did he see?
- What did he hear?
- Why does he scratch?
- Did something bad happen in Rebecca’s apartment that created such horrific, murder-y sounds that poor Rudy went crazy and tried to scratch through the walls?
- Was Rudy also one of Rebecca’s drug dealers, a la Lila?
- Did Rebecca cause his drug overdose?
- Why did she have him committed?
- Or is this all a big red herring throwing us off the scent of Bonnie, who is now redeemed just in time for the shocking revelation that she jealously killed Lila after finding out she was carrying her secret lover’s relationship-threatening future baby? (See: recap page four.)
With just one, two-hour season finale left, perhaps these questions will be answered. Or perhaps they won’t. But let’s not immediately jump to conclusions, even though that’s all I want to do right now. (I’ll leave that for you in the comments.) Let’s digest the episode, which included, among other things, a major uptick in the Connor-Oliver relationship, a heroic-ish legal turn from Bonnie, and a happy hour between four friends that is basically THE ONLY SCENE I HAVE WANTED FOR SIX MONTHS. But first.
ANNALISE AND THE VISIT FROM MAMA
Last week, Annalise framed Nate for Sam’s murder. Casual, right? Now, it’s pretty likely that Nate is actually in on the whole plan (see: Annalise’s visit to Nate at the end of the episode), but behind closed doors, Annalise is absolutely distraught about the shambles her life is in. She hasn’t left her room since Nate was arrested. Sam is dead. Her law practice is in dire straits. We’ve literally never seen her eat. And so it’s no surprise that Annalise has taken to the comfort of her comforter, wallowing in whatever it is people wallow in these days. (Sadness? Comfortable flannel? I don’t know.)
Enter: Annalise’s mother, unforgettably played by acting legend Cicely Tyson, who I saw scoot around the stage on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful with all the fiercely strident energy of a hungry toddler after naptime. When Ophelia arrives at the decadent Keating homestead, it’s curtains open and sunshine blazing, making it impossible for Annalise to continue her sad drunken slumber. (Weird: The song playing when Annalise took off her wig that one time was called “No One’s Here to Sleep,” which is basically what Ophelia might as well be beatboxing while she cleans up Annalise’s messy room.)
Even though Annalise basically begged her mother to come, she won’t budge from bed—until Ophelia tries to throw away Sam’s suits, and then she moves. Oh, how she moves out of that bed to save that Armani! Despite all that she’s been through with Sam, she was still his wife, and the reality of throwing away her dead husband’s belongings is setting in.
Not that Ophelia would understand. From the get-go, we learn that Ophelia never trusted nor liked Sam, and finding out that he had a bun in Lila’s “nasty oven” doesn’t help her mourn her son-in-law. She’s harsh yet honest when she gives Annalise a vicious reality check: “You ain’t got no husband, ain’t got no boyfriend, and you holed up in this bed like the Queen of Sheba. Does that about cover it?” Oh, the one-liners in this episode. They’re VIP.
NEXT: The scene in which Cicely Tyson wins an Emmy…
Like any good party dip, the tension between Annalise and Ophelia is layered. Much of the strain stems from Annalise’s decision to abandon her home and change her name—so long, Anna Mae—and reinvent herself as the wife of Sam, the psychiatrist whom she sought to talk about her childhood trauma. That’s the other thing: Annalise’s uncle Clyde raped her as a child, and she has always resented Ophelia for never stopping it or doing anything about it. We glean that mother and daughter have barely spoken since Annalise married Sam and began her new life, leaving plenty of skeletons in Annalise’s closet (next to the D&G).
That mother-daughter tension comes to a head when the two are in the kitchen, talking about women’s roles, and a rage-filled Annalise bursts out, “Did you know what he did to me?!” All Ophelia will say is that now-dead Uncle Clyde got what he deserved. Annalise throws a glass near Ophelia’s head and launches into a tirade about how Sam was there for her and saw in her what Ophelia ignored, but Ophelia isn’t throwing a pity party for Annalise. She recites a long list of women in their family who have been touched or tackled or toughened by men. “Men take things,” she declares. “They been taking things from women since the beginning of time.” Unsatisfied with the reaction, Annalise demands Ophelia leave, because Annalise is no longer the girl named Anna Mae who takes clothes from the poor box, and that’s the life Ophelia reminds her of.
But Ophelia doesn’t leave. Because she’s a good mother, and good mothers don’t leave. Not that easily.
Ophelia comes to Annalise’s bedside that night and tells her she’ll be gone in the morning. Annalise suddenly breaks down, and Ophelia calms her daughter, sits her down, and begins to comb her hair. She talks about how proud she was when she bought their first house, and how she let Clyde stay because family doesn’t turn its back on family. She talks about how she woke up one night to check in on Annalise, and saw Clyde come out of the girl’s room. And how one night, Clyde fell asleep on the couch with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and Ophelia brought Annalise and her siblings to their aunt Mabel’s house, and how that same night, the house burned to the ground… and Clyde burned right with it. “I know how you’ve been torturing yourself about what went on here, baby, and maybe you did something real bad, I don’t know,” Ophelia tells her little girl. “I know if you did, you had your reasons. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Even if all you’ve got is a long match… and some very flammable hooch.”
Annalise, finally realizing the sacrifice that Ophelia made for her, grips her mother’s hands. For the sake of justice and revenge and love, Ophelia killed her own brother to take back her daughter’s life. And as they hold each other, Annalise realizes that she did what she did to Sam in order to take back her life. And she won’t be crying about it anymore.
Feel free to replace that box of Kleenex now. Better start engraving that Emmy for Cicely Tyson, too.
ANNALISE TAKES CONTROL
With just enough reinvigoration to pop on a smart blouse and head to the courthouse before the episode’s end, Annalise arrives at Nate’s arraignment, where she finds Michaela, who is wracked with guilt over sending an innocent man to jail. If last week saw a tender moment between Connor and Annalise, this week sees one between these two women, which marks a nice reward for those who have been eager to see Annalise exercise a little compassion and warmth for Michaela. For the first time, they acknowledge their physical commonality in an understated and all too brief moment.
“How are we supposed to be okay with this?” asks Michaela. “He’s innocent. And black.” Annalise can only reply by telling Michaela, “Injustices happen in courtrooms every day in this country, and you never bat an eye. The only difference here is you think you had a direct hand in this one.” She encourages Michaela to leave, promising that she’ll fix it. Annalise the Fixer is back.
Her first move: confronting Nate in the prison holding room, exchanging barbs about guilt and anger while the camera blinks on, recording every moment of the “private” conversation. Nate has been nonchalant during his entire jailing process, and if we didn’t already suspect that he knows exactly what Annalise’s plan is, we should be convinced now by the note Annalise hands him in secret: “Fire your lawyer.”
Is it a good idea for Annalise Keating—a woman who defended the boyfriend of a dead girl and then defended the drug dealer of a dead girl and then put her own husband on trial for killing the dead girl and also teaches a popular college class about getting away with murder—to now represent her lover for killing her husband who may have killed a dead girl?
No. But if that question bothers you, then maybe you should just go watch Bones or something.
NEXT: Bon-Bon gets her legal eagle on
BONNIE THE BIG BAD WOLF
With Annalise holed up in bed, Bonnie has taken control of the law firm for the second time in as many weeks. She’s still feeling betrayed by Annalise for not being included in the whole Let’s Cover Up a Murder! thing, but Bonnie’s even more nervous about what might happen if she actually confronts Annalise about the situation. Will she cry? Will she be intimidated into quitting? Will they play a game of Catan and try to settle it all? Who knows.
So Bonnie stays quiet, and instead she focuses on taking the lead in the case of the week, which is a doozy involving Jolene Samuels, a nurse and self-proclaimed unattractive woman (if you drink every time she gestures to her body and says “I mean, look at me!” your liver will fail you). Jolene has been accused of raping a ridiculously attractive, ridiculously unconscious hospital patient named Chad Manning. The first red flag in this case is that Jolene is wearing a loose cardigan, because you can’t be a defendant on How to Get Away with Murder if you’re not a high-profile corporate executive or a woman who looks like she just escaped a cult.
Bonnie doesn’t do a great job out of the gate. She insists the jury “find Jolene guilty,” then realizes she botched her opening line. She reveals in court that the plaintiff is gay, and is scolded by the judge for unnecessary discrimination. She’s thrown off guard when she learns that Jolene used the screenname FreakyNightingale on some weird sex message boards. Bonnie can’t even keep the students in line; they question her decisions and ignore her commands like high schoolers hazing a substitute teacher. It’s all enough to make Bonnie snap, “DO YOU TALK BACK TO ANNALISE WHEN SHE ASKS YOU TO DO SOMETHING?”
Clearly the stress of leadership is getting to Bonnie, and she takes comfort in Annalise’s big IKEA office chair as she ponders what to do next over a glass of cheap vodka. (Is bad off-brand Russian vodka a #TGIT sponsor or something?) Frank arrives at the office, and he wishes he didn’t because he’s just in time for Bonnie to drunkenly yell at him.
Bonnie: Why’d you lie to me about Sam? I asked you, to your face, what happened, and you said you didn’t know.
Frank: We’re not doing this while you’re wasted.
Bonnie: She told you not to tell me, right?
Frank: Can you blame her?
Bonnie: No. But it’s why I can’t go up there.
So while Annalise is toiling with depression in her bedroom, Bonnie is battling her own demons downstairs. Can’t they just get drunk together and have a good cry sesh and realize they can be there for each other!? Until then, Bonnie is on her own, struggling to prove herself to everyone who doesn’t think she has the pearls to replace Annalise. The one person who believes in her is Asher, who’s more than just a one-liner factory tonight. He’s constantly rooting for her, and she notices it. Oh, she notices.
Asher discovers that gay plaintiff Chad used to frequently visit the hospital—but he’d go to the legal office, where he would find the hospital’s lawyer, David Tucker. It’s then that Bonnie deduces that David and Chad are lovers, and David had inside knowledge about which cases would make the hospital pay out big. The two men targeted kooky Jolene, set up a joint bank account in Mykonos, and exchanged copious emails where they “shared intimate photos with one another as well as affectionate language,” a.k.a. Sexting by Jane Austen. And so, the court’s collective jaw drops. Bonnie’s won!
“You ever think about changing your name from Winterbottom to ice cold?” asks Asher, “because that was balls-out amazing! I knew you could pull it off, but—” and Bonnie is already wrapped around him, kissing him with the desperation of Ariel but the passion of Mulan. It’s sweet, but then it’s kind of raunchy, considering they’re in a parking lot, and Frank—watching from a car—makes a face that represents all of mankind.
Congrats, Bonnie. Now go make a reservation at Nobu and reconcile with Annalise before season 2.
CONNOR AND THE REBORN BOYFRIEND
Instead of talking about a bad connection, let’s move on to a great one.
Connor’s relationship with Oliver has not been without its bumps, but just like Allison Janney or the country’s understanding of heteronormative attitudes, it is getting SO much better with time. The flirty banter starts at the very beginning of the episode, when Connor brings apple cider to Oliver’s place to celebrate one month of sobriety—a sweet gesture that demonstrates Oliver’s adorable continued concern for Connor’s sobriety and Connor’s perhaps happy dedication to the lie. (If faking a drug problem means I don’t drink for a month, then I’m proud to say I am now addicted to the meths.)
But oh! Trouble! When Oliver is helping Connor do some IT hacking—because it’s a weekday, so why wouldn’t he be—Oliver confesses that he’s worried Connor is too embarrassed to introduce him to his friends. The problem, Connor says, is that the Keating Five are NOT his friends, which is basically a cold, hard fact. But Oliver counters with a pretty solid argument: “Every minute you’re not with me, you’re with them. They’re your friends.” BOOM. FRIEND REQUEST FORCEFULLY ACCEPTED. So fine, Connor says, he’ll introduce his “friends” to his maybe-future boyfriend.
And nothing could prepare me for the sheer delight of this all-too-short meeting. For months, we’ve been clamoring to see the members of Murder, Inc. actually spend time together enjoying one another’s company. Maybe Michaela and Laurel will finally open up and discover that they both had the same Lisa Frank Trapper-Keeper, or maybe Connor and Wes will bond over a shared love of Step By Step. The possibilities are endless!
Sadly, this mega-friendship-happy-hour doesn’t last long, but it is glorious. At a nondescript bar, Connor preps Michaela (drinking red wine!), Laurel (drinking beer!), and Wes (awake and not having nightmares!) for meeting Oliver by informing them about his fake drug addiction. Oliver arrives and is greeted with a deliciously oversaturated welcome from Michaela and Laurel—and you know what? It was damn perfect. Good effort, girls. That’s how you get away with kindness.
And as a sober Connor puts a drunken, happy Oliver to bed, Oliver says, “I love you” and millions of hearts across America melt before they quickly start writing bad fan-fic.
But it’s all short-lived because Wes gets a phone call. From Rebecca. Who ruined a completely perfect moment. Because Rebecca.
NEXT: Rebecca. AND RUDY.
WES AND THE MISGUIDED LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE POSSIBLE MURDERESS
Call the cast of Chicago and tell them there’s a new talentless nobody who can understudy Roxie! Rebecca is available, and she’s killed once and will kill again. Her first victim: Lila Stangard, maybe. Her second: Wes’s plaid-wearing heart, definitely.
Here’s a guy who killed for her, who cleaned her in a shower, who waited for her to catch up on Homeland so that they could watch together. And she’s still lying to his face! But all that changes with the mega-revelation about Rudy, the former tenant of Wes’s scratched-up apartment who Rebecca confessed to calling the cops on.
Now, Wes is intent on finding out the truth, and he ignores Rebecca’s phone calls until he does. Wes decides to go to the police station—a place he probably should have gone five months earlier—and inquire about Rudy. The friendly police secretary pulls up his arrest record and says that Rudy was picked up on Saturday, August 30—the same night Lila was killed—and taken to a psych ward on a charge of “disorderly conduct due to drug overdose.”
And just like that, Rebecca lied. She told Wes that Rudy was taken after a nervous breakdown, but it was because of drugs—and nobody knows drugs like Rebecca. (Except maybe superfreak Lila or someone from the D.A.R.E. program.) The lie causes Wes to question everything he knows about Rebecca, and it’s freaking out an already-unhinged Wes.
During the Night of Michaela Drinking Merlot, he gets a phone call from Rebecca, which Laurel overhears, thinking he’s having relationship trouble. Wes reveals his deeper suspicions and explains the Rudy situation, and the bizarre coincidence that it happened the same night Lila was murdered. Does he think Rebecca could have killed Lila? “If she did, then what we did…what I did…” Wes can’t even finish his sentence, because nightmares, and he’s even feeling the guilt of putting Nate away, too. Laurel tries to convince him otherwise, but it’s no use. “What if I was wrong about her the whole time?”
So the next day, Laurel and Wes go to the mental hospital pretending to be Rudy’s estranged sister and her husband, respectively. The nurse allows them inside, and they meet Rudy: a frail white twentysomething in a baseball shirt. He looks like a generic Guy Who Had Mental Breakdown In TV Show, which is surprising to me even though I’m not sure why. (I guess I had always pictured Rudy as, like… a hotter Wes? Maybe? Also, I once theorized that Rudy was actually Frank, but we’re not going to talk about that.)
Rudy won’t really talk, but there are scratches above his bed. So either the noises he heard from Rebecca’s apartment were so traumatizing that they followed him around forever, or there were never noises at all and he just really hates wallpaper.
Laurel tries to ask Rudy why he got upset the night he was arrested, and he doesn’t reply, until Wes ignores a call from Rebecca and shows Rudy the picture of Rebecca that pops up. “Was she with you that night?” Wes asks. “Did you do drugs together?” And Rudy replies: “Wet.” Meanwhile, Rebecca is tracking Wes’ phone on her computer. (Remember, he ignored her calls, so that’s obviously the next logical step FOR A CRAZY PERSON.) And when Rebecca sees that his current location is the same psych hospital where she knows Rudy is, she leans back in her chair, and crosses her arms, and… fade out.
All together now: OH SNAP!
So, what do we make of tonight’s events leading up to the two-hour season finale that I will almost definitely not be surviving? The first episode is called “The Night Lila Died.” The second, “It’s All My Fault.” And if you need me, I’ll be cross-legged on the floor eating just the marshmallows out of a Costco-sized box of Lucky Charms to quench both my emotional and physical anguish over those episode titles.
Wes doesn’t trust Rebecca, and he’s likely going to go through the stages of grief before out-and-out trying to prove that she killed Lila… but that’s if she sticks around town long enough. Will she flee? Or, during their inevitable confrontation, will she turn violent? Does Rebecca care enough about Wes to let him take her down for the murder she so convincingly denied?
Or maybe she didn’t do it at all? Let’s not rule out Bonnie, who we’ve cheered on two episodes in a row. With Bonnie redeemed, it’s the perfect way to set her up for the shocking reveal that she killed Lila because she’s secretly in love with Sam, and Lila’s pregnancy—which Bonnie knew about—threatened a future together. (Now that I say it out loud, I’m getting more interested in this theory.)
Now that Laurel’s clued in on the Rudy business, does that mean she’ll involve Frank—or Connor, Michaela, or Annalise, by extension? Will it be a big old Keating family affair to indict Rebecca? How will the stakes rise? Will Lila’s ex-boyfriend Griffin make a reappearance? And how will Asher—the one remaining character left who doesn’t know what happened on the Night of the Flying Cheerleader—factor in?
I imagine we’ll also see Michaela finally make a decision about her future with Aidan, Laurel run back into Frank’s meaty arms, and Connor and Oliver consummate their relationship—barring any major obstacles, of course.
Plus, I’m guessing there’s at least one dead body by the end of next week, and though I’ve suggested it could be Nate, I’m now thinking it’s time for Rebecca to go. She either murdered Lila and got away with it, or the person who murdered Lila will finally turn the target onto her.
Tweet me your craziest theories! Otherwise, see you next week for the culmination of my only reason for existing on Thursdays!