How to Get Away with Murder recap: 'Let's Get to Scooping'
Nine words that are nice to hear: “I need help eating all these freshly baked cookies.” “Do you want this full sheet of bubble wrap?” “We have decided to bring back French Toast Crunch.”
Nine words that are not nice to hear: “Your iPhone is unfortunately no longer covered under warranty.” “I’m sorry, but the Smash cruise is fully booked.” “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?”
Of course, only one of those phrases was uttered on tonight’s mind-numbing episode of How to Get Away With Murder, which was so gasp-inducing that I felt like a tankless scuba diver bingeing Scandal. So if you had “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” on your Viola Davis Last-Nine-Words Bingo card, go ahead and scratch that off, and then go buy a lottery ticket because your clairvoyance is weirdly specific and not long for this world.
Just like the promos teased, Annalise Keating’s last nine words in the episode—spoken only after she calmly and coolly thanked Wes for Lila’s phone, ran a hot bath, watched a little Colbert, and removed her wig, eyelashes, and makeup like a gorgeous Athenian goddess cleansing herself of the world’s artificiality—sent viewers into jaw-dropping shock and confirmed the one thing we’ve been suspecting for quite some time now: Sam and Lila were definitely, undeniably double-dipping the hummus. And next week, that sleazy, broad-shouldered Mr. Keating had better have a good excuse for why he’s been sexting/Snapchatting/sending-just-the-eggplant-emoji to a sorority girl who’s taken up new residence at Kappa Kappa Morgue.
Annalise’s incendiary question wasn’t the only shocking moment in episode 4, and not by a long shot. There’s so much to get through, between Bonnie’s icy betrayal, that surprising suicide, the whole Rebecca confession thing, and Connor’s slow descent into pure, greasy-haired madness.
CONNOR AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD LIBIDO
Oh, Connor Walsh. You beautiful, tortured soul. With body by J. Crew, eyebrows like a Greek sculpture, and a smirk that would make even Bart Simpson suspicious, you’ve permeated the gooey surface of How to Get Away With Murder and exploded into the atmosphere as the second most fascinating character next to Annalise. The Connor-centric episode we’ve been waiting for showed us a little more of what we already know—he uses sex to get what he wants, he’s short-tempered and insensitive and devious and manipulative, and he “doesn’t do boyfriends” except when he totally *high five bro* does—but this episode revealed that with Connor, just like autumn, it’s all about the layers.
Connor’s relationship with Oliver the IT Guy is going, but it’s not exactly going strong. They flirt and have fun and do lots of sex intercourses, but Oliver’s frustrated that Connor won’t commit. (Also, Connor still employs hack-friendly Oliver to aid him in his legal misdoings, even though Oliver totally seems like the kind of guy who plays by all the rules, even parley, which is really more what you’d call guidelines.) It’s surprising Connor has even let the relationship get this far, since they certainly seem like a poorly matched pair considering Oliver is a nice guy and Connor is just an all-around pretty horrible person.
But whether or not they D.T.R. (define the relationship), the wrinkle here is that a fed-up Oliver finally tosses Connor out after he discovers that his smoldering not-boyfriend slept with another guy… and seven weeks later, Connor shows up at Oliver’s door at 6 a.m. on the Night of the Flying Cheerleader, crying and panting and enduring a full-on panic attack because he’s just burned and hacked and sacked and hacky-sacked a man’s corpse. All he says is “I screwed up,” but what’s he talking about? Did he make some kind of individual mistake on the night of Sam’s murder? Michaela may have lost her ring and Laurel’s loud phone call might have spooked the couple in the woods and Rebecca may have, like, killed a person, but what did Connor do wrong that night? And when he shows up sweaty and panic-stricken on Oliver’s doorstep, is it their first reunion since being thrown out?
I’m getting ahead of myself here, because we also need to talk about Connor’s big sex scene, which in turn means we need to talk about the
CASE OF THE WEEK!
which gave a healthy dose of thematic reflection for Connor as we saw him get that first taste of guilt when you accidentally cause someone’s suicide.
The case involved Marren Trudeau (guest star Elizabeth Perkins of Weeds and live-action Flintstones fame), a stockbroker CEO charged with insider trading whose name Annalise must clear before the case gets to trial. Marren claims she was hacked by an outside source, so she’s reluctant when Annalise turns the investigation to her employees (reflective of Annalise’s penchant for always turning the suspicion inward, RIGHT SAM?). Annalise enlists her students to interrogate all 52 employees, and they all check out except one: Pax, Marren’s trusty and well-hung assistant, who clicks with Connor because of the unspoken gay rule of eye contact. (Real thing, look it up.)
Connor, unsurprisingly, does his usual info-digging by cozying up to Pax with one damn hot sex scene in the office (I’ll never look at a copy machine the same way again). It was raunchy, it was shocking, and it pushed the boundaries of what you can really say, show, and even allude to on network TV. (Bravo! I think.) But it wasn’t just for sex: Immediately post-coitus, Pax makes an ill-timed phone call to his criminal hacking partner—which Connor’s planted iPhone records.
When Connor brings the recording to Annalise and Marren, the CEO flips out and publicly confronts Pax in front of the whole office, damning his betrayal and even busting out the gay shame. Pax confesses to the crime but, devastated, flings himself out the window, as Marren’s, Connor’s, Annalise’s, and my Lucky Charm marshmallow-filled mouths all unhinge and drop.
Perhaps, then, we realize that the case of the week means a lot more to Connor than others have meant (to Annalise or Michaela, for instance) in weeks past. Pax’s suicide and the resultant distress to Connor may be the first significant event marking Connor’s slow-burn descent into madness seven weeks later. Michaela may be the most traumatized that night, but Connor is the most unhinged, and there could be traces back to this suicide—indirectly caused by Connor—as the first stop on his express train to hysteria. Sexy, sexy hysteria. Furthermore, maybe Connor will finally realize that you can’t just use sex to get what you want.
NEXT: Bonnie, girl, I knew you were shady, but I didn’t know how much
BURIAL, BONFIRE, AND BEYOND (Sam Keating Murder)
Beyond Connor’s possibly incriminating visit to Oliver, there’s more to learn about what the Scooby gang was up to on the Night of the Flying Cheerleader (a.k.a. The Night of the Never-Ending Coin Toss).
First, Asher. Where was the polo-popping douche on that fateful, drunken, bloody night? Right outside Annalise’s office, as it turns out. Or at least for the moment immediately after the murder. As Michaela sits speechless in the corner and Connor lays down next to Dead Husband Sam and Wes makes sure Rebecca has a blanket made of fine Asian silks, Asher Millstone is outside the building pounding on the door. He’s seen Connor’s car. He knows someone’s inside. He yells, “Is Michaela there with you? I want my freaking trophy back!” So yes, Asher’s still alive and still douchey, and the trophy now belongs to him, although Michaela apparently swipes it. Her possession is foreshadowed later in the episode (but earlier in the timeline) when someone remarks, “If you want the trophy that bad, Michaela, take it.”
After the burning, we also confirm that the bags that Murder, Inc. throw into the truck are, in fact, Sam Keating’s remains (not exactly a new revelation but definitely a gross confirmation), and that shovel-wielding Connor is the only one who really has the balls to do any of the dirty “scooping,” a word which I’m sure will now have a whole new meaning during my next Chipotle trip.
But during Connor’s ranting drive to the gas station, he also expresses that he’s actually of sound mind because he runs through the list of ways they all screwed up that night: Asher outside the house, the eyewitness cop, fingerprints, hair, skin cells, fibers from the rug in Connor’s car, street cameras recording every movement as they drive to the outskirts of town. (And that’s not even mentioning the other bit of foreshadowing in the episode, when Laurel at one point remarks off-hand, “Careful, this house could be bugged.” Can you even imagine?! Michaela literally can’t even.)
Lastly, there’s a moment during the Night of the Keating Murder when Connor says Michaela doesn’t know how to handle the situation, to which Rebecca says, “Like any of us know how to handle this.” It was followed by a short silence, which to me suggested that by December, Rebecca is, in fact, proven innocent of Lila’s murder—at least in the company of Connor, Laurel, Wes, and Michaela. But when Wes says, “She can’t be here, you know that,” it suggests that maybe Rebecca isn’t exactly in the clear with the cops yet. Even if Rebecca were the one who killed Sam and the rest of the gang were just there by chance, there’s no reason why Rebecca specifically couldn’t be found (because truthfully they’re all kind of f—ed) unless she was still out on bail or on the lam or being hunted by Blockbuster for not paying late fees for Prince of Egypt.
Now on to DGL…
BONNIE IS THE NEW BLACK (Lila Stangard Murder)
Annalise has taken Rebecca on as her client, and the first step is getting rid of that confession she signed thanks to Wes’ big mouth (which, if you’ll remember, warned her that Griffin was going to pin the blame). Annalise believes that prosecution (including that lady from Orange is the New Black) coerced Rebecca into signing a confession, so they try to find the video that correlates. Meanwhile, Wes is still trying to get Rebecca to tell him the password to Dead Girl Lila’s phone, but like a chaste girl with values, she stays zipped.
It’s primarily Bonnie who tries to track down the video of Rebecca’s confession, and she does… but it’s only through some sneaky snooping and blackmail. She tells the police chief that she knows they’re investigating Sam Keating for Lila’s murder, even with Rebecca’s confession on hand, and she’ll bring the news to the press thereby proving the cops knowingly accepted a dubious confession. The lead-up to this gets a little complicated here, so stay with me:
Bonnie was parked outside of Annalise’s house, sitting creepily in her vehicle, just as Detective Nate was looking through Sam’s GPS for any other destinations he may have visited when he wasn’t at Yale the night of Lila’s murder. Sam catches Nate in the act, but Nate gets off with a weirdly successful excuse that he was just dimming Sam’s lights like a good neighbor (honestly, WTF). Sam clearly hasn’t met Nate before, which is good. And meanwhile, Bonnie sees all.
So, was Bonnie following Nate or Sam? And if she was following Sam, was it for romantic, stalkery reasons, or because she also thinks Sam is connected to Lila’s murder? (Also, why is Nate still investigating Sam when he lied to Annalise about Sam’s alibi? Is he actually doing it with the approval of the cops, which seems to be the case, or for more nefarious reasons?)
Bonnie lies about the tape’s origins when she finally produces the confession for Annalise. It features Rebecca telling a story of joint murder with Griffin, one where Griffin was on top of Lila, killing her, while Rebecca held her legs. But the video contains one single look of confusion on Rebecca’s face, which Annalise uses to essentially prove that the prosecution had coerced her into confessing. Rebecca’s bail is reduced, the confession is nixed, and she’s set free to go home to her perpetually dark apartment, where Wes is waiting for her with Lila’s phone, demanding a passcode (which brings us back to the beginning of the recap/end of the episode, with Annalise’s amazing, vulnerable, RAW removal of makeup and damning accusation of her husband).
NEXT: Laurel, shooting stars, and the theory of the week
LAUREL & BEARDY
Next week’s episode promises to reveal a little more about the nature of Frank and Laurel’s relationship—as well as why he was calling her on the night of Sam’s murder—but this week we saw a tiny bit more jealousy on Frank’s behalf, as Laurel’s kind-of-boyfriend Kan came over to help with the Rebecca bail and share some key outlines for an exam. (LOL, remember when Annalise used to teach a class?)
That exam, meanwhile, gave us some nice comedic moments for Michaela as she demonstrated that she doesn’t joke around when it comes to academia. With the allusions to her stealing Laurel’s outline and perhaps Asher’s Lady Justice trophy, are we looking at a possible kleptomaniac here? Because that happened on Breaking Bad and look how that plotline turned out. My last thought on Michaela this week is one of sympathy after Frank pegged her as the “shooting star” of the group, which we later learn (after Pax kills himself) is a really unfortunate way of suggesting she’s going to snap, or worse. I’m not worried about Michaela throwing herself out a window, but on the topic of shooting stars, could it be that Rudy was the last one?
COMMENTER THEORY OF THE WEEK
lostinto: “Professor Keating tried to rape Michela, Rebecca some how stumbles on this and grabs the murder weapon and hits him over the head not expecting to kill him and that’s where the other students come in to cover up the murder. The reason behind this is because Michela is crying in the corner but she has that look that women have after they have been attacked in movies and TV shows and they are trying to comfort her while Wes’s is trying to comfort Rebecca and Connor is pacing around. That’s why we keep seeing Michaela breaking down in the flashbacks.”
ASTUTE COMMENTER OBSERVATION OF THE WEEK
Carbar475: “Sam parking stamps left on 8/29 at 7p, arrived 8/30 at 6:05am = 11 1/2 hrs. New Haven to PHL RT = about 6 hrs leaving 5 hrs open for Sam to kill her. My #2 suspect is Frank for Lila’s murder.”
For all its shocks, I think the episode marked a nice step forward with both of the major cases, plus it showed off the best case-of-the-week we’ve seen so far, perhaps because of its very direct implications for Connor. And speaking of, kudos to Jack Falahee for letting Connor become one of the most fascinating new additions to TV this year, not to mention a modern gay character bound to push boundaries. That’s it for this week—you know where to get at me.