Annalise is plagued by visions of babies while she recovers from being shot

By Marc Snetiker
February 12, 2016 at 09:23 PM EST
ABC

How to Get Away With Murder

S2 E10
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Well, How to Get Away With Murder is back. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the last three months of regular breathing and quiet, scandal-free evenings and not having a heart attack every Thursday night. But sorry — not anymore! We’re back for the second half of the second season, so keep the paramedics on standby while we once more return to the hellish clan of homicidal misfit attorneys of Keating & Associates.

All things considered, the midseason premiere was intense but actually digestible, at least by HTGAWM standards. It served primarily a heaping helping of fine acting from Viola Davis and a side of strong character development for Annalise. There seemed to be no stroke-inducing reveal or shocking flash-forward involving a dead body (although the episode’s final few moments definitely raised a brief silent alarm that Wes was about to become a corpse).

Instead, the episode was all about Annalise’s recovery…and yet, she’s never been worse. She’s depressed. She’s traumatized. She is Ally McBroken.

RELATED: How to Get Away With Murder: Before They Were Stars

Two weeks after Annalise was shot at the Hapstall mansion, Bonnie is doing what she can to ease her transition from hospital to home. Naturally, Annalise rejects a nurse (but welcomes pink silks and sensible moccasins, obvi). Still, Bonnie remains by her side — not just because Bonnie’s a loyal friend, but because she’d never seen Annalise exhibit a death wish like she did on murder night. It’s something Nate noticed, too: Annalise may have wanted to die that night.

A tired Annalise shoos Bonnie away, but she’s not alone in the house. Almost instantly, Annalise begins hallucinating a baby, forced into her arms by a crying woman whom we later discover to be Wes’ dead mother, Rose. Annalise holds the baby, soothes its cries, rocks it to sleep. And yet she’s not blessed by its presence; she’s haunted. Is the baby Wes? Or is it the boy Annalise was pregnant with — and presumably lost — when she first met Rose, ten years ago?

Bonnie gets wise to the visions and tries to snap Annalise back to reality — she has to testify at Catherine Hapstall’s preliminary hearing, after all, which has conveniently been scheduled right at the height of Annalise’s mental illness and the nadir of her physical recuperation.

The good news is, at least her plan seemed to work: Catherine has indeed been accused of shooting Annalise and killing ADA Emily Sinclair (may she rest in acting school) while a manhunt is underway for suspected accomplice Philip Jessup. All they need to take it to trial is testimony from Annalise, who’s working far beyond the capacity of her present trauma threshold to deliver a simple statement.

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Sensing her fragility, Bonnie basically drugs Annalise with ice cream while the kids and Frank draft a statement so Annalise won’t have to testify. Sadly, the judge won’t allow it unless it’s delivered in person, and since Annalise is so preoccupied with visions of babies and the stress of an uncertain future (girl, same) that she absolutely botches the whole thing when she finally rolls into the preliminary hearing.

Annalise fumbles on the stand, especially after locking eyes with Wes and hearing the eerie cries of phantom infants and Ken Kratz from the hallway. She says she doesn’t know if Catherine shot her and that she didn’t see anything that night and that she’s unsure if she’s lying. It’s enough to ruin the whole case against Catherine, but then Annalise does something so characteristically Annalise that I’m still unsure whether it was intentional or not: She breaks her former attorney-client privilege with Catherine and reveals on the stand that Catherine told her she didn’t kill the Hapstalls. Suddenly, the prosecutor throws out the useless testimony and Annalises’s mistakes are salvaged. I mean, sort of.

After a quick powwow with Caleb, she hatches a new story: They’re going to pin it all on Philip, saying he killed the Hapstalls, planted the gun in Catherine’s room, befriended her before she knew who he was. He then drugged Catherine, who shot Annalise and doesn’t remember any of it. That’s the new narrative, which basically goes against the entire point of murder night, but what the hell? Annalise convinces Caleb to convince Catherine to follow along as it’s her best shot at innocence. She plays the victim, and she delivers a late-in-the-game statement asserting Philip’s guilt. (She gets five years in minimum security prison, and he gets a manhunt.)

NEXT: Won’t someone think of the (fully grown and complicit in murder) children!?

Throughout all of Annalise’s struggle, the kids have also been forced to deal with the fallout of another murder. But this time, it’s actually relatively lighthearted — as compared to the last time they had to pretend they had nothing to do with a corpse.

Connor, Michaela, and Laurel are doing their best to keep spirits high, with Laurel focused on easing Wes off his guilt and Connor encouraging Asher to crash with him and a reluctant Oliver. Michaela has lost all contact with Caleb after she failed to keep an eye on Catherine, as she promised, and as a result, Caleb drops a damning, “You all belong in hell” (which I like to think was actually a personal message from the show’s writers directed at me).

Asher is unraveling: Wracked with the regret of killing Sinclair (and, really, wrapping her in an afghan and throwing her off a building), he’s undertaken a new mission. Remember that misleading cliffhanger in October when Asher went to the police to file a statement, which we assumed was about murder night? Turns out he actually wants to investigate his father’s suicide, claiming it was a homicide. Connor and Bonnie think he’s crazy in grief, as do the police who aren’t returning his calls, but Bonnie enables him, and Connor offers comfort. (Dare I say, we’re moving toward a How to Get Away with Murder where the characters genuinely feel care for one another? Gasp. Forgiveness? Can you imagine?)

Meanwhile, Laurel has taken responsibility for shooting Annalise, a decision borne from an exemplary display of forward thinking that the rest of Murder, Inc. would have a big issue with Wes killing TWO Keatings. Bless her heart, she’s torn over letting Asher crumble because nobody was there to support him, and she also thinks Annalise merely lied about Rebecca to rile Wes up. It will be the year 2019, and there will still be a character on How to Get Away With Murder who thinks Rebecca is alive somewhere.

Blamed for shooting Annalise or not, Wes is guilt-ridden about what he actually did — so much so, he’s even decided to grow a Guilt Beard because of it. He’s bursting to confront Annalise about “Christophe,” but at least he shows the decency to wait until she’s better. And when she manipulates Catherine’s hearing and betrays a sign of being back to her usual wiles, he pounces. Wes chooses that night to rummage through Annalise’s basement, bedroom, and office for any clues about the name she muttered on her almost-deathbed. When she discovers him, Wes lays into her in another classic Gibbins-Keating confrontation.

“You knew my mother, didn’t you?” he says. “You knew her, and that’s why I’m here. Why I got in off the waitlist. Because you knew who I was.” He demands she tell him the truth, and she grabs a deer statue (because trophies of Lady Justice are very outdated these days) in defense. He’s shocked that she thinks he’ll hurt her. “I think you ruined me,” she says. “Get out.” And he leaves, answer-less, until she runs after him. It’s too late, and instead, she descends the stairs of her Crimson Peak and finds the imaginary baby boy in her office.

Again, is it Wes? Or is it the baby in the belly of Annalise in our short but key flashback, when she wanders near a playground and meets Rose, the mother of a happy, healthy, 12-year-old boy (Wes, though we’re still unsure of his name).

That’s it. Just a tease of the relationship we’ll uncover over the remaining five episodes of the season, but enough to begin the search for clues and theories. At the very least, “Wes is Annalise’s son!” truthers can relax a bit, both because of the flashback and the fact that Alfie Enoch is not ten years old.

But please, unleash your theories in the comments section, or lob them directly at me on Twitter. What happened to Annalise’s baby? What’s going on with Catherine and Philip? Why does Oliver have Flashdance on vinyl!?

Episode Recaps

How to Get Away With Murder

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

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