Laurel takes control and demands answers — and a road trip

By Marc Snetiker
February 26, 2016 at 07:34 PM EST
Credit: Mitch Haaseth/ABC

Tonight may be the “answers” episode of How to Get Away With Murder, but we’ve been burned before. And before. And before. And before. And before, all the way back to the dawn of time when The Flintstones tried to tell us who shot Pebbles.

So you’ll have to understand why I take it with a grain of salt — nay, a boulder of it — that we’ve already cracked the case of what happened to Wes’s mother: That Wes himself, as but a meek, lightly accented 12-year-old bearing the unfortunate name Christophe Edmond, is the actual killer who stabbed his own poor mom.

That’s the conclusion we’re operating with in this, one of the stronger episodes of the season, as we travel back to the glorious early 2000s once more in Annalise flashbacks.

La Vie en Rose

Pregnant as a pause in a Pinter play, Annalise recruits Frank for a month-long trip to Cleveland for the trial of Charles Mahoney, the heir to a hedge fund fortune. Charles is on trial for the murder of Vickie Moran, his fiancée and, supposedly, the company’s sole conscientious objector to the Mahoney family’s financial crimes. She was about to come forward when, suddenly, she was found dead. Charles is the suspect, but Rose — a cleaning lady in the building — supposedly bears the only alibi that would prove Charles’ absence from the crime scene.

The importance of Rose-as-witness explains why Annalise had to sneakily track her down and infiltrate her friendship before daring to ask her to take the stand. Rose is crucial, but because she’s an undocumented immigrant and a single mother, she won’t testify easily. She demands anonymity and protection from deportation, which Annalise magically makes happen — but when she’s supposed to testify on the closed-circuit television at Mahoney’s trial, she doesn’t show. Annalise realizes that Rose didn’t actually see Mahoney but needs her to testify anyway, and Rose kicks her out, then yells at Christophe, who only wanted to watch The Magic School Bus with his mother…and now has nothing else to do but just kill her, I guess.

Laurel en Rose

Of course, an intriguing new layer is added to the flashbacks thanks to Wes and Laurel’s visit to Cleveland to dig up information on the trial. Laurel happens to find Wes poring over the Ask Jeeves print-outs Annalise slipped under his door, and since she is presently looking for room to breathe after finding out that Frank killed Lila, a trip to Cleveland (on her rich daddy’s credit card, no less) and a fascination with Wes’s mother offer the perfect out.

The damaged dream team hit upon all of the aforementioned intel (including that Christophe’s name was in fact changed to Wes by his foster parents), but Wes draws a startling conclusion before they get all the facts. He decides that Rose’s suicide was actually a murder, making good on Asher’s crackpot theories about his father earlier this midseason. Wes concludes that Annalise dragging Rose into the case got her killed and that everything in his life afterward — getting into law school last minute off the waitlist, being added to Annalise’s team as an unprecedented fifth wheel, being overly protected throughout the duo’s murder spree — is a result of Annalise’s guilt.

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It’s true, and it’s not. A browse of Rose’s medical reports proves Wes’s theory that Rose’s death was self-inflicted…except Laurel found one page of notes, possibly in Annalise’s hand-writing, that screams otherwise: “POTENTIAL HOMICIDE. PRIMARY SUSPECT — VICTIM’S 12-YEAR-OLD SON.” Laurel wisely keeps the truth bomb to herself and confronts Annalise with it later, aided by a very key flashback tease of Wes standing over Rose’s dead body, knife in hand. Yikes.

Now is a great time to point out that this episode is the MVP episode Laurel has deserved ever since she proved herself to be the most level-headed, logical character on the show. We get a great new tease of juicy trauma-drama in Laurel’s past life — it seems Frank’s confession to murdering Lila has reminded her of her father, which is probably the most f—ed-up thing that could ever remind a person of his or her parent. We also get an outrageous car hookup between Laurel and Wes, who have been a delightfully matched friendship pair during this season. In Laurel’s tearful confession of her father-Frank relation, Wes takes the opportunity to reassure her that she’s not a bad person by kissing her. They quickly recant and decide it was a mistake, BUT I DISAGREE. I actually loved the slow-burn emotionality of Wes and Laurel’s relationship, and if you gave me a hookup at season’s end, I would have been so here for it. Instead, the show has already decided that Waurel is not a relationship we can or ever should root for. What a bummer. We’ll see what my friend Fanfic has to say about that.

NEXT: Philip’s video gets ZERO Likes

In Wes and Laurel’s absence, the rest of the gang is incredibly preoccupied by the Philpocalpyse, a.k.a. the shaky iPhone 4 video that the fugitive Philip shot of the Hapstall mansion murders. He’ll take it to the police unless he gets a cool $1 million, and since the McDonald’s Monopoly game is currently in its offseason, Keating & Associates must find another way to get the money.

A quick digression: We only assume Philip shot the video because: one, we know he was there that night at a car-level vantage point; and two, everyone keeps saying Philip. That second fact alone should be enough to assume the videographer is some crazy third party…but which familiar-to-viewers-yet-noticeably-underused-this-season recurring cast member could it be!? Oliver? Eve? One of the students Annalise once called on in class back when they still actually went to class?!

Connor and company are relying entirely on Annalise to solve the problem of Philip’s $1 million ransom, and she does so with just a little lubrication and apology-demanding. She’s not in the video, so she has no reason to help other than to hold the favor over Connor’s head in the future. Initially, Annalise tries to get some money from Caleb, who in turn procures more information from Catherine — but Catherine shuts him out. Um, girl, didn’t you turn yourself in?! Why the turn on Caleb all of a sudden? For narrative purposes, she’s now angry at Caleb and calls Philip “the brother who’d actually love me the way I always wanted.” Hapstall, bye. Say hi to Taystee when you don’t get invited back for season 3. (Really, Catherine is only angry at Caleb so the writers could find a reason to drive Caleb and Michaela back together.)

With no information to nab Philip and no way to raise the full ransom, Annalise decides that it’s the end of the world and everyone should spend their last night screwing, drinking, and catching up on season 2 of American Crime. Annalise goes home to make dinner and love to Nate; Michaela hooks up with Caleb; Asher tries to make up with Bonnie, but she’s decided they can’t ever be together. Oliver comes home to sex up Connor, who has taken the apocalyptic opportunity to do the smartest thing anyone on How to Get Away with Murder has ever done: apply for a transfer to another school. It’s a move that really should have happened, like, 17 episodes ago. Suddenly, I’m treating Annalise’s house as the island on Lost, and I’m praying the kids get out one by one before the smoke monster eats them up.

The next morning is the ransom reckoning, but Annalise decides that they’re not going to pay Philip and instead call his bluff — there’s no timestamp on the video, and even if there were, it would prove he was there that night. So they decide to bite the bullet and let the ransom deadline pass. Moments later, another video arrives: This time, starring Annalise and Nate, as filmed last night through the kitchen window.

So, back to my point: If it’s not Philip (whose whereabouts are thought to be Canada or somewhere where oil portraits are still appreciated), then who could the mystery taunter be?

The Question of the Week

In flashback land, everyone continues to mention the danger of pregnant Annalise flying, or the danger of Annalise being in Cleveland for a month, or any other such fear-mongering that’s all the scarier for viewers who know she doesn’t have a child — so, again, how did Annalise lose the baby? And does it have anything to do with the very threatening Mahoney family, who all but straight-up told her they only hired her because she’s black, female, and pregnant?

More cerebral Chipotle for thought: What did Laurel’s father do, and will he figure prominently in the next season? Why did Frank say he “had to” kill Lila? Approximately when did sweet young Bonnie make her move on Sam Keating (whose reappearance as concerned husband instead of corpse husband is actually kind of nice)? And will Connor get into Stanford!?

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.

  • TV Show
  • 6
  • TV-14
  • Peter Nowalk
  • ABC
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