The truth of Wes' mother's death is revealed — and Annalise had everything to do with it

By Marc Snetiker
March 04, 2016 at 01:58 PM EST
Richard Cartwright/ABC

How to Get Away With Murder

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To title an episode of How to Get Away With Murder “Something Bad Happened” is akin to calling World War II “a wacky mix-up” or Narnia “a closet feature.” It’s perhaps the most outrageous understatement one could conceive of.

A boy discovering his mother’s dead body is more than “something bad.” Annalise accidentally instigating a desperate woman to kill herself is more than “something bad.” HTGAWM letting us briefly believe Annalise killed someone or that Wes killed himself or that final moment of suspense where Philip grabs Annalise like a bastard bogeyman…all wholly inappropriate to refer to as simple “something bad.”

But there is good: We finally have some answers to the question no one ever really wanted answered.

The Present

Hot out of Cleveland, Wes wants answers about his mother’s death, but he still won’t talk to Annalise. In turn, Annalise won’t admit anything to Laurel, who has duly confronted her about what she discovered in Cleveland, but the Widow Keating gets defensive and pleads the Fifth: “If he wants to ask me something, he needs to ask me himself.” (Frustrating as Annalise’s denial may be, it’s also far nobler of her to keep quiet than confess to Laurel, “LOL! Yeah, you got me! I facilitated her suicide! LMAO heart-eyes-emoji crying-with-laughter-emoji.”) And so, Laurel is forced to act as a miserable intermediary between both stubborn parties as they play bad-news badminton, even though everyone’s angst could be easily solved by a civil conversation.

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Wes has taken his grief to the school therapist, whom he’s definitely confusing with a “hypnotist” because he expects this poor woman to help him remember everything that happened in Cleveland. Wes is presently operating under the assumption that his mother was murdered because she was a key witness, and he wants to rediscover his discovery of the body. The therapist insists that Wes’ obsession with revisiting his mother’s trauma could be solved if he just confronted Annalise, reasoning that Wes’ temporary craze stems from the “very muddy and in some ways maternal” relationship he shares with his teacher. (By the way, Annalise taught her class again tonight. For about 15 seconds. Tenure, ladies and gentlemen.)

Eventually, the therapist doesn’t give Wes the prophetic answers he wants, so he retreats to his bedroom, a conspiratorial dungeon dedicated to the Mahoney trial, filled with articles he’s printed out from Netscape Navigator and organized on his bed in impeccably linear arrangement, as if Carrie from Homeland pieced together a terrorist outline exclusively with resources from Staples and her local library. Laurel barges in and once more impels him to talk to Annalise — and because serial killer Philip has amped up his presence around town, she begs him to rejoin the group until Philip’s no longer a danger. Wes moodily rejects her — his only ally! — for no understandable reason I can think of, other than the writers needed to find a reason for him to not leave his apartment.

Finally, and for some equally inexplicable reason, Wes decides to just go talk to Annalise, but she’s not home (she’s too busy figuring out her sleep number between Nate’s abs). So he rifles through her office and finds the paper Laurel snuck from the Cleveland trial…the one suggesting Christophe killed Rose. Suddenly, he has a vision of standing over Rose’s body with a bloody knife, and once more, he’s back at the therapist’s office, relaying his new fears. She insists it’s a false memory, but Wes is moments away from revealing his entire murderous history to prove the point. “You need to believe me when I say it’s possible…I could have killed her,” he says, not revealing anything more. He’s such a doc tease.

The Flashback

We spend most of the episode believing that Wes actually did kill Rose, and the slow burn of that outcome is largely dependent on the arrival of Eve Rothlow (Famke Janssen), Annalise’s college lesbian lover. Annalise has orchestrated Rose’s capture by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and once she’s in custody, it’s old buddy Eve who serves as the department’s lawyer, tasked with convincing Rose to testify.

While Rose is detained, Eve and Annalise share a few moments of catch-up that really aren’t all that interesting: They haven’t seen each other in three years. Annalise left Eve for her therapist, Sam. Annalise is pregnant now. She’s not ready for a baby. Eve tries to get her to drink riesling. They squabble, but it doesn’t really illuminate much about their relationship as we know it. Instead, it perhaps just serves to show that Annalise really doesn’t want to have this baby and Eve looks great with bangs.

Rose eventually figures out that Annalise is the reason she’s locked up, and once she confronts Eve with that information, she demands to be let out so she can at least take Christophe home. Eve lets her go — and Rose makes a straight-up run for it, packing a bag and tossing Christophe into the car. In his stubbornness, the child leaps out of the car and runs home. Rose follows.

At the same time, Annalise is being scolded by Mahoney, who informs her that Rose has fled. He makes a veiled threat to her safety — and, moreso, to Christophe’s — so Annalise heads over to the Edmond apartment. She finds a panicked Rose, who has arrived home before Christophe. Annalise apologizes for the whole situation but begs Rose that her testimony is no longer just for her protection, but for Christophe’s, too. This absolutely knocks Rose out, and any promises from Annalise quickly go from cookie-chunk to wafer-thin. “I was born free, I will stay free, so will Christophe,” says Rose, fire in her eyes, reaching toward the kitchen sink. “There’s no reason to hurt him now,” she says, locking eyes with Annalise. “Take care of my boy.”

Suddenly Rose has a knife in her throat, and Annalise can’t do anything but watch her bleed out. She dials 911 but decides not to actually call, considering her own legal safety in this messy mess. Annalise hides as Christophe arrives, and again she makes a selfish decision, doing nothing to protect the boy from the gruesome sight. And that’s where we leave off, ostensibly for good, since we now know: The reason Wes’s mother died, the reason Wes went into foster care, the reason Annalise feels crippling guilt, the reason Eve muttered, “Annalise, what did we do?” Girls, what DIDN’T you do?

And here’s the full-circle moment: Back in the modern day, Annalise has finally shown up at Wes’s door, also compelled by some phantom remorse to just go talk to him. She sees and hears the motions of someone inside, and decides to enter. But the apartment is empty — and there’s a horrifying moment when it’s entirely possible that Wes has killed himself, a tragedy I’ve been afraid might bookend more episodes than just this one. But as she searches the definitely occupied apartment, Annalise gets a call from Eve, who tells her that Wes is at her office, after having discovered her name on Rose’s detainee release form. And it’s only then that Annalise is attacked by the viral voyeur video monster under the bed: Philip.

NEXT: Oh heyyyy, Philip

As far as the police department is concerned, Philip is still all the way up in Canada. But our Keating children know that Philip is alive and well and stalking them in Philadelphia. His menacing videos are arriving in Connor’s inbox more and more frequently, in between Groupons, and they’re now begun appearing mere hours after they’ve been filmed. Collectively, the group decides they’re just not safe anymore, and if there’s one thing that’s going to inspire Annalise to finally step in and save their asses again, it’s a constant groaning complaint of paranoia.

Annalise decides to bring the computer — because everyone knows the only way to access Connor’s email is through this one specific physical laptop — directly to the district attorney who put Catherine Hapstall away for the murder. She hand-delivers the laptop that will help him track Philip back to Philly — a great coup for a rising local lawyer — but in return, Annalise demands immunity for her and her associates for anything the DA might discover on the laptop that might incriminate them in the Sinclair murder.

Naturally, the DA turns on her and orders a search warrant for her house, but Annalise is prepared, largely thanks to a warning from Nate, and the single greatest montage in the history of How to Get Away With Murder montages. Annalise warns Bonnie, Bonnie enlists the kids to fake the judge’s approval, and an erroneously permitted search of the Keating office thereby nullifies all the evidence the police find in Annalise’s house. It’s a genius move by the Keating crew, and a lovely reminder of what this show once was when they were actually working on cases every week instead of whatever they’ve been spending their time doing.

But Philip is still on the loose, and in their collective fear, the gang decides to hold a sleepover at Asher’s place, where dinosaur onesies are worn and bagel bites are served (both of which are hot). With Wes MIA, this HTGAWMario Party is strictly limited to Asher, Michaela, Laurel, Connor, and Oliver, who has been kidnapped by Philip once before and is not about to get swooped up again. Oliver accidentally reveals that Connor has applied to Stanford, but the beauty is that nobody really blames him for it. In a rare moment, Michaela begs Connor to not leave her. “I can’t survive here without you,” she says while everyone’s asleep, and he laments, “I won’t get in,” which sounds less like a fear of his own inadequacy than a silent plea that he won’t actually have to leave her.

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Meanwhile, Bonnie and Frank are hitting the bar for their apocalyptic last night. (Last week’s world-ender was the threat of impending jail time; this week, it’s Philip’s homicidal mindgames.) Their McGonagall-Snape camaraderie isn’t given enough screentime; it’s usually bickering and silent cooperation, rather than genuine friendship, which I believe they truly have. Together, Bonnie and Frank both lament getting involved with Asher and Laurel, respectively. Bonnie’s pushed Asher away for seemingly no major reason while Laurel has officially ended things with Frank for killing innocent Lila. (Who would have guessed a murder is what tears these two apart!?)

The curious little anomaly here is that Bonnie recorded Frank and Laurel’s breakup — but why? Will his loyalty to Sam be revealed by season’s end? Did Bonnie, whose furtive glances toward Sam during flashbacks haven’t yet offered a payoff, also have something to do with Lila’s murder? Probs.

The Questions of the Night

Episode Recaps

What was with that promo that emphasized BABY, HOOKUP, and SECRET like some junky game of Shondaland Taboo? Again, what will happen to Annalise’s baby — and did she want it to happen? Where will the Mahoney case end? Who will rescue Annalise from Philip? And since we haven’t had a nice dead body in a while, who’s going to die by the end of the season? Wes? Eve? Michaela? Wes’s therapist? Elizabeth Perkins’ character from season 1, episode 4!?!?

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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