Let's get physical

By Maureen Lee Lenker
October 13, 2017 at 12:51 AM EDT
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After the first two episodes focused on Annalise’s character growth — at her home in Memphis and in her therapist’s office — we’re back to business as usual this week with an episode structured around a central trial.

“It’s for the Greater Good” wastes no time jumping in where we left off: Michaela is angrily storming away from Laurel after being faced with Laurel’s demand that she use her new internship at Caplan & Gold to take down her father. Michaela wants them all to move on with their lives now that they’re free of the cycle of murder and regret — especially given that Wes’ investigating is what got him killed in the first place. She jumps in a cab and tells Laurel not to follow her.

Meanwhile, Annalise is continuing to explore the new leaf she’s turned over. Instead of taking on a dubious, high-powered client, she visits the public defender’s office, where she volunteers her services to help with case overflow. Virginia Cross, the head of the office, accuses her of only being there to rehab her rep, but Annalise counters with a reminder that she’s broke and doing herself no favors monetarily by taking on this work.

Cross assigns her to an appeal case for Ben Carter, a reformed gang member accused of killing his fiancée, Kim. He wrote his own plea for an appeal from jail, insisting he was not given a fair trial based solely on his tattoo-covered appearance. Annalise meets with Carter, and he insists Kim jumped from the 10th-story window of their apartment; he didn’t push her. He also admits they were fighting because Kim told him their daughter Madison wasn’t his, and he called her terrible names. Annalise deletes the recording of their conversation (which feels like an extreme precaution stemming from an old-habits-die-hard sensibility). Carter reveals that Kim was suffering from postpartum depression when she died.

Oliver visits the DA’s office to give his business card to Nate and sell him on the idea of using his I.T. services. He sees Bonnie across the room and realizes she’s now working for Denver. Since no one on this show is capable of keeping a secret, he immediately races to tell Laurel and Asher the news, fearing that Bonnie has made a deal and sold them all out. Asher reveals that he already knew because Frank (who is now living with Bonnie) told him — it turns out Asher is helping our favorite local hitman study for the LSATs. Connor shows up to drop a bomb of his own: a check for over $32,000. It’s a refund for his tuition, as he has officially dropped out of law school.

Michaela is hard at work at her new job, while Simon tries to coast along on his frat boy antics, yukking it up with the boys club at the firm. Michaela gets a frantic call from Asher filling her in on Connor’s decision to drop out, but she’s cut off when Teagan Price — seemingly the only other black woman at the firm — interrupts her and chastises her for taking a personal call.

It’s time for the Caplan & Gold Hell Bowl, a head-to-head trivia contest that makes excellent use of the interns’ and firm’s time by pitting all of the interns against in each other in a test of their knowledge of the firm. The winner gets a Magnum bottle of champagne and their choice of which partner to work under. Naturally, Michaela kills it (despite being visibly upset when Antares, the name of Laurel’s dad’s company, is the answer to a question). She makes it to the final four alongside Simon. Ick.

Laurel, meanwhile, is trying to course-correct her career and goes to Bonnie to beg for an internship at the DA’s office. She insists it’s her only chance given her low GPA and her pregnancy. Nate and Bonnie both give her the cold shoulder and shut down her request. Nate has come to Bonnie with an opportunity to prove to the entire DA’s office once and for all that she’s not still on Team Annalise.

In a largely hollow face-off, Nate takes the stand as a lead investigator in Annalise’s trial, claiming the original investigator is sick. (Cough, cough.) He makes much out of a newly discovered deleted voicemail from Kim saying she and Ben need to talk; Annalise rightfully points out that this proves nothing. Annalise later puts Ben on the stand to prove to the jury he’s more than he appears.

She gets blindsided by a disciplinary board random urine sample and runs into Laurel in the bathroom. Laurel fills her in with an update on the Keating Four, plus Oliver, and reminds her they still don’t know who killed Wes. Annalise tries to discern what Laurel wants from her; is it just to hurt her feelings?  To which Laurel responds, “That would require you to have feelings.” Ouch. Annalise tells her to stop acting like a child before she gives birth to one, and in turn, Laurel reveals her baby is a boy. Or maybe not. I don’t trust anything Laurel says anymore. (Recap continues on page 2)

Michaela is trying to work, while Simon continues to schmooze his way through his internship. Teagan tells Michaela not to let Simon “the man-child” get in her head because if she loses the C&G Hell Bowl it’s a loss for all women. Oh, and she bet two grand on Michaela’s victory. No pressure though.

Connor’s approach to life after Annalise is the opposite of Michaela’s: He’s choosing to spend his time day-drinking and shoving tips in male strippers’ booty shorts. Oliver begs Asher to fix this situation and then gets called away to a job by Nate.

They want Oliver to turn the tables and hack Annalise’s phone, which he initially resists until Bonnie goads him into it by reminding him Annalise didn’t even fire him to his face. He does as asked and finds her deleted voicemail from earlier, which Nate then employs in the case against Ben. Which seems like a wholly unfair and roundabout way to get back at Annalise since she’s not even making money off this case. But a strong moral compass was never anyone’s strong suit here.

Ben takes the stand, talking about his love for his daughter and how he wished that he had convinced Kim to see a therapist for her postpartum depression, but he didn’t come from a place where people discussed mental health. The prosecutor catches him off guard and permanently traumatizes Ben’s daughter Madison (who is sitting in on the trial) by demanding he submit to a paternity test as potential evidence for motive. Now I hate Nate because his actions made a little girl cry.

Annalise hates him — and Bonnie — too. She sees them in a parking garage later that night while she’s on the phone arguing with the public defender’s office to keep her on the case. She doesn’t blame Nate for wanting revenge, but she rips into Bonnie, telling her she is a “bad lawyer” for her inability to separate her emotions from her job. She then literally threatens to “beat her ass” and lunges at Bonnie.

They’re barely kept apart by Nate, who tries to take the blame. Bonnie is saved from an Annalise beatdown by a call from the county morgue; they need Annalise to identify a body. Sadly, as she predicted would happen at the end of last week’s episode, it’s her former client/cellmate Jasmine — she has fresh track marks on her arm and was found in an alley.

This sends Annalise reeling, priming her for a potential relapse. Instead, she goes to Isaac’s house and seeks counsel from, well, her counselor. He tells her that her reaction to her friend’s death is normal, but he thinks she should drop Ben Carter’s case because it’s putting too much stress on her and could result in her losing her license permanently. She doesn’t agree, and when she gets home there’s a mysterious envelope waiting outside her door.

Back in the land of the Keating Four, Laurel goes to verify that Frank is living with Bonnie and asks him to convince Bonnie to hire her as an intern. She reminds him that when they first met he predicted she’d give up her career to become a mom and she needs him to help prevent that fate. They’re interrupted by an SOS call for meatballs (not a euphemism) from Asher. Soon, the Scooby Murder gang is back together at Frank and Bonnie’s. As Michaela studies for the C&G final four round of the Hell Bowl, Laurel continues to pressure her to try to find dirt on her father.

Connor, summoned by Asher, arrives to find Michaela, Laurel, Frank, and Oliver waiting to give him a “dinner-vention,” which is apparently an intervention with meatballs. Asher tries to share his feelings with the group, but Connor interrupts to call them on their hypocrisy. Oliver (rather harshly) tells Connor he’s become a “deadbeat loser,” and Michaela tries to make him feel guilty that she’s taking her valuable study time to be there. But Connor asserts that all he wants from them is their trust in his life decisions.

Frank does as Laurel asked and pleads with Bonnie to give her an internship, but Bonnie stands her ground — but not really. In the next scene, we see her begrudgingly setting up Laurel at a desk. However, Laurel is only here to do menial tasks like make copies and fetch coffee (we’ll see how long this lasts).

Back to that mysterious manila envelope: Annalise calls Frank to ask if he left it there for her, but he has no idea what she’s talking about. The envelope contains a DVD with grainy ATM footage showing Kim jumping from the apartment — as Ben asserted all along. It’s the evidence she needs to win the case.

Even though Frank didn’t send the DVD, he does the digging to find out who did. Security footage from the building reveals it was a bartender who works near City Hall and is sleeping with public defender Virginia Cross. Cross shows up for the end of Ben’s trial, and Annalise rather inexplicably calls Cross to the stand as a hostile witness. She reveals and plays the DVD evidence that exonerates Ben, while also questioning why Cross didn’t use this in his trial all those years ago. Cross concedes it escaped her notice because of how thinly stretched they are at the public defender’s office. It was in a box of security footage she only went through once the appeal came to trial. Annalise pushes her to admit the office is underpaid and overwhelmed, resulting in men like Ben being wrongfully imprisoned.

Outside the courtroom, Annalise watches as Ben tearfully reunites with his daughter. Cross then confronts her about why Annalise embarrassed her in court and didn’t just display the video evidence. For the second time this episode, Annalise nearly comes to blows — Cross even spits on her. A lot about Annalise has changed lately, but my favorite thing might be her willingness to start knockdown fights. Get it, Annalise. (Recap continues on page 3)

Later, in Isaac’s office, he questions Annalise about why she needed to destroy a colleague to win her case and posits it was simply a channel for her anger. She reveals (unless she’s just crafting her excuse on the spot) that it was actually a ploy to get Cross to admit public defenders are unable to provide fair trials, which will serve as the basis for a class action lawsuit against the governor and the entire justice system. Honestly, if there’s anyone who can fight this fight, it is Annalise Keating (though previous flash-forwards suggest she might not get very far). Isaac urges her to save herself, instead of everyone else — for her own health and sanity. She accuses him of trying to break her with random urine tests and his attempts to talk her off cases, and she insists she is doing this because it makes her feel better.

Asher and Connor are back at the gay bar, drinking away their unemployment woes. Connor suggests Asher take up a job as a stripper/waiter. But before Asher can get his groove on, Oliver comes in with a surprise: Connor’s dads are here, and they are MAD he is spending his tuition dollars day-drinking. That’s right: dadssssss. To everyone (myself included) who assumed Connor had a traumatic coming-out experience with his wealthy Midwestern lawyer parents — yeah, this little reveal just blew that assumption to smithereens.

Michaela is at work at Caplan & Gold, but Laurel comes to disrupt her with news that she accessed her father’s flight log and he landed in Philadelphia on the day of Wes’ death. This is all the proof she needs of his culpability in the murder. Michaela is shaken by the news, but she still sends Laurel away in anger. She needs to concentrate on winning the Hell Bowl, where she and Simon are the final two.

The final question asks where C&G’s smallest office in the world is located. Michaela (like the audience) already knows it’s in Rwanda — Laurel made an offhand comment about her father forcing them to open a firm there for his shady business dealings. Simon answers incorrectly, leaving Michaela to swoop in with the win. And realize that maybe Laurel is on to something.

She brings celebratory champagne to fellow fierce lawyer Teagan and says she has chosen her as the partner she wants to work under. We saw this coming from the moment Teagan bet on her, but it turns out Michaela hasn’t chosen her because she sees her as Annalise 2.0, new and improved role model. No, she’s chosen Teagan because she manages the Antares account. Michaela walks away looking distinctly uneasy, and her gut feeling is dead on, because now we flash forward again: Michaela is looking through a window, her face stained with tears, her dress with blood.

Once more, we get flashes of the bloody elevator and Bonnie’s stricken face, as well as Laurel’s hysterical questioning of Frank. Isaac is walking through the hospital, having hung up on Annalise because he thinks he sees her standing in the hallway, but it’s not Annalise, it’s Michaela (um, okay, Isaac, Annalise and Michaela look nothing alike excepting one detail). Michaela is sobbing and completely shell shocked. Isaac pulls her against him as she asks, “He’s dead isn’t he? Everyone around us dies.” We pull back to reveal she’s standing in front of the hospital nursery looking at a row of babies.

Now we’re faced with a new set of questions to add to the ones we already had. What role does Michaela play here — who is she saying is dead? The baby (whom we now know is a boy)? Asher? Connor? Simon (I’m gonna go with no because there would be  fewer tears and more rejoicing)? And does the blood on Michaela’s collar come from the same place as the blood in Annalise’s elevator?

So many questions, so few answers.

Viola Davis stars as a law professor where she teaches, wait for it, how to get away with murder.
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  • 5
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  • 09/25/14
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