How to Get Away With Murder recap: ‘Was She Ever Good at Her Job?’
Annalise dives head first into her class action lawsuit and Connor grapples with family drama
Annalise’s (character) rehab continues in this week’s episode, starting with an opening sequence that finds her dictating notes to a tape recorder as she begins to build her class action lawsuit, which she is calling “Keating v. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Rather conveniently, the Keating Four are also learning about class action suits in their law school class; they’re quizzed on famous cases while they’re distracted by their outside internships (or lack thereof). Truly, the biggest reveal of the season thus far is that any of the four still attend class at all. At this point, I assumed they were taking online classes or something.
Annalise’s suit will name Governor Birkhead as its top name to attract maximum attention, and she needs to find 40 plaintiffs willing to file, which means going through Virginia Cross’ past clients and seeking out others who might have been neglected by the system. The other thing she needs? Cold hard cash. Class action lawsuits are extremely expensive, and Annalise is broke, so she returns to a past adversary/friend, Middleton University colleague and fellow AA member President Soraya Hargrove.
Hargrove is still in the midst of a nasty divorce and fighting to win custody of her kids. Annalise wants Hargrove to hire her. Instead of firing her lawyer, Hargrove can take her on as a consultant and only has to pay Annalise if she helps her negotiate a better deal than the one already on the table.
Back to the bombshell that is Connor’s dads: While Oliver social-media stalks the Walsh patriarchs, Connor fills him in on the details. His dad came out when he was young, and it caused his mom to have a nervous breakdown. This is why the two don’t really talk. He suspects his dad is only in town to get the tuition money, but Oliver is already messaging Mr. Walsh online behind Connor’s back.
Bonnie, who cannot quit her Annalise addiction, asks ADA Denver to allow her to review all of Virginia Cross’ cases to make sure they don’t have any reason for the office to be indicted in a misconduct suit. Denver, who — surprise! — is now running for Attorney General, offers her the generous resources of a team of one and says she can review the cases herself. She never explicitly states that this is at all related to Annalise’s interest in Cross’ cases, but c’mon, it has to be, right?
Laurel is once again on Michaela’s case to investigate her father’s company from inside Caplan & Gold — though she is also slightly distracted by Asher’s ass since her OBGYN took her off depression meds and she now “wants to hump everything.” Michaela isn’t so sure there’s a way to make this investigation work; the system tracks all of the files she opens.
Back at the office, Michaela is already reaping the benefits of being Teagan Price’s intern. She gets to watch her latest arbitration from inside the conference room. But it turns out she’s bait because Price wants to woo to the firm her client’s place of employment — Middleton University. That’s right: President Hargrove and her divorce case are Price’s new case. No matter how hard she’s tried, Michaela cannot escape the influence of Annalise Keating. She turns the corner and there Annalise is, acting as Hargrove’s counsel. Price is angry that Hargrove has taken on outside co-counsel without vetting, but Hargrove dangles the Middleton account over her head to coerce her.
Hargrove and her ex-husband, Roland (ugh, what a rich white guy name), sit down to hammer out the details of their case and it is U.G.L.Y. Despite having signed a pre-nup, Roland wants a large chunk of Hargrove’s $10 million net worth and full custody of the kids. Roland’s lawyers present an affidavit listing every instance Hargrove was intoxicated over the course of their marriage. They back it up with a USB drive containing video of Hargrove suffering the effects of her alcoholism in the family bathroom while her husband argues with her and holds back her hair. Hargrove fears that if this video reaches court it could become public domain and get back to the university, potentially endangering her job. They’ve left her with no choice but to settle, but Annalise implores her to fight back the same way she fought to conquer her alcoholism.
Oliver is out to eat with Connor’s dads, and his biological father, Jeff, tells him the story of Connor’s coming out. Rather than something majorly dramatic (as we might expect from this show), a 12-year-old Connor simply sat down at the dinner table and told his parents he was gay. He told his parents that if they didn’t accept him, he would run away to live with “his people” in the West Village. Connor’s courage inspired his father, and exactly one week later, he sat down at the dinner table and came out at the age of 43. After not being there for Connor and his ex-wife then, Jeff implores Oliver to help him connect with Connor now. Later, Oliver brings Ted and Jeff home to chat with Oliver, but Connor is waiting for him — naked — and he runs from the room, screaming, “I hate you” at all of them. (Recap continues on page 2)
As Bonnie goes through the Cross case files, she notices something amiss with Nate’s testimony from a five-year-old case and asks him to look into it. Meanwhile, Laurel is furious to discover Denver is running for Attorney General after he helped cover up Wes’ murder. Bonnie brushes it aside, but when Denver tells her she has to fire Laurel because she’s another Annalise groupie, she tells Denver that Laurel is pregnant and dismissing her might lead to a discrimination suit.
Back at Caplan & Gold, Price asks Michaela if she knows Annalise, prompting her to reveal that she was Annalise’s student and she hates her. Price reminds her it’s part of the job of a “boss bitch” to work with people you hate. Enter Annalise, who wants Michaela and Price to review the draft of the countersuit she’s composed on Hargrove’s behalf. They shut her down since they disagree with the suit itself, but as Annalise storms off to do it herself, Michaela runs after her with Roland’s lawyer’s email address. Michaela tries to suggest they set their feelings aside for the sake of the client, but Annalise isn’t having it.
While waiting outside Isaac’s office for her appointment, Annalise emails the lawyer in Hargrove’s countersuit, charging Roland with invasion of privacy and voyeurism for the videos he recorded. At the same time, she’s on the phone with the records office requesting trial transcripts for every single one of Virginia Cross’ cases. That will cost $20-30 grand(!!!), so she settles for the front pages of each, listing the defendants’ names, which only costs the very reasonable price of $3000. While she’s on the phone, Nate arrives at the records office to inquire about the missing evidence Bonnie asked him to track down.
Isaac finally shows up to begin Annalise’s session, but they are promptly interrupted by a phone call from Michaela — which Annalise declines. Annalise says she’s in a good mood, so naturally Isaac brings up Wes and his concern that the class action suit is her means of distracting herself from the guilt she feels over his death. He pushes her to consider that her desire to make amends is driving her to take this on, and she continues to push back, accusing him of wanting to betray her.
At C&G, Michaela now has a username and password but is dismayed to find that as an intern she cannot access any of Teagan Price’s account files. Laurel calls her to tell her Denver is running for Attorney General, but first, Michaela has to deal with Annalise’s HUGE MISTAKE. Distracted by her multitasking, Annalise emailed the wrong Barry the video/countersuit – Barry Lewiston, a member of the Middleton board, not Barry Thompson, the lawyer. Hargrove is trying to do damage control over the phone and convince Lewiston she’s sober now.
Outside the office, Price asks Michaela if Annalise was ever a good lawyer. Hargrove accuses Annalise of doing it on purpose and throws in some barbs about Annalise’s childlessness. She then suggests that the mistake was because Annalise was drinking., but after they commiserate over their struggles to stay sober, Annalise promises to fix everything. She leaves messages for Barry Lewiston on his phone, eventually threatening legal action if he doesn’t call her back.
Frank is waiting for Annalise outside her elevator — he’s brought the “suitcase money” (which is literally still a suitcase full of money) as a peace offering. Annalise screams at him to go, saying, “That’s my dead baby in the suitcase.” Oof.
Back at Casa Connor and Oliver, Connor is making margaritas to avoid talking to his dads while they meet the Keating Four (sans Michaela). Connor pushes his dad away, asking him if he has cancer because that’s the only reason he can imagine his father would be here, besides wanting his money back. His dad responds by making a toast to the room, praising Connor’s “second family” (if only you knew, Mr. Walsh) and calling Connor his lifelong “teacher.” Slightly uncomfortable, but sure.
Bonnie is on the phone with Frank complaining about Laurel (do they call each other for any other reason?). Frank says he has to go because he’s taking a practice LSAT, but actually it’s because Laurel is in the car right beside him. He reasserts that he’s there for Laurel, but her needs are of a more sensual variety this evening. She puts his car seat all the way back and climbs on top of him.
Annalise receives an email from Isaac containing his glowing one-month progress report, which recommends she be able to continue to practice. Inspired, Annalise decides to subpoena Roland’s therapist’s notes for proof of the emotional distress he’s citing in the divorce paperwork. Michaela recruits a cadre of C&G interns to pore over them for anything that could help the case. The notes reveal a suggestion that Roland was cheating on Hargrove with someone named Sue.
Back in arbitration, they cite the infidelity clause in the prenup, but not so fast: Sue is actually Hsu, as in Warren Hsu, the family money manager. But this was the plan all along — Annalise and Price discovered that Roland illegally hid his assets before the divorce to make himself look needier. They threaten to report him to the IRS unless he agrees to their terms: joint custody for Hargrove and a $1 million settlement (reduced from his requested $3 million).
It’s a win for Hargrove across the board — Lewiston called her and told her he would pretend he never saw Annalise’s email. Annalise reveals she threatened to drudge up her breach of contract lawsuit against the university if he didn’t leave Hargrove alone. Hargrove wants to write Annalise a check on the spot, but Annalise, back to her steely self, says she’ll send a bill. (Recap continues on page 3)
As Annalise leaves, Teagan Price offers her a potential job at Caplan & Gold. Michaela, hating that idea, chases Annalise to the elevator. She’s trying to go back to who she was before she met Annalise and is happy to have a mentor in Teagan. But instead of letting it slide, Annalise retorts that Michaela is looking for a “mommy” in every mentor. “You want us all to be the mother yours never was,” she spits out. Damn. By the look on her face, this seems to shake Michaela to her core.
Swapping Michaela’s mommy issues for Connor’s daddy problems, Connor tries to return the tuition check to his father. Jeff tells him to keep it, which prompts Connor to retort that his love and forgiveness can’t be bought. He admits he doesn’t hate his dad anymore; they just aren’t close.
But dear old dad has some advice before he goes — he thinks marrying Oliver is a mistake. He’s a great guy, but he’s not the type of guy Connor needs. He insists Connor is faking his happiness, that he’s not the independent, strong kid Jeff once knew, and he needs to leave Oliver to be his true self. Way to repay Oliver for being your tour guide and helping to mend your bad relationship with your son, Jeff. Later, Oliver suggests they go visit Connor’s dads for Memorial Day, which Connor is non-responsive and then noncommittal about.
Annalise goes to pick up her $3000 worth of records, where she is intercepted by Nate, who wants to know what she’s up to. She insists she is taking on the system for Wes and her clients who have been hurt, but Nate thinks that’s rich coming from someone who got him wrongfully imprisoned. That’s exactly the point, Annalise says: She wants to help people like him. Still, Nate doesn’t believe she’s #herefortherightreasons. Back in her apartment, Annalise begins to go through the files, highlighting the names of all of the defendants and coming up with 300 viable names for her suit.
Meanwhile, Laurel is digging through the list of the donors to Denver’s Attorney General campaign and finds a familiar name: Trent Stockton, a former Antares employee who died under mysterious circumstances. To Laurel, this is concrete evidence that her father is paying off Denver for covering up Wes’ murder. She immediately presents it to Michaela and begs her to start dating the I.T. guy or something (or she’ll do it — which also leads her to admit she slept with Frank). Michaela, however, has a better idea. She calls Oliver with an “I.T. emergency.”
Nate brings the evidence file from records to Bonnie — it was simply misfiled — and Bonnie presents him with a new theory: Annalise is doing this because she wants to become the Chief Public Defender. But Nate wants none of the Annalise crack Bonnie is smoking.
Throughout the previous sequence, we see interspersed scenes of Isaac dictating notes to himself about Annalise: his concerns that she is overwhelming herself with work and self-inflicting penance for the lives she’s ruined. He fears that if her plans fail, she will relapse or worse. When he pushed her about Wes, she shut down, which he then admits is better for him because Annalise is a trigger for him. A trigger for what???? Isaac puts aside his tape recorder because he has a new patient waiting — and that new patient is Bonnie, who gives him the fake name of Julie.
Flash forward again, and we have a more concrete timeline: All of this is officially happening one and a half months later. We’re back with Isaac, who’s comforting the traumatized Michaela as he receives a phone call from Julie (who we all know is really Bonnie). Bonnie/Julie goes to voicemail, and it turns out she’s making her call from inside Caplan & Gold. The office is crawling with police and crime scene tape. Police direct her to a witness, as we see yet another mysterious pool of blood. And the witness, wrapped in a blanket and clearly shaken, is….Oliver.
So, there we have it HTGAWM fans: The mystery gains two more layers. We still have no idea where Annalise is or whether she’s alive. Is more than one person dead? Or does the apartment elevator blood and Caplan & Gold blood belong to the same person? Oliver’s presence there absolutely has something to do with Michaela’s plea for his I.T. services, right? And where does Isaac fit into all of this?