If all work and no play sent Jack Torrance crashing through his bathroom door with an axe, is it possible the same dismal formula drove How to Get Away With Murder‘s Annalise Keating to bash in her husband’s head with a Scales of Justice trophy?
After all, since Detective Nate got down on his knees and “worshiped at her altar” in the season premiere, our high-powered defense attorney/professor seems to be the only member of her extended team who’s not relieving her considerable work stress with intermittent sexytimes.
More importantly, though, if it turns out “Annie” — anyone else hate when Sam calls her that? — actually was the one who treated her cheating spouse’s noggin like a watermelon at a Gallagher concert, I’m not sure any jury would convict.
For starters, Prof. Keating would discredit the witnesses, introduce a plausible alternate suspect and finally bury the evidence with so much information that the jury members’ heads would spin in unison, like a chorus of Linda Blairs in The Exorcist: The Musical.
At this point in the season, who could really blame her anyway? As Annalise outlined to Sam in this week’s opening scene, “You lied when you said you didn’t sleep with [Lila]. You lied when you said you were at Yale the night she was killed.” And by the end of the hour, she’s learned that he’d lied when she asked if he’d known that his crazy-in-love student was pregnant at the time of her death. [If I were Annalise’s bestie, I’d suggest she bookmark the following 3-second YouTube video and press PLAY every time Sam opened his mouth.]
But here’s the thing: We’ve been trained by years and years of TV crime dramas to eliminate the most obvious explanations when trying to guess “whodunit?” So, wouldn’t it be a neat — and yes, even shocking — twist if it turns out Sam killed Lila, and Annalise, in turn, offed Sam? Their motives seem to be the best motives — unless maybe Wes’ mom committed suicide after being used and discarded by Sam or Rebecca got hooked on drugs by some slimeball former client of Annalise’s.
“WHAT ABOUT LURKY McCHURCHMOUSE?!” you’re shouting at your computer. And I hear you. Bonnie puts the “eep” in “creepy” — and her motives remain as unknowable as ABC’s decision not to change Selfie‘s title before its fall 2014 debut. [Fun fact: Annalise will be serving as defense attorney for the network in a spring 2015 installment when its execs stand accused in the serial deaths-by-bad-titles of Cougar Town, Trophy Wife and Selfie.]
Would the fine folks at Shondaland really make Bonnie so overtly off-kilter, though, if she was ultimately the guilty party? It seems doubtful. And what’s more, tonight’s installment, “He Has a Wife,” put nearly every major character into a potentially murderous emotional tailspin on Bonfire Night/Sam’s Murder Night/The Night of the Endlessly Twirling Cheerleader (or whatever you want to call it).
Before you post your own theories, let’s recap the highlights:
CASE OF THE WEEK | Annalise defends a woman accused of killing the family’s nanny in the midst of a pharmaceutical-fueled state of sleepwalking. The courthouse proceedings are just OK — it’s sort of a middling HTGAWM case — but provide two critical moments. The first involves Annalise decimating Bonnie when it turns out one of their witnesses was hiding a huge secret — a scold that concludes with this doozy: “You can’t do your one simple job — tell me what’s coming my way. That’s all I ask. And in return I tolerate your pitiful, mousy, pathetic presence in my house!” The second comes when the defendant rages against Annalise for destroying her family and sending her cheating, murderous hubby to the clink in the midst of proving her innocence. “That burn you feel right now is not because of what I did, it’s because of what he did,” Annalise tells the woman calmly, almost as if she’s processing the words for herself at the same time. “He lied to you, betrayed you, took advantage of your loyalty and trust — and that’s unforgivable. You’ll thank me one day.” Could we have witnessed the moment where Annalise decides that Sam needs to pay The Ultimate Price for his sins?
THE ODD COUPLE | We get plenty of flashbacks to Lila and Rebecca’s friendship — conducted mostly on rooftops and with the help of the latter chica’s drug stash. Rebecca proves to be a good listener for the naive co-ed, who spills all the details (and racy pics) of her fledgling romance/eventual affair/painful breakup with a married man whose name she never shares. The final glimpse of the unlikely pair finds a distraught, heartbroken Lila declaring that “bad things happen when you have sex” — but she stops short of revealing she’s got a professorial bun in the oven. Perhaps most surprising of all, however, is that when Lila declares her desire to contact “Mr. Darcy’s” wife and tell her all about the affair, Rebecca discourages the bridge-burning strategy. Instead, she takes Lila’s hand and offers her silent support — one of the few seemingly selfless acts we’ve seen from Rebecca ever, no? I mean, just when you think our drug dealer will choose mischief and destruction, she opts for… caution and quietude?
THE FINAL BALLAD OF ANNALISE AND SAM | I’ve gotta be honest: This week’s opening scene, where Annalise learns of Lila’s pregnancy and insists Bonnie stay in the bedroom for the subsequent grilling of Sam…utter ridiculousness! “I need a witness here to make sure you don’t lie to me again,” Annie grumbles — as if Sam can only fib to one person at a time. Uff da.
Nevertheless, what follows is verrrry verrrry innnteresting. Annalise rushes off and tells Wes the pregnancy findings — and then implores him not to tell Rebecca. He’s smart enough to ask why his boss bothered to tell him at all, if she truly wanted the information kept buried. “I learned my lesson about keeping secrets from you,” Keating smiles at her puppy, and I honestly can’t tell if she’s being condescending or genuine. Whatever the case, the woman who’s been trying so hard to get pregnant with Sam is secretly reeling from the fact that he knocked up his young (and now dead) mistress after only seven (or so) rolls in the hay. “This is what happens when you screw somebody else’s husband — you become sad, barren,” Annalise says, tears streaming down her face as she reminds us how she began as Sam’s mistress, too, before becoming his wife. “And even a dead girl is more of a woman than you.” Whether Annalise truly feels broken by her inability to conceive or whether she’s just playing mind games to keep Sam on his leash during Rebecca’s trial, it’s a startling confession and a rare moment of vulnerability for our protagonist.
Meanwhile, now that Bonnie knows Sam wasn’t at Yale the night of Lila’s death, she’s got some confessing to do of her own. She reveals to Sam that she met his mistress hours before her murder – when Lila showed up at the Keating residence looking for Annalise and pretty much inferring Sam already knew she was knocked-up. Bonnie is clearly torn about her next move, so Sam does his best lobbying job. “We both know how much this would devastate Annie,” Sam coos, trying to make sure that Bonnie doesn’t blow his cover about foreknowledge of Lila’s fetus. And then, he strokes Bonnie’s face, tells her he needs her “now more than ever” and plants a whopper of a kiss on her tremulous lips RIGHT ON THE FRONT PORCH WHERE ALL OF PHILADELPHIA CAN SEE HIM. (Cue “He Had It Comin'” from the Chicago soundtrack.) But Sam’s calculations about Bonnie are off: He can’t make it his goal to protect Annalise and to cheat on her with Bonnie. What a dumbass. And so Lurky McC goes right to Annalise, gets down on her knees like a chihuahua deferring to a doberman and tells her EVERYTHING — including the fact that she’d kept Lila’s visit to the Keating house to herself for months on end. “He’s not a good man, Annalise,” Bonnie weeps. But with the breech of trust, it’s as if Annalise has been slapped by her own right hand. “You’re fired,” she says flatly. And then, because no one ever wants to be accused of copping a Donald Trump catch phrase, she adds a pointed, “Leave and don’t come back.”
When Sam gets back home, Annalise is waiting on the steps — which, as we all know, means he’s in troooooouble. Yep, she just got off the phone with the police — and she’s suggested that to figure out who knocked up the dead, pregnant sorority girl, they should collect DNA from all the men in her life — including her professors. Little does Sam know, however, he’s got bigger problems: In the next few hours, somebody’s going to collect some DNA from his skull onto a blunt object!
DISGRACED COP + DRUG-DEALING MURDER SUSPECT = UPSET PUPPY | In a nutshell, Nate asks Rebecca to score a hair sample from Sam’s bathroom that he can get a friend to test against Lila’s fetus — but our gal proves less than slick showing up while Annalise is at court and lying to Sam that she lost her gloves. (He does take a moment to check out her backside, though, before asking her to leave — anyone else catch that?) When Rebecca mentions to Nate how much texting-sexting and general cellular hoo-hah went on between Sam and Lila, he thinks up a different strategy: Download backed-up data off Sam’s computer onto an external drive. The only problem is, Wes spies her in Nate’s car across the street, and it leads to a blowout argument. Wes is all, “That’s Annalise’s cop lover!” And Rebecca’s all, “I didn’t know — and I was just doing this to help!” And he’s all, “Harumph!” But as Connor and Laurel show up for study group, Rebecca bolts — and takes the drive with her. Looks like she’s going through with the plan whether Wes likes it or not. And Laurel, Wes and Connor are hot on her heels, heading for the Keating residence, on Murder Night.
MONSTER IN LAW | Michaela has some rich interactions with her rich-bitch future mother-in-law (Lynn Whitfield, #flawless), who comes bearing the unwelcome gift of that blasted pre-nup. “You sign, or I will make sure you go back to that nasty backwood bayou swamp you came from, you stubborn little bitch,” says this truly vile specimen (who I’m instantly hoping will become a recurring player in Season 2). When Michaela’s hand flies up to strike the evil bag, Aiden’s mama proves even faster, grabbing the girl’s wrist as casually as she’d dab the corners of her mouth with a napkin, and gleefully asking, “Oh, you wanna play? Let’s go.” Her suspicions confirmed that Michaela’s not the bespoke-buying princess she projects to the world, Mrs. Walker flees the scene — and Michaela (looking insane in the membrane) goes to Asher’s and steals the Keating Trophy she feels she deserves for helping win the week’s case. Since we know said trophy is about to become a blood-covered murder weapon, we can guess girlfriend is about to journey to Keating HQ, too, yes? Oh, and is it a moment of foreshadowing or just a red herring when Michaela, at the top of the hour, says this to a cocky Asher: “Mention the trophy again and I’ll bash your face with it.” Dun-dun-DUNNN.
IN OTHER NEWS | Frank and Laurel get freaky in a car, over the phone and then in his apartment… ’til the significant other he conveniently forgot to mention strolls into the room and introduces herself: “Sasha, his girlfriend. And you must be — the student of the month?” Suddenly, Laurel’s in tears and her equilibrium is off — but I’m not sure she’s so distraught that she’s going to fly into a homicidal rage in the next three hours, is she? Asher, meanwhile, invites Bonnie to his Bonfire Night party — and smack-talks Annalise for that “pathetic, mousy” insult she’d hurled at the courthouse. Is he being genuine, or just macking on a chickadee? Oh, and Connor has sex with no one. #ThisBetterNotBeATrend
Finally, we conclude with this PSA — from Annalise to her husband, but applicable in many other scenarios, as well:
What did you think of this week’s HTGAWM? Any new theories on who killed Lila and/or Sam? Sound off below!