“We’re not monsters! We don’t tie people up and hold them captive against their will!”
Ohhhhhhh, oooooookay Annalise Keating — that’s how you want to play it in the How to Get Away With Murder Season 1 finale?
But didn’t you just get a pious Catholic church secretary to perjure herself on behalf of a homicidal priest? Didn’t you frame your innocent lover for your husband’s murder — then have him beaten down to try to secure his bail? And weren’t you the one who transported a bound and gagged Rebecca Sutter from her sketchy apartment building to your tony Philadelphia law office/home? (Nice bathroom wallpaper, bee tee dubs.)
Yeah, sure, Annalise — our Thursday nights would be nothing without your delicious legal flights of fancy, your “smarter than everybody in the room” conclusions and your flair for dramatic line-readings like “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” But to paraphrase a classic Britney Spears jam that I’m 97.3% certain is not on your iTunes, you’re not! that! innocent!
Oh wait, make that 99.7%. At the end of HTGAWM‘s two-hour Season 1 finale, we learned the following:
1. Rebecca winds up dead in Annalise’s basement — and the only two people who don’t seem especially surprised are Annalise and Frank, each of whom casually claims they thought the other one did it. (I bet this corpse gets properly incinerated — since the pros are in charge!)
1a. Not a statement, but a Big Question: Was Rebecca’s body moved/hidden when the Keating Four went down to the basement to look for her and realized she’d “escaped”? Or was she dead underneath the stairs the whole time — without them knowing it? If it’s the latter, they need to be a weeeee bit more observant going forward, yes?
2. We learn it was Frank — working on direct orders from Sam, who apparently was owed one whopper of a favor — who choked the life out of Lila Stangard on her sorority rooftop. So to review: Frank did it. Sam ordered it. Both guilty. Though I still can’t fathom why Sam couldn’t have just broken it off with the co-ed.
3. Oliver is HIV positive. Connor is not.
4. Laurel had Michaela’s ring the entire time. (Oh, Ms. Castillo, I loved your twist most of all!)
5. I still can’t tell if Annalise wants to be Wes’ mother or his lover — and that might be the most disturbing takeaway of all.
6. Nobody weighed in on the color of the dress (although we all know it’s black and blue).
There were a bunch of red herrings, diversions and even the sensational Lynn Whitfield on hand to try to distract us from the Big Questions — and given that the 120-minute finale was actually comprised of two distinctive episodes, we even got a Bonus Case — but I’ll do my best to boil it down to just the good parts (and the pertinent questions):
First, though, if there’s a twisted moral to the twisted story of Season 1, it’s this: Annalise Keating’s mantra is that as a defense attorney it’s better to lie to yourself about your clients — especially when “dwelling in the truth won’t let you do your job.” But that philosophy seems to have bled over (pun intended) into every corner of her life: You tell yourself what you need to believe, you repeat it over and over again until you’re convinced, you move forward to whatever obstacle comes next.
When Annalise turns down the sacrament of confession from her murderous priest client in Hour One, she mumbles that “no God should forgive me for all the bad things that I’ve done.” At this point, if Annalise has not actually taken a person’s life during her time on this earth, I’d be shocked — possibly even disappointed. Sure, helping her students dispose of her husband’s corpse wasn’t exactly the kind of thing deserve a “prayer hand” emoji, but there must be darker stains on her soul, no? The cloud of guilt that hangs over her head — that informs all of her decisions — tells me the answer is “yes.”
Here’s what else we learned:
NAILED IT! | Turns out Wes’ neighbor Rudy was (seemingly) a last-minute red herring — although the fact that Rebecca drugged the naive law student with PCP and “Purple Ecstacy” (causing him to lose his mind and give himself a terrible home manicure using his plaster walls) proves she wasn’t above some Annalise-level treachery to save her own hide.
A JURY OF FOUR | By the end of Hour One, after Wes has poked holes in so many of Rebecca’s stories and depositions, the Keating Four confront the erstwhile drug dealer at her apartment. Michaela gives her the harshest cross examination — including a light slap and an “I swear to God I will personally destroy you” barb that definitely should’ve earned an “Objection! Badgering the witness!” (had Rebecca had representation). Nose-Ring McRaccoonEyes, however, hits back — and hard — though not with an open palm. “I found the campus cop: His name is Roger Loftus,” she grins, showing the Keating Four aren’t the only ones who’ve soaked up intel around the Keating house (and tying up a loose end about why said security dude never reported seeing the Keating Four outside the Keating House the night Sam Keating died). “Don’t make me call him.”
IN A BIND | Apparently, watching Annalise win every case all year has made the Keating Four feel invincible. How else to explain the fact that by the time Annalise shows up at Wes’ apartment and demands her squirrely students “SPEAK!” they’ve already got Rebecca bound and gagged in the bathroom. (My past history watching Law & Order tells me this would fall under the heading of “unlawful imprisonment.”) “Sam might’ve been innocent,” Wes blurts, and from the look on her face, he might as well have knocked Annalise over the head with the trophy, too. (Side note: Who deserves that ol’ Scales of Justice figure this week? Laurel? Frank? Or Asher, for the way he puts a book on a shelf?)
When Rebecca disobeys Annalise’s order not to scream, she winds up transported back to the Keating residence — and under Frank’s watchful eye. (“Don’t make Frank take you to the basement; you wouldn’t like him in the basement” is the subtext of Annalise’s warning — which sends a chill down my spine when my brain jumps ahead to how and where the hour ends.)
Is all of this a little bit implausible behavior from people who are well-versed in the law? (Et tu, Bonnie?) Probably. But not as much as when Annalise decides the Keating Four should put Rebecca on trial and come at her with their best theories. (You have to say this for Prof. Keating: She recognizes a teachable moment when she sees it.) After scouring all of the evidence — including Rebecca’s confession video, her psych evaluation, and her various testimony, nobody can impress Annalise with anything more than a circumstantial case. “Everything that you’re presenting is speculation!” she groans. “You’ve been working with me for nearly six months now and this is the crap case you present me with!”
“EVERYBODY IS GETTING A ‘D’!” Annalise adds (in my daydream). “NO, WAIT, EVERYBODY IS GETTING AN ‘F’ — BECAUSE YOU ALSO LEFT MY HUSBAND IN A DUMPSTER!”
Rebecca, however, throws out the most interesting conspiracy theory: Wes is truly the devious one. “He got us to go along with his plan,” she tells Connor, and then adds with a wink-wink expression that “Waitlist” claimed his mother killed herself. And since she’s on a disobedience streak, Rebecca later snags Michaela’s phone and texts “EGGS 911. Lawyer’s House” to an unknown number — then ends up taped to a chair that’s bound to a post as punishment.
Who/what the hell is EGGS 911? Should we all come back to the Internet in the morning to ponder this cryptic clue with fresh eyes?
ANY LAST WORDS, REBECCA? | Annalise goes to the basement to try to interview Rebecca, even seeming to suggest they’re not so different. “I recognized you,” she whispers, adding that Rebecca uses people only because she doesn’t know any better. She then goes on to describe Wes as “a boy who so clearly loved you, and he still does – even if he doesn’t know who you are anymore.” Rebecca seems to soften, then confesses, “I did it. I killed Lila. Or maybe Sam did it — that’d be easier for you. Who knows who did it?”
If Annalise’s plan was to soften up her former client for a sit-down with Wes, though, it works (kind of) — as she barks at the puppy to “Be a man and go get your girlfriend to talk!” After Rebecca expresses her hurt over Wes’ lack of trust — “I didn’t know I had to be afraid of you” — she confesses her big sin about what she did to Rudy, then adds that she had found Lila’s dead body in the water tank, but didn’t tell anyone for fear she’d look guilty.
The students want to pin Lila’s death on Sam, and Sam’s death on Rebecca, but Annalise’s insurance company tells her she can no longer get refills on that bottle with instruction label “Take Two When Losing to Change Course Mid-Case.” It doesn’t matter who did what, anyway, Prof. Keating contends: “It’s not what’s right and what’s fair, it’s who tells the most convincing story.”
Bonnie, who probably just wants to get back home and place a booty call to Asher, delivers the most truthful Gospel, though, when she hisses at the law-student ingrates that the reasons Annalise continues to protect ’em are beyond her comprehension.
I HAVE A THEORY ABOUT THIS, THOUGH, BONNIE! WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR IT? (Keep reading…)
MOMMY ISSUES | I am convinced more than ever that Annalise is somehow connected to Wes’ deceased mother. Maybe the woman was a client of Prof. Keating. Maybe she was Annalise’s sister. Maybe she’s someone who got burned to the ground as collateral damage in Annalise’s zest to win. I think this because of how utterly broken Annalise looks when Wes tells her, “All of this — Rebecca, Sam, Nate — it’s all my fault.”
Annalise winds up sitting on the stairs, Wes’ head in her lap, stroking his back and saying reassuring things in his ear — all while knowing that Rebecca is one flight down and rapidly assuming the body temperature of the basement’s concrete floor (or the temperature of the blood in Prof. Keating’s veins). “What matters now is Sam killed Lila. He did. Sam killed her,” Annalise purrs. “With everything that happened, this is the version of the truth that makes the most sense and will let us move on.” She makes weepy Wes repeat the words like a mantra, “Sam killed Lila. Sam killed Lila. Sam killed Lila.”
“It will [feel better],” Annalise adds. “I promise you Wes. I’ve got you.” Then she sends the kid on his way, goes down the stairs and talks to Frank about the murder victim laying at their feet as casually as new parents standing over their baby’s crib at night. “Oh looky what we got tonight! Another homicide!”
UP ON THE ROOOOOOF… We also get a series of flashbacks to the night of Lila’s death — and much of it plays out as we were previously told. Rebecca and Lila have a fight, with the sorority girl shouting that her drug-dealer buddy is nothing but a “trashed-out druggie whore.” Rebecca beds Griffin, though, and then texts Lila from his phone so she can see what a cad the guy is. Lila, emotionally unravelling, goes to Annalise’s — where Bonnie (as we saw earlier this season) greets her with all the warmth of a dog opening a box of fleas. So, Lila returns to her sorority, calls Sam, gets him to come over. He’s her white knight — a white night with dead shark eyes that he keeps half-open when they kiss. He tells her she’s the one he loves, that he’s going home to end it with Annalise, but when he gets outside, he places a call instead: “It’s Sam. I need you to do what we talked about. You owe me.”
As some of the most menacing music this side of Marilyn Manson’s happy place pulsates through the Philadelphia night, we finally see a set of gloved hands wrap around Lila’s neck, extinguish the life from her, haul her over his shoulder,and put her in the water tank. Lo and behold, that person is… Frank! So what did Sam know about Annalise’s bearded right-hand that was explosive enough to drive him to serve as a contract killer? That question had better be explored in Season 2.
ALSO FROM THE FINALE
*Oliver insists Connor get tested before they get intimate, but he’s the one who gets bad news about being HIV-positive.
*Michaela rejects an olive branch from Aiden’s mother — most likely because her Tiffany ring is missing and these rich types aren’t gonna be fooled by cubic zirconia — and in fact, breaks out he bayou accent to tell the formidable woman her son is gay. “He doesn’t love me. But here’s the thing: I love me. So I’m done.”
* After getting an Annalise-ordered beat-down in jail, Nate winds up in solitary, rather than a bail-appeal hearing. So Frank and Bonnie use Asher — getting him photographed with the judge on Nate’s case — to lodge an objection and get a newer (hopefully more sympathetic) overlord in court. Out on bail (though badly bruised) he places a call to the mystery representation suggested by Annalise.
* Finally, there’s a perky new prosecutor on Nate’s case (Enlightened’s Sarah Burns). — so perky she’s almost menacing. Interestingly enough, though, her first port of call is Asher’s house — and she invites herself inside to question him, rather than dragging him down to the station.
OK, your turn: What did you think of the HTGAWM Season 1 finale? Which twists were most thrilling and which left you colder than Lila floating in the water tank? Grade the episode in our poll, then sound off in the comments!