Post Mortems

HTGAWM Recap: Dude Looks Like a Goner — Plus: Liza Weil Talks Bonnie's Surprise Hookup, Split Loyalties


Awwwww, sheet!

Yep, we’re a whole lot closer to figuring out whose corpse is shrouded in low-thread-count ignominy in How to Get Away With Murder‘s “Fire Night” flashbacks — and it’s definitely a dude. Well, “definitely” if you’re someone who believes everything you see on the local TV news, anyway. #HowYourToothbrushIsSlowlyKillingYou

Yet while that “unidentified male dead in house fire” chyron likely removes from the slab San Francisco-bound Eve, Annalise’s boss Pres. Hargrove and Nate’s new ADA girlfriend, the mystery is far from solved. Even factoring in sightings of Oliver, Laurel, Bonnie and now Michaela, that still leaves Asher, Connor, Nate, Wes, Frank and the simpering Mr. Drake as possible dirt-nap candidates.

Any other candidates I’m forgetting? Drop ’em in the comments below while I offer the pithiest possible recap of Season 3, Episode 5 (“It’s About Frank”) and then cut to a Q&A with Liza Weil, the woman behind Bonnie/Lurky McChurchmouse.

SOMEBODY’S NOT GETTING AWAY WITH “MURDERER” | Mr. Drake’s computer goes missing, and when he tries to search the Keating Five’s bags, Michaela’s “hillbilly” comes out (and that chica, the one who almost slapped her mother-in-law-to-be, is ferocious). She later waves off her friends’ questions about where she grew up — “the people who raised me are trash,” she hisses — but turns out she’s got some dark tendencies of her own. Michaela’s the one who pilfered the laptop, and co-conspirator Oliver’s hacking reveals Drake’s responsible for the “Murderer” posters of Annalise popping up all over campus. La Keating terrifies the kid with words like “slander,” “defamation” and “hate crime” — but deep inside, she’s happy the culprit is just a whiny student, not someone with a deeper knowledge of the murders she’s helped to cover up. (Side note: Anyone think there’s more to this particular story? Raise your hand.) (Oh, and did I mention when we see Michaela in flash-forward, taking a call on Connor’s phone, it’s revealed that her adoptive mother is played by Grace Under Fire star Brett Butler!)

BLAME IT ON THE ALCOHOL | After getting a new weave and hearing her hairdresser’s discussion of beating a cocaine addiction using “God and sex,” Annalise attends her first AA meeting — and promptly runs into Pres. Hargrove. Our heroine’s struggle to resist the bottle leads to painful flashbacks showing us her struggles to conceive, her miscarriages and the toll they took on her marriage to Sam. Annalise’s bender results in a drunk dial to Nate, a brutal bout of vomiting (cleaned up by Wes, of all people), and finally, the burning of a concerned Hargrove’s olive branch. The manipulative administrator wants to help her colleague — or pretends like she does — but all Annalise wants is for her suspension to be dropped (or to proceed with her $50 million lawsuit against Middleton).

Side note: Did anyone wonder if Annalise might bust a move on Wes after he wiped vomit from her hair? Not a romantic moment, but the way she caressed his face, asked him if Meggie was too good to him, conjured up all those latent quesitons about whether she feels maternal for her young protege or some other type of way. And the fact that the encounter seemed to spur Wes’ desire to split from his med-school lover and hook up with Laurel, well, maybe he’s just looking for love at the wrong desk at the Keating firm?

IT’S ABOUT FRANK | We learn a full beard’s worth about Frank’s backstory — including how he was sent to prison at 13 for attempting to kill his father, how Frank convinced Annalise to take the troubled youth’s parole cade, and how Frank fought against his own release because — as he finally confesses — he planned his attack on his father for weeks, and then felt no remorse when the man was pinned like a screaming animal underneath a vehicle. “Sociopaths don’t cry,” offers Sam, and with that, their paths become inextricably linked — all the way to the death of Annalise’s unborn baby, the murder of Lila Stangard and so many other horrors.

TVLINE | Let’s start with that final scene: Bonnie walking in right at the exact moment Laurel and Wes are telling Annalise that Bonnie saw Frank while she was in Coalport, Penn. We know from the flash-forwards that this betrayal doesn’t end Bonnie and Annalise’s working relationship, but can you tease how bad the fallout is going to be?
In Episode 6, we’re definitely going to see how Annalise reacts to Bonnie seeing Frank — and how Bonnie is going to spin that. It is a massive betrayal. But I don’t think Bonnie is massively surprised at Laurel coming clean, either. Laurel is someone who’s proven that she can’t help herself. She’s someone who is operating from a compulsion to do what she thinks is right. Plus, there’s an interesting, underlying thing in that Bonnie and Annalise are people who are constantly expecting betrayal on some level. That’s just how they’re built. They’re operating from a compromised state. But yes, there will be fallout and a surprise in what Bonnie has up her sleeve in dealing with all that.

TVLINE | That’s good to hear. I mean, it would be crazy at this point if Bonnie didn’t have an excuse cooked up in case Annalise found out about her meetup with Frank.
Bonnie’s very aware going into Coalport that putting herself in that situation could cause enormous upheaval. So she may, in fact, be prepared. I’d hope that’s the case for her at this point! [Laughs.]

TVLINE | What was Bonnie’s goal in going to see Frank: To try to be the dutiful right hand and try to fix Annalise’s rift with him? Was it a case of split loyalties between Frank and Annalise? Or was this merely a chance for her to own some power independent of her boss?
It’s all of those things. Since Frank has been gone, that’s been a considerable loss to Bonnie — and it’s a surprise to her how much she’s feeling that. She’s very much been questioning her identity and her role in Annalise’s house. The dynamic has shifted so much without him. She no longer has a touchstone there, and Annalise hasn’t been available to Bonnie in the way that she craves. So, once Bonnie finds out the details Laurel shares — how Annalise wanted to have Frank killed — she feels like Annalise hasn’t been entirely honest with her, and that she has to take matters into her own hands. Bonnie is operating from a primal need to restore this threesome back to its former glory. There was a time when this family of sorts functioned in a relatively healthy way.

There was a part of [this] episode that was really poigniant to me and helped me be reminded of something so crucial in this show. In the Young Frank flashbacks, when Sam is talking with Annalise about his quest to save Frank, you really see that the Keatings are making an attempt to fill this void of [not being] parents. Bonnie and Frank and Annalise and Sam — they all provided something very essential to each other that was missing. Bonnie feels very beholden to them, and it motivates drastic action.

TVLINE | It’s probably not accidental that all of Bonnie’s decisions occur right she learns about the death of her abusive father, as all of those awful memories are drudged up.
[Executive Producer] Pete [Nowalk] has done such an amazing job this season at reintroducing these backstory breadcrumbs for Bonnie and insights into how she operates. These past couple episodes, we’ve seen it building, and it comes to a crescendo in Coalport. The death of Bonnie’s father, though a huge relief, is still a loss. And it brings up feelings of her wanting to belong to something or someone. It brings up a need to create your own family — which really informs Bonnie and Frank’s fantasy of running away together — and hitting the hard reset button. She’s overcome so much to feel like she deserves friendship and companionship — she greatly craves that — so when Frank abandons her in that hotel room, all those destructive feelings of despair and shame and lack of self-worth bubble to the surface.

TVLINE | I wanted to ask you about Frank fantasizing out loud about running away with Bonnie. And how after he has a nightmare, she wakes him up, and then she indulges in the same fantasy of running off to Oregon and living a simpler life, and how it leads to sex. Do you think that’s the first time these characters got intimate? Or could this have happened in the past, too?
Pete has an interesting way of working. He has ideas, and then they change shape when he sees what actors do with them. Charlie [Weber, who plays Frank] and I know that Bonnie and he are bonded in a very strong way. Frank’s proven himself to be a bit of a womanizer — and he’s got a history with students for the most part. Young Bonnie, when she first came to that house, wasn’t really equipped for or looking to have a real relationship. But there’s a recognition they have with each other — and that goes a long way now that it feels like everything’s been torn asunder. I was surprised as well, though, watching the scene that it seemed like maybe this wasn’t their first time. But then again, that’s Hall of Fame Pete Nowalk to leave that subject open-ended.

TVLINE | I found the sex scene almost too intimate to watch at first — they way Bonnie and Frank are laying there on the floor, whispering, caressing each other’s faces. How did you feel when you shot it and watched it?
I am not an actor that is well-versed in doing things like that — and Mr. Weber is, so… [Laughs] We’re all very close friends, but it’s always nice when you can do those sorts of things with somebody you’re very comfortable with. Charlie made me feel safe. I kind of black out and don’t really know what I’m doing. So, he was able to say “And now we do this. And now we do this,” which was really helpful. And it all went a lot faster than I’d expected. We had a very succinct director in Jan Turner. She knew what she wanted, so it was relatively painless. I was surprised it wasn’t more of a process. I have seen a cut of the episode, and I have a similar feeling to you. I have a hard time watching myself anyway, but I found it a little uncomfortable. But I hope the weirder and more uncomfortable it is, that it lends itself to enhancing the show.