How to Get Away With Murder
“You slut, you white-trash killer — you made Griffin strangle that girl. That’s the kind of girl you are.”
Um, ouch? Tell us how you really feel, Annalise.
But the hardass attorney’s just trying to imbue in her client the realities of the case. This is how people view Rebecca, the druggie pal of the dead girl. And Annalise is pissed because the suspect had the nerve to joke — about killing Lila! — while practicing her side of the story for the stand.
Rebecca’s take? They were all hanging out, high. Lila disappeared, so Rebecca and Griffin hooked up. Lila caught them in the act and Griffin freaked, going after her. And then she was missing. Until she was found dead in the sorority house water tank.
But we’re not sure if we can totally buy her take, given what else we learn: In this week’s flashback to the night of Sam’s murder (and, yes, the big bonfire — again!), we see that Sam’s blood is splattered all over Rebecca — not one of the Fearful Foursome, even though they’re totally panicked. So Wes lovingly cleans her up before the rest of the crew head to the woods to bury the body. In the hotel, Rebecca tells Wes it was self-defense: kill or be killed. Isn’t that always the way?
The Big Picture Is the Case of the Week: Woo-hoo! It’s about damn time we started unraveling this whole Lila Stangard murder sitch. And we got way more detail in this one episode than we have in the past six, and what we learn sets up for next week’s shocker: the dead girl’s story.
While Rebecca’s rehearsing her version of the story, breaking news: Cranky Frankie announces that “the sex was leaked.”
Cut to an all-out screaming match in court with the DA’s office, which clearly triggered the leak. New DA lawyer alert: Keegan (played by former Ally McBeal attorney Gregg Germann). He moves to exhume Lila Stangard’s body so they can explore red marks on her neck and show that Rebecca was the sole killer in this incident. Outside, Rebecca and Griffin get in a physical fight; he’s accusing her of planting that phone in his car.
Later, DA Parks shows up at Annalise’s office. She doesn’t want the body exhumed, either. So she hands off a file, one that will discredit the “expert witness.” It’s legal to pay experts for testimony. Show them the money, and they’ll say whatever you want. How do you combat this? Discredit the expert. Those aren’t Rebecca’s little handprints — they’re insect bites.
When Sam arrives, Rebecca says, “Hey, Mr. Darcy.” So he drags Annalise away to ask her why “the terrorist” gets to just hang out in their house now. That gets the girl sent packing right quick. Then he tells Annalise to hit up Lila’s parents. They didn’t trust Griffin — for good reason.
Laurel and Cranky Frankie stake out Mrs. Stangard. Laurel tells Stangard that Griffin has ulterior motives for exhuming the body, and it convinces the wary Mama to refuse exhumation on the stand. “They murdered my baby girl,” she says, crying, “like animals. Please, my little girl has been through enough. Just let her rest in peace.”
Of course, then DA Parks brings in another expert to confirm the fingernail findings. Why’d she flip?
One way to find out: Shake down the DA’s assistant, Allie Burnam. Turns out Wendy Parks and Keegan worked out a plea deal with Griffin, but only if Griffin testified against Rebecca. Bitter Blonde Bonnie suggests implying perjury. But Annalise sees another way.
They have to get the DA to rescind the deal. And she won’t do that unless something so awful is revealed about Griffin that she has no choice. But they can’t. Gag order. But Rebecca can. So she tells the papers that Griffin raped her.
The judge is pissed, and the whole thing backfires. She tells them the body will be exhumed. Immediately.
“You don’t care who killed Lila,” Annalise tells DA Parks. “You just think it would be easier to convict the townie slut rather than the virgin quarterback.” B+
This Week’s Lesson: (1) Discredit the expert. (2) Find an expert to out-expert your expert. In this case, they throw back to Commonwealth v. Holden, questioning the methods and conclusions that led to the DA’s office banning the current expert as a witness because of negligent work. Then a doctor is brought in to say that all that time Lila spent in the water tank could be the cause of the red blotches. Given all the back and forth, this strategy seems to have proved itself not terribly useful to Annalise and her team. D
Hookup of the Week: After another episode of tepid love/hate that’s not really either, Cranky Frankie and Laurel do finally hook up, right there on Annalise’s front porch.
But that’s not the major hookup this week! Alone in the hotel together, the sexual tension between Rebecca and Wes is high. Rebecca’s attempt at cutting tension? She suggests they measure her fingernails and compare them to the marks on the dead girl’s neck. “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” Genius, right? But Wes isn’t laughing. So she calls him Ivy League boy and he gets all defensive, given that he’s a community-college and night-school grad. Uh, way to make things awkward.
After the whole rape-accusation thing, Wes is totally done with Rebecca. He’s giving her the silent treatment and everything. So of course that turns her on. And, uh, way to splice the hookup scene with the autopsy. Nothing weird about that, right? Good in theory, effed-up in execution. Afterwards, they have a sweet chat about he was the only black kid in his small Ohio town. And he sucked at basketball. C
Crazy Connor’s Awesome Antics: “Some guys can only get it up for crazy.” Indeed. Connor has a run-in with a former conquest whose name he couldn’t remember. But he does once they hit the bathroom stall. That just triggers another wave of guilt — which, after Connor’s actions so far this season, I’m just not quite buying. And neither is anyone else. Connor goes to Oliver’s with flowers, and beautiful boy answers the door, cold as ice. The boy recognizes him as Connor and tells him that if he cares about Oliver at all, he should never see him again. C-
A Date With Nate: If Annalise Keating has any real nemesis, it’s her former flame, a detective she made lie on the stand. I’m still rooting for the guy even though he cheated on his cancer-stricken wife. He digs in deep, and he’s not afraid to fight dirty. Annalise’s trust in him is implicit for some reason. She doesn’t get that he’s about to take her down, big time. Which makes it all the more delicious.
This week, Annalise meets Nate in her car to get the lowdown. “He didn’t do it,” she says, defending Sam. But Nate knows Annalise planted Lila’s cell in Griffin’s car. He’s on to her. “I tried to give you an out,” he says. “Don’t forget that when this all goes to hell.”
Later, he “accidentally” bumps into Little Miss Rebecca at the convenience store, solo. “I know you didn’t kill Lila Stangard,” he says. “We both know who did. Help me catch him.”
The Reveal: After Nate’s proposition, a cut to Sam and Annalise in bed — almost there. But not quite. That’s when Bitter Blonde knocks on the door. She has news: the marks on Lila’s neck — ant bites. BUT: They missed something in the first autopsy. Lila was six weeks pregnant. Oops. No motive there, right, Sam? B
The Takeaway: Okay, so here’s the thing. Losing the Case of the Week made this feel manageable. But we’re building, building, building, and the breakneck pacing — which, thankfully, has slowed since they’ve stopped with the crazy splicing for a change — leads us to believe that the big reveals will be bigger than they are. Is anyone at this point surprised about the pregnancy? Or Sam’s motives? It’s pretty much mandatory now that they red herring this sucker, because otherwise it would be just too obvious. It would be kind of fun if Rebecca’s just a cold-blooded killer who’s seducing poor, unsuspecting Wes into getting everyone to fight her battle, but maybe that’s too obvious, too. Have the folks at Shondaland painted themselves into a corner? Guess we’ll be schooled next week, when the dead girl starts talking.