How to Get Away With Murder Recap: The Dance of the Pawns

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Photo: Nicole Wilder/ABC
How to Get Away With Murder
Episode Title
He Has a Wife
Season
1
Episode
8
Editor’s Rating
4/5

This week, the dead girl speaks.

Flash back to six months ago, Lila Stangard pondering her virginity — and the size of Griffin’s penis — with her pal/dealer Rebecca. She’s an interesting mix of innocence and edge, this one. All aw-shucks virginity and coke up her nose. She and Rebecca are hanging on the sorority-house rooftop, the one where they’ll eventually find Lila’s body in the water tank. “I met a new guy,” she tells Becks. “Mr. Darcy.” A secret. “He has a wife.”

A few weeks later, she tells her about her first time with Darcy. “His wife must not put out because he couldn’t get enough of me.” And then a text: the penis photo.

Cut to August 2014: Lila in tears. Mr. Darcy wants to call it quits. He won’t leave his wife. Same old story. And Jesus-freak Griffin is becoming a problem. “He was right,” Lila says. “Bad things happen when you have sex.”

This Week’s Lesson: “Sometimes we’re not responsible for our actions, because sometimes we behave not like thinking, thoughtful human beings, but as animals.” Finally, a lesson that really digs in and works on multiple levels. The baser instincts that motivate so much of what we do definitely drive this episode (and every episode, really). This week’s lesson is central not just to the case of the week, but to the big picture, and leaves all the players in this game neither black nor white, but in the darker shades of grey. B+

The Big Picture: Bitter Blonde tells it like it is: The new autopsy confirmed that Lila was six weeks pregnant. “You lied when you said you didn’t sleep with her. You lied when you said you were at Yale when she was killed. So, did you know she was pregnant?”

Of course he says no. But what Annalise wants to confirm is why — because he really didn’t know? Or because he knows if he says yes, that’s motive to kill?

When dear old Sam says he didn’t know she was pregnant, Annalise tells him he should have worn a condom.

Then Annalise tells Wes that Lila was pregnant. Next step: a DNA test on Griffin to see if he’s the father. He’s not. Which is good for Rebecca’s case. But she asks Wes not to tell her. So why tell him? “Because I learned my lesson about keeping secrets from you.” Sure you did, Annalise.

And of course, he tells Rebecca immediately. She wants to tell the cops the baby is Sam’s, but Wes reels her in. B-

Case of the Week: Gretchen Thomas: a successful real-estate agent and mom. Stress is her middle name. So she pops sleeping pills. Side effects: a weird state of unconsciousness in which she’s still online shopping, cooking gourmet meals, and having sex with her husband. Oh, and murdering her nanny, Elka. All caught on video, of course.

When they go to interview Gretchen, she’s multitasking, planning her daughter’s birthday party. She doesn’t want to take the stand. “Can you imagine waking up to realize you killed someone you loved? That’s what I did.”

The strategy: Put the family on the stand to prove how loving the multitasking mama was. Son caught her in the act, hosing down the blood, but he insists she was asleep. Didn’t wake until Dad put her in the shower.

On the stand, Cody, the son, confesses that he was in love with the nanny. Oops. Guess they missed that in questioning. Connor shares secrets with Cody, trying to coax a confession. But Cody didn’t do it. He confesses that Elka gave him an STD. Trichomoniasis. Premed Michaela nails that probable cause — a drug that treated the disease was in Gretchen’s medicine cabinet. Why? Because her husband was taking it, too. Elka was one busy bee.

So Dad stabbed the Swedish nanny to death, then brought mom — in her drug- and wine-induced stupor — in to clean the mess in her sleep.

Gretchen’s take? “You animal!” she tells Annalise. “I hired you to defend me, not destroy my family.”

But Annalise tells her the burn she feels is because of her husband and his actions. “You’ll thank me one day.”

And, of course, she’s totally deflecting. This week’s Case of the Week works because the takeaway applies to Annalise’s own situation, although she’s too caught up to realize that. And the guilt is ubiquitous. Things with Sam are disintegrating. “I’m going to lose my case,” Annalise tells him, “because all I can think about is you with that girl. How many times was it? Seven. That’s all it took for you to knock her up. That’s what I get. That’s what happens when you screw someone else’s husband.”

Sam tells her: “I broke us, not you. I’ll do whatever it takes to make us right again.” Uh, yeah. Good luck with that. A-

A Date With Nate: Rebecca and Nate are in cahoots, and Annalise doesn’t know what’s about to hit her, because truly, in Nate, she’ll meet her match. 

He tells Rebecca he’s got skin in the game — he lost his job because of this case, and he could lose his wife, too, if she finds out about Annalise. So Rebecca tells him Lila was pregnant. He asks her to get a hair sample from Sam for a DNA test. If it matches the baby’s, her case goes away.

So she goes to the house on a mission, trying to play up her assets. But Sam’s not buying it. He kicks her out. But she tells Nate that there’s another way: Sam’s phone. Nate meets her to give her a flash drive to get the data, and Wes sees them together. He freaks. She’s doing exactly what he told her not to. And together, they’re falling right in line with Annalise’s master plan. B+

Flashback Fun: The night of the bonfire, Connor shows off a copy of the exam, and he’s happy to form a study group with Laurel and Wes if they bring something to the table. He heads to Wes’s to study and catches the guy fighting with Rebecca, who locks herself in the bedroom. But she’s not there at all. She’s bailed.

Meanwhile, Michaela’s at Asher’s, after the trophy. She won them the case. She deserves it. Even if she has to steal it herself. C

Hookup of the Week: Things between Laurel and Cranky Frankie are getting intense — a shirtless pic on her phone, a hookup in the car outside the old Victorian. And then again, at his apartment. But oops, they have company. Sasha, his girlfriend. Who dubs Laurel “the student of the month.”

Things between Asher and Bitter Blonde? Not so hot. He’s trying, and she’s dismissing.

Especially when Sam shows up. C

The Big Reveal: Bonnie races after Sam, trying to tell him about Yale and Nate, but Annalise shows up. She’s not happy about catching them alone together. But Bonnie isn’t backing off that easy. She catches him later and tells Sam that she met Lila the night she died. The girl was freaking, banging on the stained glass door of the Victorian in tears. Bonnie answered. “I guarantee you’re going to regret this,” she told Lila. Lila’s parting words: “He can’t keep it a secret anymore.”

Which means — surprise, surprise — that Sam knew. And Bonnie asks. “I didn’t hurt that girl,” Sam says. “But we both know how much this would devastate Annie.” He strokes Bonnie’s cheek. “You’ve always had my back. But I need you now more than ever.” They kiss. What’s with everyone making out on that porch?

But this time, Bonnie can’t keep Sam’s secrets. So she tearfully tells Annalise. Then gets on her knees, head in Annalise’s lap, asking for forgiveness. “He kissed me so that I would lie to you,” she says. “He thought he was finally giving me what I wanted. He’s not a good man, Annalise.”

So Annalise does what we’d expect from her: fires the girl.

And then she calls the DA’s office and suggests they get DNA samples from all the men in Lila’s life. Including her teachers. B+

The Takeaway: We get a lot more information this week, but nothing is quite a shocker. Annalise’s hard shell is cracked. She cries too quick these days. We want the anger back. Annalise is vindictive, yes, but she’s also vulnerable, and lashes out at anything that tries to touch that nerve. But she’s so busy fretting about Sam — both emotionally and as far as her case is concerned — that she doesn’t realize that her real nemesis is lying in wait, slowly but surely undermining every bold stroke she makes. Nate is a lover scorned, but so much more than that. He mirrors Annalise in his bite, and like her — or perhaps better than her — he knows how to work a pawn, and a queen.