So who killed Sam? This week, we finally get some clarity.
This week’s How to Get Away With Murder winter finale collects all the breakneck elements we’ve been trying to puzzle together all season into one cohesive picture — but leaves us trying to catch our breath nonetheless.
Flashback collides into real-time as the Fearful Foursome let us in on all the dirty details of how it all went down. And, of course, there’s a twist. But it wouldn’t be ShondaLand without one.
Marriage Is Murder: The night of the big bonfire, Annalise Keating is packing her husband’s bags. Sam cheated, and he knew the now-dead girl was pregnant. He totally has motive. “I’m done believing you, I’m done loving you. Get out of my house.” When she threatens to call 911, he reacts violently. Then tells her he’s not a violent man. She tells him she knows he killed Lila, and that he’s been using her all this time as window dressing, to make himself look good.
She takes that moment, of course, to tell him about Nate. And in true Annalise fashion, she’s mean about it, confessing to hookups on the counter, on the desk, in their bed. That’s when Sam goes for her neck, squeezing as she tells him she knows that’s exactly what he did to Lila. “You enjoyed it, didn’t you, feeling the life go out of her body? Go ahead, kill me,” she screams. “Kill me.” Instead, he calls her a monster. Then he tells her that all those years ago, she was nothing but a piece of ass, a disgusting slut.
This is one of the most blistering implosions of a marriage I’ve scene on TV so far — and perhaps it’s because of the takeaway. Let’s take a minute here to consider: The lowest thing she can call him is a killer. The lowest thing he can call her? A slut. Yep. Score one for ShondaLand. A
The Scene of the Crime: In the car, Wes frets as his call to Rebecca goes to voice-mail. Again. When Connor mocks him, Wes confesses that he and Rebecca knew about the pregnancy and the fact that Sam was the father.
Back at the house, Sam is trying to shake off his rage when Michaela shows up with the stupid trophy. She insists on waiting for Annalise, and takes a seat. That’s when Rebecca shows up. She tells Michaela to call Wes, then runs up the stairs, Sam hot on her heels.
Michaela calls Wes, and by the time they all show up, Rebecca’s downloaded all of the data from Sam’s laptop to the little flash drive Nate gave her.
Wait, So Who Killed Sam? Well, everyone, maybe? That’s what they’re trying to claim here, but we’re not quite buying it. But it is all a bit of a mess for a while.
Sam jumps the girl, trying to grab the flash drive. Laurel grabs it and Sam goes after her, flying past Connor and then Michaela, who shoves him over the railing — where he falls three floors to his death. So who killed Sam? The whole gang? Michaela? She did the shoving. And Sam’s good and dead. (Sure, he is.) But it was self-defense, right? “He’s dead because of all of us,” Wes says. “And maybe that’s okay. He killed Lila and was going to let Rebecca go down for it.”
Of course that’s when Sam comes back to life and attacks Rebecca again, choking the girl. And this time, when the trophy smashes Sam in the head so he’s really good and dead? That’s the thing. Could’ve been any one of them. And this bit is a mess of chaos and tears and panic attacks, all stuff we’ve in bits and pieces, so it’s hard to focus. Purposeful? Sure. Annoying? Hell yeah. C
Flashback Math! That’s when real time matches up with all the flashbacks from this season — Connor throwing up in the sink, Michaela freaking in the corner as Laurel tries to calm her down, Wes wiping blood off Rebecca’s face, then kissing her. And then, Asher banging on the door, looking for that damned trophy, before he walks off and joins the bonfire. But we finally get the missing pieces, and the bigger picture develops.
When Wes drops Rebecca off at the hotel, she makes a suggestion. They say she hit Sam in the head — self-defense, clean and simple. She’s already going to jail, right? “Let me help you for once.” He tells her to sit tight.
Walking to the house, Wes flashes back on the scene — and the trophy in his hand before he whacked Sam. In the living room, Sam’s body lies in a pool of blood. Wes, characteristically, apologizes to the corpse. Weird. And, of course, key for the critical viewer to note. A solid effort here — and one that seems almost like a throwaway if you’re watching casually. If you’re watching carefully, though, you’ll catch the twist right here. B+
A Date With Nate: Annalise shows up, freaking. She tells him Sam killed Lila, that the girl was pregnant, and Sam knew. She tried to protect her husband. Is she an accomplice? Nate tells her it’s okay. He asks her to stay. She calls Sam. It goes to voice-mail. Looking at a photo of Nate’s cancer-stricken wife, she asks him: “Am I terrible people?” He says it depends on whom you ask, but he’s terrible, too. Because then they go hot and heavy. She leaves him asleep on his couch. The perfect alibi. A
The Reveal: In the dark of night, Annalise calls Sam again from inside the house, which looks undisturbed. Voice-mail. “We built a life together, Sam, 20 years. Whatever we’ve said to each other, all the horrible things, we’ve seen each other through so much, through all the good and bad, so much pain, so much happiness. It’s a rare thing. I’m asking — no, begging — please forgive me for what I said. I didn’t mean any of it, and I know you didn’t, either. I don’t want things to end this way.”
Here’s the thing: Annalise’s words are heavy and purposeful — almost as if she knows he’s long gone. Which gets you wondering if she already knows. And she’s Annalise, right? So of course she does. If there’s one person Annalise is looking out for, it’s Annalise. B+
Hookup of the Week: I would award this to Annalise’s rendezvous with Nate, which is so layered and thick. But it’s not just a hookup. So this will have to do. Bitter Blonde Bonnie’s hangs solo at a bar when a sloshed bearded man starts talking to her about the dead girl after a TV announcement declares a manhunt for the baby-daddy. They end up at a hotel, where she asks him about his gig in dental-equipment sales. Freaking a bit at her new low, she calls Asher and asks if he can come over. When he tells her she’s too drunk to know what she’s doing, she lets him have it. “I’m a grown-ass woman. I might be drunk. But I know what I want, when I want it. So get over here.” The sex sucks, but glad Bitter Blonde’s getting some — and finally embracing her own power a bit. B-
Connor’s Crazy Antics: This week, the boy is just full of quips: “Enough about the ring, Frodo.” And then, “Same time next week?” And to Wes, “Train’s leaving, wait list, you coming?” He’s kind of the light note on this show, with the quips and the antics, but you know there’s some real crazy lurking there when he takes to bashing the body with such vigor and glee. We get a sneak peek here into the panic attack he has after the night of the bonfire — and the lie he tells Oliver in its wake — and I can’t wait to see it come out in round two!
The Big Reveal: Wes wakes in the hotel room, and it’s empty. Rebecca returns with bagels and coffee, but he wants the hard drive. He destroys it. It proves that they were there last night.
Meanwhile, Laurel takes the trophy to Frank. She tells him she stole it from Asher. She needs to get back to him, but he can’t know it was her. Frank says he’ll take care of it.
And Asher is panting over the fact that they (a) stole his trophy and (b) went partying at the bonfire without him. Bonnie’s by his side. And she tells him that he can’t tell anyone about them.
Then she gets a call. “Are you with him?” It’s Annalise. She tells her about last night, about Sam’s ragey state.
But they all reconvene at the house, because Annalise beckons. When she comes out, she’s in her bathrobe and not wearing her wig. And a knock at the door is the police. Sam’s missing. Annalise thinks he’s fled, and they’re all going to be questioned since they worked closely on Rebecca’s case. “Can you promise me you’ll all do that?” And Wes promises they will.
And then, a final flashback. Wes, back at the house, lifting the trophy from the pool of blood. “I’m so sorry,” he says. “Don’t be,” a voice answers. Annalise’s. A
The Takeaway: After nine episodes of puzzling, we finally get some answers — but you can bet that the winter premiere, set for January, will have us asking a lot more. Clearly, Annalise is orchestrating the perfect murder here, as we’ve been suspecting all season, but there are still plenty of mysteries to unravel. Like who really killed Lila? (Betting it wasn’t Sam!) And will Wes and the Fearful Foursome crack under pressure? (Likely!) Or has Annalise schooled them enough to build a strong case here?