How to Get Away With Murder Recap: Blonde Ambition

Hannah and the Fearful Foursome. Photo: Mitchell Haaseth/ABC
How to Get Away With Murder
Episode Title
She's a Murderer
Editor’s Rating

And the shockers keep on coming. Which we’ve come to expect, right? This is, after all, Shondaland. Last week on How to Get Away With Murder, just as the face-off between Annalise Keating and her worried sister-in-law was coming to a head, another twist: Charred bits of Sam’s body were found – at the dump. In four separate garbage bags.

The Fearful Foursome – plus Rebecca – hash it out. Did Annalise set them up? Of course Annalise set them up. But Wes says it can’t be. Cue Connor: “We know you suckle at the teat of our dear old professor.”

But Wes isn’t the only one drinking the Kool-Aid – we’ve seen all of them have critical moments with their mentor, who asks each time that they trust her. The question is, can they? Exactly whom is she setting up to take the fall? One of the Foursome? All of them? Or herself? 

Any of those answers is too easy, which means there’s totally a piece to this puzzle that we’re missing.

The Set-up
When the cops tell Annalise and Hannah that Sam’s remains have been found, Annalise remains stoic as Hannah breaks down. That about sums things up: Hannah turns on Annalise, going mad with accusations, telling the cops to arrest her. “She’s a murderer.”

But as always, Annalise can hold her own. “You gonna arrest me because my grief doesn’t look the way you want it?” she asks Good Cop. “Go ahead.”

Later — just as Annalise planned, perhaps — Hannah spills all of Annalise’s "secrets" from last week to Good Cop: that she knew about the affair three weeks before Sam died; that she threatened Sam’s life. Once Hannah sees the pictures of Sam’s crispy corpse, she tells Good Cop that she’ll testify to whatever they want.

When the cops issue a warrant to search the house, Annalise assigns Bonnie to appeal. Connor suggests perhaps there’s a reason Annalise sends Bitter Blonde to go lose that battle. As in, she’s setting them up. After all, as Hannah reminded them, “From here on, you’ll all be painted with your own scarlet A – for Annalise.”

Here’s the thing. Connor, Hannah, the cops — all of them point out that Annalise doesn’t seem particularly sad to see Sam gone. And they’re right. She could fake it a whole lot better, play the role of the grieving widow. But it’s like we’re in the eye of the tornado – the eerie, creepy calm. She’s focused on rocking that sleek, navy-blue pea coat and Über-awesome plum lipstick, doing her thing and being all unruffled, like Sam’s case is business as usual. Which it is, in a messed-up way.

If she’s doing this so the cops keep their eyes on her, it’s working. That’s too easy — we know it’s part of an endgame. But what is the endgame? We know she’s looking out for No. 1, so a sacrifice must be made. Solid B.

This Week’s Lesson
Considering the recent turn, a departure from the syllabus is in order. So this week, in class and out, is all about the Fifth Amendment. “Whatever you say to the police can and will be misconstrued to support the prosecution,” Annalise tells the class. “When in doubt, shut your mouth.” Wiser words, Annalise, wiser words!

Good advice for everyone, but especially for Ms. Keating herself — she’s totally pleading the Fifth, not budging as Good Cop circles again and again, trying to get her to break. A.

Bonnie Breaks It Down
Finally, two episodes before the finale, Bitter Blonde gets something to do. A wretched Bonnie is having a breakdown — she tells Frank that Sam kissed her, and she told Annalise. Next thing you know, he’s dead. So she’s, like, totally to blame.

It’s laughable, but this gives motivation to her mission: She’ll unravel it all herself. Her sniveling to date hasn’t instilled confidence, but apparently Bonnie’s been watching Annalise closely, and she’s figured out how it’s done. First, Bonnie gets the police report: blunt force to the head, carpet fibers, wood. It doesn’t add up. Frank’s got a quip for everything — and it’s making Bonnie fret.

When Bitter Bonnie tells Annalise they’ve got a warrant to check the house, Annalise tells her to go to court to contest and depose Hannah, who’s now claiming that Annalise once threw a paperweight at Sam's head and threatened to kill him. They lose the appeal. So here come the cops. Inside, they find the scales separated from the Lady Justice trophy, but not much else. That’s enough for Bonnie to put the pieces together, though: “You’re not going to get away with this, Annalise,” she says. “Hannah’s smart, she loves Sam too much not to solve this. You didn’t do this. They did. Don’t let them ruin you.”

Finally, Bonnie’s moment has arrived! All season we’ve watched as Bonnie toiled, hoping for affection from Sam or validation from Annalise. But it’s the quiet ones, watching, waiting, who are trouble in the end. This week, it seems, Bonnie can finally force Annalise’s hand — in her usual, understated way — which is at once both expected and infuriating. Yes, there’s a threat, and given Bonnie’s history, it’s not one to be taken lightly. Because, really, what does Bonnie have to lose now? A.

A Date With Nate
Nate calls, from a burner, and Annalise warns him not to talk to the cops. She’s waiting for him to ask if she did it, but of course, now he won’t. “What is it you say about your clients? Never ask them if they did it.”

Sweet, long-suffering Nate has accepted his fate at last. The numbers are starting to add up, and Nate’s the one who’ll pay the price. Because while Annalise has been manipulating, he seems to really love her, warts and all. Sigh.

There are so many layers at play in this love triangle, and this week, they all finally come to the surface. We’ve got the class factor, with a professor and lawyer in a posh Victorian, versus Nate’s working-class cop and his cancer-stricken, off-screen wife. Then there are all the racial dynamics: a white man murdered, a black cop implicated, a black woman the object of both of their affections. Yes, it goes there. All this stuff is groundbreaking TV, yet still classic Shonda, echoing Scandal’s equally tense love-lust triangle. Everyone’s a villain, in a way – and that’s just how we like it. 

So now we have it: the white man supposedly killed by the black cop. It’ll be interesting to see how this is framed in coming weeks, how meta the show gets about this, given recent realities. But also, let’s just say it now: OUCH. We’ve been Team Nate all the way, of course. So tonight’s kicker? A real punch to the gut. A-.

The End Game:
Cue the vodka binge, and the flashback to all those times Annalise told her murderous mentees to trust her. Then she makes a call. “I need you,” is all we get — but smart money’s on that meaning Nate.

The next morning, the cops are at Annalise’s door. They've found more evidence in the woods: a ring. This time, Annalise goes with them to the precinct – and she tells them what she did that night.

As we see flashbacks to Frank’s mission that night, planting evidence, Good Cop tells her about the ring — Sam’s ring — and the fingerprint they found on it. Nate’s fingerprint. There it is: that punch to the gut.

Seconds later, the cops are at Nate’s door, arresting him. At the precinct, Hannah confronts Annalise, who’s right behind him. “My brother’s dead because of you. You dragged him down to the gutter, Annalise."

The Fearful Foursome watch the police report on TV in horror and relief. They know Annalise did this. And as Michaela points out, “She’s doing what she said she’d do. She’s taking care of us.” 

Later, after Nate is booked, an exhausted Annalise curls up in bed and calls the only person she can. Her mama. Oh, boy! I cannot wait to see the woman who built this fortress. Cicely Tyson for the win!