How to Get Away With Murder Season Finale Recap: Murder, With a Twist

This week's lesson: innocent until proven guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. Photo: Mitchell Haaseth/ABC
How to Get Away With Murder
Episode Title
The Night Lila Died / It's All My Fault
14 &15
Editor’s Rating

So just who is really getting away with murder on this show? As promised, it’s not whom you think it will be. 

The setup in this two-hour season finale — an hour too long, really — is trial by fire, for everyone. But mostly for Rebecca, who’s feeling the glare from all sides this week.

The trigger is Wes and Laurel’s visit to the psych ward, where, as you’ll recall, Rudy has uttered the word wet. As in, "climbing out of a water tank, soaked to the bone" wet. As in, "Rebecca on the night Lila died" wet. 

Wes and Laurel pore over the files they stole from Annalise’s record, and make a new discovery: a report of Rebecca being seen near the sorority house shortly before Lila was killed. Hmmm, wonder how they all missed that all those countless other times they pored over these very documents? A convenient finding.

Connor and Michaela hear the two whispering about Rebecca, and demand to know the details. So the Fearful Foursome gang up on the girl. “Spit it out, psycho,” Connor tells her. “You killed Lila, right?”

But Rebecca isn’t stupid. She’s got her insurance all locked up, in the form of a campus cop — one that could also be implicated, thanks to evidence Annalise had planted. “Don’t make me call him.”

Oops. Seems the Foursome are in a bit over their heads. Annalise Keating to the rescue. She finds Rebecca in the bathroom, gagged and bound. Wes explains it then: “Sam might have been innocent.”

This is all too big for Wes’s dingy apartment, so everyone – including Rebecca – heads over to the old Victorian, where Frank suggests the basement might be a good place to hold her if she doesn’t cooperate. I mean, it all makes sense. If you’re paying for that beautiful Victorian house set, why not use it? Plus, there’s a basement. Which is critical to this story.

Annalise decides that Rebecca should be tried — right there, right then.

She gives them an hour, then she wants to hear each of their arguments. Then there is just so much talking, all at once, spitballing theories with things going in a million different directions.

When they unload them onto Annalise, she’s pissed. It’s all speculation. Six months under her tutelage, and this is the crap they give her. That’s when Rebecca asks what’s on everyone’s mind: What are they going to do with her now? Leave her locked up in the basement? Or kill her, Sam style? Later, Laurel asks, too. Frank’s going to take care of it, right? The way he always does. And Frank, for once, is insulted. What do they think he is, some kind of hit man or something?

Then Annalise lectures the girl, who’s still locked up in the basement. She plays the emotion card, saying Wes loves her, trusts her, and look what she’s doing to him. That’s when Rebecca says it: “I did it. I killed Lila.”

Finally, a confession! But not so fast! “Or maybe Sam did. That’d be easier for you, right? So you could live with yourself for turning on your own husband. Who knows who did it?” 

Ouch. Yup, nothing comes easy when it comes to Murder. But it’s hard not to start to suspect Annalise here – because whose ass is she trying to save, if not her own? She’s put Nate on the line, and Sam’s dead. Is there anyone else she’d be that interested in protecting? Unlikely.

That’s when Annalise goes off on Wes. He got them into this mess, and he will get them out. “Are you a man, or not?” Annoyed, she sends him in to get the real story. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Yes, that is pretty much as ridiculous as it sounds. Rebecca spits in his face. (No, not literally, but she might as well have.) “You’re the worst one,” Rebecca tells him. “Because I didn’t know I needed to be afraid of you.”

But then she does tell him the truth – her truth. She was in the water tank. With a drowned Lila. Hiding, because she’d discovered the body.

That’s why she was soaking wet when she got back home. Rudy caught her, started asking questions. So she gave him PCP. And purple X, even though she knew it would fry him. And then he bloodied his fingers scratching the wall in a panic until she called the cops, who took him away.

Wes buys it hook, line, and sinker. “She’s messed up,” he tells the rest of them. “That’s what happens when you grow up like she did. You do things like lie. And deal drugs. And hurt people before they can hurt you. But that doesn’t make you a murderer.”

Or does it? In the end, Annalise tells Wes, “There’s no truth in the courtroom. There’s just your version of what happened versus theirs. That’s how the justice system works. It’s not what’s right and what’s fair. It’s who tells the most convincing story.”

And maybe that crystallizes the real takeaway from this season: Whose story are you buying? Smart money will always be on Annalise, because she’s the most formidable one in any room here. But what’s the payoff? After all of that, we still don’t really know. C

A Date With Nate
Poor Nate. Can’t catch a break, even in prison. The guy’s sleeping when he’s brutally attacked by a bunch of prisoners. Why? Because Annalise had Cranky Frankie set it up. You know, to get him out. Because that always works. But instead of letting him out, Judge Redding sends him to solitary instead.

Which means more machinations. This time, Asher’s on the job — getting friendly with Judge Redding. With Frank taking pictures, of course. Nate’s out of prison within a few days. And as he heads home, Annalise stops him, tells him again to call the number she gave him. He blows up at her, says he would’ve died in prison if his lawyer hadn’t gotten rid of the judge. So Annalise tells him that was all her. 

Later, she meets with the prosecution lawyer to testify. She tells the lady that Nate followed her home. She says when she and Nate got home, Sam was in the driveway – drunk, yelling at her. Nate tried to calm him down. And things escalated. When the prosecutor asks if she’s claiming there was a physical altercation, Annalise says: “I’m not claiming anything. It happened.”

When Nate finds out, he’s pissed. He knows she’s trying to win his case. Insert reasonable doubt. She asks him to trust her.

We don’t doubt that Nate will, either, despite his better judgment. What choice does he have, really? There’s no other way out. C

This Week’s Lesson
Innocent until proven guilty – beyond a reasonable doubt. “And that heavy burden is a defense attorney’s best weapon.

And what about your own ethics, if you know that your client is guilty – if they told you as much? “You lie to yourself,” Annalise tells them. “Because dwelling in that truth won’t let you do your job.”

Whatever you have to tell yourself, Annalise. It’s like that saying, sometimes people do bad things for good reasons. And sometimes people just do bad things because they’re bad people, right? We’re pretty much still trying to figure out what category to put our antiheroine in on this show. Problem is, while she may take off the wigs and the makeup, Annalise Keating still hasn’t quite exposed her emotional center, although she’d love for you to believe she has. B

The Unraveling
So here’s the real version, finally. 

It’s way past midnight, the night Lila died. Lila calls Sam. She’s freaking out. “I tried to fix it. Have sex with Griffin. So he’d think the baby’s his. But he started spouting about God.”

When Sam blows her off, she warns him: “I’m telling Annalise.” Then she shows up at the Victorian, sobbing, and Bonnie answers. But she doesn’t let the girl in. “I don’t know who you are or what you think you’re doing, but I guarantee you’re going to regret this.” So Lila leaves, but with a warning: “He can’t keep it a secret anymore.”

Later, Lila’s on the roof, at the water tank. Sam appears. She’s says she’s having the baby, whether he likes it or not. “You said you loved me. But you don’t, do you? You love her.” He says he doesn’t. Not anymore. He loves her. Then he takes off, leaving her on the roof, promising to tell Annalise about them immediately.

A few seconds later, he makes a call from a payphone, ordering someone to take care of things, as planned.

Lila’s still on the roof, but then there are gloved hands around her throat, choking her. Frank’s hands. Then he very efficiently dumps the body in the water tank, leaving not a trace of evidence.

So it was the not-a-hit-man all along? How, uh, original? Anyone else feeling a bit underwhelmed by this revelation? C- 

The End Game
Laurel, Michaela, and Connor have a new plan: Pin Sam’s murder on Rebecca. Just like she pinned Lila’s murder on Sam. Annoyed, Annalise says she’s going to go talk to the girl again. Meanwhile, Laurel asks Frank to fix it.

But Bonnie’s had it. “Don’t you dare put this on Frank. This, from the very start, has been your mess.”

That’s when they hear Annalise yelling. The girl is gone. “Who? Who let her go?” Wes says it wasn’t him.

“All of this, Rebecca, Sam, Nate – it’s all my fault.” Then he curls up in Annalise’s lap and weeps.

That’s when Annalise says it: “Sam killed Lila. With everything that’s happened, it’s the version of the truth that makes the most sense and will let us move on. Say it and it will come true.”

And so he says it. “Sam killed Lila.” Over and over again, until he knows it by heart.

With that wrapped up, she pushes Wes out door. Because she’s got other things to worry about. Like the burning question: Who killed Rebecca? 

Because the girl’s body is stashed under the stairs, and Frankie tells Annalise he’s not that guy. Not this time. She claims it wasn’t her, either. Seems we’ve got a new Murder mystery on our hands.

And that, my friends, is the moment we’ve been waiting for. Because with the two-steps-forward, eight-steps-back vibe this show’s been working this whole season, you knew the cliff-hanger was coming. There’s a traitor in the midst. And as we’ve learned from watching this season, it truly could be anyone.