Scandal is all about jumping you ahead five minutes and then being like, “SURPRISE! Okay, fine, let’s show you EXACTLY what you missed.” This show, on the other hand, likes to repeat over and over again what you’ve already seen, just in case you forgot. Peppered throughout, then, are reminders that the Pretty Little Lawyers killed Tom Verica because he was menacing Rebecca Sutter. And that Annalise caught Wes in the act of retrieving the murder weapon, and gave him lengthy instructions on how to cover it up as safely as possible. We only have five episodes left until they reveal Paris is the one who actually killed Lila Stangard and that Tom Verica died in vain, or something equally dramatic, so let’s dive in and DO THIS.
It will not surprise you that these fools are still the worst at everything. As the cops roam around Annalise’s house, they all stand out front fretting and bugging out their eyes like the GUILTIEST PEOPLE EVER, which actually means they aren’t The Worst; it means the police are, because they can’t smell a rat even when said rat is crawling up their collective pant-legs. Connor pulls out his emotional accordion and plonks the only note he knows: manic and hissing, spitting things about how they’re all SO BUSTED as cops blithely walk past. At some point in this episode there is also a casual mention of how the campus cops totally saw them all coming out of Annalise’s house carrying a giant rolled-up rug to throw on the bonfire. But, nobody suggests a story they can all safely give to explain this, nor posits that they might get busted for telling a cop Annalise was visiting her sickly mother while asking them to torch her home furnishings. What do they expect to do if Annalise contradicts that (which she probably already HAS)? That is one giant hole in everyone’s story, and the way they bring it up feels like addressing a note in an emergency — “Um, just have them mention the campus cops real fast?” — rather than in a way you would if you were TRYING TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.
The show actually opens with Viola Davis being her own natural self, and I still love that, and think her skin is a marvel.
As we hear her give a statement to the police about Tom Verica’s disappearance — which she is pinning to her realizing he killed Lila after getting her pregnant — we see Annalise putting on her war paint and then flipping on a COMPLETELY NEW WIG:
I don’t know if Viola complained, or the show or network decided the old one wasn’t working, or if they all made a character decision to put her in softer hair for Annalise’s role as Grieving and Betrayed Wife. I tend to think the latter, because Viola Davis seems pretty cerebral with how she approaches these things, and showing Annalise removing her hair and makeup was her idea from the start. There is also a concerted effort to play a few more vulnerable shades of Annalise, even if she’s doing it manipulatively, which I appreciate.
Like here, when she gets all creepy with Wes again, pawing at him as she beseeches him to stay cool and not tell the others that she’s in on the coverup. Her reasoning is NOT, “Because they are all COMPLETE MORONS and so the less they know the better,” but it should be.
Rebecca, however, suspects something, primarily because Annalise apologizes to her for not acting sooner on the intel that her husband’s penis was waggling around on Lila’s phone, asking to be swiped. Rebecca correctly notes that Annalise never apologizes for anything and doesn’t give a toss how anyone feels — that last one MIGHT be my add — but Wes insists everything is fine. And that she should trust him. And she does, because well, he’s cute, and even if he was a little obsessed with her it’s probably fine because he has very nice pecs.
Annalise and Company are being interrogated by this man, whom I personally last saw as Cliff Barnes’ trusted associate on Dallas, who met a grim end.
You might remember him from any one of the ENORMOUS list of credits on his IMDb page. He interrogates everyone with an air of sympathy and suspicion, so that you can’t tell if he thinks they’re all just wounded birds or lying homicidal maniacs. He also has a sexy accent. Annalise should probably seduce him. Mostly because I want him to have more to do than frown at people from across a table, which is basically all we get in this hour.
This is a TERRIBLE grab, and I apologize. But it exists to show you that Annalise got the Sleeves Memo and has decided to retire the Gun Show temporarily and lock up her arsenal.
Connor, meanwhile, is trying to convince Michaela that the two of them should go to the police together and turn on the others. He reasons that Wes is the one who clobbered Tom Verica after Michaela pushed him down the stairs — she is quick to defend herself on that one; nice play, Connor — and they could all get off by citing shock and PTSD as the impetus for going along with Wes’s plan to burn the body. I wish she had said to him, “Oh, okay, you gross shitface, NOW who’s the little bitch baby?”
But, she’s wearing a Bounty paper towel, and this quicker-picker-upper absorbs everything Connor says and decides that maybe it’s a decent idea. Because yeah, she might lose her law career for being an accessory, but she REALLY doesn’t want to lose her occasionally homosexual fiance.
Connor’s full-time homosexual ex has broken up with his stud muffin, and Connor is clearly trying to worm his way back into Oliver’s graces while also using him to get some information. I don’t remember what it was, but the point of the scene is that a) Connor still has The Feels, and b) Oliver pretends he doesn’t but secretly would like to tap that again, and we all know it, even if we don’t understand it.
Paris does NOT want to tap anew into Asher’s sexual keg:
In fact, she tells him that she was just lonely and desperate, and he was convenient. In other words, they are ALSO going to have sex again, because neither one of them has any self-esteem.
We need to discuss that I now hate this hair on her. Some of it is makeup — in real life, Liza Weil does her eyes better and can carry it — but it’s a hybrid of Dorothy Hamill and Mary Stuart Masterson, and those two things rarely work outside their particular contexts, much less together in a smoothie. I’m sure Paris is not supposed to ooze with lady confidence, but I always feel bad that Liza Weil is a lot prettier in real life than TV has ever allowed her to be.
They shoot the courthouse exteriors at LA’s city hall, but I have no idea where they shoot the interior, and it’s FABULOUS. Let’s all revel in the glory of that floor. (And if you haven’t, check out the @ihavethisthingwithfloors Instagram, which is all regrams of people’s pictures of, yes, them standing on great floors. It is fantastic. I no longer want floors in my house. I want FLOORS.)
There is a bunch of legal rigamarole and wrangling in this episode which amounts to: The state is finagling it so Annalise can’t get her hands on Sam’s laptop to get the backup of his phone, which she assumes will prove his whereabouts, and which the state clearly feels is a threat to its prosecution of Rebecca. But then Annalise gets DNA results proving Lila’s unborn baby WAS Sam’s, and her relief startles Frank, which prompts Annalise to tell him about the coverup (after making him promise Paris won’t ever find out).
Next, they obtain some security footage of Sam and Lila arguing conspicuously in an abortion clinic.
This seems pretty incautious for a guy who was having a covert affair with his student. He is waving his arms around, all intense, and an employee then gets on the phone as if she’s going to call security. The whole scene basically says, “ASK ME ABOUT MY MISTRESS AND WHETHER I WANT HER TO HAVE OUR BABY.”
And then Asher makes this face. It doesn’t matter why. Except, it’s his “AWWWW YEAH” face from telling the cops that Paris’s vagina is his alibi. (Her aggrieved face when SHE is asked about it, I documented above when I felt the need to bag on her hairstyle. Sorry, Paris. Pate before plot.)
You also must know that despite Annalise adhering to Courtroom Sleeves 101, she is now in the habit of wandering up to the judge and leaning against the bench, or at least hovering awfully close to it.
I KNOW, Alysia. Although both you AND Annalise were guilty of omitting “OBJECTION” from your legal wranglings, so you don’t have a lot of solid ground on which to stand and be crabby. The nut of this whole thing is: Annalise gets the charges against Rebecca dropped, because a) the baby is Tom Verica’s, and b) the GPS data from his backed-up phone proves he drove to the sorority house during the slice of time in which Lila was allegedly murdered. Annalise is super relieved, which hits a few people weirdly — like her lover, Nate The Hot Cop, who is indeed aware that he’s now conveniently her alibi here — but she mostly gets away with it.
Well, until she goes into the bathroom to emote all over a toilet seat, and hears people gossiping about what a cold crazy fish she is. At which point she BURSTS out of the stall and gives them all the Keating Stink-Eye while she washes her hands. That’s right, Chatty Extras, she may be a cold fish but she’s a hygienic one.
Laurel has been giving Frank hell for being a lying liar who lies (although apparently his long-distance girlfriend is now an ex). So here Frank turns up, armed with Annalise’s confession, and goads Laurel into telling a string of fibs about The Night of The Murder, before telling her she’s a massive hypocrite and storming off with his beard fuzz in a twist.
The Turncoats then press Laurel into agreeing to turn herself into the cops with them…
… but, AHA, Laurel was faking them out. It seems she figured out that Frank’s hissyfit means that he had to have heard something from Annalise, which means Annalise knows, which means… and so she goes to Wes and warns him about the Goof Troop. This means that Annalise meets them at the police station in a coat that feels like it has NOTHING to do with the rest of her outfit, and instructs them all that they must trust her so she can tell them HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MUUURDER (no, really, this is almost exactly what she says). Annalise has to be regretting throwing her lot in with these people. Her criteria for picking the next Keating Five needs to be a lot firmer about “can suppress emotional strife” and “does not have shifty eyes” and “can keep a LID ON THEIR SHIT MY GOD.”
And what is Annalise’s first comforting act? Putting on a mediocre cardigan and giving her class an essay question about a group of people that accidentally kills someone and has to cover it up. YOU ARE SO SUBTLE, ANNALISE. As subtle as a cactus up a nostril. What’s the best thing to do when you’re trying to get away with murder? Tell everyone how the murder was done, under a thinly veiled guise of academia, while the investigation is ongoing. And guess what the reactions are? Flared nostrils and queasy faces from Team Obvious. Tremendous idea, Annalise. Truly you are a strategic mastermind.
Also, Michaela tries on her wedding gown, and from here, at least, it’s gorgeous.
And Wes snatched Tom Verica’s wedding ring off the corpse before they burned it, and returned it to Annalise, who is keeping it as… what, a talisman? A valuable memento of the time that violent spitting jerkface she married had an affair with a student and then choked her out in their hallway? Or does she suspect it’s his Horcrux?
And then, at the end of the hour, Marcia Gay Harden shows up with some very questionable hair and informs the police that there is NO WAY Tom Verica killed anyone because she is his sister and she SAYS SO. Well then. CASE OPEN.