I’ve decided — even though I don’t actually get them on Hulu — that I want this show to start cutting its teases, musically and all, as if this is a wacky single-camera comedy in the vein of Modern Family. I can HEAR the sounds and the record-scratches — real or imagined — as they interweave some of Cicely Tyson’s lines with Asher’s facial expressions. I mean it: The voice-over guy will talk for a while, we’ll see some reaction shots, and then everything will drop out in time for Cicely to say, as she does here, “I’m a VIP. She came out of my V and her daddy’s P.” Cue canned laughter.

Cicely, as you might recall, was paged by Annalise at the end of the last hour. Apparently Annalise hasn’t shown her face in the office since then. Cicely and her very warm, cute winter hat arrive with some snappy comments about the fancy house and then heads on up to unearth her daughter from the stench of her depression.

By the way, these two don’t recognize her, then seem plenty happy to take her word for it that she’s Annalise’s mother and stand back as she goes upstairs. I feel like there’s no way neither ONE of them — certainly not Frank, who clearly has a file on everyone — doesn’t know what Annalise’s mother looks like, and yet they’re extremely trusting all of a sudden that she’s probably who she says she is. Maybe they figured NOBODY would dare go up there into the lion’s den if their DNA wasn’t compelling them.

Cicely tries to hit Annalise with some tough love to get her out of bed, but when she shrivels even more, Cicely gives in and cuddles her daughter to her. And you, too, would want to cry on your mother’s lap if you knew you MIGHT have just given up your shot at this, because Nate is now in prison:


And then Asher makes this face. It doesn’t matter why. We DO need to discuss that it appears his tie is WAY TOO SHORT in this scene, which they rectify later, but it makes me laugh here. It’s so Agent Carter. (Catch-ups of those recaps coming… someday).

This mousy nurse is being accused of raping a patient while he was groggy post-surgery. He claims he woke up to her straddling him, and because Annalise is still upstairs refusing to shower or change her sheets, Paris is going to take the case. Everyone, rightly, is kind of like, “Whaaaaat?” Except Asher, who still has a stake in that game, which I mean COMPLETELY euphemistically.

Michelle Hurd plays the opposing counsel, and that is the patient who says he was violated. And they are stone-faced because even THEY can’t believe that Paris — in the middle of an otherwise acceptable opening statement — encouraged the jury to find her client guilty, and then had to be all, “Oops, I meant Not Guilty, hah, sorry, WHOOPS, DRUNKY.”

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a lot of the content of these scenes — essentially I think the show just wants to bring in hotshot acting partners for Viola, and they just let these two sit back and do slivers of a one-act play about a depressed woman and her complicated relationship with the spitfire who gave birth to her. Cicely veers between supportive and Wacky Old Crone and critical, calling Annalise “Anna Mae,” which apparently is her real name, and taunting her about being ashamed of her poor roots and setting herself up in this rich white man’s house (a race card that Cicely herself drops a lot). She also refers to Marcia Gay Harden as having “a Smelled Something Bad face,” which made me laugh. Considering Annalise called her there, she also doesn’t seem all that excited to SEE her. Cicely also asks Annalise straight-up if she killed Tom Verica, and Annalise says nothing; she just looks tired.

Wes sticks his head in to tell Annalise that the cops are interrogating Rebecca again, because Nate’s phone records show that she called him the night of Tom Verica’s murder. Annalise is a lot nicer about him visiting her than I would be, if I hadn’t bathed or brushed my teeth in long enough that my mother even referenced the smell in the room. She advises him to tell Rebecca that she should keep it simple and answer only the questions they throw at her — no digressions — and she’ll be fine. And Cicely makes a comment about whether Annalise and Wes are nailing, or something, and Annalise is all, “He’s my STUDENT,” and so I just now decided that in the season finale she and Wes should Grief Bang each other.

Mousy Nurse — under the name Funky Nightingale — posted on a message board all about how she had the chance to nail a hot specimen of man, and couldn’t turn it down, before describing the sex in detail. This, along with some bruising on the man’s body (though that, Paris is at least able to dismiss as medication-related), does not make things look great for her. The hospital’s lawyer spits nails at Paris and informs her that she had better settle this thing. I neglected to screen-grab him, but for those who care, he was played by Mark Famiglietti of the old short and short-lived WB series Young Americans (stomping ground of Kate Bosworth, Ian Somerhalder, Katherine Moenning, Matt Czuchry, Charlie Hunnam, and Michelle Monaghan). I find it weirdly believable that a timid person would find an anonymous place to go to be like, “I HAD SEX WITH THIS SUPER HOT PIECE OF MAN.”

Paris is enraged that the woman lied to her, but the woman tearfully insists that they DID have sex, but that it was consensual — that he asked for it, or at least clearly initiated it. So basically, Shondaland has created a woman who believes her prospects and appeal to be SO dire that she actually said, “This groggy man is maybe my last shot at wang,” and climbed aboard.

Everybody wants Paris to scrap the case, but she refuses to do it. They all start talking over her, until finally she bellows that none of them would DARE disagree with Annalise so disrespectfully. That shuts up the peanut gallery pretty fast.

And then Asher makes this face. It doesn’t matter why.

And then Asher makes this face. It doesn’t matter why.

And then Asher makes this face. It doesn’t matter why.


And then Asher makes this face. It doesn’t matter why.

Rebecca jokes with Wes that she’s going to go in and tell the cops that Nate killed Tom Verica AND Rudy (the guy from Wes’s apartment who went crazy and now Wes is obsessed with what happened to him). Then she goes into the interrogation room and essentially does half of that: She recasts things to say that Nate approached her about clearing her name by investigating Tom Verica (true) and that Nate came to her the night of the murder about planting evidence in the Keating house (false) and that when she refused (false false) she guesses maybe Nate found another way to get it all done (thrice false). Poor Nate is going to get smothered under this homemade quilt of lies.

Paris dips into Annalise’s vodka to cope with the fact that she’s losing her court case. Frank tells her to suck it up and go ask Annalise what to do, and Paris instead wants to know why Annalise never told her about Tom Verica. Frank’s response is, essentially, “Can you blame her?” And Paris is like, “No, but that’s also why I can’t go up there.” It’s nice for her, though, that she has such an easy time drinking vodka by the tumblerful. She’s clearly already learned everything Annalise has to teach.

Michaela sweet-talks the assistant-whatever on the case against Nate — lying and telling him she’s a stenographer, which is CRAZY because he’s going to SEE HER IN THE COURTHOUSE, probably with Annalise — and he coughs up some detail that I can’t even remember. The only reason I’m sharing is because this OUGHT to bite her in the ass at some point, and also, Michaela is super obsessed with Nate’s fate. Despite the fact that at the end of the last episode Michaela was the one on board with Annalise framing Nate for them, now she’s feeling a hell of a lot of guilt about it, and it’s making her dig around a bit. She talks to the other Pretty Little Lawyers about it in the middle of the courthouse, of course, because they will NEVER learn that lesson. Ever.

So, again, more One-Act Play. Cicely talks abut the difference between men and women — how women nurture, and men take — and appears to be making the world’s largest meal judging by the number of pots on the stove.

Annalise is not impressed. She did, however, find some vodka in the house that did not go down Paris’s gullet. Unfortunately, much of this will end up splattered and broken against the wall because Annalise hurls it at her mother’s head.

See, Annalise hates her mother because of what Uncle Clyde did to Annalise when she was young. Annalise snaps that she’s clearly part of a damaged pattern: Her mother never took care of her, so she can’t take care of anything either. She believes Cicely knew about Uncle Clyde and did nothing. Cicely says again that men take. It’s what they do. Her own aunt and/or sister had it happen, she had it happen twice, and it’s human nature, and you deal with it. Annalise is enraged and says that Tom Verica saw the trauma and the tragedy in her immediately and loved her anyway, and so THAT is more what I think she’s grieving here: The loss of a confidante who was able to hear about that experience without forever seeing her only through that lens. Annalise screams at Cicely to go home. The two women really go at each other and dig into the material, and even though Cicely gets a little hammy at times, it’s kind of fun. It really does feel like nuggets from a play tucked into the other nonsensical shenanigans, and the show’s complete faith in setting itself on their shoulders is warranted and rewarded.


Later, Cicely goes upstairs with promises to leave, then lovingly combs out Annalise’s hair while reminiscing about the house they lived in when Annalise was young — the one she had bought them herself, with the porch swing she built, and the old stove that you light with a long match. Then she recalls taking in Uncle Clyde during his hard times, and how he used to reek of hooch and cigarettes, and fall asleep after drinking one while still smoking the other. One night she awoke with a jolt and a bad feeling, and finds Clyde coming out of Annalise’s bedroom. Not long after that, she snuck the children off to her sister’s house to keep them safe, and then went back and watched their childhood home burn to the ground with Clyde still snoring away on that couch. “You’ve been torturing yourself,” she tells Annalise. “And maybe you did something real bad. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Even if all you have is a long match and a very. Flammable. Hooch.” It’s an extremely well-delivered monologue, and the point is made: Anna Mae did not fall far from her mother’s tree, and they both nurture in the only way they know how.

Paris, of course, is completely hosed until Asher sorts out some evidence for her. He tracks the patient’s movements through the hospital, and learns he visited the legal department; Oliver, at Connor’s behest, hacks everyone’s emails, and they find a convenient paper trail that the hospital lawyer and the patient are lovers and are in on it together. Basically, the attorney advised the client on what kind of case would make the hospital itch to settle, he coerces Paris to do so, and then he reaps the benefits down the Caymans or whatever. Paris gets both the hospital and the patient to agree in court to the settlement, then lays down all her proof of misdoings and watches as the case against her client gets dismissed. She wins. So her gambit works, but only because she had help from two dudes. It’d be nice if she were able to stand on her own, but I guess her long crawl out from Annalise’s shadow will also be a slow one.

Then Asher makes this face, and it DOES matter why: He is waiting for Paris to congratulate her on how well she did, and to say he knew she had it in her. And that was accidentally a very apt choice of words…

… because Bonnie responds by grabbing Asher and making out with him. Lots of different things will soon be put in lots of different places. “Are you just depressed again…” he starts to ask, but she jumps him again, and the two of them get nasty all over his car.

While Frank watches in his rearview mirror. At least Paris seems to be ENJOYING this go-round? Poor Asher. All he wants is to be stellar in the sack. I genuinely think Asher would give up everything else in life in exchange for an earned reputation as a sexual dynamo.

Oliver finally gets to meet Connor’s friends. But when he puts the moves on Connor later, Connor says he doesn’t want them to reunite while Oliver is hammered, and it can wait. “I love you,” slurs Oliver as he thwacks onto the bed, and Connor walks out, all, “Yeeeeeeah, I win.” But the thing between them still is that Connor has told Oliver that he’s an addict, so he isn’t drinking or doing ANYTHING around him, and has asked the others to keep up the pretense. Which Michaela does, exuberantly. “We’re ALL doing our parts,” she coos, before launching into a discussion of all Connor’s other deep emotional issues. Anyway, presumably this is a bomb that will go off soon.


Michaela turns up at Nate’s hearing… but so does Annalise. Michaela says — I can’t EVEN at this point about private conversations in inappropriate public places — that this hurts her because they’re putting an innocent black man in prison, and she can’t be okay with that. That seems like a realistic paranoia to me. Michaela isn’t ungrateful for the favor, but she sees this particular eye for an eye as being even MORE morally and socially problematic for her. Annalise basically says that this is her problem to solve, not Michaela’s, and that Michaela should leave before anyone sees her. Which, unbeknownst to Annalise, includes the dude Michaela flirted with — although for now, at least, he hasn’t noticed her because she ducked behind a copy of Lord Grantham’s Gutenberg Bible and NO ONE will ever find her THERE.

Annalise then goes to visit Nate, and, for the benefit of the cameras, asks him why he killed Tom. Lists reasons he might have done it. Plays her part to the hilt, and then manages to pass him a note while she’s thanking him for getting rid of an odious man:

I hope it turns out to be the number for a pizza place in Brooklyn.


Wes is dodging all of Rebecca’s calls, and Laurel notices. He explains that he’s upset that she lied about Nate to the cops, and that he’s just learned something really disturbing: that Rudy was carted off by the cops on the same night as Lila’s murder. He and Laurel don’t think that could possibly be a coincidence, and the fact that Rebecca told ANOTHER lie to Wes about the circumstances of Rudy’s departure — he’s at a mental institution now — has Wes all freaked out that he trusted Rebecca too much. I don’t know why he thinks that it was a MISTAKE to trust someone who only ever acted like a squirrelly douche around him and used his apartment to hide evidence in a murder investigation.


It’s just great that Laurel was able to procure such a good fake ID on such short notice.

Having secured entry to Rudy’s room by pretending to be his sister, she gently questions him about That Fateful Night, while noticing the scratches on the wall that mirror the ones in his apartment. Rudy is basically catatonic, and somehow nobody there entirely knows why. I think he WAS confirmed to be on drugs, but nobody knows if that caused the breakdown, or exacerbated it, or what. Wes elbows himself over there and flashes Rudy a picture of Rebecca. “Wet,” he musters. Wes and Laurel take that to mean she had been in the water tank. With Dead Lila. Why would you get IN the water tank WITH the body? Wouldn’t you just sort of shove her over the edge? I am going to need a diagram of how this thing happened, please.

And what do you know, Rebecca had put a tracker on Wes’s phone, and knows he’s found Rudy. She leans back against her chair and exhales hard. Is she evil? Simply paranoid? It WOULD be a nice twist if she did kill Lila all along, but I’m not sure it makes complete SENSE that she did it when you look at some of her other scenes. Maybe she was there when it happened, or did it with Tom Verica, or with Paris, or… well, actually, it’s a two-hour finale next week, so we will FIND OUT.