Jessica and I recently concluded that Viola Davis’s performance is accomplished, yes, but also extremely curious — because she’s so AGGRAVATED-seeming all the time, as if she read the script and went, “Ugh, Annalise clearly hates all these morons.” Between that and the way she walks like her feet hurt, Annalise comes across less like a dynamic, compelling, charismatic force of nature, and more like she’s both existentially exhausted and exhausted by everyone’s stupidity.
Moving on: As with the latest Nashville, there was a Wig Removal in this episode. I kept hoping it was going to be this guy.
I feel like a golf video: I just want to grip it, and rip it. I could wring it out and have enough oil to cook dinner. I THINK the implication is that he ran over to his pseudo-boyfriend’s apartment — it is, as Jake Ballard would say, a booty call — but he spends a LOT of time looking like his personal odor is troublesome.
In the flashback, we’re with the gang as it panics over Sam Keating’s body — this show is, apparently, ripping off Damages, taking us earlier and earlier into the night of his death before we finally merge with the other timeline. I would pay a good amount of money to see Patty Hewes and Annalise Keating go at each other in court. If Alicia Florrick and Olivia Pope have a “Blabernet Sauvignon” podcast, maybe Annalise and Patty should have “You’re In Contempt,” in which they gleefully complain about everybody they know.
In the scene, Connor is screeching at Michaela again, because of course, and then suddenly we hear Asher banging on the door. He knocks and knocks and shouts that he sees Connor’s car; everyone inside freaks out and tries to hide until Asher finally gives up and leaves. Connor’s hiding place is lying on the floor, staring into Dead Tom Verica’s eyes. I heard this weekend that Tom Verica is a SUPER nice guy and a great director to work with, so I thought I’d throw that out there. Hooray for Tom Verica. I always did like him, although he’s surprisingly good at playing the total sketchball that is Sam Keating. It’s a shame he is really most sincerely dead.
And then later, Connor is babbling manically and maniacally while they drive around buying lighter fluid and preparing to burn the body. He also was attacking the charred remains with an axe or a crowbar to smash it to transportable bits, and was screaming and raging while he did it, as Michaela trembled and needed to take a minute to herself. He’s coming unglued. Sadly, that only applies to his psyche, and not his head.
To re-establish the Rebecca Sutter case, Annalise shows up in court to blah-blah about her confession and why they haven’t seen it. She looks fabulous, and yet still also sleeveless — a major point of contention among the Legal Eagles in Fug Nation. Maybe we just need to accept that The Annalise Keating Gun Show is, in part, how one gets away with murder.
Rebecca says she confessed because Wes told her that Douchebag Quarterback was going to pin the crime on her, and she felt lost and coerced. But that she did not do it. Wes gets reamed for interfering, and told not to speak to Rebecca anymore. A point that came up in the comments last week is that it’s TOTALLY unprofessional that Annalise & Co. could interview DBQB and then use that information to decide to take the case of the person he’s implicating — who at the time was his co-defendant. That seems questionable to me, too. OBJECTION.
This is basically Laurel’s most animated facial expression ever, so I thought I’d share. It makes me laugh that it’s timed with the actress’s name appearing on-screen next to her. Like, “Yep, that’s me, stuck in this crazy-ass show that has no character development!”
However, Laurel’s outfit is BANANAS. It is Cher Horowitz without the panache. You CANNOT achieve this sans panache. You also might need to be sixteen.
THIS, I am mostly showing you because Asher’s outfit, behind Annalise’s shoulder there, is terrible. I don’t like Connor’s black-and-blue, either, but even Frank of Dubious Origin looks suaver than Asher’s blazer the color of diseased urine. (It might just be khaki, but it LOOKS kind of greenish-tan in this light.)
Case of the week: Elizabeth Perkins is being sued for insider trading. And yeah, sure, she was having sex on her desk with the guy whose company the insider dish was about, but she didn’t do it! Don’t ruin her company! And her staff loves her! She’s a total broad! She breeds only loyalty! None of them did it either, she’s just sure of it! And so forth. Elizabeth Perkins was pretty charming in this episode, in that brassy-ballsy kind of way. She may have been several cliches rolled into one, and crazy to boot (because in Shondaland, all women are either crazy or daffy or pliable with sex, except maybe Abby Whelan from Scandal), but she brought a LOT of life into the show that it’s otherwise missing because EVERYONE IS DREARY. That might be the only reason I’m coming around on Asher, by the way. He’s a dipshit, but at least he is a jolly, energetic dipshit.
Paris’s assignment this week is to get the videotape of Rebecca’s confession. “Be creative,” Annalise warns her. So what does she do? Walk up to the prosecutor and ask her for it. This is the exact opposite of being creative. Maybe she was just checking off the official channels first? Otherwise, there is a major imagination deficit happening, or maybe Paris misinterpreted it as, “Be creative in attempting to match your shirt to your suit.”
This is the best look I got at Annalise’s coat (it might have sweater DNA), which is great and very flattering, and as the saying goes, I would not kick it out of bed for eating crackers. Although, let’s be real, I have no problem with eating crackers in bed.
The next irritating thing that happens is that Annalise has been told by Elizabeth Perkins not to investigate any of her super super super super loyal people who thus clearly Did It. So Annalise tells them to go in and be subtle and question them all, and of course they go in and are about as subtle as a ball-peen hammer to the teeth. Also, WHY would Annalise entrust this to the students she glares at like they are termites on the bookshelf of her soul? ALSO ALSO does she not have her own Kalinda to do the investigating for her? If Frank of Dubious Origin is not a lawyer, might he be that? And if so, WHY IS HE NOT DOING IT.
You should know that Michaela looked very cute during her unsuave questioning of this person. I believe this shot implies she matched her notebook to her belt, which is COMPLETELY on-point for her, I think. That girl would accessorize that tightly.
Annalise is into thick beaded necklaces right now, for REAL. I think right now she is dressing the way I wish Olivia Pope would, because I’m tired of pantsuits in only white and black and grey. We need a makeover. A Popeover.
Ugh, and Laurel AGAIN is trying to be Studious Cher Horowitz. You look ridiculous, my pet. Like you have a grudge against your groin. Also, this is another one of those shots that’s SO meticulously staged that it’s distracting: Annalise bursts out of her office and everyone looks up and HAPPENS to be standing in exactly the best arrangement of human beings, from foreground to background. I’ve decided Wes’s non-compliance with this is indicative of the fact that none of them have a read on him yet, so he’s lurking in the shadows. And Laurel is front-and-center because she knows no other way to be seen. Maybe that’s why she’s wearing pelvic bibs.
This impossibly chiseled specimen is the man Connor was tasked with interviewing. He’s Elizabeth Perkins’ assistant, and Connor comes up with a way to finagle more information out of him.
This guy gets some seriously steamy and physical sex scenes. And yet somehow no welts. The assistant throws him around like a rag doll; you’d think he’d at LEAST have some telltale bruises.
Anyway, Connor takes the man and then takes his leave, at which point the assistant calls Shadowy Cohort and says that the lawyers aren’t onto them and don’t think it’s anyone from the firm. He also used the sex as a transaction, and says he’s sure they’re safe now. Too bad for him, Connor was somehow magically taping this and somehow magically retrieved the tape and listened to it without getting caught. So much magic.
Earlier in the episode, Connor’s adorable nerd was sort of alarmed by how Connor shows up out of breath and demanding sex, and half-jokes that Connor might be a sex addict. That seemed relevant right about now. Nerd wants to do more regular boyfriend-y things, but Connor would rather nail. Nerd then LATER is able to use Unspecified Technological Mojo to trace the other side of the call without actually LISTENING to the recording (in which Assistant said Connor “did something to my ass that made my eyes water”).
Unfortunately, later, he does. While naked. Sometimes all the saddest things happen when people are naked.
Nerd throws out Connor angrily, which is juxtaposed with flashback scenes of Connor coming to him on The Night Of The Murder and collapsing against the hallway wall and babbling that he’s super, super screwed. And not in the sex-addict way. Oh, Connor. I find you annoying and expendable, but I actually really like Nerd, so… Team Nerd, and if that means those two crazy kids getting back together, then so be it. The bad sign for this show is that the people I’m most invested in are all deeply tertiary. Like Nerd, or Hot Detective Nate, or even Hot Detective Nate’s Sick Wife. Or any one of the other law students in this class, all of whom are starting a Tumblr about how much they hate our five leads.
Elizabeth Perkins is so furious with Assistant that she rips him a new one in front of the entire office, going on the warpath about his disloyalty and how delicious he will be to the other inmates. He immediately confesses, even though Jessica Fletcher is nowhere in sight. And then he backs up and hurls himself out of the window, which… I mean, I guess not asking for a lawyer is no big deal when you’re planning to somersault to your death.
Annalise then uses chicanery to trick his accomplices into confessing. She pretends they each turned on each other and then they BOTH sing like canaries without even reading the “confession” she handed to them. Everyone is an idiot. ASK FOR A LAWYER. ALWAYS ASK FOR A LAWYER. AND READ THINGS. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. This woman’s success is ENTIRELY predicated on people being really stupid. Maybe that’s realistic. I mean, The Closer ran for a jillion seasons on TNT, and that show was all people melting down in the face of Brenda Leigh Johnson’s narrowed stare. It’s too bad Major Crimes exists. This show could, amony MANY OTHER IMPORTS, also use a dash of Lt. Provenza.
I only included this because their necklaces are good. There’s an ongoing thread about a coveted outline/course notes type thing for their Torts exam, and Michaela is turning herself inside out about it all because she’s so competitive, to the point where she blows her top. And then Frank of Dubious Origin and Paris start giggling because they predicted she would crack first. They dub Michaela “Prom Queen,” Laurel is “The Wallflower,” and there’s Doucheface — I can’t even remember which one is Doucheface because it could be Asher OR Connor — and basically it’s obnoxious and underscores the show’s whole Everyone Dislikes Or Disdains Everyone Else vibe, which is exhausting and toxic. The best thing Grey’s Anatomy did was establish the weird but powerful friendship between Meredith and Cristina, which was for my money the real love story of that show, so that whatever other dysfunctional and snarky stuff happened was at least rooted in that. Scandal had its team of Gladiators, but now they all hate each other. This show never started out with ANYONE allied. They don’t care for or about each other, and don’t so much work together as near each other.
Paris’s second attempt at creativity is to show up at the police office and ask for a copy of the taped confession. It doesn’t work. However, the third time was the charm, and she had this one tucked up her sleeve. I forgot to get a screen grab of this, but Hot Detective Nate was rooting around the GPS in Sam Keating’s car, trying to figure out where he’d been going on the night of the MUUURDER. Sam started coming out of the house, so Nate leapt out of the car and pretended he saw that Sam had left a light on inside, then paused awkwardly and said, “I’m not trying to steal your car, man.” And for some reason that worked. It’s so ham-fisted (why wouldn’t you do this at 1 a.m. when you’re pretty sure he’s not USING said car for several hours?), but then again, we know Nate is the worst cop ever because he got caught fooling around with Annalise and responded by REVEALING HIMSELF FROM HIS HIDDEN POSITION instead of just staying put. And here, he did it again. I love you, Nate, but you might not be great at stuff.
Anyway, Paris, who is secretly in love with Sam, saw the whole thing happen. So she trades that information — that Nate is covertly investigating Sam Keating — for the Sutter confession. That’s creative, but it is also PURE LUCK that she saw any of it, so I don’t have high hopes that she would’ve come up with a strategy on her own. Paris also then lies to Annalise about how she got the tape.
On it, we see Rebecca confessing to murdering Lila, right as her eyes make two very pointed flicks up and to the left, as if she’s noticing a signal and responding to it. The judge agrees this points to coercion. And, frankly, fairly incompetent coercion at that. They might as well have subtitled it with “[INSERT COERCION HERE].”
So, Rebecca is released on bail. And everyone just sort of walks away from her. She is STILL TECHNICALLY IN CUSTODY, still in her prison orange, and yet she’s standing completely by herself in a courtroom, except for the stenographer, who is looking at her like, “Uh, is anyone going to take her back and get her processed? ANYONE?”
Wes meets her when she gets home, and holds out Lila’s phone, and asks for the passcode. Cut to him showing the phone to Annalise, and tentatively saying that he didn’t turn it in sooner because he wanted Rebecca to trust him. And now that she does, they can use that. I can’t tell if poor Wes is reacting to his libido, or that he’s faintly obsessive, or actually a mastermind. I CANNOT imagine the latter, given that he walks around with his mouth and eyes equally wide open all the time.
And then, all alone at home, armed with the shocking knowledge of what’s on the phone, Annalise sits down…
… AND SHE RIPS OFF HER WIG.
Granted, there is no massive head scar underneath, a la Dr. Kimberly Shaw on Melrose Place, always and forever the iconic SHE RIPPED OFF HER WIG moment in television. (I still remember watching that episode and shrieking and clapping.) It’s a really striking scene, though, because a) Viola Davis is SO STUNNING without it, and b) she then sits there and meticulously rips off her false eyelashes, her eyebrow pencil, ever trace of makeup on her face. As if she’s transforming into her bare-bones self for what she knows is coming — almost REMOVING her armor and making herself both more vulnerable and more raw. I can just imagine the writers sitting around a huge whiteboard that says, in caps, across the top: “DO NOT FORGET THE VIOLA DAVIS MOMENT.” Because there is always one that makes you want to stick around and see what she’ll do next.
Which, in this case, is to confront Sam thusly:
“Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” she says, coolly. It’s a great moment but I almost wish — almost — that we hadn’t had any hints of impropriety before this. Think how GREAT a reveal that would’ve been if we thought Sam was what he appeared. Still, it’s a nice wallop at the end of the hour, and indeed, I imagine a lot of people will want to tune in and see how he explains Dead Girl Phone Penis.