Every episode of this show begins with footage of the bonfire on The Night Of The MUUURDER With Which People Hope To Get Away.
It’s all very similar b-roll and atmospherics of crowds partying and fire burning things, cut together in that quick Shondaland style. I wonder how many hours they took with this to make sure they had plenty of coverage. I also wish each shot had some kind of random Easter egg added in post-production. Like, Fitz’s face in the crowd, or Meryl Streep’s Oscar for The Iron Lady plonked ever so faintly into the flames.
Meanwhile, in Pretty Little Lawyers Grove, everyone is huddled up and Michaela is still sobbing and Connor is still hissing and Wes is still giving it all the wide-eyed Huck treatment. Laurel, meanwhile, is getting a call from Frank, which gives me several tiny strokes. Let us count them:
1) People nearby are talking, and the PLLs are trying to hide. So does Laurel do the quick-thinking thing and kick the call to voicemail? No. She pulls out the phone upside-down and fumbles to turn it around 180 degrees, because apparently she couldn’t tell from the naked chest exactly who it was, and then read Frank’s tea leaves and hesitated before hitting “decline.”
2. Michaela peers over and is all, “Why is Frank calling you?” which leads to Laurel admitting that she and Frank slept together. This takes everyone by surprise, somehow, even Michaela — even though, if she can see Frank’s NAME from where she is wailing, she could EVEN MORE CLEARLY SEE HIS NIPPLE. IT’S RIGHT THERE.
3. If you don’t want people to know you’re sleeping with Frank — your boyfriend, your mutual boss and coworkers — then DON’T LET HIM TAKE A NAKED SELFIE AND THEN ASSIGN IT TO HIS OWN CONTACT. I am being charitable in assuming Frank did this, because if LAUREL did it then it’s even STUPIDER and that might cause a brownout in my brain. And maybe he did it while she was in the shower, but there is no way this is the first time he’s called her since then — the show implies he’s been trying to reach her — and she should’ve removed it the first time. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.
Everyone is scandalized by Laurel banging Frank, but on moral reasons rather than simple shock that Frank was appealing to a human being other than Frank. “Yeah, I’m a cheater, I’m a bad person, I’m a slut, and I’m now a murderer,” Laurel says, which I am only sharing because of her glib reference to the homicide. If this turns out to be like Clue and they all did it, I’m going to be annoyed, UNLESS Tim Curry is involved.
Back in time: Laurel has moved from Cher Horowitz: Knee-Lengh Blouses to Cher Horowitz: The Plaid Months. She’s our exposition this week, defining “stealth jurors” and how reading people can help lawyers pick the right panel of people to influence their cases. Annalise instantly calls her out on, essentially, answering her question with a lot of knowledge. This is apparently verboten in Annalise’s classroom. She snottily calls Laurel out for trying to prove her brain to the room. Why is Annalise never a dick to the other members of the class who actually do this? Asher laughs, but Laurel bristles and says she wasn’t just showing off; she was giving an example, or somesuch, and Annalise is all, “WELL WELL WELL, SOMEBODY HAS A SPINE NOW,” except in different words. Annalise is the worst teacher in the human world. She has no interest in actually TEACHING. She just wants to bark at people and then put them in their places for having the gall to be students.
I did, however, think it was important that Asher is wearing mint. He LOVES a pastel button-down. Annalise then calls on a “Mr. Johansson” before we cut away from the scene, and I’m devastated that we’re missing out on the moment she FINALLY pays attention to someone who isn’t one of her five terrible pets.
Her jewelry is fantastic. It’s doubly noteworthy when you see — as we have, and are about to again — Annalise without her armor. You really start to see that all these things are a calculation.
Wes corners her after class to ask in mumbly non-specifics about whether she’s going to use the phone, and whether they can find the person attached to the penis — because Wes doesn’t know that Dead Girl Phone Penis belonged to Sam. Annalise pretends that it’s not important and hustles out of the room…
… as we flash back to her brandishing the iPenis at Sam. Viola Davis has to curl her hand unnaturally around the phone to censor what would otherwise supposedly be genitals, which is clumsy. She pushes Sam for the truth, and Sam tells her that he and Lila had sex in his office six or seven times, and he blames it entirely on Lila. Makes her the predator. Says she would go to him and talk about school and her boyfriend and all this stuff, and she was so lost — as if all this made it his justifiable duty to plug the leaks in her soul with his wang. More importantly, Annalise hears this and sees herself: “Just like you found me,” she hisses, accusing him of liking mistresses who are weak and broken so that he can clean up their messes. Ergo, Annalise’s previous mention of student-teacher relations happening before with married Sam was, in fact, a reference to herself as the girlfriend. Sam insists she was never just some mistress, and as Annalise gets upset, they struggle, and he tries to clamp a hand over her mouth, because they live over her office and somebody is always skulking around down there pretending to do work while actually poring through old DVDs of L.A. Law for courtroom tips.
Naturally, Paris hears. And stands there as Sam comes downstairs to sleep on the couch. They exchange a look. But no fluids.
Case of the Week: Amy Pietz suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of her cop husband. One day, her son couldn’t take it anymore, and shot him. He claims he doesn’t remember the crime , but he definitely did it. I have nothing to add except that it must be really weird to go in for a legal meeting and be hunched over on a sofa…
… while staring at a room full of legal fetuses and Wes’s enthusiastically presented crotch — all while their super expensive high-powered lawyer leans shlumpily against the mantel off to the side. Not taking notes, not front-and-center, not even acting all that interested in what they have to say. Get your money back, Amy Pietz.
Although Annalise must have already interviewed them, because they head into court that DAY. Which suggests to me that they didn’t really have time to drop by the office and rehash their entire story for the benefit of academia.
It will interest you to know that at least the prosecuting attorney brought a jacket to court. She did not, however, bring her dictionary. Her case hinges on the fact that when the son shot his father, there was no imminent threat of abuse. He snapped, but not WHILE anyone was being hit. However, the actress continually says “eminent threat.” The entire episode, she’s up there yapping about whether anyone was “under eminent threat of abuse,” and although you COULD fanwank that by saying “eminent” can mean “clear,” that is only true when the word is being used in a positive context. So WAY TO GO, MUUURDER. I guess I should just go home satisfied that you learned the word “objection.”
It will also interest you to know that Annalise is pathologically unable to stand up straight when addressing the judge from behind her table. She leans forward so far it actually makes my back hurt.
Seriously, look at this one. I really want the opposing counsel to object on posture grounds.
But at least she brought out some sleeves, which will delight the Fug National Legal Eagles who have all been wondering why her triceps are always Exhibit A.
Now: The strategy was to profile the jurors and look for the ones they could influence emotionally by playing on the abuse. But the prosecution pulls a trick where they get the abuse thrown out of the case. I can’t remember entirely how it happened, but I would love to hear in the comments if any of the lawyers think that sounds like total bullshit. The kid had a blog for three years in which he documented the abuse extensively — and apparently nobody on the Internet was concerned about this? — and the judge kicks it out as “self-serving hearsay,” and Annalise is of course furious because it’s a brilliant gambit on the part of the prosecution to get this trashed after jury selection. I guess the abuse was just accusations against a dead man who can’t defend himself, but it seems crazy that you can get the entire stated motive for a homicide kicked out of the trial for said homicide. I would be a horrible lawyer for a lot of reasons, but one would be that I’d spend all my time squawking, “Are you shitting me? These loopholes are big enough to lasso Canada.” I would spend my entire career in contempt, basically.
Laurel is in contempt. Of everyone. Or, everyone is in contempt of her. I can’t tell. Maybe it’s both. She is all het up about trying to help these people because they’re the only clients of Annalise’s that she’s ever liked, and Frank of course makes fun of her for being an idealist. I can’t believe she is going to sleep with this person. If you’re going to have a character be a blustering, preening jerkwad, he needs to be so hot that it almost hurts to see his face. His very existence needs to be an offensively extreme act of hotness, or else he has to have enough charisma to float an ocean liner. It’s not Frank of Dubious Origin’s fault; this is an extremely tall order. He’s being trapped by the writing.
ALSO: Laurel is hashing out their case, and announcing they’re totally screwed and that the kid is going to jail, IN A PUBLIC BUILDING RIGHT OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM. Frank ought to be telling her to get her indiscreet ass back to the office before they have this pouty fight. Instead, the kid hears, and blah blah blah, “Don’t tell Mom. She still thinks there’s hope.” You are terrible, Laurel.
Annalise tells everyone to read through the kid’s blog, because the abuse becomes admissible if any of the prosecution’s witnesses mentions anything remotely connected to it — and, sure enough, in about two seconds, some English teacher recalls a song he performed with lyrics about shooting his father in the head. Lyrics that were published on his blog three months before he sang them. Lyrics that apparently caused nobody to look into why the kid might have been singing about MUUURDER, because they just decided he was probably a pain in the ass. Wonderful nurturing, everyone. Really top-notch. And, BOOM. Back on track with the abuse. It is endlessly frustrating when a show makes you listen to a bunch of babble about a problem, only to solve it two seconds later with nary a sweat drop to show for it.
Rebecca Sutter, armed with a shiny hotshot lawyer for her murder trial, shows her gratitude by coming over to Wes’s apartment and acting exactly the same as ever. She steals some pizza, snarks at him about how he’s probably a total weirdo, and then leaves. Rebecca, Wes is not the one who dealt coke and buried Dead Girl Phone Penis in the floorboards. He is not the biggest weirdo in the room.
Annalise is depressed about Sam, so she stalks her own lover. Nate angrily tells her he was fired — he thinks she caused it — and, to twist the knife, tells her that he lied and Sam wasn’t at Yale the night Lila died. Then Nate is done for the week. I don’t get Nate’s function right now. In the pilot, he was obviously only there to titillate, but once the series itself got going… like, if you dropped in someone right now, they would be SHOCKED to learn he ever slept with Annalise, because absolutely none of that shared history makes its way into any of these scenes. Certainly not on his end. He is as cold as ice to her. You could argue that she’s earned it, but… they went to the trouble of building in this layer of the relationship, and then promptly erased it or wrote around it. Annalise is wrecked about her husband’s affair, but what about her own? Maybe her hypocrisy is part of who she is, but why is nobody calling her out on that? Why is Annalise cranky and glum and glaring and desperate rather than slick and dynamic and saucy and confident? EVERYTHING throws her for a loop, when nothing should (at least, not on the surface). I kind of wonder if Viola Davis, as good as she is, might be the problem. Like, maybe she is a Dramatic Actress Only and can’t bring some of those particular qualities to a character. Maybe she just doesn’t play slick and dynamic and saucy; maybe her intensity is only ever turned up to eleven.
Whereas Laurel’s maxes out at about four.
On The Night In Question, she answers Frank’s ill-timed call, because — she reckons — he’ll hear the bonfire and it’ll help with their alibi. Except they’re not nearly close enough to the bonfire and they’re not burning Sam yet, so…
Frank is pleased they can talk about “it,” whatever that is, and she accuses him of lying to her so that he could screw her. I hope he lied to her about his beard. RIP IT OFF. I just want more dramatic hair removal, basically. At all times.
Flashback: Laurel is discussing Killer Kid with her boyfriend, Kan, in the middle of the Legal Aid offices. Has she not learned her lesson about discussing the case, loudly, in the middle of a place where people can hear? Especially because their conversation is about jury nullification. Basically, there’s a loophole that says the jury has a right to vote its heart and not by the evidence — REALLY? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? — but it’s illegal to TELL the jury that, or at least, if you’re part of the case it is. Let’s keep discussing all this confidential stuff in public, Laurel. Good plan. Annalise is going to be thrilled that your boyfriend knows all about her cases, the evidence, the angles they’re working, and that Laurel was hot for an illegal act. Although Kan doesn’t seem tremendously unsupportive of her covertly engaging in this, so maybe he’s shady too. Maybe HE should be working for Annalise. He has his shit together more than any of the PLLs do.
Paris has on a great blouse for this scene, and Annalise is wearing a deep raspberry/fuchsia-type short-sleeved dress.
This is important later. Well, to me, anyway. Annalise is angry with her because she has figured out that Paris is why Nate got fired — from when she finagled the Rebecca Sutter confession from the cops — and when Paris fumbles for an explanation, Annalise snaps, “Don’t you dare say you did it for me. We both know there’s only one person you did it for and it wasn’t me.” Then, as is her wont, she exhaustedly hangs her head and scribbles angrily at some papers on her desk. Annalise might need to look into some sleep aids. Or some Xanax.
I just wanted you to know that in MUUURDER World, Grindr is called HumpR, and has a logo that looks like it was designed by a six-year old girl. Connor is using it in court, but of course, it’s just because he’s trying to get a particular juror kicked off for being stupid on the Internet. And indeed it happens TWO SECONDS after his strategy is revealed. Check off THAT box and MOVE ON.
Laurel goes to Frank with the jury nullification suggestion, because she clearly enjoys his form of abuse or else she’d go to Paris. Frank tells her that he was once a ’70s solo artist who came out with a record in which he’s sitting barefoot and cross-legged in a white room, wearing a matching tunic, and then reminds her that they’ll get disbarred for the other thing.
This is how Annalise looks when she’s cross-examining her own client, who is crying on the stand about being kicked in the stomach by her husband while a whole passel of his cop friends tsks disapprovingly from the peanut gallery. I do think it’s possible Annalise is just cross because she totally mismatched her bracelet today.
And THEN Viola Davis stands like THIS while delivering her closing statement. It looks like she’s trying to dislodge a wedgie without using her hands.
Laurel prints out a treatise on jury nullification and leaves it on a bench outside the courtroom right when a juror is meandering to work, and of COURSE, that juror sits right down where Laurel planned it, and of COURSE the juror picks up the document and reads it.
And Annalise is now BACK in the fuchsia-raspberry dress, which suggests to me that the bit with Paris from earlier originally came later in the episode but they moved it because it didn’t make structural sense. Here, Frank reveals to AK that there was tampering but won’t say which hamster did it. “If one more man lies to me today…” Annalise growls. “What you don’t know, you can’t report,” Frank replies. But then Annalise has the idea that they SHOULD report it…
… and she and Wig look extremely concerned about this gross abuse of the justice system while a mistrial is declared…
… and if Annalise had EYES she would know which Pretty Little Lawyer was responsible, because Laurel is about as subtle as a jackhammer to the temple. However, everyone then CELEBRATES because I guess somehow the judge decided that the formerly inadmissible abuse evidence now means the kid should be tried as a juvenile and/or gets off with community service and stuff, so WHEEEEEE, hooray for tying up the plot in extremely convenient knots.
I can’t remember why Asher made this face, but: Yes. He’s right.
Back at home, Annalise has changed clothes AGAIN. She is lying in wait for Sam, so maybe this is her Them’s Fighting Words dress. Sam confesses at her prodding that he wasn’t at Yale because Rebecca called him in tears, threatening to hurt herself, so he drove to her. But then he couldn’t find her, because she was off being strangled, so he gave up and went back to New Haven. The end. Annalise nods slowly and then informs Sam that Rebecca Sutter is on her way over for what she thinks is a psychiatric evaluation (at what appears to be ten o’clock at night). Rebecca should know by now that no meeting at Annalise’s counts unless ten people are in the room and five of them don’t have law degrees. What Annalise really wants is for Sam to question her and find out whether Rebecca knows whose face belongs to Dead Girl Phone Penis.
She does not. She DOES reveal that Lila was a bored, spoiled sorority girl who wanted a thrill, so she helped Rebecca sell drugs for a while; that she left her phone at Rebecca’s place the night before she died; and that she referred to her lover as Mr. Darcy because she thought it made her sound classy. This leads to the dumbest line of the episode later, but I won’t spoil it for you. Aren’t I thoughtful.
In the present, Laurel shows up at Frank’s for help. We have learned that the issue is getting the murder weapon back into Asher’s apartment; Laurel merely shows up to Frnk, dirty and disheveled, and tells him that she doesn’t really want to talk anything out right now, and confirms that he’d do anything for her. Then she whips out the statue and puts it on his coffee table. If you add them up, the Present Day pieces of this episode amount to almost nothing.
In the PAST, Laurel and Frank bicker. Laurel is furious that Frank didn’t tell Annalise what she did, because she wants credit for not being meek. Then they have another nasty exchange about how she went to Brown — I don’t even know — and suddenly they are tongue-bathing each other. Laurel pulls away and leaves, but she’s so turned on that she goes to the Legal Aid office, which is conveniently empty, and has sex with Kan on one of the tables. Because sure.
Wes discovers that Rebecca has run away. He calls her, and she’s angry at him, worried that they’re all in on “it” together. Wes doesn’t know what she’s talking about, and instead of taking the time to say, “Sam is attached to Dead Girl Phone Penis,” which would be SO quick and easy, instead she says, “The wallpaper, Wes… look at the wallpaper.” JUST SAY WHAT YOU MEAN.
This of course prompts Wes to go to Annalise’s. He walks right in, because her home/office is AGAIN unlocked even though Sam is sleeping on the COUCH. The last time the office was mysteriously unlocked, he walked in on Annalise and Nate, and Annalise was furious with someone (Frank?) for not locking up. And now… I can’t. This is so stupid. Because then, he walks RIGHT UPSTAIRS AND INTO HER BEDROOM. So maybe he DID intend to direct Rebecca to that bathroom, because he obviously knew which wallpaper to look for without Rebecca having to be specific. This is the DUMBEST. I cannot believe this show. It’s mind-blowing. YOU NEED TO HAVE A DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM. WHERE DO ALL THESE PEOPLE URINATE DURING THE WORKDAY.
Annalise is justifiably annoyed, and lucky to be clothed. But Wes doesn’t care. He glances at the bedroom wallpaper…
… and remembers Dead Girl Phone Penis, and sure enough, the wallpaper is the same. Sam Keating should be VERY UPSET that his penis was in this photo and yet all anyone saw when they looked at it was the interior design choice. Maybe he thought the wallpaper made his wang look bigger. Also, Sam is a terrible penis photographer, because it’s off-center and there’s a lot of shadows down there and frankly I’m surprised any penis made its way into the thing at all.
At any rate, Wes of course also remembers the wallpaper from the photo because NATURALLY, and gapes and turns to Annalise and says, “Your husband is MR. DARCY.” And GAAAAASP, SHOCK, HORROR, END SCENE, and I laughed so hard but not in a way where the show will take it as a compliment. The smartest thing Viola Davis ever did was refuse to do more than 15 episodes of this sucker. Potentially the worst thing she ever did was agree to do multiple seasons, because I’m sure this will get picked up, and… let’s just say, I hope she’s given a nice meaty film role to do in between, because even though she’ll get an Emmy nod for this because of how the Emmys are total suckers for Important Film Actors, I feel like these scripts must be eroding her soul.
And on a somber note, I was Googling “How To Get Away With Murder” just as a cheap way of finding the episode title, and I typed in “How To Get Away” and Google filled in the rest for me as, “With Sexual Harassment.” No, Google. DO NOT HELP ANYONE WITH THAT. Stop egging on the douchebags of the world.