This week, Asher gets the spotlight, and a chance to do something other than mugging. He is kind of the annoying baby brother of the Pretty Little Lawyers: jumpy and nipping at your heels, all bluster and peacocking but really just a kid who wants someone to acknowledge him as an equal. He’s a douche because he is trying to act like he fits in with any given crowd, as opposed to a douche for douchery’s sake, like — so far — Connor. Am I trying too hard to find something to like in this misery-fest? Quite possibly.
On the night of the bonfire, Asher was preening in his apartment, putting on war paint and dancing and amping himself up, while also maybe planning to score with a lady — until he looks behind him and notices his immunity idol missing, and after that, we’ve seen what happened. (Except for a new tidbit that the gang briefly considered inviting him into the house so that he’d step in Sam’s blood and become part of the whole MUUURDER-by-association thing.) I will give Matt McGorry endless credit for the fact that he took a character that had VERY LITTLE on the page, and made him noticeable. He has this amiable buffoon quality. He gave him an exuberance that nobody else has. He has a pulse.
Speaking of pulses…
… Annalise’s is racing when Wes confronts her in her bedroom with the idiotic phrase, “Your husband is Mr. Darcy.” She tries to explain, but he’s grossed out and leaves. Talk about a character whose motivations are unclear. At least in this episode other people acknowledge that THEY don’t know what the hell it is with him and Rebecca EITHER. Viola Davis remains awesome about unmasking Annalise in her private moments, though. I love that she does scenes without makeup and the wig — it really does enhance this idea that Annalise goes out into the world with armor, a warrior into battle. Unless I am giving them too much credit.
Wes takes the time to bike over to school and leave the immunity idol sitting at his empty desk. Annalise is nervous when she sees it, and the other students are speculating about whether Wes up and quit.
Asher makes this face. Of course. It doesn’t even matter why.
Bonnie interrupts Annalise’s class for Case of the Week news, so Annalise actually dismisses her class — cuts short a lesson and blows them all off — in favor of a confab with what she calls The Keating Five. All of these other students should get a refund immediately. Asher wants to know if Wes’s absence means the idol is back in play, because he is DESPERATE for that thing. Annalise shuts them all up and explains the situation:
David Allen was convicted of murdering his girlfriend back when Annalise was a law student, and he’s going to be executed, but she always felt it was circumstantial or something — it’s the case that always made her want to get into law — and she’s filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court that finally got accepted. And now she gets to wander around barking at her unqualified underlings while they do all her research for her, even though supposedly this case is her lifelong passion. I’m assuming maybe they don’t release all the original files to Annalise until the appeal is accepted, and that’s why she’s so unprepared? But if this case mattered so much, wouldn’t she NOT farm it out to The Dipshit Brigade? EVEN SHE thinks they’re all mopes. Maybe do some thinking yourself, Fancy Lady Lawyer.
Asher also makes this face. It ALSO doesn’t matter why. Although I can tell you anyway: People give him a lot of shit about being the son of Judge Millstone, and being Asher Millstone of the Kennebunkport Millstones, but then it’s discovered — and nobody seemed to know this, INCLUDING Annalise, despite the fact that she was OBSESSED with the original case — that Asher’s father was the judge at the first trial. And they discover that there was a rumor of perjury surrounding it, and all sorts of mysterious and potentially corrupt goings-on that they need to prove because the only eyewitness — a heroin addict whom the defense didn’t use the first time for fear of making David look shady — is now dead. So: Asher’s daddy might be corrupt, and he’s bummed out about it, although of course all these wonderful, classy, and supportive people would rather pack his misery into a large t-shirt cannon and then shoot it up to the rafters.
This is Sam thanking Paris for supporting the family, and, between the lines, for not blabbing to everyone about his fight with Annalise and/or any related penile shenanigans. Although I’m not actually sure she overheard that part, or else she’d have stolen the phone and found a way to text herself the picture.
This is Paris lying to Sam that she did it for Annalise, not for him, all the while wishing she’d remembered to wash her hair that day.
This is for you, Fug Nation. If Christmas decorations are already on the shelves, then dammit, I can start giving you gifts.
Annalise tries to wheedle Wes back on her team — why, I can’t fathom, but probably because He Knows Too Much, and also he’s the only person Rebecca trusts. Wes will only come back if she finds Rebecca and brings her back to town. I hope his obsession with her actually is going somewhere more dramatic because otherwise it’s just a LOT of effort to go to just because he wants to have sex. There are plenty of other co-eds out there.
These two are awkward with each other — he’s flirty, she keeps insisting it’ll never happen, and nobody discusses that he’s always dressed like a Prohibition-era gang up-and-comer, and she’s constantly in shirts with built-in aprons.
This shot is just to show you Michaela’s giant cardigan. It looks comfortable, but semi-unflattering when buttoned. Just pop that sucker open and pop a cork, kid.
In present-day (or whatever we’re calling it), Asher gets a phone call from someone who wants to come to his place, and he’s so excited that he stops dead in the street and almost gets hit by…
… Connor’s impromptu hearse, full of people who are trying to avoid Asher and one very dead person who doesn’t actually care. “It’s freaking Whack-a-Mole,” cackles Connor, demonstrating that nobody associated with this show has ever actually PLAYED Whack-a-Mole. Nobody has popped in and out of a hole to avoid being clubbed in the head. If anything, this is Frogger, right? Trying to cross the street without being flattened? Yeah.
Asher doesn’t notice all this, by the way, because it appears he has just gotten a booty call, and his hormones have whipped themselves into a tornado that clouded his peripheral vision.
Just in case you’re wondering, Connor is still needling Michaela about whether her fiancé is gay. Even in a program full of stiff competition, Connor is horribly unlikable. And has never actually produced any information, or done any work, that did not involve boning someone. He is a Bone Detective and little else.
Annalise, meanwhile, is having an emotional moment alone at her desk, hoping for a breakthrough. I guess this is meant to show us how much she cares about the case, but if it was that important to her, wouldn’t she be out helping DO the work instead of praying that other people will find things for her? She does, however, get an idea when she sees a picture of Griffin, the Douchebag Quarterback, and hands Frank a mystery parcel with instructions. Then I guess she falls into a Piperlime wormhole.
Asher sneaks into his father’s study to snoop, and gets caught by his family’s African-American maid, who says she isn’t even allowed in there to CLEAN. That is… telling, potentially, about his father. Even though she is totally pleasant and she and Asher obviously like each other, it’s uncomfortable to see and hear. Kennebunkport’s Chamber of Commerce is probably composing a letter to the world that says, “THIS DEPICTION IS NOT TYPICAL.”
Asher cracks into his father’s old journals about all his cases, and finds a page that reads, “Dear Diary: I totally ignored rumors of perjury and basically rigged this one case because I got bribed. My robes smelled of lavender and I had run out of toothpaste.” Except, no. He just finds a missing page. The idea of which makes me laugh because it almost implies his father WOULD have written all that at one point. He later confronts his father about whether the old man did, in fact, receive a federal judgeship from a shady senator in exchange for burying the perjured testimony. His father does not deny it, but instead calls Asher ungrateful and boots him out of his ill-gotten house.
Asher resurfaces at Annalise’s and offers her a compromise: She keeps Judge Millstone’s name out of the cover-up allegations, somehow, and also she lets him have the immunity idol. Annalise all but snorts, she finds that last stipulation so entertaining, and she lets him have it, so he gives her the name of some senator who was involved. The details are boring; something about real-estate development. No exciting storyline ever involved the words “real-estate development.”
Laurel catches Frank sneaking out and sidles up to him all smiley, and he doesn’t leap to her bait. I can’t tell if she’s trying to be nice, or is genuinely torn about whether she likes him, but the thing is, most of these performances are pretty one-note so it’s hard to tell what song ANYONE is playing. Paris sees this, because Paris is always skulking around EVERYWHERE, all the time, and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if it turned out SHE killed several of these people just because she has her oar in everyone’s river. Here, Paris pulls Laurel aside and instructs her to stop leading on Frank, because they both know she’s not going to end up with him and it’ll just hurt him down the line — and Annalise won’t take kindly to Laurel messing with her de facto family, and it would be such a shame because Laurel is actually becoming useful. I’m not entirely sure Laurel WAS leading on Frank, but Paris makes Laurel feel guilty enough that she seems to decide it’s true; I think Paris might secretly be lawyering every last one of them in subtle ways. She completely identifies and pulls Laurel’s trigger about whether she’s being noticed or not, and that is what I think does the trick here. I’m intrigued by Paris’s change of tune, because in the first few episodes, she talked to Frank like he was a habitual lech who cherry-picked his conquests (“Stop sleeping with the students”) and now she’s acting like Frank is a tender flower whose petals are ripe for the crushing. I suppose both could be true, but… yeah, more likely, I think she’s a keen observer and she knows exactly what she’s doing. The question is why.
Maybe she hates Laurel because of all her strange shirts. Can you blame her? WHAT ARE THOSE ABOUT. I should not need to spend as much time deciphering your clothes as your performance. Period. However, I do not need to focus hard to tell you that I love Laurel’s necklace. This show’s accessory game is top-notch. I think it’s where ALL the positive creative energy is going. (In fairness, I will also say that I am interested in where the Sam murder mystery is going. It’s not a useless show. It’s just a muddled and often misguided and misdirected one.)
And then Matt McGorry did something awesome. Everyone is sitting around pretending they care that David Allen is about to die, but actually grilling Wes on whether he is sleeping with Rebecca Sutter. Asher makes some comment that sparks a feeding frenzy, where first Michaela and then Connor make cracks about his father’s career being built on the back of corruption, and Connor’s remark ignites Asher’s rage. He surges into the room to deck Connor…
… and crashes smack into a giant pile of boxes. It’s an easy trick but it was very well executed. Naturally, the show then stepped all over the humor of the moment by having smug Connor underline it and circle it by saying, “That was awesome,” or something equally unnecessary. But right as Annalise comes out to scold her squabbling children, Asher realizes he’s tipped over a box with a clue in it, and blah blah blah thanks to a logo on a letter, he figures out who perjured herself on the stand. This saves their defense.
I didn’t screen grab any of the trial, because it was all Annalise yelling and people banging gavels and looking constipated. EXACTLY like in real life, I’m sure. Suffice to say, Annalise finagles it so that the crooked senator in question gets on the stand, and he is WAY more smarmy than I think a regular rational human being would be given the charges and depth of the cover-up, and she gets fiery. She shouts and shouts and shouts at him, and the Chief Justice gives himself splinters from gaveling the table. In the end, Annalise gets a lecture from the Chief Justice about how totally inappropriate she was… and then rules in her favor. I don’t totally understand why, given that she got nobody to break on the stand and so just started barking out her theories, but whatever. The Pretty Little Lawyers wax rhapsodic about how badly they want to be Annalise Keating, now more than ever, even though from what I can tell she just threw a very eloquent fit.
Annalise is watching a super low-rent local newscast, and shows it to Wes: She found a way to turn in Lila’s phone as evidence. And of course WE find out that she had Frank’s guy scrub it of anything that might trace Dead Girl Phone Penis back to Sam, and then plant it in Griffin’s car so that he’d look like a surer suspect. Wes is mildly concerned that they’re now framing someone else, but Annalise doesn’t care. Earlier in the episode, of the David Allen case, she said, “This is the first case that opened my eyes to the fact that the justice system doesn’t always reward those who tell the truth, but those who have the power to create their own.” Simultaneously in this episode, she appears to be fighting that truism, and also embracing it.
Laurel tells Frank she’s just not that into him, and Frank is like, “That’s fine, kid, I’m due at a speakeasy in two minutes anyway.”
Wes convinces Rebecca that framing Griffin is a pleasing alternative to rotting in jail for a murder she didn’t commit, despite being dumb enough to confess to it. She is touched that anyone believes in her this much — and where the hell is she STAYING, by the way? She’s in a junky motel later in the timeline, so where the hell did she find this place? Airbnb?
Annalise thoughtfully solved The Great Wallpaper Debacle of 2014 by repapering her bedroom with a different gold print on a different-colored background, so that nobody will trace Mr. Darcy’s Wang to her bedroom. I hope she left a nice review on Angie’s List for the kind person who WALLPAPERED AN ENTIRE ROOM without anyone working in the house being the wiser. That is some stealth work.
Sam asks Annalise why she’s doing all this for him, and she repeats that she needs him, until it erodes at her composure and she starts to cry. He kisses her neck. If I didn’t know it would involve a lot of agonizing CGI work on their faces, I would be curious about a flashback episode detailing their origin as a couple. But I really cannot deal with the prospect of an entire episode that’s so blurry I begin to wonder if I need glasses. When Nashville does it, I almost get nauseated.
So remember when Detective Nate was investigating Sam under the table? Now he’s following Frank, and has proof that Frank placed the phone in Griffin’s car. Why? BECAUSE FRANK DID IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY IN BROAD DAYLIGHT AND ON A BUSY STREET OH MY GOD WHY. Frank of Dubious Origin clearly did not come from the Department of Common Sense.
But then this happened:
Asher’s booty call? Is PARIS. She’s cagey about anyone finding out, and he’s completely reassuring about it. This swerve is good. Matt McGorry said in an interview that he threw in some longing glances at her in the stuff leading up to this scene, and that was, I think, TOTALLY a wrong choice and so good for the show for cutting them out. This is much better when you don’t see it coming. They can develop it after, but right now — because it’s one of the patchy flash-forwards where you’re not MEANT to know everything — you want the WAIT, WHAT? moment. And I kind of like it. But right when Asher is making his argument for a Round Two, Paris’s phone rings. It’s Annalise. “Are you with him?” Annalise chokes throatily. Not knowing quite who Annalise means, Paris asks for clarification, and Annalise is all upset looking for Sam. She feels like something terrible has happened.
And we see that she’s in her office, with pristine floors, and sans one rug that I really hope she didn’t like. Maybe Queen Elizabeth II should start hinting broadly that Philip should murder someone and dispose of the body in HER loathed area rug. Princess Anne would LOVE to solve THAT murder-most-foul.