My scribbled notes for Shonda Rhimes shows are always so crabby. Like, for Scandal: “Flashback to her explaining the idea UGH WE KNOW WASTE OF TIME.” And this episode had “COME ON” written all over the place.
We begin with them zooming in on Lila’s dead face, which as makeup jobs go really looks more like she fell asleep in a mud bath at her local spa. Then we cut to her LIVING face, from June of that year, where she and Rebecca are hanging out and doing drugs and doing the whole Unlikely Friendship thing. We periodically rejoin them through the episode in June, July, and August, discussing Lila’s lovelife and its progression, before she is unceremoniously throttled and then someone heaves her up a ladder and into a water tank and deposits her inside and I guess has the presence of mind to wipe up the crime scene and also enough brute strength to OPEN the water tank before hauling a human up into it.
Here in June, Lila is freaking out about whether she will wait to have sex with Griffin and then find out on her wedding night that his junk is enormous and doesn’t fit into her secret pocket. I… GUESS she could realistically be paranoid about that? But does anyone over the age of like 14 really have those thoughts? I’m honestly asking. Because this girl does not seem particularly naive. I’m unclear on whether she HERSELF is a virgin or just involved in a chastity pledge she is not keeping, but either way… let’s assume it’s the drugs talking. She then says, “I met a new guy. MR. DARCY.” And it sounds as lame coming out of her mouth as it does everyone else’s, except Rebecca’s, because she smothers it in the scorn it deserves. Again, this is June. In July, Lila tells Rebecca triumphantly that she and Darcy had sex and he couldn’t get enough, at which point he sends her the junk selfie, and they laugh at it. Dear Sam: Even people high on coke think your penis photos are stupid. And then in August, Lila is weeping because Sam wants to end it — “They never leave their wives” — and she is tempted to go show Annalise what she claims are rather a LOT of genital portraits.
My question is: Do we think Middleton University is on the quarter system, like UCLA and its brethren? It’s my understanding that isn’t hugely common outside the West Coast unless it’s a technical school. If it was, then okay, they’re in school. If not… I mean, Lila was having an affair with Sam, and it was during his office hours and while she was one of his students, so June and July and August don’t really make much sense. She’d have to have been in school all summer. Was he teaching summer school? Was school in session? Does everyone at Middleton live in Philly and just stay there year-round even when school isn’t in session, and go hang out with their old profs? And SERIOUSLY can we just discuss how the murderer got her up in the water tank? I want to see the crime scene again. I have questions. If the killer turns out to be Paris, I have SERIOUS DOUBTS about how she managed this alone.
Back in flashback land — this episode will eventually catch us up to The Day of the Murder — Annalise has just found out Lila was With Bonus Stangard at the time of her death. Annalise seems strangely comfortable in her lace-infested negligee in front of her employee, which does tip to Paris having some kind of connection to her that goes beyond just a work one. People have guessed she is Sam’s kid from a previous marriage, but this episode pretty firmly puts THAT to rest. She could be a fostered or adopted kid, I guess, or… I honestly don’t know. If her background is ever revealed, I wonder if it will add up to what it FEELS like in these early episodes, or if it will have been decided on the fly.
Anyway: Unsurprisingly, Sam denies knowing about the pregnancy. Over and over again. “No because you didn’t, or no because it gives you a motive to kill?” Annalise asks tartly. That is a pretty crappy motive to kill. A motive to empty your bank account and pay her to disappear for nine months, sure, as horrible as that is. But murder? MUUUURDER? I hope it turns out Sam has killed all kinds of people, or else it’s weird that he’s a sudden sociopath. Maybe, like a Svengali, he convinced Paris to kill Lila because it would make his life easier. I think… here’s the thing: The second half of the season might be well-used in making us understand Annalise’s relationship to Sam, and how they found each other, how they fell in love, and why exactly she would be so devoted to this complete creeper.
Oh, Annalise does ask Sam if Lila was a virgin when he slept with her, and he looks away and says nothing, then repeats that he didn’t know she was pregnant. So maybe his non-answer clears that up?
Annalise, understandably, goes with a very stormy outfit for her next class lecture, in which she AGAIN presents an ONGOING case, using actual evidence that will be shown in court.
Here, a video of Stacy Edwards dragging her nanny’s dead body around and hosing it off. It seems Stacy takes sleeping pills that make her a sleepwalker wherein she does all kinds of wacky shit and doesn’t remember any of it later. And on the night in question, the pills made her walk around comatose and stab her nanny to death, then try and clean up the crime scene. Did any of these students sign non-disclosure agreements? Shouldn’t this tape be in the possession OF THE COURT? I guess AK might have a copy, but if she does, maybe she should keep it to herself. Maybe keep ALL of this to herself, in fact.
I just enjoy this shot because, as Stacy is merrily explaining to someone on the phone, she’s minutes from going to prison forever for MUUURDER and Asher back there appears to be checking out her kitchen. I might like him even more now.
I guess Stacy Edwards was really close with the nanny, and she haltingly tells Annalise how awful it is to wake up and learn you killed someone you love. Yes, I imagine that would be fairly upsetting. I also love that Annalise can’t NOT look at her with total aggravation. Some of it is warranted, because she wants Stacy to stop party-planning and start thinking about her trial. Maybe Annalise should have done that so that they aren’t doing all their research on the eve of the court proceedings. This show is MADDENING. Jury selection for murder trials can take WEEKS and Annalise isn’t even planning her defense nor interviewing the family until the last minute — and also isn’t doing ANY of it herself.
“Does anyone else feel like we do all her work FOR her?” one of the Pretty Little Lawyers asks, and sadly, I didn’t write down which one. I think it was Michaela who chips in that she was fine with that arrangement until exams came along and now she feels like she’s falling behind. And what ensues is a LOT of logistical blah-blah — about study groups and Connor having a purloined copy of last year’s test, and WHO GETS TO STUDY WITH HIM — that is ALL just the show arranging the deck chairs for the sinking of the Samtanic.
Asher makes this face. It doesn’t matter why.
Except, it partly does: He is anouncing that because he has the trophy, he’s not bothering to study; he’s going to go to the bonfire and mack on “the chickadees,” except he says it like, “chick-a-DEEEES,” while grinding up on Laurel.
Laurel’s reaction is wonderful. Granted, Karla Souza makes this face at everyone, all the time, but in this particular case it actually works. As does her necklace. The jewelry on this show is endlessly interesting. Also, Asher is absurd, and THANK GOD somebody has SOME energy on this damn show. I don’t understand why the trophy means he can blow off studying, though. Sure, he gets to skip one Annalise Keating trophy, but has no one told him that he takes other law school classes that do NOT recognize the validity of an immunity idol outside the confines of Survivor?
Annalise calls Wes into her study and tells him Lila was pregnant. Wes asks what we’re all wondering — how the hell any medical examiner just casually MISSED THAT the first time — and Annalise fanwanks that, well, because there was no sign of sexual trauma, they just didn’t bother looking at her uterus. EXCEPT, if Sam knowing she was pregnant is considered motive, then ANYTHING happening in A DEAD GIRL’S UTERUS is RELEVANT and you would ALWAYS check that, no? You can get pregnant other ways than just via sexual trauma, and, like, would you just sweepingly avoid various vital organs if they didn’t seem all that relevant to a person’s death? Don’t you do a thorough job examining A CORPSE, especially when said corpse is a murder victim? Do you not overturn every stone?
Also, Lila was missing for a long time. I think the chastity pact thing came out before she was found, right? If so, that knowledge ESPECIALLY makes the contents of her womb noteworthy. Unless a Fug National in the field tells me otherwise, I maintain that the show f’ed up huge on this one and that it MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL that nobody would have looked. CERTAINLY not before now. Nice try. Annalise takes Wes into her confidence and especially begs him not to tell Rebecca, because of her habit of self-sabotaging and flying off the handle. She says she told him because “I’ve learned my lesson about keeping secrets from you,” and shoots him this Congenial Face which is SO out of character that there’s no way Wes won’t smell a rat.
And of course, he immediately turns around and DOES tell Rebecca. But what Wes doesn’t realize…
… is that Hot Detective Nate is hanging around outside standing in a tree and asking Rebecca to do some dirty work to bust Sam. (I do know he’s actually just in shadow, but it’s more amusing to me to imagine him stuck in some foliage.) Nate tells her to trust him because he’s mad about losing his job, so Rebecca blabs about Lila’s Uterine Secret and Nate orders her to go get some of Sam’s hair off his brush — and I’m SO SURE Tom Verica uses a BRUSH, come on (see? “COME ON,” right there in my notes) — so he can sneak a DNA test and find out if the baby was Sam’s.
So Foolio Iglesias over here goes to Annalise’s house when she knows nobody is there except Sam, as opposed to, I don’t know, going when everyone IS there because then she’d have a valid reason to hang around and use the bathroom. It would make SO MUCH MORE SENSE if she came by thinking they had a meeting, instead of this INCREDIBLY transparent and awkward conversation with a guy she can’t resist goading. “Sup, Darcy,” she says when he opens the door. Then she makes a very artificial show of looking for her pretend lost gloves, and THEN asks to use the bathroom, and seriously, Sam and Annalise, YOU NEED ANOTHER BATHROOM IN THIS TWO-STORY HOUSE THAT IS ALSO YOUR OFFICE. COME ON. AGAIN. KEEP COMING ON. Why is there ONE BATHROOM for employees and clients and it’s THEIR PRIVATE BATHROOM. I can’t. It’s the dumbest. Sam is not stupid, even if he is a lying menace, so he kicks her out of the house and says she’s not welcome there unless Annalise and her minions have invited her for professional reasons. So she blew it. Because she IS stupid. Nobody on Shonda Rhimes’ shows can make a halfway decent plan these days. They need a Plan Consultant.
The PLLs — I refuse to use “The Keating Five,” which is the particular brand of fetch that the show has tried to make happen — are sent out to interview Stacy Edwards’ kids, husband, and mother. Or mother-in-law. Whatever. This is happening RIGHT on the eve of the trial, which again, they’d have had weeks to prep their defense during jury selection (murder trials take a lot longer for this stuff) and also the weeks leading UP TO the trial, but SURE. OKAY. Also, yeah, send our your inexperienced STUDENTS to do something as vital as witness prep, with no other authority around to advise or supervise. Really top-notch, Annalise. All that’s revealed is that a) the actor they cast to play the son is a terrible actor, and b) this show is not very self-aware, because this old lady schools Michaela on judicial procedure and then smugly says, “I watch a lot of Court TV,” which itself is something that CLEARLY nobody on HTGAWM has ever done because the lawyering scenes are MADNESS on this mofo. Case in point:
When Bad Young Actor gets up there and says that he and the nanny were in love and sleeping together, it surprises everyone, because it did not come up when Connor was prepping him and questioning him. Because Connor did a terrible job. Because Connor IS NOT QUALIFIED. If you get a legal bill from Annalise, DO NOT PAY IT. Anyhoo, Annalise’s reaction is to stand up and start yelling at the judge. WITHOUT SAYING OBJECTION. COURT TV WOULD TEACH YOU TO SAY THE WORD ‘OBJECTION’ IF ANYONE WOULD JUST WATCH IT. I want to hire that fictional grandmother character because she would do a better job defending. And the judge doesn’t scold her for not saying “objection,” so what happens? SHE DOES IT AGAIN. TWO MORE TIMES. SO MUCH YELLING OUT OF TURN. SO MUCH LACK OF OBJECTING. SO FEW CONSEQUENCES. Here, I didn’t write “COME ON.” I wrote, “Come OOOOOOOON.”
Maybe if Annalise was not doing so much shopping for bracelets made of enameled hot peppers, she would have more time for work.
Annalise is super disgusted with her first-year student lackey. She asks him, “Are you only capable of doing your job when you’re screwing evidence out of someone,” and YES ANNALISE THAT’S EXACTLY RIGHT BECAUSE HE IS A FIRST-YEAR LAW STUDENT WHO HAS BEEN IN SCHOOL FOR LIKE TWO HOURS. HIS WANG IS ALL HE KNOWS.
And Paris gets this expression on her face because Annalise turns to her and hisses, “I give you a simple job. TELL ME WHAT’S COMING MY WAY. In return, I tolerate your pathetic mousy presence in my house.” Does Paris… live with them? Are these clues? Or just monstrosities? Annalise Keating has no layers. She has DEPTH, sort of, because Viola Davis can give her emotional flavors, but she has no facets, if that makes any sense. There is NOTHING about her — no flashes of actual brilliance and no flashes of irresistible charisma nor charm — that makes you understand why anyone would tolerate all the crappy stuff.
Also, should this be Paris’s “one” job? Maybe if Paris had MORE jobs, since she is theoretically some kind of certified legal person (?), she could have helped more. What IS her job?
Asher later drops his facade and tells Paris that he thinks that was lousy. “She’s the one who sucks, not you,” he says. ASHER IS A GENIUS.
He also makes this face. It doesn’t matter why.
Except: He invites Paris to “a jammy jam” at his place for Bonfire Night. She has too much work but sympathetically says he can go early as long as he finishes his. I don’t know if he was buttering her up, or if he actually was hot for her. Probably both. Asher can be more than one thing. Asher is MULTITUDES.
Also — in a shot that I COULD NOT GET, sadly — we learn Lauren is wearing yet another Horowitz-adjacent skirt and sweater combo, and that I correctly predicted that Frank put the Nip Photo on Laurel’s phone himself. While she was in the shower. It rang in the middle of their work and she freaked when she noticed, but nobody else did; the reason it was still on the phone on the Night Of The Murder is because that is apparently THIS NIGHT and the show leaped ahead of itself like a drunken frog.
As Paris went to whisper something to Sam about his whereabouts the night of the murder, I was more interested in getting a look at her dress. It seems livelier than most of what they put her in, and as it had potential or at the very least was not hopeless.
But when Annalise interrupted this whispered confab, we got a side shot, and I’m pretty sure that either there’s a weird visible lacy tank/slip underneath, or that’s her bra. OBJECTION. See how easy it is to type and use that word? So easy. So unOBJECTIONable.
Alone, Sam tells Annalise that Rebecca showed up and acted super suspicious, so they both assume Wes told her about the pregnancy. He then asks Annalise not to give up on him. Absently, Annalise says she’s going to lose her case because all she can think about is Sam and Lila. “Seven [times]?” she says, referring to how often Sam told her they did it (which could well be a lie). “That’s all it took for you to knock her up. This is what I get [for being his mistress herself, once up on a time]. You become sad, barren. Even a dead girl is more woman than you.” And I have to say, that one was an interesting reaction. I am impatient with the show ignoring the emotional weight of of Annalise having an affair herself, with Nate. And the character and the show, to me, are an abyss of wasted potential. But most weeks there is at least ONE Big Viola Moment, and this was a good one. Because I do think it’s actually pretty natural that she’d have that reaction. As someone who struggled with fertility, you to tend to get so angry at your body for not doing what everyone tells you is its natural instinct. You may feel like it’s betraying you, and yeah, sometimes you might be angry at yourself or at it for not doing just this one goddamn thing that you’ve spent your whole live cautiously avoiding until you were ready and THANKS A LOT, while you watch other people get pregnant as easily as breathing. You can totally slip into that sad headspace even if you know it’s not fair, and it was intriguing to hear that coming out of her mouth in this situation. She doesn’t seem like someone who’d have a lot of patience for a toddler, for example, and so it makes you wonder what other aspects of this character might be there that we don’t know about, or whether she hardened herself as a way of coping with disappointment, or what.
Or, I’m reading into it too much, and nobody had any kind of game plan and it just sort of spilled onto the page and will be gone next week.
Let me just go ahead and tell you the end of this Case of the Week, although you have probably figured it out: The dad was ALSO having sex with the nanny, and he got an STD, and then he found out his son has the SAME STD — because this show wants SO MANY of its women to be sleep-around kind of people — and in a jealous rage he encouraged the wife to swallow her pills with wine so she’d go EXTRA comatose, and murdered the nanny and then sent the wife in there so she’d think she did it. And guess what happens when Annalise confronts the dad with this theory on the stand. HE CONFESSES. YOU FOOL. Jessica Fletcher somewhere is like, “My MORON RADAR is going NUTS right now,” before writing Annalise a letter about how she needs more sensible blazers and has she tried this boutique called Chicos because it’s all the rage in Cabot Cove.
Stacy Edwards, stupidly, is enraged because she thinks Annalise has now destroyed her family. Uh, my dear, your husband STABBED YOUR NANNY. And YOU were most likely about to go to jail, by your own admission. PICK YOUR POISON. And don’t blame Annalise for it. This idiocy only gives Annalise a chance to give a speech about how the burning Stacy feels right now is because of her nasty betraying dicksmack of a husband, not anything Annalise did. “You’ll thank me one day,” she says. Yes. TODAY. YOU SHOULD THANK HER TODAY. YOU ARE FREE AND YOUR PSYCHO KILLING SPOUSE IS NOT. SEND HER A HAM.
Michaela demands the trophy from Annalise, because she is the one who figured out the truth, based on some prescriptions she saw in various places. Viola snorts that the trophy doesn’t mean anything anyway, and Michaela insists it means you’re THE BEST and I find it hilarious that Viola offered that thing as the ultimate prize and then clearly doesn’t give a shit who has it and is just messing with them all. Watching them prey on each other for it. Annalise IS married to a psych prof, so I guess the human-experiment angle to that is predictable.
And then she gets home…
… and there is her future mother-in-law. This episode aired six days ago and I ONLY JUST figured out who this is. I was about to IMDb it for help — I try not to do that, to force my brain to work — but then Lynn Whitfield’s name came to me as if by magic. Thank you, brain. You may be limping along right now but I appreciate this.
Anyway, as you can imagine, she hates Michaela. They fake-smile their way to dinner and then she starts talking about their family’s hard-earned department-store fortune, and how even though their son is going into politics, it’s the family legacy and she’s not going to leave it to chance. “Sign this, or I will cancel the wedding and make sure you go back to the nasty backwoods swamp you came from,” and if my notes are correct, she follows this with, “you bitch.” Classy. It would be way less exhausting to have people hate each other if ANYONE had a friendship. Jessica and I were talking about this, and the reason Grey’s Anatomy worked at first was that Meredith and Cristina were the true love affair of the show. They were best friends. And whenever that friendship faltered, we cared. Nobody on Scandal or How To Get Away With Murder has that, and I think it’s because the further away we get from the Mother Ship, the less anyone cares about human relationships in favor of WTF lines and moments and speeches. It’s all shortcuts. Scandal at least has Olivia and Fitz’s history down, but no healthy female relationships, despite the VERY occasional half-assed attempts to do it with Abby and Olivia. And this show has none. Absolutely none. Even if, say, they bothered to establish that Frank and Paris are allies to the death, then we might care about them as they defend each other against these hungry newbies and their own bad impulses. But no.
Speaking of those impulses, Frank and Laurel are making out back at his place, because his Nipple Magic worked really well…
… and they are greeted by Katie Cleary, a.k.a. an early eliminee from the first season of Top Model who went on to be a Deal Or No Deal girl. Her name is Sasha, she is Frank’s girlfriend, and she’s back early from wherever she usually is or was. She calls Laurel “the student of the month.” Maybe YOUR impulses aren’t great EITHER, Sasha. Because you could dump him. I’m just saying. Maybe she already did and she was back to… you know what, whatever. They will tell us eventually and I don’t want to waste my brain cells on predicting this one.
NEXT UP: Paris, finally alone with Sam, tells him that Lila came to see her on the night she died. She was asking for Annalise, and she was angry and sobbing, “He can’t keep it a secret anymore.” Paris mildly menaced her away from the house — I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s exactly what she did — and in present-day she tells Sam that this is how she knows Lila had told him about the baby. It COULD just mean, though, that he can’t keep their AFFAIR a secret, and she might not have told him a thing. But Sam doesn’t think of that defense. Instead, he gets real close to Paris and tells her it would have done Annalise no good at all to know that he was aware of it. He purrs that Paris has always had his back, and that he needs her now…
… and then kisses her. So, Secret Child Theory: debunked. I HOPE.
Paris, then, immediately gets Annalise alone and sobs to her exactly what happened: that she knows Sam is lying about what he knew and when, that he kissed her to shut her up. “He kissed me so I’d lie to you,” she weeps. “He thought he was giving me what I wanted. He’s not a good man, Annalise.” And at one point in this scene, she’s in this crouchy position as if she’s begging at Annalise’s feet. And the way they interacted in this hour DID make me kind of curious about how their relationship began and what kind of weirdo power play it is. And how Sam fits into things with either o them. Because…
…her response is to fire Paris. Poor, sad Paris.
Nate’s new plan: continue only to have scenes set in darkness, but this time, ask Rebecca to copy the last synched backup of Sam’s phone, which might have GPS coordinates and pictures and all manner of things on it which he has since deleted. The message here is, if you have just committed a crime and deleted information from your phone, quickly back it up again before someone jams a doohickey all up in its whatsits.
Wes sees Rebecca with Nate, and the two of them fight about her helping him. Wes correctly notes that Annalise is CLEARLY playing them, and there’s a reason she told Wes something she KNEW he would divulge to Rebecca, and he’s enraged Rebecca didn’t trust him to find out what that is. He is really, really het up about trust. You barely know her, dude. You also kind of imposed yourself on her. You are fairly dysfunctional yourself, sir. Rebecca storms out and locks herself in her own apartment…
… and then Laurel turns up at Wes’s for their study group — crying — and they all realize that Rebecca a) took the flash drive Nate had given her, and b) is not actually in her apartment at all. Wes realizes she’s gone to Annalise’s to try and get that info off of the computer. My new theory is that WES kills Sam because they get there and see him menacing Rebecca and so he whacks him on the head with the statue. But Connor seemed so unglued that maybe he did it. Or maybe Paris does it. THEY ALL DID IT.
How did the statue get away from Asher, you ask? Well, while he was dancing around and preening, Michaela showed up, pretending she wants to be friends, and then steals the statue while Asher is mixing her a drink. She also ignores a call from her fiance while perpetrating this little heist, because she cares more about being first than about… well, who knows, but maybe some of her drive is to make Aidan’s family decide she’s worthy. Whatever. Sure.
AND THEN, BIG FINISH: For some reason I didn’t grab this, but Sam comes home to find Annalise on the phone. She is telling someone that Lila was pregnant and suggesting that they demand DNA tests from all her associates and professors. GAME ON SAM. GAME ON.