All righty, season one is in the can, thanks to a two-hour finale that brought with it a merciful one-week break from Scandal. I have… thoughts… about the cliffhanger ending, but I will say this without spoiling it: This show is so captive to plot, plot, plot, and all the twisting thereof, that the personal stakes feel incredibly low. There are almost no stories about these people as people except for Asher crushing on Paris, because she’s the only person who doesn’t treat him like garbage, and now slowly Connor being in love with Oliver. That’s something. But Wes, Frank, Laurel, and even still Michaela — and honestly, also Annalise, despite the show’s efforts to give her a backstory — are characters we have only really been asked to care about via the MUUUURDER drama, and it’s exhausting, and it means the consequences largely mean nothing to me because the people mean nothing to me. RANT OVER. Let’s begin.

Also, I’m going to try to hold off on all the bits and bobs we learn about the night of the murder until the end, because otherwise I think it gets confusing.

Laurel is trying to talk Wes off his ledge. She points out that Rebecca being wet doesn’t mean she killed Lila, because why would she have climbed into the water tank WITH her? Laurel is talking sense, which of course means Wes doesn’t listen to her. Instead, he spends all his time digging into Annalise’s old files and trying to ferret out inconsistencies between Rebecca’s false confession and her “real” statements and Douchebag QB’s version of events. He’s very unsubtle about it — apparently Wes has decided that scrabbling through paperwork in the kitchen is totally private — and Laurel is like DIAL IT DOWN YOU NUTJOB. She also orders him to answer his phone so that Rebecca doesn’t get suspicious, but of course we know she already is, and that when Wes lies to her face about his whereabouts she knows he was actually at Enfield. They have sex anyway, because whatever, they’re both real good-looking and it would be a shame to waste Dean Thomas’s mouth on all that pouting.


You also ought to know that Laurel wore this. She is back into Winter Cher Horowitz territory, putting sweaters over button-down shirts, and NONE of these people calls her out on it, which is only weird because they’re all really nasty to each other a lot of the time and so you know it’s percolating there under the surface. Michaela must be dying inside every time Laurel saunters in there as if it’s 1996. I keep waiting for her to start lending Laurel some of her large coats.

Connor’s story, which I will share with you in its entirety next, is moving for reasons that have nothing to do with Connor:

Oliver doesn’t want them to have sex until they’ve both been tested for a battery of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Connor, therefore, endures a nurse side-eyeing the amount of boning he’s done in the past three months, and how careless he’s been, and there’s lots of sweating and panicking. Honestly, the writers must all have macros on their computers so they can just push a button and it pastes in, “Connor is sweating and panicking.”


But, after all that, Connor is negative and my beloved Oliver is positive. The stakes, therefore, are nice and high; just not for the main character I’m SUPPOSED to like but rather for the tertiary one who’s being used as bait to get me to invest in Connor. Oliver, you sweet, sweet, adorable nerd, you are the Ann Perkins of this show — you’re a beautiful, magnificent human coral reef — and I am very sad for you.

Case of the Week:

Tom Everett Scott plays a priest who killed another priest, possibly because they couldn’t agree on whether God is onederful or wonderful. TES has confessed, but then with one glance at a woman we assume is his libido’s verboten trigger, decides to recant that confession– forcing Annalise to pretend in court that she coerced him into it because she was distracted by MUUUURDER. Let’s sum up EVEN MORE: TES whacked Father Dead with an incense carrier because Father Dead had come to him for confession, and told him about molesting a student at their school. (Do priests REALLY have that much trust in each other’s fidelity to their vows that one would confess molestation — or anything — to one another even when they KNOW they are recognizing each other through the screen?) But TES won’t break his vows on the stand, even to get a reduced sentence, so Annalice coerces his Forbidden Lady Love to lie to the jury that she and TES were being intimate at the time of the murder. While she is giving a detailed account of their mutual stripping, he flips out and RE-CONFESSES and gets shipped away for years because he, unlike anyone else on this show, has decided he shouldn’t get away with murder. WHAT A NOVEL IDEA. Score one for God.

Also, in Entertainment Weekly, the showrunner said that Viola Davis suggested Annalise would not wear sleeves in court — this shot being an exception —  because she believes Annalise would use The Gun Show to intimidate people (a theory  we posited here back in episode 4, as a joke). I enjoy that she’s putting thought into her character, but like… dress codes are dress codes, y’all. If Lena Headey walks into Game of Thrones one day and says she believes Queen Cersei would wear tube tops and legwarmers, I’m pretty sure the EPs would be like, “I appreciate the character work and we will take that under advisement and oh whoops we thought about it and the answer is IT MAKES NO SENSE.”  But Viola does look foxy this episode, so hopefully she can cope with the fact that her guns were in their holsters.


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


You should know that Paris has looked better — and dressed more interestingly, at times — since she and Asher had sex. I’ve decided this is good news for his prowess in the sack, which is all he really wants in life anyway. I believe I said this last week, but I think if Asher could choose between a successful law career and being ABSURDLY sexually satisfying to a lady, he would choose the latter in a heartbeat.


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


WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO NATE YOU HORRIBLE SHOW. Actually, I can tell you: Nate was denied bail, and he still won’t call Annalise’s recommended attorney, so she has Frank arrange it so Nate is brutally beaten. The IDEA behind this was to get him released, because he’s unsafe behind bars and is now too weak to flee, but instead the judge chucks him in solitary. This results in Paris and Frank lying to Asher — and later, when he asks for the truth, Paris fibs again — to get him to introduce himself to the judge, whom Annalise feels is just trying to punish Nate for exposing police corruption or whatever. The judge of course knows Asher’s father, and as they chat, Frank gets incriminating photos and footage on his iPhone from MERELY A FEW FEET AWAY and WHILE THEY ARE INSIDE THE COURTHOUSE. I wish the long arm of the law would reach out sometimes and ram things up these people’s noses. They are about as stealth as Wile E. Coyote.

Let’s just remember the good times, Nate. The best of times. The bootiest of times. The nudest of times.


Anyway, with the judge thrown off the case due to this potential conflict, a friendlier one is installed and Nate gets out on bail. Then, the new prosecutor gets a statement from Annalise, in which Annalise claims Nate followed her home and then got into a fight with Tom Verica on her lawn. It sounds like she’s incriminating him, but when she bumps into him later, Nate understands: Annalise is actually trying to give a plausible reason why Nate’s fingerprint might have been on Tom Verica’s wedding ring. She’s trying to help. Like how my kids are trying to “help” the characters on their Lego Star Wars Wii game by making them run around in circles and then crash into each other.

Annalise does at least convince him to call for her crack lawyer, whose identity is not revealed, most likely because the show hasn’t figured it out yet and might also want to stunt-cast it.

I mean, once more for good measure, right?

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 Frank makes THIS face, because he knows Asher and Paris are getting it on, and he walked in and caught Asher wriggling his ass and doing a silly voice trying to make Paris laugh. Asher’s tics are ridiculous, but there’s something sweet about the fact that Paris is turned on by them anyway.


Please also note that Paris makes THIS face at Asher, which suggests she does totally dig him. Crap. I might be ‘shipping them.


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


Meanwhile, Michaela has noticed that Wes and Laurel are whispering furtively and acting very shifty. Laurel tries to cover, but Wes just blurts out the whole thing — IN THE COURTHOUSE AGAIN, if my memory is not mistaken — and finishes that it’s possible they killed an innocent man and Rebecca played them like extremely tightly strung and off-key violins. Michaela, who blames her dissolved engagement on this whole thing even though her fiancé’s skin-flute expertise is more at fault, convinces the gang to stomp into Wes’s apartment and confront Rebecca once and for all. Wes just gazes at Rebecca with the most exhausted look of broken disappointment, because he’s already tried and convicted her and sent her up the river on a boat crudely painted with the name “S.S. BONE BETRAYER.”


Rebecca becomes indignant, then a bit belligerent and threatening. She taunts them by saying she killed Lila, then says perhaps Tom Verica did it… then tells them that, as leverage, she has sniffed out the location of that campus cop, and knows that he quit days later, and that the reason he hasn’t turned up to tell his story is because he’s now a mall cop in Delaware and hasn’t seen the headlines. Which… is insane to me, because a) the Internet, and b) 24-hour cable news, and c) People magazine, all of which would be ALL OVER a professor murdering his pregnant student and then getting offed himself. Further, if it was so easy for Rebecca to figure out his whereabouts, surely the ACTUAL POLICE would have found him and interviewed him already because they knew he was on duty and patrolling that night. Why aren’t TV cops any good anymore? GET ME DENNIS FRANZ.

Anyhoo, Rebecca assumes Annalise and Frank are somehow responsible, and reminds the Pretty Little Lawyers that she can find Paul Blart: Mall Cop anytime she likes and coerce him to incriminate them with his tales of carpet tomfoolery.


So the trembling PLLs call Annalise over to Wes’s apartment, and shakily direct her to the bathroom…


… where they have bound Rebecca repeatedly with duct tape, because they all misunderstood the show’s premise and believe themselves to be starring in How To Make A Bad Situation Worse.

Annalise’s response to this is to drag Rebecca back to her house — still bound and gagged — and tell everyone to prepare their cases against her because they’re giving her a day in court. By which she means, 24 hours trapped in Annalise’s office while everyone buzzes around working through their evidence and theories DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HER while she just sits there and theoretically has plenty of time to come up with a refutation of every single one. Not that any of it is legally binding, but if you guys want to get to the truth, don’t WORKSHOP IT in front of THE SUSPECT.

Also, this. Laurel feels EXACTLY the way I did during this whole part.

Rebecca, when backed into a corner, will do anything to get out. So she whispers to Connor that Wes is the only person there who anyone knows for SURE is a killer, and actually throws Wes’s mother’s suicide in his face by intimating that maybe it’s not true and HE killed her. To Connor’s credit, he processes this, and then goes into the other room and is like, “She’s so desperate that she’s talking bullshit.” Annalise has also allowed Rebecca’s hands and feet to be cut free, because “we’re not monsters,” or “animals,” or whatever, but didn’t check to make sure they took Rebecca’s phone. Before anyone realizes the problem, she managed to text “Eggs 911″ to somebody, adding that she was at Annalise’s. So basically, in the middle part of the show we had the insufferable “Mr. Darcy” nickname for Tom Verica, and next season we’re going to have, in a totally sincere way, “WHO IS EGGS 911???” I hope someone starts an Eggs 911 company. I’ve decided it’s a dude in the van who will come help you ovulate when you need it most.

Also, can we discuss Rebecca’s hair? For someone whose main function in life is acting like she doesn’t care, she TOTALLY busts that by taking the time to plait SO PRECISELY those three pieces of her hair. When you don’t care, YOU DON’T BRAID. (I may also have said THAT before, but… it’s still true.)

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.

Laurel is getting a little aroused by all this, in a way that feels very Quinn Perkins. At one point she asks Frank whether they need to “take care of” the cop, and he is extremely offended by the notion that Laurel thinks he’s a hired goon. Also, Laurel’s bra is showing, which never happens with her. Everything up is down.

Michaela shoves on her replica ring and goes to lunch with Aidan’s mother and REFUSES to give it back, and launches into this whole elaborate defense of herself as a scrappy individual who blah blah blah… Turns out Mama isn’t there to reclaim the bauble, but to make Michaela get back together with Aidan as soon as possible. Michaela, smartly, realizes this is because the mother has realized Aidan is gay and wants him to marry it away, so she calls the woman out on this and then bolts. END OF STORYLINE. Still don’t care, sadly.

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

Paris and Asher are not telling Annalise about their relationship, so what do they do? Make out in front of the house. That’s about the level at which all these boneheads operate.

Okay, so let’s dig into what we learn about the night of the murder of a character we have NEVER cared about:

All this stuff is sprinkled throughout both hours, as incremental reveals. The first thing we see — I actually think it’s the beginning of episode 14 — fully fetishizes Lila’s actual murder, again, lingering lovingly on close-ups of her being strangled, which are performed almost like she’s having a really intense orgasm. Not great, Bob.


The day of the murder, Good ol’ Imminently Crazy Rudy overhears Rebecca having a nasty fight with Lila. It seems Lila has decided that her whole pickle with Tom Verica is Rebecca’s fault, because dealing drugs has turned her into a hussy. Much ugliness pours from her mouth directly at Rebecca, which is a terrible way to make anyone care about a dead girl, although frankly, the show has NEVER cared about the dead girl; she’s only ever been a prop. It might have helped if they had invested in her for storytelling purposes, as part of their flashbacks, and I HAD actually cared about her. However, problematically, the girl who plays Lila is not a very good actress, so… maybe it’s for the best.

Anyway, the gist of the fight is that Lila decides she can clean up her life by going back to Douchebag QB. Rebecca protests so much that I honestly thought — and kept thinking, for a while — that the twist was going to be that Lila was killed in a crime of passion, and that it was Rebecca’s passion. But no. BORING.

Then, everything that happened pretty much matches up with Douchebag QB’s statement to Annalise. Rebecca went to the frat house and sold them all drugs, they all partied together, and then she used his phone to summon Lila for reconciliation talks. She of course managed to time it such that she and DBQB were mid-thrust when Lila arrived, even though he leapt at her the second she put down the phone. I suppose his unexpected endurance is less of a physical feat when you consider that he was wasted, so he could’ve been going at it with her for ages with no resolution. When she burst into the room, Lila angrily threw herself at them, causing the scratch marks on DBQB that does explain his DNA under her fingernails, just as DBQB said. And Rebecca shouted to Lila that this should prove DBQB is a terrible person and not worth going back to, which she hisses with an obsessive vehemence that AGAIN suggested that Rebecca might have been in love with Lila and not merely happy to have her first friend. But, the show never goes there, so.


We also see Tom Verica, in a parking lot in New Haven, taking the call from Lila that convinced him to drive him back to her. She had correctly assumed Tom Verica was interviewing for a job at Yale, which he would use to escape her and the baby she insisted on keeping, and so on the call she implied she might kill herself and/or tell Annalise the truth. So THIS part lines up with Annalise’s theory about how Tom Verica did it.

Then, the show saves money on new footage by replaying a scene we already watched in Episode 8.

It’s the one where Lila shows up to tell Annalise the truth and Paris intimidates her right off Annalise’s doorstep. It serves as a painful reminder that Paris’s hair, which we weren’t sure about then, was actually SO MUCH BETTER than it is now and we just didn’t know how good we had it.

The show frames the scene with new footage of Paris specifically NOT telling Annalise that Lila had come to the door, and they did a TERRIBLE job faking Paris’s longer hair. They basically appear to have stuck a piece on the back to try and make it look longer, but it just looks like her neck grew a mustache. I couldn’t get a proper grab of it, so take my word for it. But this was not the hair department’s best work.

Next up: Rebecca’s activities after Lila left. Wes timed this out earlier by walking the route himself — not the first thing that I feel Murder ripped off from Serial in this hour — and realized that the basketball player who thought he saw Rebecca at the sorority house at around the right time might actually have been correct, because… apparently it would have taken her an hour and fifteen minutes to walk that far, and be in one place at 12:30 a.m. and another at 1:45 a.m. Sure, okay. Long walk, but she was high, so fine. When Wes talks this all out with Rebecca, she explains why she was wet when Rudy saw her:

She went seeking Lila on the roof, because I guess they often hung out on rooftops, and found Lila’s phone at the foot of the water tank. So Rebecca opened it and saw her friend floating dead in there, and then heard some sorority girls coming and had to hide so the girls wouldn’t see her and then later be able to tell the cops anything. This is how Rebecca came to take a corpse bath.


On her way home, sopping wet, Rudy poked his head out of his door — just as Wes was prone to doing, so I guess whoever lives in that apartment is destined to be SUPER nosy. She snapped at him, then had second thoughts, because — as Rebecca tells Wes — she knew she needed to monkey with Rudy’s memory as an alibi of sorts. So she gave him PCP laced with something else that she knew would drive him Crazy with a capital C, although I don’t think she realized how badly it would mess with him? But then again, that was kind of the point, so maybe she did. He smoked it willingly, because he liked the attention from her, and then went completely bonkers, clawing at his wall until his fingers bled and shrieking and screaming. Rebecca called it in to 911 as a nervous breakdown, and Rudy was indeed officially forever broken. Kids, don’t do drugs. And CERTAINLY not drugs some random person put together for you.


Wes is really horrified to hear this, but also relieved that Rebecca doesn’t seem to have murdered Tom Verica. Not that ANYONE has a way of proving or disproving that, and Rebecca is obviously a cool liar, but whatever. Wes goes upstairs and tells the gang what she said, and that he believes her; when they go back downstairs, she’s gone. Perhaps Eggs 911 has come for its harvest.

Soooo, Wes is depressed. He doesn’t know what to believe. Annalise strokes his head and tells him to repeat, over and over, that Tom Verica killed Lila, because it’s the only way either of them can sleep at night. It’s what they need to believe. I also kept waiting for them to get all hot for each other, because there is SO much stroking in here. Illicit Boss Sex would have added some pretty gnarly personal stakes in this situation, but I’m actually glad the show didn’t go there. It’s too soon to feel the hot breath of the shark on its underbelly as it soars through the air. And I suppose Wes needs a mother figure more than he needs a sugar mama.

The new prosecutor stops by Asher’s place to ask him questions about Annalise, which seems like a very shady thing to do after-hours. Asher makes no interesting faces at this, and THAT MATTERS TO ME.

Michaela and Laurel meet for a bevvie, and Laurel hands Michaela her fat, fat diamond engagement ring. The real one. Laurel reveals that she found it in Connor’s car almost immediately on the night of the muuuuurder, but held onto it because she thought Michaela’s fear of getting caught was the only way to get her to play along. Suddenly Laurel is so crafty. Laurel and Frank really are starting to feel like Quinn and Huck to me, except less mutually destructive and possessed of better chemistry and not awful (I mean, Huck’s murder tally is way higher than anyone else’s on this show).

AND FINALLY: The muuuuurder.

Confronted on the rooftop by an angry and jealous — and then heartbroken — Lila, Tom Verica melts and tells her that he loves her, and that his marriage to Annalise has been in name only for a long time. Lila is The One, he claims, and she believes him because she’s young and that’s what you do. Tom leaves, so he can come clean with Annalise immediately… and instead he calls someone and asks them to do “what we talked about” because that person still owes him a big, bid solid. That person then goes and throttles Lila.

Who is it?

Oh, FRANK. Just when we were starting to get along.

The EP told EW that they didn’t plan this outcome until they were in the homestretch. And honestly, this truly does feel to me like someone on the writing staff got obsessed with Serial and delved into all those Reddits where people speculated that either Adnan or Jay hired someone to kill Hae. And that in their frantic search for a twist ending, because Shondaland shows now seem to prioritize those over all else, Serial is how they came to this. Think about it: In the end, the question is whether the jilted lover who was originally accused actually did it (Rebecca, in a sense, because she ACTED like a spurned girlfriend); whether the potentially pretty bad and most-obviously-suspicious dude really did it (Tom Verica as Jay); or whether it was a hired goon (hi, Frank). Obviously that’s pretty simplistic, and some of these elements were in play before Serial hit it big, but there’s a familiarity here nonetheless. I think turning it back to Rebecca would have been dramatic enough, except for how they would be unable to explain how she got the body up into the water tank, which severely limited their options. That’s probably another reason why they swerved and made it Frank. But I’m not sure whether I like it. The idea that we might start to like Frank and Laurel together while knowing that he’s a killer is potentially good, from the standpoint of creating super mixed feelings in your audience, but having Frank do it SO remorselessly and coolly and efficiently also gives him very little inner life. He didn’t need to weep over her dead body and then apologize to it and then kiss her forehead and say, “GOOD NIGHT SWEET PRINCESS,” but basically if he appears as unaffected by this next season as he was this season, it might really start to piss off viewers who don’t know why they’re being asked to invest in him as a character anymore. Handle with care, is all I’m saying. He needs the right inner life, deployed well, and unfortunately this show’s strength thus far has NOT been a) anyone’s inner life, or b) deploying things well.

But it is a bit uninteresting to have the guy everyone perceives as Annalise’s hit man (or henchman, I guess) actually turn out to BE a hit man (Paris even tells Asher that she knows a lot about Frank that he wouldn’t want to get out, which is how she knows he’ll keep quiet about THEIR fling). Paris would have been the sneaker killer even though we all predicted it, because the little we know of her suggests that there’s a lot she’s hiding. But I get why they couldn’t do that; she, like Rebecca, could never have disposed of the body the way Frank did. It might have helped to know more about Frank before the reveal. Knowing less means they can graft whatever they like onto him next season, which therefore feels like retrofitting, rather than working with a character who was fleshed-out from the start. OR, maybe they’ll do it all really well and surprise the hell out of me. Doubtful?

I am looking forward to whether the HUGE solid he owed Tom Verica was actually worth it. If it’s as dumb as Baxter Stealing Jewels For Her Hot Boyfriend on Downton, then I am out.

HOWEVER: In real time…

… Annalise sends Wes off to bed, or wherever, and then hustles downstairs to her basement, where Frank is waiting. “Did you do this?” she asks Frank. “I’m not that guy,” he says, after we just found out that isn’t technically true. Then he asks if Annalise did it. “I’m not that guy either,” she says, seemingly surprised. And the camera pans down…

… and there is Rebecca, dead, her body hidden under the stairs. Except hidden so poorly that I can’t figure out why nobody FOUND her there in the furor over her “escape.” Did none of them scour the room for clues as to how she got out of the basement? Oh, wait — sorry; they’re basically [Insert Anything Here] For Dummies.

Did Frank actually do it? Did Annalise? Wes was the last person that we saw with Rebecca. Did he murder her in a misplaced sense of betrayal? Did Michaela or Connor do it to keep her from going to find that campus cop and blowing their covers? Did Eggs 911 steal her ovaries and then leave her for dead?

Honestly, I’m sort of exhausted by this show careening from murder to murder. It’s such a crutch, for one thing; we could have left these people in a variety of broken places, and some effort could have been made to care about them as people, but for the most part that didn’t happen. Tom Verica’s murder, at least, was of an only PARTLY innocent man who did also then try to kill Rebecca and who contemplated choking out his own wife as well. So you can watch all this and think, “Well, even if he turned out to be completely innocent, he was a shady character.” And Rebecca sort of was, too, but she also got a) bound and gagged multiple times in this episode, b) shoved in a basement, and then c) killed, without having actually committed a crime herself beyond what she did to Rudy out of fear. It’s suspenseful, I guess, but it’s also really f’ing depressing and the thought of coming back to this show after the break and having to watch Viola Davis and Frank be so GLOOMY, AGAIN, figuratively (and possibly literally) shoveling dirt over another corpse… I just think this show is in a plot prison of its own making. A prison that Scandal has devolved into as well, although at least it had a few good seasons to bolster it before it hit the skids. Poor Oliver’s HIV and my desire for Asher to relax and be tremendous in the sack are about all that’s left for me here, and with such potential surrounding this show, that’s a real shame.

Well, that doesn’t help, but it sure doesn’t HURT.