by Miles Behn
Last night’s episode of How to Get Away with Murder was three parts disaster, two parts forced drama, and five parts snooze fest. Literally, the case of the week was a woman who murdered her kids’ nanny while sleepwalking.
Welcome to unfettered Shonda Rhimes, where the science only sort of matters. What’s next? An extra chromosome means you’re a vampire? Is that you, Stephanie Meyer?
Last week we left our heroes in the heat of sweeps drama. Wes and Rebecca fleshed out their young adult novel romance (heightened stakes, long stares, sex that just seems to mean bonded-for-eternity), Frank and Laurel also made poor decisions on the porch (I mean, really guys, splinters?), and we found out that Mr. Darcy is pretty against birth control. Also on the docket: Michaela’s served a pre-nup from her fiancée’s family, and Rebecca is in cahoots with Annalise’s scorned ex-lover.
We begin the episode with Rebecca and Lila on the roof of the sorority house (looming behind them is the murder weapon/water tower). Lila asks the question that every good, fanfiction smut writer knows to include: what if he doesn’t fit? Oh, Lila. They’re trying to make you adorably naïve and innocent, but I’m not buying it. Especially after you snort that line of coke. Are you even a real character?
Annalise forces Bonnie into an incredibly awkward interrogation of Mr. Darcy. As much as I love Annalise, with every episode I’m finding it harder to believe her decisions. I love that we have a complex, broken character, especially a female character, but the dramatic plot twists are making it difficult for me to have compassion for this woman. Your husband cheated on you not once, but twice. He lied about where he was the night of his young mistress’ murder, and he lied about getting her pregnant. I’m all for working through struggles in a marriage, but come on. This sounds like The Young and the Restless. I would have been happier if the writers just declared that the Keatings had an open relationship—that would have made more sense than this tomfoolery. Then again, maybe Annalise is struggling to love her husband despite his flaws, and I’m just a heartless bitch (don’t fact check that).
First up on today’s episode, the totally believable case of a woman accused of murdering her nanny while sleepwalking. They’re extra strength sleeping pills, duh. She even tries to have sex with her husband while on them, and no sane woman would do that while conscious.
Our sleepwalker is caught in the act when her home security system catches her dragging the body outside to hose it down. Get it? She has to clean up her mess? That makes total sense. I see no one consulted Mike Birbiglia for this episode.
When they go to meet with their client, high-strung mom-lady is planning her daughter’s thirteenth birthday party. Resident sleaze-ball Frank (who honestly just needs a fedora and a “m’lady” to complete his look) asks Laurel if she wants to run upstairs (in the client’s house) for a quickie. Mm, modern romance.
Honestly, the sleepwalking plotline is so boring; I don’t feel like writing about it. Here’s all you need to know—it’s one giant parallel for Annalise’s marriage. Sleepwalker’s husband is cheating on her with the significantly younger nanny. Husband then murders the nanny when he discovers that his son is also sleeping with the nanny (ew, definitely gross). Husband then leads his wife to the murder scene, and because she’s so high strung and no one writing for this show understands how sleepwalking works, the wife then cleans up the crime scene (get it—Annalise is cleaning up Sam’s mess too? OH!). Like I said, boring and unbelievable. Moving on.
Another flashback to Lila and Rebecca’s totally unbelievable friendship. Lila is too smitten to care about the “coke and molly” Rebecca’s just dropped off. She’s finally had sex! Yay! And it was magical! They’re totally falling in love. And look—he’s sending unsolicited dick pics! How cute.
Back in the present, we find out Gross Gross-Pants Frank has hacked Laurel’s phone while she was in the shower. He’s changed his contact photo to a sexy, topless pic. Super hot. “Wes could have seen it.” “I know, it makes it more fun.” Barf. Of course, he’s calling for a quickie. And of course, Laurel does what we all did in high school, and makes out in the back of a parked car with a slimy dude. We’re none of us as strong as we ought to be.
Finally, the only good scene in the episode: Sam and Annalise discuss Lila’s pregnancy, and Annalise gives us a painful speech. “This is what happens when you screw somebody else’s husband… even a dead girl is more of a woman than you.” Annalise’s infertility has been discussed on the show before, but it’s been done poorly, in throwaway lines and forced jokes (see last week’s “I’m grateful for the miscarriages”). Now, it seems there may have been a purpose—to highlight just how much strength Annalise has in bearing the weight of her maternal failures. How she, like many people, links her femininity to her ability to carry a child, and how that inability causes her to feel like a failure, a second-class wife. That Sam impregnated Lila is a slap in the face, more proof that Annalise isn’t a fully realized woman in her own eyes.
Just as quickly we’re back to serial drama, with our healthy relationship icons Frank and Laurel unable to keep their hands off each other. As soon as they’re through the door of Frank’s apartment, they’re making out on the floor. A woman clears her throat. “Who are you?” “Sasha, his girlfriend.” Gross. Barf. Frank is dumb, and I want him gone. At least recognize that he’s nothing desirable, writers.
Sam kisses Bonnie on the front porch (gosh, there’s got to be some sort of pheromone device on that porch) after another of Sam’s secrets comes out (he knew Lila was pregnant). Then, unsurprisingly, Annalise fires Bonnie. I’m not so sure how I feel about their relationship. The girl-hate is pretty unnecessary (it’s Sam who’s the real sleaze bucket, Bonnie’s been loyal to Annalise), and, frankly, it perpetuates the toxic idea that women compete with each other for men’s affections. That women can steal men from each other, as though men are innocent bystanders in the matter. I hate it, though I have to admit, Liza Weil (Bonnie) gives a pretty solid performance during her confession. And Viola Davis’ stoic tears are brilliant in comparison.
Things are beginning to fall into place for the night of Mr. Darcy’s murder. Rebecca is sneaking into the Keating house, searching for clues, and the murdering law students are conveniently together for a study group. Looks like next week we get to finally see the murder. Unfortunately, I’m already starting to feel the waves of poor, lazy writing crashing down. Can these mediocre actors and storytellers pull something brilliant out during the November finale? Eh, I’m not putting money on it.