I don’t know what it is about this show, but I can simultaneously be uninterested in practically everything that’s happening and still feel compelled to watch it every week. The issues I had with the first half of the season — terrible acting from the Keating Five, weak writing especially with relationships and the whole murder thing — didn’t improve much over the last two episodes, which felt like spinning wheels trying to resolve Rebecca’s case, reintroduce all the characters, and get back in the swing of things. With “She’s A Murderer”, HTGAWM attempts to up the stakes again with the uncovering of Sam Keating’s chopped up body pieces… and for the most part it works, because by episode’s end I’m starting to feel invested again.
The Murder Crew — now monikered The Rat Pack courtesy of a freaked out Frank, and I’m gonna be using that one from now on because it’s a way better nickname — meets up at Wes’ to discuss next steps. Elsewhere, Hannah and Annalise are informed by police that Sam’s remains have been found in a landfill. Hannah immediately turns on Annalise, screaming “She’s a murderer!!” to the stunned officers. Episode title reference within the first four minutes of the episode — I think that might be a record!
“You gonna arrest me ’cause my grief doesn’t look the way you want it? Go ahead!”
Annalise isn’t arrested, but she is put under intense inspection by the detectives in charge of Sam’s case. Nate, the Rat Pack, and Frank also prepare for the worst by getting burner phones and trying to avoid having hushed discussions or trading loaded looks in public (Rat Pack fails at this, big surprise), but Annalise is definitely getting the brunt of all this, especially with Hannah out for blood. Hannah goes to Detective Bryce to say that Annalise lied about not knowing about Sam’s affair, that Annalise had a “violent childhood”, and offers to (falsely?) testify that Annalise had threatened Sam’s life in order to get them to search the house. Annalise uses a class lecture to deliver a message to the Rat Pack: Shut. Your. Mouths.
The impact of Sam’s discovery also starts to affect Annalise’s court cases, as clients begin to cancel on her. Annalise manages to get mobster Paul Lombardo to stay on, and assigns Rat Pack to the case. Annalise’s team finds out there’s a rat in the mob and informs the Lombardos about it, planning to argue entrapment in court to get the charges against Paul dropped.
Wes has been very unhelpful during all this; he’s obsessed with finding out what happened to the old tenant in his apartment, Rudy Walters. His landlord tells him Rebecca knows what really happened because she called the cops on Rudy and had him carted away. Of course, master manipulator Rebecca denies everything, says she only called the cops because she heard Rudy throwing a fit, then flips the conversation around to Wes freaking out about Sam and doubting his relationship with her. Wes falls for it, naturally, and all talk about Rudy is abandoned. For now.
“I also hear the police don’t have much evidence on you. Why don’t we keep it that way, huh?”
Annalise is forced to drop the entrapment charges when she’s spooked by a threat to reveal information against her to the police. She’s then informed that Detective Bryce is working on a warrant to search the premises, so she sends Bonnie to challenge it. Poor Bonnie messes it up. Man, everything is going terribly for Annalise today — or well, nearly everything, because the cops comb the house but find absolutely nothing.
Connor is still freaking out though, and is trying to get the rest of the Rat Pack to turn on Annalise. This time she overhears and gets him to air out all his concerns to her before opening up (or is she manipulating him like Rebecca with Wes? My bet is a combination of both) and finally getting his worrying to quiet. “The odds are better with me.”
Nate continues to leak information on Sam’s case to Annalise. The police will be analyzing the foliage and carpet fibers found on Sam’s body next, to find out where his body was burned (and likely find Michaela’s missing engagement ring in the process, I’m sure).
Back to the Lombardo case — Annalise and her team find out that the prosecutor, the one who had threatened Annalise with revealing information, was the one who orchestrated everything to get Paul Lombardo arrested. She unleashes a passionate fury of a speech about the Lombardos’ rights being violated (again, Viola Davis is the shining light of this show) and gets Paul off.
Later that night, Bonnie finally puts two and two together, storming into Annalise’s office with the trophy. “You’re not going to get away with this,” says Bonnie, all ominously. To my surprise, she doesn’t start accusing Annalise of murder at all; she knows it’s the kids who did it, and that Annalise is trying to protect them, but Bonnie just wants Annalise to protect herself. Am I seriously not meant to believe that Bonnie is actually in love with Annalise, not Sam? Because honestly. I’m going to cling to this pet theory forever.
Annalise becomes visibly conflicted after this conversation, thinking over the promises she made to Rat Pack, versus Bonnie’s very practical argument. In the morning Detective Bryce arrives at Annalise’s house and brings her in for questioning, where they reveal that they found a ring in the woods where Sam’s body was burned.
“Does it matter? She’s doing what she said she’d do. She’s taking care of us.”
When Rebecca tells the rest of the Rat Pack about the ring (apparently she has a friend who has a cop brother? Since when?) everyone, especially Michaela, starts to freak out. But it’s a fake out — the ring the police found was Sam’s ring, which Annalise had gotten Frank to plant in the woods… but only after transferring Nate’s fingerprint to it first. ANNALISE, WHY.
As the preview for next week suggests, Annalise probably either has or is going to have a plan to get Nate out, but this is a betrayal that I didn’t see coming. This, along with other deep character moments with Annalise and a minimum of Rat Pack drama, was enough to make me like this episode. Let’s hope this momentum continues as we race our way towards the season one finale.