How to Get Away with Murder review: A bad, bad slip


How to Get Away with Murder took a sharp left turn in terms of quality during this week’s episode, “Be the Martyr,” and there was a simple fix.

This episode and, consequently, this review of How to Get Away with Murder come with a giant trigger warning for attempted suicide.

Things are not going well for Nate Lahey to start things off. Not only does the episode open with an uncomfortably close shot of his getting a cheek swab, but the FBI is questioning his whereabouts. It gives him a chance to throw suspicion on the governor, but the FBI clearly doesn’t buy it. Nor do Annalise and Bonnie as shown in a flashback.

It’s time for Nate to finally spiral, apparently. Everyone else has had a breakdown at one point or another. He almost feels overdue for it. It’s to the point where he’s tracking down jurors from the inquest, finding DNA tests, badgering the evidence room,

Of course, everyone else now has to cover up a murder, and as we’ve seen before, that is not good for their stress levels. Laurel, in particular, is very upset that her son may have seen some murder, which is legitimate. It also leads, later, to a big reveal on Michaela’s part: that she saw her mother being shot. While all of the original Keating students tell Annalise that they know, to her unending stress and irritation, Gabriel goes to the FBI for an interview.

As he notes, he’s there “voluntarily,” but though he seems practiced, Rome Flynn puts a degree of vulnerability into the performance, like he’s trying to be a good liar and failing miserably.

Speaking of acting, Liza Weil again has some seriously heavy lifting in this episode, but her performance is again a bit wobbly in the wrong ways. We know that Bonnie has had issues with mental health in the past, but the fact that the episode does not put any sort of warning on this week’s episode for her attempted suicide is a misstep for a show that has tried in the past to warn people about content and dive into sensitive topics. Yes, Frank saves her, but it’s a level of content that should be thought of more — and that’s with the PSA at the end of the episode.

The B-plot is Tegan picking up that wrongful death suit about Nate Sr. or at least her trying to. Unfortunately, it also ruins Tegan’s relationship with Michaela (again, as Tegan says).

The C-plot is Annalise finally taking up Emmett’s case. I’ve said it before and will say it again that Timothy Hutton and Viola Davis work very well together, if only because Hutton is practiced at playing a character that can read people — and Emmett sees through Annalise. Of course, it goes both ways, when the client whom Emmett was involved with shows up. It’s no surprise that they come up with the same idea on how to get himself out of it. Sure, it’s neat and easy, but it’s one of those times where I’m willing to let it slide by virtue of there being some cool moments.

Of course, the last five minutes of the episode are the most legitimately plot-heavy. Here’s how we know some of the conflict is real for Gabriel: we see him destroying some of his hidden stash. Tegan starts to dive into the DA Miller case by contacting the FBI. Annalise reveals that she’s bought into the governor plan to the rest of the students (and Oliver). It turns out that Nate’s DNA doesn’t match the DNA on the gun, and the FBI has someone else.

And, to end the episode, Frank gets into bed with Bonnie, while Gabriel calls from a police station saying he needs a lawyer.

No matter the good points, and there are some good points, this episode ultimately feels tainted by the choice, midway through, to present Bonnie attempting to kill herself. The word suicide is never uttered, instead hanging like its own dark specter. This show has been boring before; this is the first time it was legitimately painful to watch that this writer can remember.

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Random thoughts:

  • Laurel still has the same voicemail message.
  • Oliver is getting some of Connor’s snarky tendencies, and it’s a small, subtle form of character development. So is his hug with Asher later.
  • “Be the martyr” is an Annalise line.