How to Get Away with Murder review: How to frame a major political figure, by Annalise Keating


How to Get Away with Murder makes things either too hard or too easy for its characters, and there is absolutely no in-between for conspiracies.

How to Get Away with Murder is, at its heart, a show about committing crimes and not paying any legal penalties for them. (The psychological penalties could be a particularly interesting concept, but the show doesn’t explore them much these days, and that’s probably for the best considering the scripting.) But the more people get involved, the more unwieldy a conspiracy becomes, and Annalise seems hyperaware of that in this week’s episode.

Naturally, she is suspicious of Gabriel calling her in to be his lawyer, but her interrogation of him is intercut with Asher, Laurel, Michaela, Oliver, and Connor, all of whom are extremely suspicious.

Of course, Annalise gets further with Gabriel than her students/co-conspirators do, or at least she seems to. Bonnie and Nate are also suspicious of all of this, but they have to play with what they’ve been dealt. That means calling Frank in to get phone records for DA Miller’s burner phone.

Speaking of more suspicions and general shadiness, FBI agent Blondie meets with Tegan Price on a street, with them in separate cars. Even shadier? Gabriel’s charges are for his activism in the Ferguson protests — quite literally for domestic terrorism. That means that everyone has work to do.

That involves more lies, more hacking (or looking at wedding photos for Oliver), and more digging for everyone, including what looks like shady texts from Gabriel to his mom. And then he doesn’t let Annalise hear his mother’s side of the conversation.

If he didn’t have enough to worry about, the FBI is also trying to get him to turn on Annalise. Unfortunately, the agency seems to lose its leverage when Annalise gets the charges dropped by virtue of using the secret camera.

In other unfortunate things, those charges against Gabriel are dropped about two-thirds of the way into the episode, meaning that it’s back to conspiracy time. Viola Davis can, as per usual, inject a lot of venom into just a few lines as Annalise, but she has to induct Gabriel into the anti-governor plan, make Frank, Bonnie, and Nate feel bad for trying to put her attempted adoption of Wes out into the open; and generally protect everyone.

Gabriel does his best, but the FBI is apparently too smart for this, with a pullback shot revealing that the board for DA Miller’s missing-persons case is huge and involves all the players.

Also, this episode may include the most despicable thing Michaela has done to someone in a while: she gets Oliver to send an email to Tegan implying that someone knows that Tegan informed on Antares. Amirah Vann’s facial expressions as she reads the email are a clinic in facial acting.

Meanwhile, Bonnie goes through what looks like the grieving process by meeting Miller’s mom, who has fruit bowls on her mugs, has baby pictures, and a cozily-decorated home. Of course, it’s also a fishing expedition to see if he had any contact at all with the governor. It doesn’t pay off in terms of information, it does for emotional struggle in terms of Bonnie hearing that Miller planned to propose. The scene certainly makes some sense for Bonnie’s long-term arc, but when there’s actual tension happening in the A-plot, it feels like too much of a detour.

As always, it’s time for the last-five-minute rundown: DA Miller’s body has been found, thanks to Nate, apparently, and Bonnie has to listen to his mother sobbing. Michaela gets rid of the camera in Gabriel’s apartment, then comes in on the news report to hear about the governor now being involved …

Only for Connor’s mom to post a photo that shows Miller at the wedding. How’s that for some metaphorical whiplash?

It occurs to me that should How to Get Away with Murder not be renewed for a sixth season, this is about the biggest escalation that the show could really get at. Our protagonist actually seems like she could be in danger of being taken down. But now, the show is also facing something more difficult now that it’s gone this far, and that’s becoming even more ridiculous, in the way of Scandal in its later seasons.

(Not that it’s not already ridiculous, but so far, it’s only state-level conspiracies, not a full on secret government agency like B613.)

Again, this episode merits little more than a passing grade, not honors of any sort, especially since this writer started asking these questions about renewal in the middle of watching the episode.

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More thoughts:

  • Michaela saying she has a “sociopathic big brain” is such a strangely fantastic line, especially since she doesn’t deny she’s a sociopath.
  • Frank’s advice to Nate about how to deal with murder is disturbing. In fact, Frank’s advice to everyone is pretty much disturbing.
  • More scenes we would like: Tegan and Emmett snarking at each other about their both being attracted to Annalise. Timothy Hutton is really settling into the character here. It wouldn’t be fun to watch a whole series set at Caplan and Gold, at least not at this time considering its general ethos, but it’s less flat-out horrible and more just lacking in scruples.