Jack Falahee, the multiple lines offering social commentary, the all-around juiciness, and that shocking ending.
Wes and Rebecca's so-called love story lacks substance and chemistry.
Jack Falahee’s visceral performance, loads of nonverbal story-telling & foreshadowing, and that last dropped bomb make this How To Get Away With Murder’s strongest episode yet
Tonight’s How To Get Away With Murder shows a long-time client of Annalise Keating, Marren Trudeau, being under investigation for insider-trading. Marren insists that her employees are loyal to her but Annalise’s experience as a lawyer has her believing there’s at least one rat that needs to be flushed out. If this case weren’t enough of a workload, Annalise must also find a way to discredit the confession new client Rebecca gave to the police. As for Annalise’s interns, they are feeling the increasing pressure of balancing this internship, their studies, and personal lives. Who will crack under the weight of it all? What secrets are about to surface? And what the devil is a “Shooting Star”? Let’s discuss!
Connor Has Feelings After All
From Connor‘s first introduction, we’ve seen that he’ll do almost whatever it takes to get information that will help his career. Lying, manipulating, and sexuality are the tools of his trade and there’s not a trace of guilt to be seen over any of his morally questionable actions. But tonight Connor’s rock-hard armour was cracked open, giving us a glimpse inside to who he really is. First, we get some so-sweet-we-got-a-toothache action from Connor with IT cutie Oliver. It seems as if Connor might actually get into a committed relationship with Oliver, and we’re routing for them because they’re just so adorable together and Jack Falahee and Conrad Ricamora have phenomenal chemistry. But the happy moment’s short-lived, as Connor yet again uses sex as a weapon. He sleeps with Marren Trudeau’s also-hot intern Paxton to plant a recording device and catch him admitting his involvement in the insider trading.
“I do what I want.” ~ Connor Walsh
Jack Falahee shined brighter overall than anyone else in tonight’s episode, which is no easy task when up against the likes of Viola Davis. His look of dread and guilt at seeing Paxton verbally torn to pieces by Marren, who outs him as having had a falling out with his family due to his sexuality, made us think that Connor likely had a similar experience. This was one of the most honest moments we’ve seen from Connor and made us intrigued to know more of his story and how he came to be this way. Falahee made Connor’s breakdown in the flashforward all the more convincing with that inappropriately-timed singing of Christmas tunes, which was deliciously twisted by the way. (Also it clued us in to the fact that the show will likely catch up to these flash forwards around Christmas time). Then when Connor shows up to Oliver’s place, raving like a lunatic, repeatedly saying that he screwed up, there’s such agony in his voice and an ambiguity to the line “I screwed up” that makes us wonder what else Connor might have been referring to. Could the guilt of his role in Paxton’s suicide be eating away at his conscience? Immediately after this, past-Connor is shown to be telling Oliver that not everyone is born to have a high pressure job, describing Paxton as someone who “got in over his head and cracked.” This was a solid piece of writing from Erika Green Swafford, as it neatly wove together the present plot of Paxton’s suicide and Connor’s future spiral where he broke down to Oliver over everything that has happened.
Sadly, we see Oliver and Connor’s once-happy relationship come to a screeching halt after Oliver learns about Connor’s sleeping with Paxton. Falahee’s emotionality as Oliver pushes a pleading Connor out of his apartment showed us just how much Connor has grown to care about Oliver and further tugged at our heartstrings. Falahee had so much material to work with and he absolutely nailed all of it,
among other things. Whether he’s cold and calculating, flirtatious and affectionate, or smashing a corpse to pieces, Falahee remains unwavering in his commitment to effectively playing all the shades of Connor Walsh and has made this one of the most interesting and dynamic characters on one of the best new shows we’ve seen in quite some time.
Jealous Frank Delfino Is Oh So Tasty
With all the heaviness of suicides, murder, and affairs, we’ve latched on to the growing romantic tension between Laurel and Frank as something brighter to route for (especially now that Connor has made a mess of things with Oliver). Frank is one of the supporting leads and hasn’t been given as much material as others to make much of an impact yet. Apart from having a luscious beard and looking scrumptious in those waistcoats, we’ve been left wanting to know who Frank Delfino really is. But when Laurel’s would-be-suitor Kan showed up, whom Frank previously saw putting the moves on her at that one party, Frank’s claws came out and he dished out a verbal smack-down to both Wes and Laurel. What we loved about this is that we finally got some feisty emotion from Frank. There’s no way Frank would have gotten hired to work for someone like Annalise Keating without having some fire in him and this was the first glimpse we got of it. Charlie Weber‘s delivery was perfectly balanced. It didn’t paint Frank out to be a possessive caveman, which would have been terribly out of place on a show as progressive as this in every other regard. Also, Charlie Weber and Karla Souza have nailed the art of “The Longing Look,” without ever going too melodramatic, making us pine for Frank and Laurel to get together just as much as they clearly want to.
“Kitchen’s for grown-ups only, and yeah I heard you talking about Rebecca. Do we need to get you a naughty mat?” ~ Frank Delfino [to Wes]
“I asked Kan to come help us with Rebecca’s bail.” ~ Laurel Castillo
“‘Cause no one else was thinking about how to get her out? You, this is a place of work. Your girlfriend should know better.” ~ Frank Delfino
Story-telling At Its Finest
There was so much foreshadowing and non-verbal communication from the writers/director to the viewers tonight that we have to fight the urge to paw at our screens, begging to see everything play out. Towards the episode’s beginning, we’re introduced to a concept known as the “Shooting Star.” We’re left to sit and wonder what it all means, as Frank and Bonnie wager on which of the interns will be the “Shooting Star.” Frank and Bonnie quickly go through the interns and Frank wagers that Michaela is likely the strongest candidate. After Paxton’s suicide, Frank tells the interns, “Now you know what a Shooting Star looks like.” The sickening realisation hit us full force; a Shooting Star is someone who commits suicide after cracking due to professional/academic stress. From the first episode, we’ve seen Michaela struggling in the flash forwards to deal with the disposal of Sam Keating’s body. Tonight, it’s pointed out to us repeatedly. Future-Connor says how Michaela’s “perfect little brain” can’t deal, and Talia Lewis (one of Marren Trudeau’s employees) tells Michaela, “I hope you’re not as bad a law student as you are a liar.” All of the interns involved in the disposal of Sam Keating’s body will have to lie when questioned about his murder. The writers on this show have woven a fantastically elaborate plot and are feeding it to us piece by piece, giving us glimpses of what’s to come. With all this information laid out, we’re calling it now: Michaela is the Shooting Star. She will crack under the pressure of having to lie about Sam’s murder, which she vocalised self-blame for in Keating’s office. She will attempt suicide. We’d guess the weapon of choice will be a bottle of pills. Will Michaela make it out of this season alive?
“Do none of you care about this exam?! If we fail, we drop to the bottom of the class and for what?! T-t-to impress a woman who could give a crap about anyone but her little butt-boy here who constantly screws up but somehow gets to keep the trophy.” ~ Michaela Pratt
“You want the trophy that bad, Michaela, take it.” ~ Wes Gibbins
“It doesn’t work that way, dumbass! You have to win it otherwise it means nothing.” ~ Michaela Pratt
“It’s Prom Queen. You owe me a hundred bucks.” ~ Frank Delfino [to Bonnie]
“I AM NOT THE SHOOTING STAR!” ~ Michaela Pratt
Another piece of foreshadowing we saw goes back to the relationship between Connor and Oliver. Oliver’s done all kinds of illegal hacking on Connor’s behalf, and he teases Connor, “Don’t be a bitch, I could get arrested for this.” Connor responds with, “I would never let that happen,” and later in the conversation adds, “I would tell you but then you’d be an accessory to my crime.” Is anyone else feeling the weight of this? Oliver’s going to be pulled into the mess of Sam Keating’s murder and Connor may find himself put to the test of whether to let Oliver take the fall. All this foreshadowing is done just right, because nothing has been given away but the drama and suspense has been elevated, as we’re more anxious and concerned than ever for the fate of these rapidly developing characters.
We’ve already mentioned the use of looks/reactions/expressions for Connor, Frank, and Laurel, but they weren’t the only ones to tell a story with their visage. When Annalise and Bonnie are meeting with Rebecca, Annalise warns Rebecca that the prosecution will try to paint her as a “trashy, drug-dealing townie.” Immediately, the camera moves to a shot of Bonnie’s sour expression, like a bad memory has just been drudged up. It would seem this phrase has hit a little too close to home for Bonnie’s liking, and we are being given a peek at Bonnie’s back story. Later on when Paxton is explaining his betrayal to Marren Trudeau, he says, “My whole life has been about you, serving you, like all I am is some accessory, this thing to prop you up. This was my chance to be something.” During this micro speech, the camera stays largely on Annalise’s face. Why is this striking a chord for her? Is this in reference to her shaky marriage to Sam? Or some other yet-to-be-revealed back story? This use of shots of people’s faces was a powerful foreshadowing and story-telling tool by director Laura Innes and we can’t help but applaud her for it.
Yet another strong point was the heavily loaded social commentary in the writing. When Marren Trudeau’s sex tape with Elias Edson is played for a room full of people, her response is, “Take some notes, kids, ’cause this is what pilates can do for you.” When speaking privately with Annalise, Marren tells her, “So I made a porno, so what? Everyone makes them these days.” This is a woman entirely unashamed of her sexuality. Later, when Asher questions an employee named Carla, his opening line is about the many cat figurines decorating her desk. Carla snaps back with, “You’re not here to talk about my pussies. What do you want?” Carla sees through Asher’s faux-charm and shuts down his attempt to manipulate the information out her with that tactic. She also calls him out for calling Marren Trudeau a ball buster. “Would you call a man a ball buster? I’m guessing no, Mr. Can’t-Stop-Staring-At-My-Boobs.” This is referencing the greater social problems women face when being an assertive professional, something that their male counterparts do not have to deal with. Carla berates Asher for his leering gaze, something entirely relevant with the historical and ongoing battle against sexual harassment in the workplace. Actress Karen Malina White stole the scene with just those few lines as Carla and writer Erika Green Swafford’s commentary-filled writing was phenomenal and particularly empowering for professional, modern women. Also, when Detective Nate Lahey is snooping through Sam Keating’s car and caught near it by Sam, he tells Sam, “I’m not trying to steal your car, man.” Sam’s response is, “I didn’t say you were.” It’s very clear what the implication of this interaction is, as black men are the frequent targets of negative racial stereotypes related to criminal activity. As these stereotypes have caused so many to lose their lives, we felt our stomach drop at the utterance of Nate’s line. This type of dialogue is one of many things that makes How To Get Away With Murder such an innovative, relevant, and powerful show.
“All the years that you’ve been my lawyer, through divorces and sexual harassment suits, you’ve gotten to know all my crazy. But I still know nothing about you, until now of course. You don’t trust people. Not your employees, your clients…” ~ Marren Trudeau
“Well I’d be an idiot to trust my clients.” ~ Annalise Keating
“Ah… so, nobody. Nobody? Not even your husband?” ~ Marren Trudeau
We could talk about this episode and go over every little detail for hours on end. Bonnie’s spying on Nate going through Sam’s car, and leveraging it to get the tape of Rebecca’s confession posed so many questions. Why was she spying? Was she just biding her time before going to meet Sam for an affair? He may have claimed to be going to a department dinner but we’re just not buying that. Annalise tried to initiate some sexy time before he left and he turned her down. Clearly he was headed off to meet someone and we already saw him previously express an interest in Bonnie when he leered at her, saying he loved a challenge. Actor Tom Verica has done an excellent job at playing Sam Keating as the slimiest of adulterers.
Director Laura Innes contributed much to tonight’s episode, such as the erratic editing of Connor and Paxton’s sex scene, which communicated the chaos and impending consequences of this hook-up. She also first established the tension of the episode’s conclusion with a simple, but effective shot of Annalise’s hands trailing across the surface of her desk. Naughty Boy’s “No One’s Here To Sleep” was a powerful accompaniment, as the lyrics perfectly paralleled the secrets and affairs on the show and foreshadowed the bomb we didn’t even know was ticking. Innes’ greatest accomplishment was the sequence of Annalise removing her wig and wiping off her make-up, as it symbolised the decision Annalise must make as to whether or not to let the world see beneath her carefully constructed exterior of a woman who appears to have it all: a successful career and a loving husband. Viola Davis commanded our attention, emoting so much without saying a word, and that entire sequence should go down as one of the most exquisite pieces of artistry in television history. Then came the line, said by Annalise to Sam, that made us gasp so loud we’re surprised our neighbours didn’t come crashing in to ask if we were okay (which we’re definitely not, in case you were wondering): “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” If you’re not hooked on this show now, then there’s nothing else we can think of to try to convince you to watch it, expect perhaps leave you with the line from writer Erika Green Swafford that had us laughing like a maniac, said by Paxton about Connor’s sexual prowess: “He did this thing to my ass that made my eyes water.”
Thoughts, Questions, Comments, Concerns…
- “I’m like the most grown up grownup ever” Asher, you silly banana!
- Connor and Oliver are the cutest, finest couple! When Oliver said “Stop looking at me!” I LITERALLY SQUEALED!!
- Every time Laurel and Frank have some sort of interaction, cheesy love songs start playing in my head. It’s awesome.
- “Take some notes, kids, ’cause this is what pilates can do for you”… OH REALLY NOW *sips tea*
- EVERYONE wants to get with Connor. You can’t blame them, though. 😉
- Marren has lost it if she thinks anything good can come from telling Annalise how to do her job.
- I want to caress Frank’s beard DO NOT JUDGE ME FOR THIS
- Asher’s amusement at Michaela’s meltdown is fantastic.
- Frank, you are jeaaaaaaalousssss *whispers* Don’t fight your feelings. Embrace them.
- Connor! Why are you stepping out on your preciously wonderful man?! Why must you hurt me like this?!
- Kudos to ABC for showing equal treatment by not overly censoring these LGBT sex scenes. *fans self with hand*
- “He did this thing to my ass that made my eyes water” What even did I just hear??? *o*
- Low-blowing like that when someone’s right by a window… What did you think would happen?! Shame on you!
- Sure, NOW you see Wes as Prince Charming since he helped get you out of jail. -_-
- Poor Oliver. The honeymoon’s over now.. </3
- Well it’s about damn time Wes handed that phone over!
- I gasped the loudest gasp yet at that last line! SAM! YOU’VE GOT SOME EXPLAINING TO DO.