It was twist after twist after twist in the midseason finale of HTGAWM this week, and I’m still feeling a bit lightheaded after watching one of the year’s most intense, thrilling hours of television.
I was initially ready to call this an insane, unbelievable episode because there was just a lot of crazy reveals happening simultaneously, and I wasn’t completely enjoying how unrealistic this show had gotten all of a sudden. But looking back now, this show was never grounded in reality. It’s always existed in a universe that’s a bit different than ours—people can become murderers any second and still not give a damn about the consequences of their actions—and that’s sort of the beauty of this show. The fact that our lead is a flawed anti-hero who really deserves to die or be locked up somewhere is quite intriguing for network television, of course thanks to the phenomenal Viola Davis who continues to prove that her Emmy win was much deserved.
Those final 10 minutes alone wouldn’t have had the massive impact if it weren’t for her cheer-worthy performance. It was undeniably one of the most suspenseful scenes I’ve seen in recent years: Annalise screaming (and ugly-crying) at her students to shoot her in the leg to get away with yet another murderous plot as she progressively blurts out every secret she’s kept in order to convince them to shoot her. That sequence of her telling Asher that the others killed Sam, telling Connor that he ruined Oliver’s life, trying to get Michaela and Laurel to go through with her plan, and FINALLY revealing to Wes that Rebecca is dead is one of the most jaw-dropping sequences this show has ever produced. Annalise shockingly goes all in, proving just how desperate and ultimately brutal she is, and the beauty of that scene is that it feels like the show has been gradually leading up to this moment all along. For once, it felt like HTGAWM is brilliantly-plotted and planned out, and there’s nothing I love more than a well-crafted show.
Of course, the biggest shocker is the flashback at the end that reveals Wes (real name Christophe) in an interrogation room talking about his mother’s suicide while Annalise and Eve guiltily watch outside. It’s a huge twist on the Annalise/Wes mystery that adds more questions to an already complicated storyline, but I absolutely love how ambiguous that scene is. Eve whispering “Good God, Annalise, what did we do?” is bone-chilling and a PERFECT way to end this fantastic episode.
Other than that, the fall finale had several other twists up its sleeve including the reveal that Asher is the one that kills Sinclair, officially turning this character into a cold-blooded killer (fits well with the other characters on this show). But this development luckily doesn’t seem so far-fetched, maybe because Michaela and Connor’s friendship evens out the craziness on this show sometimes. These two being the only somewhat reasonable (and human) characters in that murder mansion is a fresh of breath air.
One other notable thing from this episode is its use of flashbacks halfway through the hour to fill us on in on some of the missing scenes. It’s messy and unnecessary at first, but as the story goes back to linear form (particularly in the end) it becomes clear how effective this storytelling device was here. Unlike last year’s finale where its only use was to end the hour on the shocking “Frank choked Lila Stangard” reveal, the time jump here perfectly depicts Annalise’s unstable state of mind. It’s initially odd to see Ms. Keating uncomfortably nervous and unsure of her next move, but the flashback really helps take us on the emotional journey she goes through in the span of a few minutes. And really, the fact that we’re rooting for an anti-hero is mind-boggling and fascinating enough.
Sneaky Courtroom Bits
– Asher’s father kills himself and it allows us to see how absolutely horrible his mother is. Also, it gave us some terrific character development for Doucheface, especially during his breakdown in the car.
– I loved Bonnie and Frank’s scene discussing Annalise and how terrible she is.
– RIP Emily Sinclair, your awful personality and atrocious one-liners will be terribly missed.
– Annalise throwing Sinclair’s body in front of the students at Murder Mansion was pulse-pounding and shocking. Hey, at least she wrapped it up in a neat rug.
– No one having Asher’s number was a hilarious albeit unrealistic moment.
– There are several flash-forwards that didn’t take place in this finale such as Frank putting on a show at the hospital, Catherina waking up, Nate finding the students and driving them away, Connor telling an unconscious Annalise “it’s all your fault”, Michaela going over to Caleb’s and Asher going to the police station to make a statement.
– Also, Philip is lurking around the mansion at the end. Creepy.
– I love Michaela jumping in front of Annalise to stop Connor from shooting her. It’s a brutally honest, thrilling moment that’s a testament to how far the Michaela/Connor friendship has gone. Even better is her running after him, begging him not to leave without her. These two are officially my favorite now.
– Seriously though, the fact that Annalise faked the whole shooting is exactly the kind of soapy, insane twist that this show pulls off perfectly.
– The setting the music, the chaotic ambience and Davis’ raw performance made the final 10 minutes a nail-biting experience worth re-watching. You know, at least until February.
– How does the show go on from here, with literally every main character being a sneaky, conniving killer?
Amusing Keating One-Liners
Bonnie: We can’t keep doing this, Frank. We say we’re just protecting ourselves, but there’s a point when we’re the ones people need to be protected from. And that’s who we’ve become. Don’t you see that?
Frank: You’re upset and sad, and that’s good ‘cause it means you’re still a person.
Michaela: No one called him?
Connor: What would we say? Sorry your dad was so shady that his only way out was to off himself?
Wes: Or we could just say “sorry”.
Michaela: Thank you.
Connor: Of course you two agree. You both also think it’s okay to bang clients.
Connor: Hey, did Caleb’s penis do the trick and finally give you your big “o”?
Emily: Stop following me, or I’ll blow my rape whistle.
Annalise: They killed Sam, Asher. It wasn’t Bonnie. She just said that to protect them. But Sam attacked Rebecca, and they killed Sam, and I’ve been covering for them the whole time. And now they’re gonna help cover for you.
Connor [to Annalise]: I hate you so much.
Summoning of the Muse by Dead Can Dance
A pulse-pounding midseason finale that’s undeniably one of my favorite episodes so far, and a true testament to how much this show has changed.