I keep waiting for this show to take a huge dip in quality, but it surpassed my expectations for the second week in a row and delivered a consistent, well-plotted hour of television.
Murder is at its worst when it’s struggling to give its legal weekly cases any resonance or importance given the fact there isn’t a single client from the past two seasons that is memorable. Irene Crawley, Annalise’s latest client from her new clinic, stands out among the crowd. Her entire story is empowering and often gut-wrenching, and Amy Madigan’s Emmy-worthy performance is undoubtedly phenomenal. Her portrayal of a confined abused wife could have easily floundered in the hands of a lesser actress, but Madigan remains practically silent for the duration of the hour before she explodes in that heartbreaking, thrilling monologue at the end. Fantastic.
Even more surprising is that this episode draws most of its attention to character development for a change. The weekly case gives Connor the perfect opportunity to truly advance his skills and actually learn something positive from Annalise by relying on his own emotional trauma to help a client. The Annalise/Connor dynamic is not something we often see on this show, but it’s easily one of the most intriguing among the Keating Five.
Annalise and Wes, however, is a recurring relationship that continues to baffle and simultaneously make me uncomfortable. They are both consistently shady and awkward around each other (she asks him to move in with her, and he shows up at her doorstep in the middle of the night with food), but as much as I love the writers for keeping us on our toes here, there’s only so much they can keep teasing before the mystery wears out. We’re gonna need answers soon!
Finally, it’s a relief to find out that this episode doesn’t offer progress at the expense of the twists and turns that are part of the show’s backbone. Annalise, who is now a suspect, is still hiding something in the flash-forward when she secretly hands Oliver a phone and asks him to wipe it clean, and part of this episode wants us to think that Connor is the one lying dead on that gurney (why else give us a character-centric hour based on him?), but the further we get to finding out the truth, the harder it gets to choose this season’s victim. If the show continues to play its cards right, this could be its best and most exciting mystery yet.
– I never loved the minimalist opening credits with the title on the chalkboard, but adding a wobbly “created by Peter Nowalk” title this season somehow makes it even less appealing.
– This show never shied away from racial topics, but anyone else think it was a bit heavy-handed this week?
– Asher was becoming way too goofy, so points for actually giving him something with substance this week.
– Connor and Oliver already broke up in the previous episode, so I didn’t really see the point of reliving that again other than to show that Oliver is kind of delusional. When did Connor become the voice of reason on this show?
– Wes’ girlfriend (Meggy, apparently, and not Maggie) still hasn’t done anything. When does she get to murder people already?
– Amy Madigan has a huge list of roles she’s famous for, but she’ll always be Meredith’s therapist to me during that short, odd fourth season of Grey’s Anatomy.
– Really can’t remember the last time I cheered when a client won, but Irene certainly deserved it.
– The university officially suspended Annalise. Yay for the show becoming a bit more realistic?
– We find out that Eve is investigating the Mahoney case. Can we get her back full-time please?
– I loved Bonnie and Laurel playing pool and discussing Frank. It’s amazing how much I don’t miss seeing Frank interacting with the rest of the gang and being Annalise’s lackey this year.
Annalise: (to Bonnie) I know you’re bored. You make that very clear with how loud you’re stomping around with those boxes.
Irene: We had no doors in the house. No one ever asked me why Rodney did that. Took doors off hinges so I wouldn’t be able to hide. Came in once while I was peeing, yelling, grabbed my neck, stuck my head in the toilet. I almost drowned in my own urine. Another time, he raped me with a hose, a mop handle. You want stories like that? I got them. Now, I can see that you want to know what I did with the hammer. I planned it, you were right about that. Not ‘cause he was gonna beat me that day. Because he was gonna beat me for the rest of my life. And looking ahead to that, feeling broken bones before they even happen…I made a decision. I sat with that hammer for hours, and when he came home, I stood up, and I hit him over and over again until I saw brains. And still, I didn’t feel that that made up for all the times that he hit me. So I hit him some more. You want me to say I’m sorry, that I regret my actions. But I don’t. How can I when it’s the one decision that finally set me free?
Annalise: You’re worried about bad press? Try the headline “Prominent Attorney by Elite University” not to mention a multi-million-dollar lawsuit I’ll file. I bet you’ll get calls from the donors then.
Another fast-paced, exciting hour full of character development, a heartbreaking case and stellar performances.