For a show as crazy and twisty as this, I certainly didn’t expect a quiet midseason premiere, but it’s a welcome change of pace considering how far this season had gone off the rails.
Despite the bleak tone of the episode, director Jennifer Getzinger brings the flashbacks to life with gorgeous cinematography and vibrant colors, which should come as no surprise to anyone since she’s worked on several episodes of Mad Men before. Still, it’s refreshing to watch this show move out of its comfort zone and give us a few scenes full of positivity, sunshine and close-ups of our characters’ genuine smiles. By the time the episode had come to an end, I was left wondering whether those were really flashbacks or dream sequences (Could Connor really be that nice to Wes? Could Wes really tell Michaela about him and Laurel? Could Annalise seriously wear a bright red dress?), and the fact that they left it up in the air for us to draw our own conclusions in the end is all the more impressive and bittersweet.
Of course, the transitions from those uplifting moments to Annalise’s miserable time in prison is jarring, but Viola Davis, the now three-time Oscar nominee (a first for a black female), makes those moments absolutely worth it. There’s nothing more depressing than watching our strong, fierce lawyer now beaten down, taking a dump in front of her jailbirds and eating a rotten sandwich from behind bars. But if there’s a slither of hope that we could ever possibly root for Annalise (and this show) again, it’s Davis’ rousing performance that’s doing the trick. Absolutely incredible.
Plot-wise, the show is still suffering a whole lot, and the writers have made such a mess of Frank and Laurel’s characters this season that you can hardly feel anything out of their long-time-coming argument. Add to that the reveal that Wes was actually killed by the fire (which I’m certainly not convinced of yet) and Frank’s confession, and we have ourselves an underwhelming mystery for the back half of the season. I do hope I’m wrong and this show proves that it still has a few interesting tricks up its sleeve that go beyond pitting Annalise in a room with another woman, but so far I’m not impressed with how the show treats its supporting characters as nothing but pawns. There’s only so long Annalise can keep driving this show, and I’m starting to think three seasons is about it.
– The episode’s title is a nice juxtaposition of the third season premiere We’re Good People Now.
– Nifty transitions and a truly haunting visual in the opening scene with Wes’ autopsy intercut with Annalise’s transfer to jail and strip-search. I can’t get it out of my head.
– One of my favorite visuals in this episode is the rainbow ornaments spinning behind Michaela in her flashback/dream. Gorgeous.
– Bonnie mentions that Eve can’t come and represent Annalise because there would be a conflict of interest, but she would still want to visit, no? Sounds contrived to me.
– Wes and Laurel in the bathtub talking about Wes’ penis breaking the condom is probably the show’s largest attempt at comedy ever. This can’t be a flashback, right?
– Nate was shockingly useful, using his “relationship” with ADA Rene Atwood and calling it sexual harassment in order to explain his unauthorized visits to Annalise.
– That random girl calling Asher “baby Trump” is so timely and hilarious.
– Wait, Oliver didn’t know about the Keating Five killing Sam? Hmm, I need a scorecard to keep track of who knows what.
– Gripping and tear-jerking moment as Annalise’s cellmate tells her about the time she first met her in court.
– I don’t usually like Asher, but him punching Connor was so satisfying.
– Not bringing back Hannah, Sam Keating’s sister, is a missed opportunity if you ask me. I miss seeing Marcia Gay Harden on my screen.
– Heartwarming moment between Connor, Asher and Michaela as they cuddle up in bed together. So much for Keating Five anymore, eh?
– Laurel revealing that Wes is the baby father was a huge shocker. #Sarcasm
– Seeing as how Frank confesses to the Keating fire, there’s absolutely no way he actually did it, right?
– It’s a shame Laurel and Wes were never convincing enough as a couple. I couldn’t feel the gratitude of Laurel’s grief as much as the writers wanted me to.
Asher: You think that was racist, don’t you?
Wes: I just think you’re white.
Connor: We should let them go, right? Like, if we’re at all good people, we’d want them to be free of us.
Prisoner: I knew I’d seen your face before. In court once, waiting on one of my cases. You was wearing this badass red-leather jacket, had them Malaysian tracks flowing, guns out, screaming at that old white man DA. And I’m thinking, “why can’t this queen defend me?”. Jacked up, ain’t it? No matter how high or how far we climb, they gonna find a way to pull us back down.
Alternate World by Son Lux
Easier by Mansionair
Black Swan by Sailor & I
This show is still a mess, but at least it was a visually remarkable mess this time in this low-key midseason premiere.