“Statistically, if you’re going to be murdered, your killer will be someone you know…An Acquaintance, your friend, a family member…your lover,” explains Annelise Keating (Viola Davis) to her criminal justice class, all the way back in episode one, Time to Move On. Fast forward to eight episodes later and finally the viewers see who shot Annelise Keating at the Hapstall estate…Wes Gibbons (Alfred Enoch). Slow clap, for everyone involved in this particular sequence, it’s superb. Annelise verbally assaults Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza), and Wes; in an act of desperation. Throughout these past eight episodes the writers have shown motive for each of these characters to pull the trigger…but it all circles back to the lie that started it all, “Rebecca’s dead Wes, I made it up, so she ran away…she’s been dead this whole time, and I’ve been lying to you over and over again, so shoot me, I deserve it,” pleads Annelise. Bam! A shot right to her stomach and now she’s bleeding out on the floor. Wes makes his way to her body, stands overhead, aims to strike the finale blow, but stops at the sounds of her faint whispers, “Christoph…Christoph…Christoph.” Ten years earlier Annelise faked her own death, staged the crime scene, so her son (aka Christoph, aka Wes) would think that she committed suicide. All these lies smeared in bloodshed began long before the Hapstall case, Rebecca’s murder, Sam’s murder, or even Lyla’s murder…all traces lead back to the Keating bloodline.
“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 them the whole time. And now they’re going to help cover for you,” yells Annelise, as she assists Bonnie (Liza Weil) and Asher (Matt McGorry) in moving DA Emily Sinclair’s body. Finally, Asher knows everything that’s been going on under his nose, too bad he had to become a murderer to be part of the Keating five. Rewind, to fourteen hours earlier…Asher’s trying to contact his dad about the news. Emily Sinclair (Sarah Burns) leaked the Judge Millstone, gang-rape cover up story in the papers. Bonnie shows up and informs Asher that his father has committed suicide. Matt McGorry gives an excellent dramatic performance, as his character processes this information and takes a very, dark turn, “Your father was a bad man Asher, and honestly you and the people in this city are better off without him,” says Emily Sinclair in the parking garage. Remember she’s been targeting both Asher and Nate Lahey (Billy Brown) to help her take down Annelise. Maybe, she’s to blame for her own death? DA Emily Sinclair’s desire to beat Annelise, at her own game, lead to Asher running her over with his car. Great realization moment, as the camera holds steady on Asher’s face as he breaks down in his newfound darkness. Bonnie arrives to help Asher, and convinces him to not call the cops; instead they load the body into the trunk of her car and head to the Hapstall estate. Annelise’s plan is to stage a crime scene and setup Catherine Hapstall for the murder of Emily Sinclair. “We don’t need it to make sense, we just need it to look like chaos. To leave the police a crime scene that’s a mess it’s their job to make sense out of it…not ours,” says Annelise. Again, this why I love this show…it’s organized chaos! The writers brilliantly tied all these threads together for viewers to not only understand what happened…but why and sometimes that’s more important.
“You were protecting Rebecca and now I am protecting you…protecting someone, no one should go to jail for that,” explains Annelise to Wes, in the previous episode, Hi I’m Phillip. Back to the winter finale, Annelise isn’t protecting Asher, but Nate Lahey. Someone with just as much motive and cause to kill DA Emily Sinclair. Last season, I didn’t care much for Nate, but he’s a very important piece on the board. Even his wife’s death plays a part in the events that take place in this episode. Remember, Annelise didn’t give Nia Lahey those pills; nope those have been kept in a safe place. After, Annelise figures out her plan to stage the murder scene, she sends Frank to get Catherine Hapstall (Amy Okuda). He uses the pills to knock out Catherine, so that he can plant her body at the crime scene; thus tying in the flash forward from episode six, Two Birds, One Millstone. Interesting mirroring between Nia Lahey and Annelise’s suicidal tendencies, “A lot of the time I think the world would be a much better place without me in it,” states Annelise back in episode four, Skanks Get Shanked. Both ladies are desperate to get put of their misery and ask assistance from their loved ones. In addition, the winter finale concludes with the revelation that Annelise has already faked her death once before…but why? Eve Rothlow (Famke Janssen) knows the truth, because she helped Annelise stage the whole coo.
Now How To Get Away with Murder will return in February with all new episodes, that will hopefully resolve all those lose plot threads, including my personal favorite: What does Asher tell the police? Remember, how episode five, Meet Bonnie, concludes with Asher saying, “I need to make a statement.”