“A lot of the time I think the world would be a much better place without me in it.”-Annelise Keating
Skanks Get Shanked, episode four, begins with Wes, Michaela, Connor, and Laurel driving away from the crime scene in Nate Lahey’s police trooper car. They overhear on the police scanner that two female victims were found at the Hapstall estate, one deceased (DA Sinclair) and the other unstable (Annelise). We see Annelise being put in the ambulance and then she flat lines before arriving at the hospital. Flash back to six weeks earlier; when Annelise is holding her breathe under water (suicidal?), only to be interrupted by a phone call from Nia Lahey (Enuka Okuma), her ex-boyfriend’s wife. Now remember Nia Lahey is currently undergoing treatment for stage four ovarian cancer, so why would she want to confront her husband’s mistress? “I need you to do me a favor…I need you to end it. I want you to kill me,” explains Nia to Annelise. Is she a killer? Annalise’s pathos in this episode splits into a dichotomy between being a murderous mainipulator and a victim of her own pain. Throughout the episode Annelise struggles with Nia’s request, while defending a teenage mean girl, Zoey Mitchell (Sammi Hanratty), for being the ringleader in the plot to kill her best friend.
“So, please consider this fragile, susceptible teenager, and remember she could be your child too.”- Annelise Keating
The editing and sound mixing was on point this episode. Especially during Annelise’s and ADA Kaplan’s opening statements in Zoey Mithchell’s trial. This sequence cleverly provides necessary exposition about the Mitchell case, while simultaneously providing sub-textual evidence in the case against Annelise Keating. Is the person pulling the strings the real murderer? Zoey Mitchell and her accomplices stabbed their friend 52 times, because “Skanks get shanked”. The prosecution calls a child psychologist to the stand to testify that peer pressure influences the actions of young girls in popular high school cliques, “…doesn’t this all sound familiar,” says Connor during the trial. He goes on and presents his case against Annelise to the skeptical Laurel and protected Wes. The Keating five is a college clique, and Annelise Keating is definitely pulling their strings for her own reasons.
“We’ve all had people in our lives who make us do bad stuff.”-Connor Walsh
The best scene in the episode comes after Annelise loses Zoey Mitchell’s trial. Laurel discovers a secret app on Zoey’s phone that contains a video of Zoey and her accomplices relishing in the murder of their friend. Connor disagrees with Annelise’s choice to destroy the case, so obviously when ADA Kaplan presents it as evidence in court, we know who took the moral high ground. “I would do it again, even if it means you lose,” explains Connor, standing toe to toe with Annelise back at the house. “Zoey would have killed again and I cannot deal with anymore blood on my hands,” Connor still carries the burden of Sam’s death around with him. In addition to his grudge against Annelise, he wouldn’t have any “blood on his hands” if it wasn’t for her right? Connor and Annelise are standing toe-to-toe, dark shadows shroud the screen, portions of the dark red wallpaper remain visible. The set design and wardrobe choices only enhance Annelise’s turn in the scene as she proceeds to blackmail Connor into good behavior, “Make me out to be the villain, if that helps you sleep at night, but don’t you ever screw with my cases!” This final confrontation between Connor and Annelise parallels her ending scene with Nia Lahey. See, both Connor and Nia see how Annelise is behind the tragedies that have befallen them this past year. The difference is that Connor knows Annelise is a murderous manipulator; Nia views Annelise as a cold-blooded killer.
In the end Annelise decides not to supply Nia Lahey with the means to commit suicide. Annelise admits to contemplating suicide since being a little girl, calling back to holding her breathe underwater in the beginning. She never follows through with it. She doesn’t deserve to die, and neither does Nia Lahey. “I’m sorry you feel alone in your pain, but so do I, so does everybody…that’s life,” explains Annelise. After leaving Nia’s bedside and claiming a victory in the Hapstall case, Annelise stumbles upon Nate and Wes in the hospital parking lot. Well, I guess they no longer have a secret alliance. Flash forward to six weeks later with Wes, Michaela, Connor, and Laurel driving away from the crime scene in Nate Lahey’s police trooper car. They stop to drop Michaela off at an apartment complex. She enters an apartment with Caleb Hapstall anxiously waiting inside, “Is she okay?” he asks. Cut to black. Now who is “she”? My money is on his adoptive sister, Catherine. Why is he waiting in an apartment building for an update from Michaela? This feels like Wes and Rebecca’s relationship from the first season all over again. Fingers crossed that it’s not. Only five more weeks before the present catches up with the future…stay tuned.