Gemma: I am all in suspense about Annalise’s backstory now.
Rasha: YES. Although that water glass she keeps filling with vodka gives me some directions to guess at.
G: As do her very pointed emotional reactions to the COTW.
R: Hmm. I was wondering what I was seeing there. Yes, she could have a connection. Also, does *Asher* have a connection, or is he just the character that gets used for comic clueless white-boy relief?
G: I wondered about that. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to tell us many people had personal connections, or just trying to tell us How Much This Case Matters.
R: Did it squick you out a little when the mom said “my son was the man my husband couldn’t be”?
G: Yeah. It did.
R: I thought of some different things than self-defense. That was creepy.
G: I don’t think we were supposed to be squicked out, so they coulda scripted that better.
R: It’s unfortunate in a case about abuse and f*cked-up standards of masculinity that even the ‘good’ side still comes back to praising young men for f*cked-up standards of masculinity. Killing his father is going to affect his young man for the rest of his life!
G: Yes, it definitely felt like oversimplifying.
R: The case aside, this was an interesting week for our predictions chart. We get confirmation that Bonnie Coldbutt lurves Sam.
G: Did we ever doubt that?
R: Well, the characters have said words. Annalise has brought it into evidence. Nate got fired for it! Which confuses me. I’m still not sure what he’s doing or why.
G: If Bonnie did not directly see Nate in Sam’s car, which I don’t recall seeing …
R: Bonnie saw Nate. It felt clear that she was waiting on a stakeout before and during their interaction. Sam may have pretended not to know who Nate is (his wife’s lover!), but I don’t think that makes a difference yet. On the subject of people who know each other: Rebecca and Sam?? I was ready to think it was more than the wallpaper that clued her in. Their introduction felt very knowing.
G: Really? She seemed genuine about the wallpaper to me, but I’m not sure. Also, WTF Wes, walking into their house in the middle of the night?
R: She did seem genuine about the wallpaper when she called Wes, but Sam’s protest and her interaction with him made me wonder if they did know each other. It was more in body language, but that may just be the way the actors are playing it. Can you imagine getting direction on this show? “You’re going to meet him, and you should make us uncertain about whether you’ve ever met him before. Go!”
G: I imagine getting direction on Shondaland shows must be confusing as f*ck, given how the plots unfold.
R: And then, there’s the #ViolaDavisEffect. Is everyone trying to do her advanced kung fu?
G: She is definitely a heightening presence.
R: This one feels very different to me from other shows that Shonda Rhimes has put forth. As someone who both really enjoys her shows and also gets tired of the ranty monologues at times, I like how much this show telegraphs with body language. #ViolaDavisEffect!
G: So far it does feel different, but my understanding is that one waits until Season 2 to put in a verdict.
R: Are we talking about Escandalo here?
G: We are.
R: Then I would agree you are correct. Sigh. Waiting till Season 2. Which will be amazing!
G: Yay for optimism!
R: More Viola Davis will always be amazing.
G: Yes. The world needs so much more Viola Davis at all times. Right now she is holding all the complexities in her person, all the contradictions.
G: I hope that it doesn’t get like Olivia Pope, such that no one human can hold all the contradictions, no matter how miraculous a human she may be.
R: Going back to what you said—yes, Wes, WTF are you doing in her bedroom?
G: Wes is beginning to strike me as Master of Boundary Issues.
R: Dude, for real. What is his back-catalog of issues, as Rebecca called them? Is this all really just about being young and green and shiny and new? and the outsider?
G: Some of it seems to be outsider, and I think it’s been made clear he’s of a different class BG than the other student hires. But I have the feeling he will show up with family, or absentee family, drama very soon
R: This is where I think casting Alfred Enoch reads against the character they might be trying to sketch. The actor has such a high, bouyant, young energy, and I can’t stop waiting for him to come out with a British accent. He seems to mostly be hiding it by making us feel like his voice is always about to break. I know you really love him in this role, but I found myself wondering if there were another American actor that could ground this role, or whether it’s best played at so high a pitch.
G: I find him very inviting as the Everyman type, an inviting naif. I am willing to withhold judgment until I understand more about his backstory, but right now I feel the possibility of his going in many different directions. (And maybe it’s just because I talk so weirdly myself, but I have not had a problem with his accent thus far.)
R: (He doesn’t have an accent, and I guess that what feels strange to me. He sounds like he speaks perfect international English.) I think the Everyman quality he’s deploying is messing with me a little because I keep wanting him to be a specific person with a story, and he isn’t yet. Looking forward to seeing it.
G: Well, none of the ensemble feel that specific to me yet—and, as I said, it must be difficult to fully commit when you know plot twists and character changes are liable to come at breakneck speed.
G: Michaela feels the most specific to me, but even she’s missing some substance.
G: Viola Davis is a woman of gravitas—she has expanded the character such that a new plot twist is just an added layer. I don’t know if any of the others are there yet. But, on the other hand, she’s also the only person who’s been written all the way as a person so far. Though this ep made me reeeaallllly interested in Nate.
R: Really? I found myself wondering what they could do with Nate from here, now that he’s been fired?
G: I guess I just really liked how B. Brown played that scene, how each of them had a distinct and harsh vulnerability that wasn’t being picked up or shared by the other. I don’t’ know where they can go with the plot yet, but I did want to know more about the character.
R: He definitely feels like a more full character, even though we’ve spent very little time with him. I think it’s going to be something I can’t even see. Annalise’s tortured love interest now that her somewhat abusive, definitely cheating husband is dead.
G: We’ll see.
R: I wonder how all this is going to bite them in the second half of the season. It feels clear that we’ll see the murder before the mid-season break and that could be the cliffhanger. I found myself keeping track in this episode of how much evidence each character has left of the crime. Michaela’s ring, Frank’s call in the woods to Laurel, Connor showing up a mess at Oliver’s, Laurel going to Frank.
G: And Wes going to Rebecca. There’s the distinct possibility she’s double-crossing ‘em all.
G: You’re right that the murder will be the midseason cliffhanger—they can’t spool this structure out for a whole season—which leaves me wondering how different the second half will be.
R: That’s where I think we see the payoff for characters like Nate and Wes and Rebecca. Even I have a hard time making up wild predictions.
G: They certainly have us hooked.