Rasha: So. Did you read my comment from Thursday afternoon?
Gemma: I did, and you do win for anticipation. I am TERRIBLE at predictions!
R: Well, it goes to questions of fact versus fiction. And no matter where the facts seem to lead, the laws of fiction are stronger.
G: Well-said. I have to say I was honestly a little disappointed by this entire ep until the last moment, at which point I gasped out loud.
R: YES. ME TOO. Snaps and hollers and laughs, I practically cackled. Because you know, that scene between Sam and Annalise was _rough_.
G: For serious. Those were some nastinesses.
R: I was shocked they were airing that on network television.
G: And I was glad that I didn’t have to make myself buy that voicemail as real anymore.
R: Oh, god yes. Both Viola Davis and Annalise Keating are masterful performers.
G: So they are. And they are right on a narrative level to maintain this conspiracy between Annalise and Wes. We’d lose something in the show if it weren’t present. You were correct about that too.
R: You know, the conspiracy between Annalise and Wes is deftly foreshadowed in the first episode, there’s a nice symmetry.
G: But I was disappointed in the way(s) Sam died, and that Bonnie was so peripheral to the equation. Bonnie being disappointed in one version of meaningless sex and going into another was not compelling to me.
R: I actually like it better that Sam was killed accidentally-on-purpose. They actually did a better job than most shows in explaining why they didn’t think they could call the cops, and then he comes back to life!! Wes striking out quickly and decisively echoes Annalise’s line about everyone having violence in them. And Bonnie, I saw making a choice not to sleep with a Sam-type and instead take on more of a Dom role.
R: I thought the sex between Bonnie and Asher was hilarious, especially given how steamy all the other sex scenes on this show are. Contrast, for example the scene between Annalise and Nate!
G: Fair. I liked the Asher and Bonnie sex in itself, yeah.
G: But I guess given that she’s not involved with the murder I’m only going to be satisfied if Bonnie is in fact Annalise’s sub.
R: I think the Rolling Stones have a song about that. I think in some ways, though, Bonnie is swept away by Annalise and would absolutely do anything she was told. We may not get whips and cuffs, but the structure is there.
G: Yeah. I’m wondering if we’re going to have parallels between how Annalise and Sam met and how Bonnie and Annalise met.
R: Hmm. That would be cool. Professor student romance, of the sexual and non(consummated)sexual kinds. But I think it’s valuable that there are strong relationships that the characters have to Annalise that are not sexual.
G: I would agree with that.
R: For reasons not just non-romantic, but to break the central Black female character out of a stereotype of being over-sexualized. I think it wouldn’t be fair to the Keating-Winterbottom relationship’s complexity for it to be actually romantic or sexual, as much as I would like to see this show bring a queer female character into the mix.
G: Maybe I am just angling for an admirable lead to be queer. Or maybe I’m just responding to the awful physical setup of last ep’s scene.
R: Well, that blocking definitely warranted all kinds of readings of the dynamics between Annalise and Bonnie. I trust Viola Davis to illuminate it more in a minimum of a half-dozen seemingly contradictory ways in the next part of the season.
R: And as for admirable, this is the wrong show to look for any of the leads to be that.
G: Admirable from an artistic creation POV, not a role model.
R: Formidable is the word that comes to mind after the end-of-episode reveal. Can we go back and count all the people Annalise is playing? And for how long do you think she’s been playing them? Is Wes right that she’s been playing Nate even when it didn’t look like it? Or did Annalise just decide this after the argument?
G: Well, I wondered about the way she revealed Nate to Sam. “Oh, I have a lover, I went to him because you weren’t giving me enough.” If it is true, it’s a boring story, and as such I doubt it’s true.
R: And what did you wonder??
G: I wondered about how she and Nate actually came to be. What her actual reasons were for seeking him out. Davis is actor enough to play someone who calculates her every move and yet still has deep and real feelings.
R: Damn. Yes. What gets me is that we know Annalise went to that man’s house, probably knowing that his wife was back in the hospital, and definitely knowing that he would invite her inside for some sexy romping, and thereby provide her an alibi! And also continue to pursue his own angle to find guilt in Sam in the investigation. She has been feeding him so many lines. And yet, yes, I think she does need him. Not just as her alibi.
G: I think she was telling the truth a few eps ago when she said she needed Sam too. But I thought she came back from Nate, came home and saw Wes, and left the voicemail.
R: Let me check.
R: No, it’s conclusive: Annalise is at @ police at 10:11, Wes goes back @ 18:15, Annalise goes to Nate’s @ 20:15. Which means it was also her idea to dispose of the body. Boom.
G: You are the winner! Heads or tails indeed.
R: I think we all win with Annalise in charge.
G: We’ve also got Laurel, Connor, and Michaela and their little stories.
G: It was nice to see Oliver again, sad to see him brushed off.
R: Yes, the Keating 5. In the end, I bought how they all got roped in, and their reactions, even the ones we’ve already seen, became more full of breath and life. Do you think they essentially shot this episode at the beginning of the season? That is rough on actors.
G: They might have, and had a lot of the art be in the editing. Otherwise they would have to have, like, the world’s awesomest script supervisors.
R: I was glad to see Oliver again, but now Connor is going to have to fake being pregnant with a drug addiction, so that’s dramtastic.
R: What will Michaela do about her wedding ring? You know Aiden had that thing engraved. And Laurel and Frank I still can’t care about.
G: I do not care about Laurel and Frank and can’t see myself doing so anytime in the near future. I’m going to venture the wild guess that Michaela’s engagement ring will be the first clue found that actually casts suspicion on any of our folks.
G: And I’ve seen the drug addiction faking done before, most notably on Dexter. Can be interesting, but I have the sense in this case it might just make me like both Connor and Oliver less.
R: Well, it might get Connor treatment for the sexual compulsiveness, and also complicate him trying to keep the MUUUURDER a secret.
R: But yes, as dramtastic as it might be, less compelling. I’m excited to see Michaela’s storyline unfold. That perfect facade is going to crack, and she’s going to flex all the more to hold it together. Also, we were right in predicting that “it’s always the person you least suspect.” Michaela did make the first contribution to killing Sam with a great big shove.
G: Bonus points for us.
R: My final thoughts: Even if Viola Davis weren’t already winning everything all the time, she would be owning this show and television for flexing the range of feminine appearances as armor, as vulnerability, and at the end of this episode, by using complete lack of armor as the most tough preparation for battle there is. Owned.
G: And this show does get a lot of points purely for providing the space for an actor this potent to flex her brilliance. But I think I am still waiting to see whether the rest of the HTGAWM-verse can catch up with her. Now that we don’t have the artificial suspense of the flashforwards, I am waiting to see if all these relationships can hold their own.
R: We’ll see. They may keep employing the device. Till next year, bwaugh!
G: BWAUGH indeed!