Diablog: How to Get Away with Murder, S2 E11

Annalise Keating: Days of Future Past.
Annalise Keating: Days of Future Past.

Gemma: So,turns out the timeline I had in my mind was off–Annalise was with Sam when she met Rose, and she was, in fact, real-people pregnant, although clearly had some traumatic history with pregnancy prior to this one.

Rasha: I thought she was just being her cynical self. Which, of course, comes from trauma.

G: That’s possible, but it felt specific to me, and given that we know at least a few things about her past and sexual trauma, I certainly wondered.

R: Yeah, that’s fair. Weil managed to project a world of story with her comment about laying down on your side helping when very pregnant. Yikes.

Past Bonnie, what else did you have to know?
Past Bonnie, what else did you have to know?

G: Ooh, yes, also that! Is it just me, or is the writing getting better?

R: It is. They’re letting the amazing cast they have do the heavy lifting.

G: It’s assuming it did a few things in the past that it didn’t–like make us care about Frank and Laurel’s feelings–but overall, I am appreciating it.

R: Oh, I care a bit more about Frank and Laurel now, but mostly because he cooks for everyone. Also, he was clearly a puppy when he first started out as AK’s SECRETARY. Ahem, personal assistant.

Past Frank, can we talk about your hair?
Past Frank, get that floppy puppy ear out of your face. You’re confusing me,

G: That was delightful. I liked the mirror-image demographic makeup of past lawyerettes.

R: Yeah, that was Through The Looking Glass. I was well satisfied that we got Sam back in flashbacks and some hints of Frank’s tendency to do his bidding. It was a relief to see something remotely kind passing between AK and Sam, but it was hard not to be suspicious of him even then. Sam was Bonnie’s therapist! But we kinda knew that, yes?

Why, Sam! How, ah, nice to have you back.
Why, Sam! How, ah, nice to have you back, maybe?

G: Yes, we did know that; we still don’t know whether Bonnie slept with him, or Annalise, or how the devotion rose to its current level. But I love how revealing the ten-years-ago promises to be, and in the really interesting ways, knowing what’s been missing. I’ll be intrigued to see how Eve meets up with the murder of this rich fella…

R: Right?! Yes. I was thinking that Bonnie, with all her meaningful, longing looks at AK in the 10 years ago flashbacks, might have been another child impacted by either AK’s lawyering or in some other way connected to her. Weil is definitely playing it like even 10 years ago isn’t the first time she started looking up to and looking for Annalise.

G: Well, somehow, Annalise had the videos.

R: RIGHT. Augh, the sailor’s knot of this show. I ship all the backstory, please give it to me!

Backstory! Forward story! Story everywhere!
Backstory! Forward story! Story everywhere!

G: They know that, and they promise to! That’s why I’m so happy with these last two eps overall.

R: This episode definitely felt like a set-up episode for what’s to come in the downhill race to the end of the season.

G: They knew they had reached the tipping point, where they couldn’t make it any more complicated without explaining why.

R: And Philip’s maybe back!

G: Oh, man, Philip is currently the most boring part for me. And yet I think they might make him interesting!

R: Did Philip really send that video? That seems too easy. I am now convinced that Philip is dead somewhere, and this time someone didn’t skip the incinerator step.

G: Do we have an enemy we don’t know about?

R: Did someone find his phone?

G: Catherine?

R: I would vote Caleb more likely.

We're back in the great land of Hapstall Suspense!
We’re back in the great land of Which-Hapstall-Did-It Suspense!

G: Which is why I say Catherine.

R: I think this show gets us tangled up with all its misdirections, but the craft felt so high on this episode. How about Wes teasing at the thread of his mother’s story and his own mental health balance?

Wes may be hanging by a thread here.
Wes may be hanging by a thread here.

And the clear contrast between AK who is taking lots of naps and Wes who can’t sleep? And the cut from AK’s pregnant belly to AK’s injured stomach getting treated at the doctor. It was graceful and had impact. Generational trauma, all kinds of meanings gestured towards.

G: You’re actually naming the parts I like less. I thought the belly imagery overblown, and I don’t like watching or reading therapy sessions pretty much ever–though this was better than most, given the stakes and the tensions, and I expect we’ll learn something more connected about that young doctor in the coming episodes.

I see this woman in this show's future.
I see a recurring role in your future.

R: The actual therapy conversations were belabored, and in some cheaper show like CSI or even Private Practice, I wouldn’t be up for the symbolic linking of images, but I think Viola Davis doing this makes a difference, and given the stories we know about Annalise and the people around her, it means more. I trust them to do interesting things and fulfill promises. I think there’s something important about the physical embodiment that the show attends to in Annalise’s character.

G: I do trust them to do interesting things and fulfill promises. I still think they could have made their promise less heavy-handed. Viola Davis has physical knowhow as an actor that could have brought it without those forceful and obvious shots. (Camera shots, not gunshots, although I guess also those.)

R: I don’t mind not always being so subtle. I mean, this show is not meant to be super subtle, and yet it yields such twisty treasures (I meant to add above: To me, it links the famous makeup/wig removal scene with her being shot and with her cramming toilet paper into her ruptured suture.) Can we talk about the COTW?

G: Sure!

R: This could totally have just been a treading-water week, setting up all the pieces to knock down in the remaining few episodes, but they both went for a case with ideas in it, and they also didn’t have it turn into an Afterschool Special like most other shows would do if they ever even began to a moment consider that they might do something related to transformative justice. Has any other procedural ever done a transformative justice case?

G: I have never seen a restorative justice case on TV before, that I can recall. The woman who played that mother was excellent, and made it work.

Astounding work in a guest spot.
Astounding work in a guest spot.

R: Exactly. This passed the Made Rasha Cry test.

G: Congratulations, This Episode!

R: They did a few things really smartly: the episode sets up our protagonist and her minions in direct opposition to the whole restorative/transformative justice process (though the show only refers to “restorative justice” I would argue that the emotional drive of the episode moves more toward a transformational approach),

These minions are not fans.
We start with protagonists who are not believers, but we already know their record of bad choices…

the defendant was not just guilty, but like guilty-guilty, like he did it on purpose and then texted the mom of the dude he killed,

He did it. No, he really did it.
He did it. No, he really did it.

and the two people involved, both mother of the murdered young man, and the young man who killed him are not white. I did wonder at what kind of powerful faith this particular mother was channeling that let her be ready to basically adopt the young man who murdered her son as her own responsibility. I didn’t mind the arguments from both Mom and AK about a wider social responsibility for the conditions that lead to people killing other people.

G: Agreed on all. The overwritten part that I really did like was Annalise’s speech to the lawyerettes about how “we’ve all killed people and we are just fine not being punished for that,” that every individual can extend that understanding to themselves.

R: Yeah. There were good calls being made. Caleb and Catherine are not the only potential murderers that the Keating 5 have had to defend since killing Sam, right? It’s probably time for them to revisit their attitudes about defending murderers. And the weird lack of self-reflection about Asher garage-raging ADA Sinclair is weird.

Asher's got it rough.
Like, is he the only one who could get offended by jokes about murderers?

G: Oh, yeah! that was complicated! I think we had a couple of other murderers in the first half of the season, didn’t we?

R: Yes, we did. There was the awesome professor friend of AK’s.

G: Ah, yes. #MoreJill!

R: Anyway, point is that it’s time for some mirror-looking.

Examine yourselves closely, Keating 5.
Examine yourselves closely, Keating 5. Not just in the rearview.

G: This is true, and it was a quality call-out on Annalise’s part. Overwritten is completely fine in the context of this show when it adds something new.

R: Yes. It takes me back to S1, where AK gets to make that wish-fulfillment speech to save the boyfriend of the tenant-organizer. This show gets down in the dark and twisty enough to not seem like sunshine and puppies when it’s making points about social justice.

G: Well, it also owns the contradictory relationships between the two without erasing actual pressing social injustice and needs.

R: Bonus, we got the prosecutor from Bones playing a judge! I was excited about that.

We miss you when you're not around!
We miss you when you’re not around!

G: Yes, it’s so nice to see her doing something other than that Geico commercial! This show is not Law and Order, in that it genuinely thinks about its black judges when it has black judges.

R: Yes, the same occurred to me. HTGAWM is not playing.

G: We’ve seen that before, even in this season. The racial makeup of the courtroom is never incidental or “colorblind.”

R: Praise Kindred. One more thing I want to know: when is Frank going to start his own catering outfit?

G: Let’s send Frank and Laurel into the WPP as caterers. I think they might be happier. Because Frank has feeeeeeelings.

Look at those soulful eyes!

Laurel could do the management end.

Because right now, she's handling it.
Because right now, she’s handling the scandal. Mostly.

R: Dude, he confessed! Like is he going to throw in the ring with Patti Labelle and Aretha Franklin and peddle pastries, or red sauce?

G: Yes.

R: Next time let’s imagine them all 15 years into the future in the WPP.

G: Oh sweet lord, that’s gonna be terrifying.