Written by Matt Taylor
How to Get Away with Murder isn’t exactly striving for realism, so it almost feels pointless to harp on plot holes. But one thing that always did bother me is that the Keating 5 and Annalise continue to have a (relatively) healthy working relationship, despite the lying, cheating, backstabbing – and several felonies they’ve committed together. This week’s episode, “She Hates Us,” finally took the time to explore the toll these crimes have taken on the team. Even more exciting, we also got to see a number of flashbacks that were enlightening, compelling and, most importantly, deeply entertaining.
This week, Annalise tried to get back to work while simultaneously looking past the tension rising amongst her interns/co-conspirators. The Keating 5, however, were less willing to be so professional. Meanwhile, Wes was forced to spend some time on suicide watch after making an off-color joke about suicide to a doctor. But the true highlights of the episode were the flashbacks to a very-pregnant Annalise. In addition to learning about what made Annalise the successful but deeply troubled lawyer she is today, we also got to see Frank and Bonnie – before they became murderers.
Flashback episodes are typically a lot of fun, if only because it gives the actors a chance to portray younger version of themselves, complete with awkward hairpieces and throwback fashion. But what made these flashbacks so well done was the way they finally started providing answers instead of just asking more questions. The writers, wisely, tease out information slowly, letting viewers know that they’ll get their answers, but making them wait for it. It’s also interesting to see how Frank and Bonnie grew into the characters we know and love. Thanks to some phenomenal editing, which juxtaposed their violent crimes with their less violent origins, we’re reminded about how much they’ve grown, and given hints at what’s to come as we get more flashbacks over the next few weeks.
The episode also weaved in some thoughtful social commentary, thanks to one of the best case-of-the-weeks that How to Get Away with Murder has had to offer. The story, clearly inspired by the national conversations about police brutality and mass incarceration, was shockingly emotional, with an ending that’s bound to get some viewers crying. Typically, the standalone storylines on How to Get Away with Murder feel like a unwelcome distraction from the main plot, but this week’s provided some of the best scenes. And, while Viola Davis has already had a plethora of scenes that make a convincing case for why she deserves a second Emmy, she delivered a perfectly acted monologue when fighting for her client.
It usually takes a while to process an episode of How to Get Away with Murder because there is so much information being thrown at viewers. But “She Hates Us” might be the finest episode of the season so far. The writers are dropping plot breadcrumbs, but at a terrific pace, while also delivering one of their finest standalone plots yet. With only four more episodes left, it’s starting to look like How to Get Away with Murder will completely avoid the sophomore slump.
Overall rating: 10 out of 10