HTGAWM, ‘It’s for the Greater Good’ – The Reset Stumbles in Week Three

HTGAWM: It's For the Greater Good
Photo Credit: ABC/Mitch Haaseth

How to Get Away with Murder has had bad episodes before. Much of last season fell flat, for example, and even when the series was at its peak, there would be subplots or scenes that felt cheesy or out of place. But the series is always at its lowest when it is boring. And this week’s episode, “It’s for the Greater Good”, was very boring. Take a poorly executed case of the week, add in ridiculous subplots, and close with a twist that feels poorly planned, and you have yourself an all around misfire for the show’s third outing this season.

This week, Annalise defended a former gang member appealing his a murder conviction from more than 10 years ago. The gang member insists that the jury had a bias due to his looks, and Annalise becomes obsessed with trying to clear his name so he can be reunited with his daughter. Meanwhile, Laurel looks for new ways to take down her father, and Connor shocks the group by dropping out of law school, choosing instead to spend his time (and tuition) drinking in a go-go bar. In case it wasn’t clear, none of this is all that interesting, and the tonal shifts from legal drama to murder mystery to comedy have never been more jarring.

Yet again, How to Get Away with Murder seems keen on using its cases of the week to promote social justice issues, but this week’s storyline is an absolute mess, making at least three different progressive statements but never sticking to one long enough to have an actual impact. Meanwhile, Connor’s decision to drop out makes sense for the character, but having him spend the whole episode cracking jokes and shoving dollar bills down a male stripper’s shorts is a waste of time. But Michaela’s subplot, in which she tries to make a good impression at her new firm by competing in a ridiculous trivia contest with her fellow interns, emerges as the worst of the episode. In a show filled with outrageous twists, confounding character development, and sex acts that only seem somewhat possible in real life, this subplot was, somehow, the series’ most unrealistic to date.

It’s also worth noting that this week’s episode included a “twist” that not only feels out of place and cheap, but also might contradict the series’ continuity. Spoilers to follow: in the episode’s final moments, Oliver reveals that Connor’s parents have come in to town to try and talk sense into their dropout son. The big reveal: Connor has two dads. Now, in the show’s first season, Connor and his sister (who was never mentioned again, but whatever) explicitly reference their mother, calling into question whether or not this twist actually makes sense for the series.

The show has always played fast and loose with its plot development, but this feels like a particularly careless contradiction. But, even if the series will address this development in a way that makes sense (maybe his parents divorced and his father married a man), the “shocking” revelation that a character is LGBTQ+ feels cheap and sensationalistic – a complaint that some made when Annalise was revealed to be bisexual in the second season premiere. While more inclusive entertainment is always welcome, shouldn’t this sort of representation feel organic, and not something for the audience to gasp at?

If there was a silver lining in “It’s for the Greater Good”, it was Aja Naomi King, who continued to deliver series-best work as Michaela. She had a Kerry Washington-esque intensity to her scenes this week, even with a terrible subplot. Also worth praising is the show’s “flash-forward” mystery, which continues to grow more mysterious and unpredictable with each cliffhanger. Hopefully, this one won’t disappoint in the end. But, in the meantime, let’s all pray that How to Get Away with Murder rebounds next week. Because melodramatic, unrealistic, and cheesy? Sure, those qualities can be ignored. But boring? I won’t allow it.

It’s for the Greater Good Overall rating: 3 out of 10