After a couple of disappointing weeks, How to Get Away with Murder returned with a vengeance, delivering their strongest episode since probably the middle of season 2. All it took to get there was excellent performances, genuine stakes, and no case of the week.
Ok, so, technically this week’s episode, “I Love Her”, had a case of the week. Except, in a slight twist on the formula, this case moved the action back into the past, showing when Annalise and Bonnie first met. Viewers already learned during the show’s second season that Bonnie was molested as a child, and that Annalise’s late husband, Sam, was her psychiatrist as an adult.
But this week we learned that even before Sam took on Bonnie as a client, Annalise faced off against her in the courtroom by defending one the many men she was prostituted to as a minor. While this twist, like the revelation about Connor’s dads last week, feels like a minor contradiction to the series’ overall mythology, it’s easy to accept this information as fact since it provides some much needed insight into one of the more underdeveloped subplots from the past four years.
Bonnie and Annalise’s relationship was always interesting. What at first seemed like a typical mentor/mentee relationship was quickly revealed to have bizarre, borderline sexual undertones, with many fans taking to social media to share theories about the nature of their bond. While Bonnie, at first, seemed to be in love with Sam, her fixation on pleasing Annalise felt erotic at moments. But, after three years of dropping hints without ever actually building them up to anything substantial, this relationship started to grow tiring and, by the time Annalise drunkenly kissed Bonnie last season, it felt like eye-roll inducing fan service.
But this week, we spent much of the runtime exploring their relationship, building to an absolutely stunning final 10 minutes that more than make up for the long road we had to travel to get there. It helps, of course, that Viola Davis and Liza Weil are both talented actresses who play well off each other, and that Liza Weil is one of the best criers in primetime, capable of selling any emotional beat. But this is truly one of the most exciting developments in How to Get Away with Murder since we learned about Annalise’s past in the second season, and it will be fun to see where the characters go from here.
Elsewhere in the hour, Michaela and Oliver attempted to steal files from the former’s new boss, in a needlessly convoluted but still entertaining subplot. Once again, Aja Naomi King turns in solid work, and it’s fun to see the Keating 4 working in different pairs. Less interesting is all the screentime wasted on having Connor second guess his relationship with Oliver, which feels incredibly manufactured, even though Jack Falahee has one great scene near the end of the episode. Finally, Laurel and Frank’s rekindled romance is proving to be a mixed bag, but it’s nice to see Karla Souza bring some energy to the material she’s given and actually have chemistry with her onscreen love interest.
“I Love Her” was not a perfect episode, but it was a deeply satisfying one, which is the best we can expect out of How to Get Away with Murder at this point. It felt great to finally have a series-long subplot pay off. Now let’s just hope that the writers actually do something with this new momentum.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10.