By the end of this week’s episode of How to Get Away with Murder, “Nobody Roots for Goliath,” the show’s customary “flash forward” ending teases at least one death, a kidnapped baby, blood spattered walls, an imprisoned Asher, and a cationic Annalise. But we’ll have to wait a little bit while longer to see how this all goes down. Instead, this week’s episode took a casual stroll towards these extremely dramatic events, dropping little breadcrumbs along the way and delivering a (mostly) solid hour of television.
This week’s episode was all about love – sort of. It’s hard to truly root for any of the couples on How to Get Away with Murder since they’re all basically complete messes, but there were a handful of swoon-worthy moments. As last week’s endings suggested, “Goliath” was primarily focused on Asher and Michaela, who finally put all their cards on the table and hashed out their problems. Aja Naomi King, who has been so great this year so far, turns in another strong performance, and delivers the season’s funniest line with a slight wink to the viewers.
Meanwhile, Connor and Oliver found themselves in a good place, romance-wise, that probably won’t last but is still nice to enjoy, especially since the beloved duo have seen their ups and downs over the past two years. The only couple to have their scenes fall flat is Laurel and Frank which, again, comes down to the fact that their pairing just doesn’t make any sense. A scene where Laurel explains that her murderous boyfriend knows the difference between right and wrong is amongst the most cringe-worthy the series has ever done.
Annalise, meanwhile, was busy getting her class-action lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania off the ground. This subplot remains ridiculous, even by HtGAWM standards, but Davis deserves credit for selling it, as do the writers for seamlessly tying Isaac and Bonnie into the drama. Even better, the writers started adding genuine stakes to Annalise’s bizarre, borderline unethical relationship with Isaac, by roping his wife (Kathryn Erbe) into their drama. It’s almost impossible to figure out who’s manipulating whom here, but the subplot is well acted, dramatic, and stands entirely on its own from the rest of the series’ mythology.
Furthermore, the episode ends with Isaac’s wife, Jacqueline, revealing that she has a psychiatrist mentor and friend, without giving this person’s name. Could a new, mysterious character be preparing to enter the fray? Or are the writers hinting at the return of another character – perhaps fan favorite Eve (Famke Janseen), who has been conspicuously absent from much of the action over the past two years?
One subplot, however, is dead on arrival. The revelation that Simon, the snobby law student who now works with Michaela and Oliver, is a Dreamer at risk of deportation feels like a manufactured conflict as well as a desperate attempt for How to Get Away with Murder to provide social commentary on every single issue currently under discussion in America. The writers never seem to know what to do with Simon, and have typically stuck him into whatever role needs to be filled in a given episode – he’s been a scapegoat, comedic relief, and even a criminal mastermind (remember the “Murderer” posters in Season 3? Probably better to forget).
But, all season long, Simon and Oliver have developed a friendship that seems to imply that the latter might cheat on his boyfriend with the former. While the two actors have chemistry, and a hook-up between the couple would feel believable, the episode foreshadowed that Simon may ask Oliver to marry him in order to avoid deportation, which would be a disaster of a subplot. If there relationship starts due to green card marriage, then the relationship will jump the shark before it even begins.
In the past, the penultimate episode before How to Get Away with Murder’s midseason finale have been suspenseful and surprising. But this has been an unorthodox year for the series, so having the episode develop its characters and move at a leisurely pace feels like the biggest twist at all. While not perfect, this was a solid episode and promises a true bloodbath next week. It’s time to start speculating: who is making it out of 2017 alive?
Nobody Roots for Goliath Overall Rating: 6 out of 10