How To Get Away With Murder has carved its instant niche in this season’s television landscape by consistently delivering the goods each week. With its heart-pounding drama, intense courtroom scenes, and intriguing mysteries, along with a plethora of shocking twists, it has come as no surprise that the series has quickly taken its place as not only the season’s newest hit but also a legitimate contender amongst even the most well-established shows on television. Thursday’s episode raised the bar higher than ever with one of the most moving, riveting, and shocking episodes yet.
Written by Michael Foley and directed by Bill D’Elia, the interestingly-titled “Freakin’ Whack-A-Mole” continued the recent character-centric pattern by focusing on the character of Asher, played by the versatile Matt McGorry, all while also keeping the spotlight on Viola Davis’ Annalise and both her metaphoric and literal trials and tribulations. With Wes somewhat out of the picture early on, due to his learning the truth about Sam’s affair with Lila and Annalise’s attempts to keep his secret, the rest of the “Keating Five” prepared for Annalise’s latest case; the appeal of a convicted murderer on death row, David Allen, a case her own mentor lost over two decades ago, and a case that Asher’s father, a high-profile judge, presided over.
While the past few episodes have focused much more heavily on a select member of the Keating Five, Thursday’s installment put more emphasis on the case itself, with Asher’s story weaving in with direct ties to that case. It provided a vital balance, especially given that McGorry’s character has come across as somewhat obnoxious and hideously unlikeable for most of the season, and an episode focusing heavily on him could have seemed either too forced or too unwatchable. But McGorry’s talents, combined with the limelight being set a little more sparingly on Asher than on some of the other characters who have taken center stage recently, proved to be a fantastic mix, one that allowed us to see a few other sides to Asher while also opening the door to one of the most compelling and incredibly moving cases we have witnessed so far in this series.
When the law students found evidence that pointed towards Asher’s father perhaps being party to a conspiracy to frame their client all those years ago, for the murder of his own girlfriend, Asher was forced to question everything he thought he knew about his father and how he truly rose to his successful position in life. While he attempted to ward off the accusations at first, Asher quickly discovered the smoking gun against his father, devastating the young man who clearly idolized the man he believed his father had been all of his life. Yet despite what he discovered, Asher still felt the need to protect his father and his family’s name, brilliantly bargaining with a very impressed Annalise to trade the information he had that could exonerate David for both protection for his father and, of course, a claim on the infamous trophy as her most promising prodigy.
While the Asher storyline was very well put together and McGorry’s performance gave us a new and extremely layered perspective on his character, it was the case itself that provided the most compelling moments of the episode. First, it was interesting to get even just a tad bit of insight into how Annalise started her career as a lawyer, learning that she was in much the same position as her current crop of students. The fact that this case was one that her own mentor had lost so many years ago, despite their client’s innocence, and that it stayed with Annalise so strongly that she opted to take on the case and file appeals for David spoke volumes about her level of compassion and her protective nature. David was an innocent man who had spent two decades in prison for a heinous crime that he did not commit and that took the life of the woman he loved. For Annalise, someone who we have seen defending potential murders and teaching her students how to get away with such crimes, sending a man like David to jail was a tragic failure and a serious hit on the reliability of the justice system. It seemed slightly ironic but it showed that Annalise has a good heart and can not always push her moral sensibility aside.
The case itself was extremely compelling, one that proved to center around the corruption of the legal system as well as the political system, something that will always be a relevant topic in society and one that should always be discussed in such ways. And while Annalise and her team uncovered the secrets of the past, secrets that gave power and wealth to greedy men while sending a grieving and innocent boyfriend to death row, the audience was treated to some of the most stunning and powerful scenes so far on the series.
Viola Davis is always captivating, almost forcing the audience to hold their breath during her scenes so as not to allow the sound of one’s breath to distract from the sheer brilliance and raw emotion she delivers each and every time. But Davis’ performance was raised to an entirely different level during the pivotal and incredibly powerful courtroom scene when Annalise let loose on Art Trucco, a highly esteemed State Senator who came to his fortune and political power through the real estate world. With some very glaring yet also very circumstantial evidence that seemed to point to Trucco as the one behind Trisha Stanley’s murder as well as the framing of David Allen for her death, Annalise was relentless. Putting her career and her reputation on the line, Annalise was relentless, firing heated accusations and sharp commentary at Trucco while the Supreme Court judges warned her time and time again to stop. Between the intense drama and Davis’ awe-inspiring performance, it was a moment that absolutely delivered the emotional and riveting impact that only a scene like that could. It was not only the highlight of the episode, but perhaps of the season so far. Of course, with Davis in the leading role and the series only six episodes in, one can assume that the best is yet to come.
So, too, was the moment where the Supreme Court judges reached their verdict on the appeal, one that was bathed in a sense of triumph and hope that not all corruption goes unnoticed and not all evils will go unpunished. Based on Annalise’s interrogation of Trucco and the evidence she presented that, at the very least, sparked a sense of doubt about David’s guilt and focused the spotlight on Trucco’s actions instead, the court decided that justice had not properly been served those twenty-one years ago. With that, they announced that the accusations of Trucco’s involvement in Trisha’s murder and his corrupt business ventures would be further investigated. But, even more importantly, David Allen would be a free man from that point onward.
But just as we started to see this new side to Annalise, one that felt compelled to expose corruption and evil, regardless of the consequences, we were also treated to one of the most shocking twists yet; in an effort to win Wes back to her team and help clear both Rebecca’s name as well as Sam’s name, Annalise had instructed Frank to plant some damning evidence in Griffin O’Reily’s car. With the police discovering Lila’s cell phone in Griffin’s car, complete with the pictures of a naked man on the phone, the finger was once again pointed squarely at Lila’s boyfriend instead of at Rebecca, providing the oldest motive in the book; jealousy.
In the end, Annalise proved that she would do anything it took to protect Sam while also serving herself quite well in her defense of Rebecca. And while we know Annalise has taken to some questionable tactics before, one has to wonder whether or not she has completely crossed the line in this case. Of course, the shocking twist also added a new and incredibly intriguing aspect to this ongoing story, with Annalise potentially putting herself in a position where she could be on the other side of the witness stand at some point, especially with Nate slowly but surely piecing together the conspiracy on his own.
The episode concluded with two more twists in the closing seconds of the hour, both taking place back in the present day during the cover-up of Sam’s murder. First, it was revealed that Asher and Bonnie had found some common ground and hopped into bed together. After that, we got another hint that Bonnie and Sam had perhaps been having an affair of their own when a seemingly devastated Annalise called Bonnie to ask if she was with her husband, the tone essentially saying that she knew the two were involved and her calling Bonnie to question her was about more than just uncovering her betrayal, rather about something much more dire. As the episode ended, we learned that Annalise had returned home to her ransacked home with Sam nowhere to be found, causing her immediate panic. Of course, things are not always as they appear and it remains to be seen whether or not Annalise was truly shocked by her discovery or if she was simply playing her part in getting away with her husband’s murder.
What did you think of Thursday’s episode of How To Get Away With Murder? Which of the episode’s twists shocked you the most? Were you blown away by the courtroom drama? Did the episode change your opinion about Asher? Do you think Annalise will get away with planting the evidence to protect Rebecca? Will the police track down Sam as the man in the photos on Lila’s phone? Share your thoughts with us below!
How To Get Away With Murder airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on ABC and CTV.