How To Get Away With Murder: Smile or Go to Jail Review

How To Get Away With Murder works on its alibi. Here is our review.

Episode three, and I imagine all subsequent chapters, open with the noise and mayhem of the homecoming game bonfire. However, this time, Wes, Laurel, Michaela and Connor inserted themselves among the other revelers in an attempt to provide an alibi.

The back and forth time jump in this installment pulled the curtain back a bit more and revealed an additional chess piece, Rebecca, being comforted by Wes, in Annalise’s office while the other three try to wrap their heads around their options for the disposing of Sam’s corpse. I wonder if Professor Keating thought the coveted Lady Justice statue would be used for murder. Lila was killed and dumped in the water tank two months prior to Sam’s murder. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out that Rebecca, who has been implicated in her death, came to possess her smart phone and poorly hide it in Wes’s bathroom cabinet.

Michaela’s engagement ring features prominently in the episode. We visit themes of love, loyalty and trust. Trust in marriage and before walking down the aisle. Annalise cautioned Michaela, “Choose your husband wisely, Miss Pratt. You only have yourself to blame if it ends badly.”

Will Michaela grow up to become Annalise or Olivia Pope? Her pedigree is more akin to Olivia, but her doggedness to marry someone she loves and trusts hearkens back to Annalise’s original intentions. She threatened to ruin Aiden’s future life and political career if he hasn’t aired all of his past sexual partners. Annalise has abandoned her romantic fantasies of picket fences and a nuclear family, whereas Michaela would kill for it.

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Do each of the central four students represent a side of Annalise? Ambition, guile, fragility and determination in the persons of Wes, Connor, Laurel and Michaela. I’d venture a bet that Asher’s the third wheel much like Frank is to Professor Keating. Everyone has a role to play. Places everyone on this three-dimensional chess board with trap doors and landmines. Mind where you step!

I’m still having trouble digesting Annalise’s rapid-fire personality shifts from strong and confident to insecure and fragile in certain scenes with Nate. What has he done and/or promised her to elicit this type of temporary vacancy of her spine? It’d be believable if she’d maintain her strength where he’s concerned. I don’t think she needs to alter her behavior to appease him in any way. We don’t need to hear Stephanie Mills’, “Comfort of a Man”, each time they’re together. The dynamic is weird or it reads as a lack of on-screen chemistry between Annalise and Nate. Annalise hasn’t shown Sam any compassion in the flashbacks prior to his murder, but rather dismissed and belittled him at will. Why does she verbally castrate Sam and Frank, but comes undone when the boyfriend’s around? Professor Keating is at her best in front of her class and in the courtroom. Annalise needs to be more balanced and less fragmented to fully win me over.

Connor and Aiden’s boarding school dalliance can’t count as an affair, but it was enough to cast doubt in Michaela’s mind. In the chaos of moving and incinerating Sam’s body, the large engagement ring goes missing, and possibly will connect her to the body disposal site. Last-minute alibi at the bonfire be damned!

Statement of fact this time around, unhappy marriages and couplings can be a solid foundation on which to build dramatic television shows. One always wants something the other promised, yet forgot to deliver. One expects the other to read their mind and create simple or elaborate fantasies after a tough day at the office. This episode’s example is Paula Kelly, bored at home soccer mom, caught with her hand far below the cookie jar.

Is Annalise making a habit of defending less than honorable clients? Is this an attempt to distract herself from her unhappy private life or to remind us that her life is better on some levels than the clients she represents?

Things happen too easily or without explanation on many daytime soaps and primetime shows, and HTGAWM is no exception. Case in point: how did the FBI roll up on Annalise and her students moments after leaving the police precinct with tonight’s naughty soccer mom? Yes, for dramatic purposes and network time constraints, the FBI had to arrive afterward or there wouldn’t have been a client on trail. I want the writers to do more than paint by numbers and surprise me in future episodes. I want to trust that the writers have a handle on this show and won’t leave any or too many loose ends after each successive episode.

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Who at the prison or courthouse dropped the ball and didn’t handcuff Gabriel Shaw before and immediately after his testimony?

Paula touched a nerve in Annalise and Michaela on their return from the prison. Paula’s glee and their uncertainty or discomfort played well. Paula has always been a wild child dating back to her time in the cult with Gabriel. Her arrest for public indecency in a park is testament to her thrill-seeking. Annalise and Michaela are wired differently, yet the connective tissue was established. Gabriela and Paula are crazy in love. Is this the type of imperfect love Annalise longed for with Sam?

No one’s happy in love, lust or their infatuation. We’re obviously not at Disneyland, but maybe someone would have a moment’s peace and bliss without the world crashing down on them. Happy, well-adjusted characters make for boring fiction, movies, and television.

Wes, Rebecca’s self-appointed white knight, has faith in Rebecca’s innocence when no one else does. He gets through to Annalise, but is it too late to save her after she confesses? Tune in next Thursday for the answer to this and other questions.

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3.5 out of 5