How To Get Away With Murder Recap: Damn

Photo: Mitch Haaseth/ABC.
"Damn" is Nate's (Billy Brown) reaction to Annalise (Viola Davis) showing him the video of her slapping a client, which we saw in last week's episode of How to Get Away with Murder. It's also an appropriate reaction to all of the twists that happened this week.

First things first: Let's examine everything that happened to Annalise this episode. She lost her license because of the slap, and she also lost Nate (Billy Brown). Fans of the show have long wondered how long he'd stick around to clean up Annalise's messes — after she literally framed him for murder — and it looks like we finally have an answer.

At first, Nate tries to comfort Annalise about the slap video; hence, the "Damn" comment, in which he compliments her skills. As always, though, Annalise isn't completely honest with him. After spending a night out dancing and drinking with Eve (Famke Janssen), Annalise tells him she was with Bonnie (Liza Weil). Nate eventually catches Annalise in the lie, though, when he comes home to Annalise's and Eve is there.

Nate and Annalise's parting scene is explosive, emotional, and exactly what we'd expect from each of their characters. (Brown and Davis both deliver exceptional performances.) When Nate asks Annalise if she's sleeping with Eve, she counters with snide remarks that aren't as clever as she thinks, since she's been drinking. Nate tells Annalise that she's an alcoholic — damn — and she calls him a "little bitch." She doesn't have the last word, though — he tells her that she's going to die alone, and no one will care, not even her mother. Those are pretty harsh words from someone who's spent most of the show being a pretty big pushover.

But fans of Annalise and Eve's dancing scenes shouldn't hold out hope for an Evalise reunion if Nate's out of the picture. Eve tells Annalise that she's in love with someone else, and she's moving to San Francisco to be with her. Annalise puts her feelings aside and tells her she's on board — she advises Eve to "let yourself be loved." And while Annalise might be alone, Nate isn't — at the end of the episode, we see him hooking up with the new assistant district attorney, who he apparently knew already.

Of course, Annalise still has the last laugh in the end. Nate's accusation inspires Annalise to create a video confession declaring that she's an alcoholic — and she's willing to enter a treatment program if she can get her license reinstated. In the video, Annalise cites her "personal struggles" — the death of her husband, the fliers around campus.

If Annalise really is an alcoholic, it's great that she's seeking help, even if only to help her career. But if she's faking the condition to gain sympathy, that's definitely going to backfire.

As for this week's case at the legal clinic, it's just as fucked up as Annalise's personal life. Bonnie takes the lead in Annalise's stead, with Asher (Matt McGorry) as the first chair. It's a welcome change to see Asher lose the cockiness for once — he's sweating through his suit and stumbling through his speech in the courtroom.

The client is a teenage boy, Tristan, who racked up $41,000 in stolen credit card debt. Tristan ends up walking free after Bonnie and Asher, with Oliver's (Conrad Ricamora) help, discover that he stole the money to buy baby items for his teacher, who's pregnant with his baby. His teacher pleads the fifth on the stand, and it's implied that she'll go to jail for raping him, but Tristan isn't happy, fearing that his child will grow up without a family, like he did in the foster care system. It's a heart-wrenching case — Bonnie and Asher secure justice for a rape survivor, but he can't protect his child.

It's significant that Asher and Bonnie are the ones on the case — it reminds Asher of his failure to help a woman who was gang raped by a group of his friends, and it's significant for Bonnie because of the abuse her father put her through as a child. "Tristan has a history of abuse, and Susan took advantage of that. It's not okay," Asher says to Bonnie. Even if it's a baby-step process, Asher is finally becoming more empathetic for other people, and it's not a coincidence that his character development follows his father's death.

The tie back to Bonnie's father is even more significant this episode, though. We finally know what Frank (Charlie Weber) is doing in Coalport, where Laurel (Karla Souza) discovered he was. Frank buys a tank of what's apparently hydrogen sulfide, brings it into a prison in Coalport while pretending to be a janitor, and uses it to kill Bonnie's father. As he kills him, Frank tells the prisoner that the pain of his death won't make up for what he did to Bonnie.

Bonnie quickly learns of her father's fate after getting a call from the prison. Laurel just happens to overhear her tell Annalise the news — and when she hears that Bonnie's father was in Coalport, she quickly deduces that Frank is to blame for his death. Bonnie exhorts Laurel not to tell Annalise that fact. It's not entirely clear why, though we did learn in this episode that the man Annalise sent to find Frank was actually a hit man. (Annalise tries to tell Eve she never wanted him to actually kill Frank, but it's not clear that she's totally convinced, and we aren't, either.)

And as if that weren't enough twists, we also learned who the second body pulled out of Annalise's house in the flash-forwards is. It's Laurel — and the flash-forwards from the hospital reveal she's pregnant, too. The episode doesn't rule out the possibility of Wes (Alfred Enoch) being the father — even though he's dating someone new, there's definitely still sexual tension between these two. So much so, in fact, that Wes' new girlfriend enlists Laurel's help in planning a surprise party for his birthday. With lines in this episode that include "I just want to be there for you," there's hope yet for Wes-Laurel shippers.

All in, this episode perfectly represented the Shondaland we all know and love. There's so much drama packed into so little time — every character is dealing with their own major issues, and there's a compelling case, too. Let's hope next week's episode is just as exciting.
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