Annalise’s baby hallucinations from last week have been replaced by flashbacks to 10 years ago…in which various characters somehow flash-forward to all the murderous things they’ll do 10 years later! It’s a witches’ brew of evil unlike anything this show has ever seen! Just kidding, it’s always like this. The best part about the flashbacks is seeing old-timers Bonnie and Frank during their humble beginnings at the haunted house of Annalise Keating and Associates. Frank is kind of flopping around in all ways (mostly his hair) as Annalise’s assistant (“secretary” if you’re nasty), and Bonnie is still the same organizational wizard with a soft spot for the boss, helping her lie on her side to relieve pregnancy pains. Oh, whoa, hey, Sam! Not yet murdered by a law trophy, the cheating Dr. Keating is super excited about the baby boy they’re about to have. But Annalise has other priorities. She wants to werk those bangin’ braids and beaded chandelier earrings, and she also wants to work cases. Desperate for tenure, she’s intent on flying to Cleveland so she can somehow involve Wes’ mother Rose in what could be her make-or-break case: the murder trial of hedge fund heir Charles Mahoney. Rose’s connection to this guy is as yet unclear. Agh! What is happening?! Ugh, present tense now. Total buzzkill. In the case of the week, a murder victim’s mom begs for a shorter sentence for her son’s killer, Jason, a total dummy who ends up confessing to the crime thanks to a text technicality (he spelled love “l-u-v,” which the victim would never have been caught dead doing). The mom’s suggestion that maybe Jason’s whole life shouldn’t go down the drain because of one mistake could apply to virtually anyone on this show, as they are all rotten murderers who also might deserve a second chance at a normal life, and maybe even luv. RIGHT? Sure! I’m sold, but Annalise is not, because her comfort zone is a world of pain she cannot bear to escape because THEN WHAT? Mom is persistent, though, and finally her words hit/heal Annalise where it hurts: “Get over yourself and do your job!”
Meanwhile, Wes is stuck in the health center, having passive-aggressively threatened suicide in a last-ditch attempt to secure sleeping pills from a doctor. Every episode has a hilarious nod to the fact that they’re technically in law school, but this one seems serious. But you know what? At least he’ll get to nap in there. “I might check in, too,” Annalise snaps at the messenger, Laurel. Hmmm. Flippancy masking a deep-rooted unrest? It’s almost like Annalise and Wes are on the same wavelength or something. It’s just a hunch. We might never know. When the ducklings confront her about not caring about Wes and letting him rot in the stress prison that is a warm bed and 24-hour care, Annalise turns the tables on them. None of them must have a conscience, either, because need she remind them they’ve all done terrible things? “The worst things.” So do they think they should all be in jail? Hell no! It’s the same manipulative shit she always pulls, and this time the exhausted, incredulous group straight-up quits on her: Michaela, Connor, Laurel, then Asher. Technically, Laurel had been fired the day before, but Annalise probably cans each of them every day as part of her twisted loyalty rewards program (read: law cult), so it was no big deal. This exit is on their terms. Ducklings unite!
After a quick, impassioned courtroom speech about how the flawed legal system “incarcerates people of color…and then we scold them for not raising their children right” (deal with it), it’s flashback time again: Annalise flies to Cleveland to drop the Charles Mahoney murder trial on Rose. Sorry, new friend who was just starting to trust her, but boom: “I’m a lawyer.” Back to real time: Annalise drops that very same file outside Wes’ apartment door, then lurks at the bottom of the stairwell as he reads it and likely weeps because, much like us, he still has no clue what’s going on. You’d think the case of the week might have prompted Annalise to forgive Wes and just TELL him what the fuck she has to do with the pool of blood in his past, but nope. If Annalise ever truly owned up to her eternal shadiness, this show would not exist! And THAT would be a much bigger tragedy than Wes’ bleak childhood or current mustache. At least the Keating-less Five are bonding in their temporary rebellion, forced into close quarters in Connor’s car just like old, murder-y times. As they stew in shared misery, each flickers with recognition of the truth: Even against the static of constant paranoia, they’re still sort of a team. Maybe they’ll be okay. They do all need therapy, though. Right? Definitely? Nah. Maybe not just yet. “Because we gots each other!” beams lady-killer Asher, slowly reviving after an extended overstay of his welcome at Oliver’s. Damnit. Back to unbearable tension-land: In the spirit of disclosure, Laurel tells Frank they should take a break because just face it, mafia man, they’re still not being totally honest with each other. Laurel admits it was Wes, not she, who shot Annalise, then keeps nudging the breakup idea upon Frank with question-mark eyes, clearly not wanting to walk out the door. But when she actually drifts away, the ziti god crumbles, filing her in with the ultimate ricotta: “I killed Lila.” God, Frank! That is NOT how you get away with murder. Safely re-entangled in overwhelming darkness, Laurel is hooked. For on-again off-again friends/lovers Nate and Annalise, however, it’s a missed connection. The note on the takeout package he leaves behind says, “COMFORT FOOD, NATE” — likely the mantra he had to keep repeating to convince himself that hanging out all night on Annalise’s front steps was a good idea. She locks herself inside and samples security, a tiny taste, just to remember. Mmm. Egg rolls. Yep, they’re working. Not as well as vodka or strawberry ice cream or a beefy cop sprawled out on the hardwood floor. Not as good as friends. But good enough for now. See you next week for sex, lies, and the videotape from creepy, inbred Philip that might bring ‘em all down, for real this time!