The episode opens in present day, at Annalise’s burning home. While getting interviewed by the police, it’s clear Annalise is in shock as if this kind of shit doesn’t happen to her on a semi-regular basis. The cops vaguely imply that she could be a suspect during a series of routine questioning, and rather than answering their questions rationally Annalise starts screaming at them to arrest her. Kind of a bold statement for a woman who almost gets arrested every few months.
Annalise calls her private investigator’s phone and Frank answers it, crying. New buzz-cut Frank is very emotional and I’m not a fan of it. He tells her he had no choice but to kill the P.I., which seems pretty inaccurate to me. There was always the option of, you know, not killing him and just escaping into the night. After hanging up, Annalise destroys her burner because this woman does not need to be connected to any more murders. Frank destroys any evidence by fabricating a fiery car crash with the P.I. in it. It’s almost like these two were an immoral legal duo for years or something.
Before she can engage in some steamy shower sex with Nate, the most forgiving boyfriend of all time, Annalise gets called into the Dean’s office to discuss the murder flyers popping up around campus. Despite multiple assertions otherwise, the Dean and HR are clearly concerned about the situation.
Afterwards Annalise runs into Wes outside and immediately invites him to move in with her. Just your classic student-teacher relationship. Wes turns her down simply because of Meggy, not the laundry list of other reasons as to why it would be incredibly inappropriate and so incredibly weird.
Annalise: I get lonely sometimes
Annalise: * bedroom eyes *
Wes: Um. I shot you once upon a time.
Back at the office, Laurel runs into an angrier-than-usual Bonnie and tries to get some information out of her about Frank. Much like the stick up her ass, Bonnie doesn’t budge. She does, however, run straight to Annalise with her suspicions that Laurel and Frank are still in contact with each other.
Oliver and Connor get ready for class together and it’s like no one ever explained to Oliver how a breakup works. You still live together. You help each other pick out outfits. You provide emotional support. You’re still dating.
Upon arrival at class the rest of the Keating Five instantly jump down Connor’s throat about the breakup, all assuming that Connor cheated. Fair assumption, but wrong. Oliver introduces himself to the class as some kind of technical assistant, and it’s a testament to his supreme purity that Annalise doesn’t murder him for cutting her off in front of everyone. This puppy is invincible.
The case this week: A woman named Irene who murdered her abusive husband 30 years before is going before the parole board. The students' task is to create a narrative that will get her exonerated. Connor tries to throw his interview but ends up wowing the woman with his authenticity and wins the case. He desperately tries to enlist the help of the rest of the class, none of whom are remotely interested because the case is a dud. Once it becomes clear that he’s on his own, Connor goes down to the prison to actually speak to Irene. While he doesn’t make a ton of progress, it’s still a vast improvement over anyone else.
Annalise once again invites Wes to move in, but then immediately takes it back. I see you playing hard to get, and I’m still horrifically uncomfortable with it. She also takes a minute to ask him about Laurel, and whether or not she can really be trusted.
Wes: Laurel is my best friend.
Annalise: * Kill Bill sirens *
Licking her wounds, she runs straight to Nate and asks her to help him find Frank because she thinks she’s in danger. This is kind of a touchy subject, seeing as how Frank helped to frame Nate for Sam’s murder, but he begrudgingly agrees. The Nate Lahey approach to life.
When Connor returns from prison he finds the rest of the Keating Five making a list of Annalise’s enemies. There is not enough paper in Philadelphia to do it justice. They’re trying to get to the bottom of the flyer situation, because if Annalise goes down you know she’s taking them all with her.
Throughout the episode we get snippets of the inner workings of Michaela and Asher’s relationship. Basically, she refuses to date him because he is the embodiment of white privilege but is more than happy to continue having sex in his dorm room. With that surprising sincerity that shines through once in a blue moon, Asher tells Michaela that he’s changed. In fact, being implicit in multiple murders has changed both of them, and maybe they’re more alike than she thinks.
In an extreme attempt to connect with his client, Connor tells Irene that he too has killed someone. Bold move for a kid who hasn’t even graduated law school yet. Especially risky considering the fact that they literally just escaped prosecution but mere months ago. But the most damning part of it all is that Annalise is outside, listening to the entire conversation.
Annalise: I literally sacrificed my career, sanity, and moral fiber to keep you out of jail, so maybe shut your fucking mouth about any alleged murders, you privileged piece of white shit.
Connor: Fair enough.
MVP of the episode is the woman who plays Irene. Actual chills from her monologue about the abuse she suffered and why she’s not going to apologize for the murder of her husband. After Annalise convinces the husband’s sister to refrain from making a statement, the parole board grants Irene her freedom. Irene cries. Connor cries. Annalise cries. We all cry. It’s so rare that nice things happen on this miserable wreck of a show.
To make up for any joy you might have felt right then, Shonda pulls a 180 and has the university attempt to suspend Annalise. They murder posters are a PR nightmare and they want her in hiding until everything is resolved. That conversation goes about as well as her interaction with the cops in the opening scene.
Administration: Annalise, we’re very sorry but we’re going to have to suspend you until this flyer situation is resolved.
Annalise: No thanks, fuck you very much.
Connor returns home to his ex-housewife, who still hasn’t grasped the premise of a breakup. I’ve never had an ex cook me celebratory dinner and break out some platonic champagne, but maybe that’s just a gay guy thing. But when Connor begs Oliver to take him back, things take a significantly heart wrenching turn.
Oliver: If you love something, set it free. If it’s meant to be, it’ll come back to you.
Connor: So you’re going to come back to me?
Oliver: God no.
Bonnie takes Laurel out to get her drunk and pry information about Frank out of her. What started as a ploy seems to turn sincere when Bonnie tells her that there are things worse than murder and Frank has done them all. Just like any girl being told to avoid a guy that is clearly bad for her, Laurel will probably completely ignore this advice. However, in the meantime, she’s turned to team Annalise. They always do. She’s seen leaving a pleading voicemail for Frank while Annalise and Bonnie listen. Next step in Operation Find Frank: a visit to Laurel’s potential drug lord father.
Fresh after his second breakup, Connor shows up at Michaela’s looking for a place to sleep/cry. Instead, he finds Asher in his underwear. Seeing as how his entire world came crashing down just moments earlier, this revelation doesn’t really seem to faze him.
Back to the present, a distressed Oliver arrives at the scene of the crime. He asks Annalise if there really is a dead body, and she responds in turn by lying to him and giving him a phone to wipe clean. So much for Oliver, the strictly legal paralegal.