Episode 3 follows Annalise and the rest of the squad trying to negotiate their own self-interest versus, as the episode title lays out, the greater good.
We start with Michaela, storming away from Laurel who has just asked her to help take down her father via her new internship at Caplan and Gold, the firm that represents her father’s company, Antares Technologies. This is Michaela’s dream job, and one she never thought she’d be able to get after working with Annalise destroyed her GPA. She’s risen from the ashes and now Laurel is asking her to put it all on the line and, as much as she cares about Laurel, she’s just not willing to do it. She wants a fresh start and more than that, she doesn’t want to go down the same path that got Wes killed.
Annalise is also trying to move on and her experience helping Jasmine has brought her to the office of public defender Virginia Cross. Cross is heading up a program, the Philadelphia Right to Counsel, in which high-powered attorneys like Annalise take some cases off their hands since the public defender’s office is understaffed and underfunded. Cross has her reservations about Annalise and her motivations—is she just out to restore her reputation or does she really care about helping poor clients? She’s also concerned about Annalise’s drinking problem. Annalise assures her that she’s got it under control and reminds her that beggars can’t be choosers. Whatever the reason, Annalise is there and willing to help, so Cross gives her a case that she says has haunted her for years.
The client is Ben Carter, a former gang member convicted 12 years earlier for killing his fiancé—the mother of his 18-month-old daughter Madison—by pushing her out a window. Ben has always maintained his innocence but was convicted mostly because the jury was unable to see past his many, many face tattoos. Ben wrote his own appeal from jail and Annalise takes on his case. He tells Annalise that he didn’t kill his fiancé, Kim, although they did get in a nasty fight the night she killed herself because she told Ben that he wasn’t Madison’s father. He called her horrible names, which he thinks led to her suicide, but he didn’t kill her. Annalise deletes the recording of this part of their conversation but it seems like she believes him, especially because he tells her that Kim had postpartum depression at the time of her death.
Oliver is still looking for work after Annalise fired him and he goes to the DAs office to ask for a job as their security specialist. Nate notes (correctly) that Oliver probably has a lot of knowledge about the flaws in their current security because he’s hacked them before. He sends Ollie on his way without a job offer but before he leaves he sees Bonnie working there.
Oliver tells Laurel and Asher that Bonnie is working for the DAs office but Asher already knows. Uncharacteristically, Asher knows a lot more than the rest of the squad. He has been in contact with Frank and is actually helping him study for the LSATs, and he also knows that he and Bonnie are living together. Before the squad can dive into the layers of how absurd that all is, Connor comes in riding high with a fat check—a refund for his Middleton tuition. He’s finally decided, once and for all, to drop out of law school.
I don’t know why the squad is so shocked by this since it should be obvious to anyone that has spent any time at all with Connor that he really doesn’t want to be a lawyer. Still, Asher calls Michaela at work frantic about the Connor situation. Personal calls are a no-no at Caplan and Gold, especially for an intern, and she gets chewed out by partner Tegan Price. Tegan (from what we’ve seen so far) is the only black woman partner at the firm and Michaela doesn’t want to disappoint her. She used to look up to Annalise as a role model and we all know how that turned out, so Tegan seems like a new (better) role model for Michaela.
And now it’s time for Caplan and Gold’s intern hazing ritual, known as the “Hell Bowl,” in which the interns compete in a contest of knowledge about the firm. The winner receives not only the largest bottle of champagne I’ve ever seen but also the ability to choose which partner they want to work for. Michaela kills it (obviously) and ends up in the final four, although Awful Simon does as well. That dude is like a bad rash, and he’s even more insufferable in the Boys Club atmosphere of a prestigious law firm.
While Michaela is killing the game at C&G, Laurel is still struggling to find her place. As a pregnant twenty-something with a shit GPA, she’s pretty much out of options, so she goes to the DA’s office to beg Bonnie to give her an internship. Bonnie (and later Nate) both tell her to bounce. When she’s gone, Nate asks Bonnie if she wants to get Annalise’s “stink” off her. He tells her the office thinks she’s still secretly working for Annalise—something he has personal experience with—and asks her if she wants an opportunity to prove them wrong.
When we return to Ben’s trial, Nate takes the stand as lead investigator. Annalise seems a bit rattled seeing him in court but she manages to pull it together. Nate is testifying to some new “evidence”: a deleted voicemail from Kim to Ben that seems like a perfectly normal, non-murder-inducing message to me. The whole angle is that Ben deleted it and Annalise, rightly, tells the jury that everyone deletes voicemails. It doesn’t in any way suggest that Ben murdered Kim. It’s pure speculation because the DA’s office doesn’t really have a case against Ben that isn’t based on his tatted-up face.
Annalise wants to put Ben on the stand to show the jury that he’s not the homicidal gangster that the prosecution has always made him out to be but Cross doesn’t think she should. They are about to get into it when a woman from the disciplinary board comes to take a urine sample from Annalise as part of her probation.
When she’s done pissing in a cup, she emerges from the stall to find Laurel. I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence they were there at the same time or if Laurel purposefully ran into her to chew her out but that’s basically what happens. She updates Annalise on how everyone’s doing—some better, some worse than when she left them—and tells her they still don’t know who killed Wes, which is a blatant lie. I get why Laurel wouldn’t tell Annalise she knows about her father’s involvement but to bring it up serves no purpose but to hurt Annalise, which is exactly what Laurel’s goal seems to be. Annalise tells her that she is trying to move on and Laurel tells her that they are all better without her and that she has no feelings. On her way out the door, she tells Annalise she’s having a boy.
Awful Simon and the Boys Club are at it again, distracting Michaela from her work. Tegan notices this and calls Michaela into her office to tell her that she needs to pull it together and win the Hell Bowl. If Awful Simon loses, he sucks; if Michaela loses, women suck. It’s sad but painfully true. Also, Tegan bet $2K on Michaela so she’d better pull out the W on this one or risk both public embarrassment and disappointing her new mentor.
Meanwhile, Connor is day drinking and pissing his tuition refund away on dancers at the strip club. He’s dragged Ollie and Asher with him on this little excursion and they are trying to get him to pull it together when Ollie gets a call from Nate about a job. When he gets there, he discovers that Nate and Bonnie want him to hack Annalise’s phone. Initially he feels bad about it but then Bonnie tells him that Annalise didn’t respect him enough to fire him to his face—harsh but true, and it does the trick. Ollie finds the deleted voice memo in which Ben tells Annalise that Kim told him he wasn’t Madison’s father.
Bonnie and Nate are employing Annalise’s old tactics against her. I would say she deserves it—and she kind of does—but her client really doesn’t. Ben takes the stand in court and talks about Kim’s PPD and that he wished he had gotten her some help when he had the chance. The prosecutor then interrupts Ben and calls for a paternity test in open court—in front of Madison—and Annalise stops Ben from saying anything that might be used against him. Now, I know Nate and Bonnie both got majorly screwed over by Annalise and I understand the urge to really stick it to her, but this seems especially cruel because it’s hurting innocent people in the process. This used to be Annalise’s M.O., of course, but I would have hoped Nate and Bonnie would want to be better than that.
Annalise is understandably furious at the both of them. She’s on the phone with Cross, who wants to take her off the case, when she sees Nate and Bonnie together in the parking lot. Annalise’s rage takes over and she starts yelling at the both of them. She even threatens to beat Bonnie’s ass and Nate has to physically keep them off each other. They both say a lot of nasty things to each other and Annalise storms off. Nate tells her it was all him, which is bullshit and Annalise knows it.
As if her day wasn’t bad enough, Annalise gets a call from the morgue about identifying a body. The sheet is pulled back to reveal Jasmine Bromell, Annalise’s last client, who died from an overdose in an alley. Annalise had told her therapist that she knew that Jasmine would backslide in some way, but she assumed she’d be back in prison, not dead. It hits Annalise hard and she’s on the verge of taking a drink but goes to Isaac for help instead.
Isaac tries to calm her but when he suggests she stop working on Ben’s case because she’s not mentally able to continue she’s not having it. I continue to struggle with Isaac’s approach to Annalise’s treatment and, given that he’s somehow involved in the end-game mystery at the hospital, I’m starting to wonder if he’s got some sort of ulterior motive here. He’s not giving her harmful advice but he doesn’t really seem to care. Perhaps it’s a simple as the fact that, as a court-ordered shrink, he’s on the court’s side over hers. Who knows. Either way, Annalise doesn’t listen to him. She leaves and returns to her apartment to find an unmarked envelope waiting for her. Inside is a DVD showing that Kim committed suicide.
Meanwhile, the Keating Four are trying to keep their own lives from falling apart. Laurel goes to see Frank at Bonnie’s. She asks him to convince Bonnie to hire her, which is a little manipulative since she knows Frank would do absolutely anything she asks him to do. And, of course, he does it and she gets the job, because Bonnie can’t say no to him either. And Frank can’t say no to Annalise, so when she calls asking if he’s the one that left the envelope (he isn’t), he insists on helping her find out who did. Turns out it was dropped off by Cross’s boyfriend and the public defender’s office had the evidence the whole time, but more on that later.
Asher calls in Frank and his famous Delfino meatballs to hold a “Dinnervention” for Connor in which the squad gathers to tell him he’s being an idiot for quitting school. They all say they want what’s best for him but, if they really thought about it I think they would realize that dropping out IS what’s best for him. Whether Connor actually wants to be a lawyer or not (and I think, at this point, it’s not), Middleton is no longer the place for him. He’s been traumatized there—they all have, but he is the one that seems most unable to move on. My opinion is that Connor made the right choice. I think he needs a change of scenery—although not the strip club in the middle of the day—and some time to think about what he really wants. He needs to deal with his trauma and maybe then he will realize he wants to go back to law school somewhere else. Or not. But Connor is right when he tells them that if they really cared they would respect that he can make his own life decisions.
Back in court, Annalise blindsides Cross and puts her on the stand. She testifies that she made a mistake but that her office did not and does not have the resources to go through all the hours of tape it would have taken to find the evidence to prove Ben’s innocence. It’s something that has haunted her and she wanted to fix it by slipping Annalise the footage, thinking she would show it to the judge privately, but Annalise had other plans. She wanted to make Cross a sacrificial lamb and put the system on trial. As she tells Isaac later, she didn’t want to destroy Cross’s career. She wants to file a class action suit with the goal of improving the public defense system. Isaac thinks she’s lying to herself about wanting to help poor people and that she’s really just trying to help herself. He may be right. We all know Annalise has a lot to atone for and perhaps her desire to help the downtrodden does stem from her need to atone for her many sins. But in Annalise’s mind, it’s all for the greater good, and she believes that Isaac is against her. More than that, she thinks that what she told Isaac about Sam has led to him trying to break her and exert control over her. I’m not on Team Isaac or anything but this seems like a bit of a stretch.
Connor is back at the strip club with Asher, who is also day drinking and, with no internship, contemplating becoming a dancer. As Connor points out, he’s got the ass for it. They are interrupted when Ollie comes in with Connor’s dads, and they are not pleased that he’s blowing his tuition money on beer and half naked dudes. I’ve always wanted to know more about Connor’s family so I hope the Dads stick around for a while so I can get some of that backstory.
Laurel goes to Michaela at work with proof that her father’s jet landed in Philly the night Wes died, but she can’t really get into it because it’s Hell Bowl Finals time. It’s Michaela vs. Awful Simon and, to my absolute delight, she beats his ass. Of course, she only wins because she remembers Laurel telling her that C&G has a small office in Kagali, Rwanda, which her father insisted they open because he (probably illegally) exploits the country’s natural resources, but still—a win is a win. Michaela, with her winner’s medal around her neck, brings some champagne into Tegan’s office. She tells her she wants to work for her, and when Tegan asks why, she blows some smoke up her ass and tells her she’d be honored to work on any of her accounts, especially… wait for it… Antares Technologies. I knew Michaela was ride-or-die for Laurel and it was only a matter of time before she gave in. It is, after all, for the greater good.
Or is it? Because now we flash forward two months and find Michaela, distraught and covered in blood, staring into a hospital nursery and crying. Isaac approaches her, thinking she’s Annalise, and is surprised to see her. She asks him, “Is he dead?” and it seems like she’s probably talking about Laurel’s baby. But, as always, this is HTGAWM so it really could be anyone. As far as the mystery goes, I’m still more interested in what Isaac has to do with any of it and how he got himself involved with the Keating Four.