Annalise and Bonnie have always had one of the series’ most fascinating (and mysterious) relationships. We’ve gotten bits and pieces of their backstory over the years, but this week we got a supersize chunk of these women’s personal history and what we learn makes their current situation that much more tragic. Last week I was convinced Bonnie was up to something super shady by pretending to be “Julie” and seeing Annalise’s therapist, Isaac. And while that’s not entirely false, Bonnie’s motivations—like most things on HTGAWM—are a lot more complicated than that.
We begin with Bonnie running through the rain and arriving at Isaac’s for an emergency session. She has done something to “May” (which is obviously her code for Annalise, whose birth name was Anna May). She tells Isaac that she saw “May” that night and admits to him that she only started seeing him to hurt her. But I don’t believe this is the whole truth. Sure, Bonnie’s choice of therapist was no coincidence, but she is suffering (and has been suffering her whole life) and I think that subconsciously she does want to talk through her Annalise issues with someone. Isaac (although he doesn’t have the full story) agrees, and he starts trying to get her to talk.
Bonnie ends up letting loose and telling Isaac about her relationship with “May”—how the two of them are alike in their traumas, how she wanted to be the daughter that “May” never had and how perhaps her latching on to “May” was misguided. She’s filled with rage at “May” for her many, many betrayals and she wants Isaac to tell her that her feelings are valid—that it is okay for her to want to hurt the woman who caused her pain. But he doesn’t because Isaac is not the type of therapist who will ever tell you what you want to hear. Instead, he wants her to think about the good times she had with “May”—something Bonnie does NOT want to do. More specifically, he wants her to admit that this anger and hate she is feeling comes for the fact that she actually loves “May.” We all know this is true, and Bonnie does too, but she desperately does not want to say it out loud. He pushes her to say, “I love her,” and she finally gives in.
Bonnie admits that she misses “May” and the house and the little found family she had there with Frank (and even the Keating Five). And then she makes a huge mistake. She tells Isaac that she wants to believe that “May” is pursuing the class action for the right reasons, and it all clicks in Isaac’s head. He knows that “May” is actually Annalise and he calls “Julie” out for it. He puts the pieces together and realizes that “Julie” is actually Bonnie, who he knows about from Annalise’s sessions.
Throughout all of this, we finally learn the details of Annalise and Bonnie’s relationship, which began in 2002 when Bonnie was a witness in the rape trial of a city councilman. We already knew about Bonnie’s childhood rape by her father, but now we learn that when she was a little older, her father (a janitor at City Hall) would pimp her out to various men, one of whom is the city councilman currently on trial. We also learn that Bonnie’s abuse stopped when she was 15 years old because she got pregnant, but she lost the baby. And by “lost” I mean she has no idea what happened to it because she passed out during labor and her father, who is not at all trustworthy, is the one that told her it died.
Annalise is on the councilman’s legal team—the only woman—and the men decide that she has to be the one to cross-examine Bonnie because some white dude victim-shaming her will not go over well with the jury. If Annalise does well, they will make her a full partner at the firm. She has major reservations and talks about it with Sam at home. She ‘s currently undergoing what we know will be useless fertility treatments and tells Sam that the fact that she’s upset is all because of the hormones, but that’s clearly not true. Given Annalise’s own past history of abuse, agreeing to this cross-examination is really pushing the boundaries of her own conscience. She ends up agreeing to it, and possibly we are seeing the first time Annalise did something she knew was truly vile to win a case for her client. Or not. Either way, she knows what she’s doing is disgusting and wrong and she does it anyway to advance her career.
We see the old Annalise in classic form, ripping Bonnie apart on the stand, and it’s really very hard to watch. I won’t go into detail because victim blaming is gross and awful and we all know the vile tactics people use to discredit rape victims brave enough to tell their stories. Suffice it to say, Annalise wins the case, but she takes no joy in it. Later that night, we see her consoling herself with her old friend, vodka, and we learn that she quit her job. Sam is proud of her (and so am I) and she tells him that she wants to help Bonnie to try to make up for the horrible thing she did. Annalise goes to Bonnie and offers to get her into law school. Bonnie, who is currently working as a waitress, doesn’t see how that’s possible, but Annalise sees the potential in her. She was strong and brave on the stand and Annalise sees in her qualities that would make her a good lawyer. Bonnie, as we know, agrees and the rest is history.
Back in the present, Annalise is on her grind, trying to gather enough people for her class action suit. She convinces a number of inmates to join her case, including her old cell mate/enemy Claudia and some of her friends. While Annalise is getting it done, Bonnie is desperately trying to thwart her plans but Annalise seems to be several steps ahead of her. Bonnie is tracking Virginia Cross’s old clients and notices that many of them have “Attorney Pending” listed in their files. However, there is no record of Annalise having visited any of them in prison.
She might be doing the right thing for the right reasons, but it’s clear she’s not doing it entirely above board. Bonnie sends Nate to go investigate but he hasn’t been on board with Bonnie’s revenge scheme for the beginning. When he catches Annalise red-handed in the prison, he keeps her secret and reports to Bonnie that there’s no evidence that she has been there. But Bonnie knows in her gut that’s not true so she decides to investigate on her own. The guard, who Annalise has been bribing, sticks to her story, but Bonnie notices that there is a security camera in the room. She gets the footage and Annalise is busted.
Annalise’s joy at having the requisite 40 clients on board is short-lived because Bonnie has contacted a number of them and offered them good deals, which they take (and I can’t really blame them). Annalise confronts Bonnie and swears to her that she is trying to do something good but Bonnie thinks she is just trying to do something good for herself. She brings up their past and tells Annalise she only ever helped her because she felt guilty for what she did to her on the stand and then ended up betraying her when she fired her. Bonnie thinks that Annalise believes that she’s nothing, and from the way Annalise has treated Bonnie over the years I can see why she might think that. But it isn’t actually true. Annalise let her go because Bonnie doesn’t need her anymore and is better off without her, not because she things that she’s nothing. This confrontation is what pushed Bonnie to seek out the emergency session with Isaac.
The goings-on of the Keating Four (and Oliver) are really an afterthought in this episode, but a few things happen that will be important later. Connor is still jobless and passing time doing nothing but searching for the neighbor on Humpr but Oliver finally found work—in the I.T. department at Caplan & Gold. For some inexplicable reason, he is friends with Awful Simon (and Michaela is just as disgusted by it as I am).
Asher, still internship-less, has nothing to but help Frank study for the LSATs and call Michaela, who is constantly telling him half-lies and full-out lies about having to work. Later on, he even catches her in one of these lies when he sees her in Laurel’s apartment while she’s on the phone with him claiming to be at work. I have no idea why Asher is lurking outside Laurel’s but regardless, Michaela is busted.
Frank and Laurel are still boning on the DL, although Frank doesn’t want to do it in Laurel’s (i.e. Wes’s apartment) and Laurel doesn’t want to do it in Bonnie’s house. I don’t think they are going to be doing it anywhere anytime soon because Frank decides to ask Laurel if she’s carrying his baby, bringing up her guilt about having cheated on Wes with him, and she kicks his ass out, proving once again that no one has worse judgment and timing than Frank Delfino.
Michaela is still killing it at work, to the point where Tegan gives her a reward: a pair of pricey Christian Louboutin shoes. Still, Michaela is on board with Laurel’s takedown of Antares so she gets Oliver to agree to hack Tegan’s computer once everyone has left for the night. They get busted by Simon and give him some lame excuse that he doesn’t seem to buy, but not before they find a cease and desist letter to Trent Stockton, dated a week before his mysterious death. They can’t fully access it without another code they don’t have but they snap a picture of what they can see and bring it to Laurel.
Meanwhile, Connor had prepared a nice dinner at home for himself and Oliver, and when Ollie bails on him he decides to go back to his old ways and cruise Humpr for a booty call. He stops himself from cheating and goes to, of all places, Annalise’s hotel apartment. Per usual, he blames Annalise for all the shitty things that have happened in his life. He even goes so far as to tell him that he wishes he was dead like Wes because then he wouldn’t have to deal with the guilt and trauma anymore. Annalise decides to enlist Connor’s help with the class action, which is an odd choice since Connor is by far the most unstable and least interested in law of the group. But Annalise is on a help-everybody kick, and help is something Connor very much needs. Still, I’m not sure that working with Annalise is the best move for him.
This week’s flash-forward ending puts us two weeks later. Bonnie is at the C&G crime scene where she discovered Oliver in last week’s episode. She asks one of the officers where the suspect is and he says he’s in jail. Cut to Asher, sobbing uncontrollably in a jail cell. Ummmm, what? Of all people, Asher is the last one I would suspect, but such is the way of HTGAWM. We still have no clue what the deal is with Laurel’s baby, how Isaac became involved with the Keating Four, and—most importantly—who is the victim?
Tune in to How To Get Away With Murder on Thursday on ABC at 10pm EST for more questions and no answers.