The winter finale of How To Get Away With Murder packed a serious punch. We finally learn all the details of what happened at the party, including who died and what happened to Laurel’s baby. HTGAWM always delivers when it comes to finale episodes but this one was exceptional—and by exceptional I mean blood-soaked and totally traumatizing.
We begin during the Caplan & Gold party. Oliver is on the phone with an unknown caller and he frantically makes his way downstairs to the room that has been established in previous episodes as the scene of the crime. He tells Michaela, Asher, and Laurel that Annalise knows everything but he soon has bigger problems. He walks closer to where they are and sees Michaela covered in blood. When he looks at the ground he screams “Oh My God!”—and props to Conrad Ricamora for that scream because it was heartbreaking.
Rewind to 24 hours earlier where last week’s episode ended: Connor knows everything and he and Oliver are headed to Laurel’s apartment to confront the rest of the squad about how ridiculously stupid and dangerous their plan is. Connor threatens to tell Annalise about this potentially disastrous and ridiculously dangerous situation they’ve put themselves in. For some reason, Connor has decided that this is all Frank’s fault, which for once isn’t true. That doesn’t stop Connor from ripping in to Frank and telling him that all he does is ruin people’s lives and this is why Annalise hates him, etc. Frank holds it together until Connor gets really nasty and tells him that he used to do everything for “Mommy” (i.e. Annalise) and now he’s just replaced Annalise with a new mommy: Laurel. Frank snaps and starts choking Connor and the squad has to pull him off—a very pregnant Laurel included. In the process, Frank elbows Laurel in the stomach, but we’ll get to that later.
Connor gets on the phone with Annalise and it would seem that the squad has successfully convinced him to keep his mouth shut (for now). He just asks her if she needs anything over the weekend and she tells him to just take a break and only call her in an emergency. Annalise could use a break herself since she’s just come back to her hotel apartment (where the elevator is broken) and found Bonnie outside her door. Bonnie apologizes for what she did with Isaac but she tells Annalise that she tried to make it better by having the Attorney General put Isaac on the stand, knowing that she would win. Bonnie has also decided that this is a good time to put to use the knowledge she gained from her session with Isaac. She tells Annalise, “I love you.” HTGAWM has always presented the relationship between Bonnie and Annalise—at least, Bonnie’s side of it—as very ambiguous when it comes to the exact TYPE of love Bonnie has for Annalise. At times, it seems platonic; at other times, such as the one in this episode, it seems very much like romantic love. Either way, Annalise wants her gone. She’s afraid of Bonnie and honestly I don’t blame her.
Intercut with the whole Bonnie situation we see a heated confrontation between Isaac and his ex-wife Jacqueline. Isaac is calling her out for going to Annalise and jeopardizing her recovery and she’s calling him out for jeopardizing his own recovery. During this conversation it becomes pretty clear (as if it wasn’t already) that Isaac has some pretty strong (and very unprofessional) feelings about Annalise. This is only confirmed further later on, when Annalise (who was deeply upset by Bonnie’s impromptu visit) goes to see Isaac and tells him that she wants to keep seeing him. He tells her he can’t—although it’s clear that he REALLY doesn’t want to turn her away—but she refuses to accept that. She believes that Isaac is the only one who can really help her because of their shared experiences. There is no resolution here (and no make-out session, much to my dismay) because she gets a call from Connor. At this point, he’s at the party and reverses his earlier decision to keep quiet. He tells Annalise that Laurel’s dad killed Wes and fills her in on their ridiculous Antares plan.
Bonnie is also not doing too great after her visit to Annalise’s and she decided to go to Nate’s place with a bottle of booze and commiserate with him. Since Frank has been in LSAT/Laurel-land lately, Nate is really the only person in Bonnie’s life that understands her. Nate knows too well what Annalise Keating can do to the people who love her. He has a drink with Bonnie (who has had several drinks) and while he doesn’t at all agree with her recent life choices, he is sympathetic to her situation (even though she wrongly accuses him of telling Annalise about Isaac).
Now, on to the party and the central mystery of Season 4: what happened that night? The squad is assembled, including Connor who insisted on being Oliver’s plus one so he could keep an eye on things. Michaela and Asher are trying (and failing) to get Tegan to hand over her fabulous clutch, which contains the key card they need to access the Antares files. Elsewhere, Connor and Oliver are arguing when Awful Simon butts in to shit-talk Connor and be his usual unpleasant self. While all this is going down, Frank breaks in to Simon’s apartment to put some of the Antares dirt on his computer to frame him. Back at the party, Simon approaches Oliver (sans Connor) to apologize for being a dick. His excuse? He’s in love with Oliver and doesn’t think that Connor deserves him. Between this and the whole DACA kid/deportation thing, they are really trying to push Simon as a sympathetic character (for reasons that become obvious very soon) but to me, he’s still Awful Simon. Perhaps if his character’s depth had been established earlier and over time instead of just dumped in towards the end of this season, I might hate him less, but they didn’t do that and I think it’s one of this season’s main failings.
Even though I’m not sold on him, Oliver has a soft spot for Simon. He was already not thrilled about framing Simon, but now he just can’t bring himself to do it. But being a huge pushover all the time, and with the arrival of Laurel at the party, they convince Oliver that he has to go through with it.
Tegan’s speech is about to begin and they still haven’t got the key card so the always brilliant Michaela uses casual corporate sexism to her advantage and tells Tegan it’s not a good look for a female partner to give a speech holding her purse. It works (of course) and now they’ve got 5 minutes on the clock to use the card and get it back into Tegan’s clutch by the time her speech is over. Asher brings the card to Laurel and Oliver and, after some door-opening drama and file server issues, they are able to get everything they need. Meanwhile, Michaela is upstairs looking hella stressed and Awful Simon calls her out on it. She gets a pretty sick burn in but it’s clear that Simon is very suspicious.
Speaking of Simon, Asher and Laurel have decided to change the plan up and have Oliver kiss Simon as a distraction and plant the key card on him. Changing an already complex and dangerous plan in the middle of things is generally a bad idea but the squad is notorious for poor decision-making so I’m not surprised. On his way to execute the dumb new plan, Oliver gets the phone call we saw in the opening scene of the episode. Turns out it was Connor telling him that he told Annalise everything. At this point, Annalise has left Laurel a message telling her that she knows what’s up and that she wants Laurel to come to her apartment so she can help her.
At some point before Oliver makes it downstairs, Simon walks in on Michaela, Asher, and Laurel arguing about the plan. Knowing that they are totally busted, Laurel (who I always forget is super rich) offers Simon however much money he wants to keep quiet. He’s not having it and ends up going through Laurel’s bag and finding a gun. Why the hell Laurel brought a gun with her to the party is still a mystery to me because it seems both unnecessary and stupid. Also unnecessary and stupid is Simon freaking out and deciding to point the gun at the squad, including the pregnant Laurel. Michaela tries to calm him down and get the gun away from him but Simon backs away, tripping over some furniture and accidentally shooting himself in the head. So, that answers that question: Simon is the victim and his death was (basically) an accident.
Continuing the trend of stupid decisions, Asher decides to pick up the gun. Oliver finally makes it upstairs and starts losing it and screaming. At this point, Michaela—the only one of them with half a brain—takes charge. She wipes down the gun and puts it back next to Simon’s body, wipes the blood spatter off Laurel’s face and tells her to go back to her place, and puts the key card into Simon’s pocket. Once they’ve covered their bases, they call 911. Michaela then goes upstairs to the party, soaked in blood, and does a very convincing job of screaming for help like she isn’t partially responsible for what just happened.
Laurel doesn’t end up going home because, while in the cab, she listens to Annalise’s message and decides to go to her apartment. And here’s where the real horrifying drama of the episode begins. Not knowing that the elevator at Annalise’s hotel isn’t functioning properly, Laurel takes it up to Annalise’s floor but the door won’t open and she’s stuck. She is also starting to go into premature labor, no doubt due to Frank’s earlier elbow in combination with the intense stress and trauma of watching Simon shoot himself. I will admit to being pretty lukewarm on the Laurel’s baby mystery throughout this season but the absolute horror of watching her trapped and bleeding in that elevator made me change my tune. Also, Karla Souza is amazing.
It only gets worse (and FAR more graphic) from there. Annalise hears Laurel’s cries and when she finally is able to get the outer elevator door open, she finds Laurel passed out and bleeding profusely. The gate still won’t open and Annalise can barely reach Laurel but she can move her leg just enough to see THE ACTUAL BABY. Now, I don’t know what kind of doll they used for this scene but it was absolutely too realistic and completely horrifying.
While all this is going down, the cops have arrived at Caplan & Gold. Michaela is on the phone with Connor while Asher gets arrested (although I don’t know why unless the idiot broke down and confessed to something he didn’t even do). On the other end, Connor is at Laurel’s apartment but she isn’t there like she’s supposed to be. We know why but the rest of the squad doesn’t, so Connor is pissed and decides to unload on Michaela about their dumbass plan on the phone. This is already a stupid idea but it’s even worse because Dominic—the assassin who murdered Wes for Mr. Castillo—is lurking in the shadows and listening to every word.
Annalise calls for an ambulance and stays on the line with the 911 operator who guides her through baby CPR. Between Annalise’s past trauma of losing her own baby, the realistic look of that damn baby doll, and Viola Davis’s incredible performance in this scene, I was literally watching with my mouth open. Also, there were actual tears produced which HTGAWM rarely gets from me. At the hospital, Simon flatlines, but in Annalise’s hallway there’s a glimmer of hope as we hear a baby cry just before the episode ends.
This one was a wild (and really graphic) ride and the strongest episode of the season thus far. As usual, there are still a lot of questions remaining. Most pressing for me is how the hell Asher ends up in jail. We’ll have to wait a while to find out but mark your calendars: How To Get Away With Murder returns on January 18th at 10pm EST on ABC.
Happy hiatus, y’all. See you in 2018.