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How To Get Away With Murder - It’s Called the Octopus - Review: "New Alliances"

Three weeks in and the 2015/2016 television season isn't disappointing, particularly at 10|9c on ABC.

How To Get Away With Murder introduced some major new alliances last night that were very nicely woven into a jam-packed episode, titled "It's Called The Octopus", written by Joe Fazzio and beautifully directed by ABC veteran John Terlesky.

The hour launched in standard fashion with a precious few flash forward moments. This time we saw Annalise try in vain to reach her phone which was sitting on a table just out of arms reach as she lay bleeding out on the floor. Nate was calling. The next moment saw Nate racing to the Hapstall home frantically willing Annalise to pick up her phone. She never did.

Seven weeks earlier, in present day, we spend a few minutes late at night watching Annalise drunkenly outline her strategy for the Hapstall case which was introduced in the season premiere. After commenting on the lack of unhealthy food in her fridge, an email arrives on her computer, from Eve Rothlo.

Where did you get your sheets? They were so comfortable. I miss them. And you.
P.S. That wasn't a proposal. Stop freaking out.

On a side note, Annalise has a problem I see all too often in I.T, a massive number of unread emails - 760 in fact. Her spam folder could do with a clean-out too.

Nevertheless, sex was on the minds of all the characters in this episode, not just Annalise. More on that shortly.

Annalise woke up a short time after passing out on her bed. She was woken by an intruder, which turned out to be a mouse that was still hanging onto life in a trap in the basement. With Frank not responding to her calls, she called Wes, who dispatched the critter with a hammer - a subtle reference to the way he bashed Sam Keating's head in with the infamous trophy. Problem solved, she thought, though a later flashback would reveal who, not what, was in the house.

As Wes made his way onto the porch, the first of the usual many interesting conversations occurred. In summary, Annalise asked Wes whether he missed Rebecca.

No, Do you miss...
Sam? No, God no. And I don't want you to ever worry about that, promise me.
Ok, but I was going to say Nate

Class was back in session this week, having been absent from last week's installment, and Annalise wasted no time - and no blackboard space - dictating the topic of the lecture. Sex was the theme of the class, and also the theme of the episode.

What does sex have to do with criminal law? Everything.

Squirming in her seat was Michaela, who was obviously vividly recalling the previous evening which had her making out heavily with Levi, who introduced himself to Michaela last week. They didn't have sex then, though, as Michaela claimed she wasn't one to do that sort of thing on a third date.

Bizarrely, it was Michaela's sex life - or lack of it - which provided plenty of humor for the rest of her colleagues. In a colorful conversation in the kitchen, orgasms became the topic of choice for the Keating Five, with Michaela visibly uncomfortable with the discussion. Turns out she has never had an orgasm, but pushed back with advice from Planned Parenthood. It's very interesting to see a television show actually mention a bad sex life in this manner as it's almost always depicted in a polar opposite fashion. Five points to the showrunners there.

Although we didn't see it, Michaela may have managed to jump that hurdle when she opted to spend the night with Levi later on.

Laurel and Frank spent a lot of time together in this hour with their sex lives also among topics for discussion. After Frank's stunning rejection last week, Laurel has obviously decided to take up the challenge and get to know Frank better. Frank wasn't hasty to reveal anything, but when he did, he revealed the occupations of his parents, and mentioned his upbringing in quick fire fashion. Laurel wanted him to slow down, though, saying she was interested in everything, good or bad. Frank replied rather cryptically:

What if it's mostly bad things?

The next relationship that got some attention was that of Connor and Oliver. With Oliver's 21 days of abstinence completed, the pair wasted no time heading to the bedroom. As part of the case of the week, Connor had to visit a sex party but kept his pants on, much to the delight of Oliver, whose trust for his boyfriend ballooned exponentially the moment Connor told him what had happened. Surprisingly there were no sour grapes between the pair after Connor spilled the beans to everyone that Oliver was HIV positive.

However perhaps the most interesting of all the relationships to see action last night was between Asher and Bonnie. Bonnie spied Asher looking at a photo of an attractive girl on his phone and assumed he was cheating. Bonnie took this pretty well, though not without some sense of betrayal. Asher didn't deny it either, but this was intentional on his part as he needed to cover his whereabouts while working as a mole for prosecutor Emily Sinclair. More on that later.

It's taken a while, but the case of the week deserves a mention. In line with the episode's theme, Annalise had to defend a woman on trial for the death of a man she was having sex with at a sex party she organised, named Utopia Circle. Tania Randolph was reluctant to divulge the details of the clients who attended Utopia Circle as they were promised anonymity. Annalise knew she needed to get tough in order to obtain the list, so she came up with a classic one liner, something she's becoming increasingly well known for:

You wanna keep your business or do you want to go to jail for being a negligent slut.

With the list in the hands of the Keating Five, they were tasked with finding someone who could testify that Tania's rather rough style of sex wouldn't have killed Dominic. The team interviewed an eclectic mix of people, but their lips were well and truly sealed.

In the end, Annalise was able to pin the crime on the wife of Dominic, though this was pretty nasty as the evidence she used was completely circumstantial. It was enough to get her client acquitted though, and that's all that Annalise cared about.

With the case wrapped, there was time to squeeze in Asher's covert meeting with Emily Sinclair. I mentioned it earlier, but this was a massive moment. Asher had been blackmailed into obtaining the dictaphone Annalise uses to record her thoughts on cases, which are then acted on by Frank and Bonnie. It was Asher in the house that night, making those noises which Annalise assumed were caused by a mouse.

Trotter Lake, Asher.

This was the only real hint we got, in addition to the photo of the girl Bonnie caught him looking at. I don't think it's a huge stretch of the imagination to theorize that Asher had something to do with the death of the girl in the photo. This show does have the word "Murder" in its title after all. Fans have long been wanting the character to see some action. It looks like those requests have finally been answered, and I for one am super excited. What's more, Asher went to see his disgruntled father, and told him that he was in trouble.

As if that wasn't enough another piece of the puzzle in the Hapstall homicides was revealed. An employee of the Hapstall children, Caleb and Catherine, revealed to the media that the children had been having a relationship, and that her theory was that the had definitely murdered their parents after they found out about the relationship and threatened to cut them out of their wills.

They're guilty, Ms Keating.

The final major twist of the hour was Annalise deciding to use the Utopia Circle client register to force the police chief to reinstate her lover, Nate, on the police force. She did this by writing the name of her daughter in among the names and presenting the client register to him. It worked. Annalise then went to Nate's apartment, and partially forgave Annalise for the hell she put him through. But hidden from view was Wes. When Annalise left, Nate turned toward him.

I'm in.

This floored me. What was Wes up to? Or, what was Nate up to? I'll be thinking about this right up to next week's episode.

To conclude the hour, we were shown another flash forward. This time we saw Laurel, Connor, Wes and Michaela dashing across a road as they fled on foot from the crime scene. However they ran in front of the headlights of the patrol car Nate was in. Nate stopped, and ordered them into his car. They are now heading back to the crime scene they just left. Or, are they heading away from the crime scene? Things are no doubt about to get incredibly interesting.

In all, this was a better episode than its predecessors this season. Though it was probably necessary in the long term, the episode was a little too heavy on the whole sex thing. I'd rather see more story than R18, but some interesting character developments were nicely intertwined so this made it all definitely worthwhile.

Strangely, I'm also enjoying the reduction in quantity of flash forwards. In season 1, it wasn't uncommon to see more than four flash forwards per episode, which made things a bit confusing, especially given how they were arranged more erratically. A flash forward at the beginning and end of each hour is something I'm enjoying immensely. I'm keeping up with the play much more easily. I wouldn't mind seeing an extra one or two flash forwards as we get closer to the perpetrator's reveal, but I'm certainly in no rush to see that.

Thanks as always for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts and theories. What did you think about Asher's incident? Are you enjoying the reduction in flash forwards like I am? Sound off in the comments below! And finally, check out next week's episode promo, press release, and promotional photos.

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, The Blacklist, The 100, How To Get Away With Murder, Elementary and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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