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How To Get Away With Murder - Skanks Get Shanked - Review: "Too Good To Be True?"

Four weeks in, and ABC's How To Get Away With Murder is yet to skip a beat in its sophomore season. Last night's episode had one purpose, and that was to thicken the plot, with some blood thrown in. "Skanks Get Shanked" was written by Angela Robinson and directed by Stephen Williams.

Like we've seen so far this season, the hour got underway with a flash forward. It was a significant one at that, too, as it showed Annalise Keating being kept barely alive by paramedics as they rushed the lawyer to hospital. In last week's installment, we watched as Nate raced to the Hapstall mansion only to come across Laurel, Wes, Connor and Michaela running from the scene on foot. They were bundled into Nate's police cruiser.

In the cruiser this week, the students listened in horror as a broadcast came over the police radio confirming two females were at the scene, one alive, one deceased. The most important moment here was the reaction of the students following the broadcast, who were shocked to hear someone was deceased. In prior flash forwards we saw the students run right past the body of prosecutor Emily Sinclair, but it's fair to assume the body wasn't visible from their vantage point. Nate, however, remained incredibly cool, calm and collected as he left the scene. When Michaela's phone rang, a booming "shut up" rang out through the car which quelled the students' squabbling on the spot. More to come later.

Present day action took place four weeks prior to the night seen in the flash forward. But prior to the case of the week beginning, we watched as Annalise appeared to be asleep underwater in her bathtub when her phone rang. It was Nate's wife, Nia, calling from her hospital deathbed, for a request that would rock Annalise to the core for the duration of the episode.

The reason Nia called had nothing to do with the affair Annalise and her husband had been having. Instead, Nia wanted to die. She no longer wanted to exist in the state she was in, and she wanted to end it all. Later, through one of his numerous contacts, Frank gave some pills to Annalise, but in a warming display of courage, Annalise withheld the pills, and spoke of her own struggles with suicidal thoughts she had been dealing with from an early age. It was yet another powerful moment for the series, but the creative team did remarkably well avoiding pushing their own agenda or opinion on the hotly debated topic of voluntary euthanasia.

The case of the week centered around a 16 year old girl standing trial for the stabbing murder of her friend. Zoe Mitchell, the accused, spoke of a group of friends who seemed to lose their minds, resulting in the death of one of them. While Annalise's job was to defend her client regardless of guilt, Connor grew a conscience, and leaked a video the girls had taken on their phones which showed them effectively role playing the death of their friend. Despite a superbly executed defensive strategy by Annalise, Connor leaked the incriminating video to the prosecution, and while Annalise still managed to protect her client, Zoe ended up launching a tirade of abuse during the examination of one of her friends, which sealed her guilt right then and there.

If anything, the Hapstall case edged the Zoe Mitchell case for importance in this hour. Hilariously, Annalise revealed her next strategy to determine what was really going on between siblings Caleb and Catherine Hapstall. She called on Michaela for two reasons:

You're smart Michaela, that's why. And you've got boobs.

Michaela was clearly surprised at this, but didn't have a choice. She now had the task of learning whether Caleb was in a relationship with his sister, as well as preparing him for his time on the stand during the trial.

Last week we saw Asher seek assistance from his father because of the sticky situation he had gotten into while acting as Emily Sinclair's mole. Asher and his father spent this episode negotiating an immunity deal in exchange for his service as an informant. But Bonnie, fresh off her breakup with Asher, persisted in trying to locate him, eventually leveraging Frank's one weakness - Laurel - to obtain his location via phone tracking. She did so successfully, and dropped a bombshell later on.

Wes was more active than he's normally been in this hour. This began last week when he convinced Nate to assist him. What he was referring to wasn't revealed until last night, where it turned out Wes was deeper than anyone had thought in finding out who killed his girlfriend, Rebecca.

Wes was working closely with Levi, Rebecca's sister. With a lot more spare time on his hands, Levi spent a lot of time trawling for clues. Wes decided to question Nate, who he knew was bound to have looked into the disappearance at some point. Turns out he had, and he and learned who Frank talked to on the night of Rebecca's disappearance. Frank made three calls to one Sabrina Mancini, a friend whose brother was a school buddy of his, and who also happened to work at a cemetery.

This is one of the coolest twists Murder has done in its short time on air. That cemetery is literally where all the bodies are buried. It's the perfect location for the needs of Frank and Annalise. It's almost like hiding a body in plain sight.

Back to Connor, who I touched on earlier. He is crafty and clever, but his inability to be subtle is his downfall. Though having a conscience is a good thing, knowing how to use it without drawing attention is something that he won't get a chance to get wrong again.

In the highlight of the hour in my eyes, Connor and Annalise faced off. The layman would rightly argue Connor's actions in leaking the incriminating video which put Zoe Mitchell behind bars was the right thing to do.

Zoe would have killed again and I cannot deal with any more blood on my hands!

But that was only fuel for Annalise's next shocking statement:

You know where else there's blood, my husbands to be specific. You car. 
Laurel said that Frank got rid of it. 
That's a lie. Make me out to be the villain if it helps you sleep at night. But don't you ever screw with my cases

It's now abundantly clear that Annalise will happily utilize blackmail to ensure she remains free. We have no idea what became of Connor's car, but Annalise does, and if Connor steps out of line again, the very least Connor could be charged with is accessory to murder. It's a daunting prospect for the most mentally fragile of the five students, and something he may not be able to survive.

The last five minutes of most episodes of Murder is where the series always excels, and that statement was true once again last night.

Leon Else's "Tomorrow Land (All Fall Down)" was the superb piece of music which saw out the final moments. In a parking lot, Asher farewelled his father and Emily Sinclair, who assured the pair that the judge wouldn't hesitate in signing the immunity deal. As soon as his father left, Bonnie appeared from nowhere, having traced Asher's phone. She was privy to all of Asher's activities, and knew about his immunity deal in exchange for his activities as an informant.

Sinclair knows that Annalise got Nate to murder Sam, and so do I. And I know that you and Frank are helping her cover it up and don't say it's not true because I work in that house too. The whispers, Frank being shady all the time, the three of you hiding stuff from us. I'm not dumb, Bon, and it's not right. She should pay for what she did and you can call me a snitch or a liar or whatever you want...

I killed him, Asher.


I killed Sam.

This came out of the blue for Asher. The test for him now is whether Bonnie's confession is too good to be true.

Then, outside the hospital where Nia Lahey was on her deathbed, Wes interrupted Nate's visit to inform him about the cemetery he found earlier that night. Unbeknown to the pair, Annalise saw the pair talking, and looked more surprised than she normally does.

However the biggest bombshell was yet to drop, as the episode closed as usual with a second flash forward. In it we saw Annalise still in critical condition in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Moments later, Nate's cruiser also arrived outside the apartment where Caleb Hapstall was. Still in a mild panic, Nate once again took control and calmed the situation:

Hey, the reason you're all going to be OK, you got me, I know what I'm doing, so stop freaking out and focus on the plan.

This is great news because it looks as if Nate is about to develop a closer relationship with the four students, effectively becoming a temporary (or more permanent) Annalise. I'm super excited for this, but will have to hold back on the speculative theories until we know what "the plan" is.

Michaela then went into the apartment, where a visibly shaken Caleb asked her:

How is she?

But is this too good to be true? Is Caleb talking about someone else instead of the glaringly obvious Annalise? There is only one sure way to find out.

Yet again, week four of the new television season didn't fail to deliver. I'm amazed with how well thought out the second season of Murder is at the moment. I'm loving every twist and turn, and all the fantastic character development that's happening, but there was a lot in this hour that could have been too easy, too convenient, and too good to be true. However that is only speculation, and we will have to keep watching to find out.

Thanks as always for reading! As per usual, please do share your thoughts and theories on the events in this episode in the comments below! Don't forget to check out next week's episode promo here, the press release here, and to follow the show's ratings here.

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