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How To Get Away With Murder - No More Blood - Review: "Missed The Mark"

The final episode before next week's fall finale of ABC's How To Get Away With Murder was a mixed bag in my book. Another character was revealed as safe, but the events which occurred in present day, just a week before those seen in the flash forwards, just didn't mesh together like I hoped. "No More Blood" was written by Morenike Balogun and directed by Jet Wilkinson.

This was a difficult episode to watch, and therefore review as well. There was no weekly case, but the time that freed up wasn't used in a way that made this episode that much better. Fortunately, the episode's clear goal was progressing the story around the predicament Wes has found himself in.

The narrative was muddled and badly needed more intensity and urgency to keep me aware of what was happening. The decision was made by Annalise with encouragement from Bonnie to bring Frank into the loop to engineer a plausible explanation for Wes pointing the finger at Charles Mahoney being at the scene of his father's death. We've seen delay tactics used in this series before, but along with that came a sense of urgency. That urgency was lacking, perhaps because the delay tactic of forcing the a psychological evaluation on Wes was very easy to come by. As a result, Laurel and Wes went to the hospital to collect Wes's medical records, bumping into a disgusted Meggy while there. The records do their job, the psych eval is ordered and completed, and allows Frank to get his part done.

That was essentially the episode in a nutshell, with the rest of its content largely dedicated to creating friction between the characters. Early on, the promised confrontation between Laurel and Frank delivered reasonably well, but one thing that I was completely over seeing was Annalise's constant threats. She never let up. She threatened to kill, shoot, go to the police, send the police and more. Her hypocrisy didn't escape me either - through the barrage of threats, Annalise effectively guilt-trapped Frank into assisting her with getting an alibi for Wes. The threats were annoying, but getting Frank to assist as if there was no animosity between them was tiring to watch. In an earlier episode, Frank knew he was despised, but he operated autonomously. Though the creative team had done that once, they should have done it again somehow.

Sucks right. You can penetrate him but never their inner circle.

The above line was the most interesting in the entire episode, and it came from Simon, who appeared just once. He said that to Oliver, and it would have rippling effects for Oliver, and it also foreshadowed other happenings between the three main couples. For the first time in this series, the Keating 5 took proper, tangible sides in their dealings with Wes's case. Connor bailed, as did Michaela. Asher stayed, and had a minor faceoff about it with his girlfriend, which ended positively. Laurel of course stayed. Oliver finally gave Connor a verbal dressing down later on as he confronted Connor over not being truthful and hiding things from him. Cue another lame breakup, then cue a visibly shaken Connor (and Jack Falahee's strongest moment in this episode) returning to Michaela's place and destroying her coffee table in his rage.

You're always looking out for me. Now it's my turn.

Despite the mess elsewhere, the creative team did well with Wes and Laurel's relationship once more. Alfred Enoch and Karla Souza continue to make this more than watchable, and their on-screen romance was made to look even better with the unstable nature of Connor and Oliver's, and Asher and Michaela's relationships. Despite both of their exes appearing and attempting to cause disruption, they didn't falter. I'm really hoping this continues for the length of the season - it's one of the best things about How To Get Away With Murder at the moment.

We saw Annalise working with Bonnie much more closely than before. The hostility of previous weeks appears to have dissipated or been put aside. This lines up with the flash forwards which sees a similar theme. Bonnie's treatment of Frank was just as disgraceful as Annalise's. She sided with her boss and completely ignored their past discussions. However it was in the episode's most spectacular scene which brought about an important difference in opinion.

You watched Sam and I fall apart, and you said nothing.

After doing his bit to get Wes off his charges, Frank returned to his former workplace. Charlie Weber was yet again outstanding here. Annalise entered the room and wasted no time scolding Frank for not revealing his involvement in the death of her baby in the car accident a decade or so ago. Frank stuck to his version of events which had Sam Keating manipulating him to keep him from telling Annalise anything. Though I haven't gone into great detail over what happened between the Keatings and Frank, I can't ignore the fact that this was a pretty decent full-circle story. Annalise has blamed all sorts of things on her dead husband previously, but the one thing that he has actual involvement in is dismissed thanks to her jaded view of her husband.

The worst (or best) was yet to come. Frank had finally reached his tipping point. He thrust a gun under his chin, and just as Annalise did to Wes in season 2, she egged him on. The change in music here was excellent too. Bonnie tried to interrupt and talk Frank out of it, resulting in the two women yelling opposing viewpoints at him, but we never heard a bang. It looks pretty likely that there's one coming, but next week is where we will find out.

That leaves us with the flash forwards to deal with. Again, these missed the mark, and surely proves this method of revealing what happens isn't up to the task. At the beginning of the episode, we see Annalise in a cell with Bonnie. She makes her look her in the eye and deny she ratted her out to the police. Cleverly - and in my mind proving that Bonnie and Annalise didn't plan any of this out - Annalise rants about being tired and not being able to take it any more. That traps Bonnie into taking it upon herself to answer that question she was asked.

In the episode's closing flash-forward, we see Bonnie arrive back at the hospital where she is promptly rushed by Michaela, Asher and Oliver, who believe she knows who the unidentified body that came out of the burning house was. Bonnie tells them that someone went to the police. Suspicions would immediately lie with Connor or Wes considering their stance on the issue in the past - and last week in Connor's case. We know it's Wes thanks to last week's flash forwards. Connor is confirmed as being alive as he is shown in bed with Thomas.

The flash forwards format simply isn't revealing enough to form decent theories with. If Frank or Nate are under the sheet, their ties to Wes simply aren't strong enough for Annalise and/or Bonnie to warrant getting Wes to go to the police with some master plan in play. It's looking like Wes is operating on his own or with Laurel, which is something I would definitely prefer. If Frank is indeed dead, Laurel being in the house and getting caught in the fire makes sense on paper. If Frank killed himself (or was killed) moments after the event we saw in this episode, Bonnie and Annalise would somehow have to hide his body for a week in the house, and Laurel would be the one you'd expect to look into that if she's concerned about him. Trouble is, even if Frank's body is burned, it won't mask the evidence that he died before the fire, and the cause of death was a gunshot wound.

At this point, ahead of the winter finale, I don't think Frank killed himself immediately after the events seen in this episode. His cause of death is a method which can be made to look like it was caused by fire if it is murder, or it is suicide by fire. The phone Annalise got Oliver to wipe has a lot to do with that. I think Laurel and Wes are working together, and Laurel gets caught up in the fire inadvertently, or something compels her to kill Frank and she nearly dies herself. Wes has a plan of some sort, but we haven't seen why he has suddenly decided to go to the police. I can't see Laurel being a part of that though. Either way, Bonnie and Annalise are playing catch-up here. An outside guess could be that he felt bad seeing Charles Mahoney railroaded, and he wants to recant his earlier statement of seeing him there the night Wallace Mahoney was shot. In any case, this is very risky because by reopening one investigation, if the police have half a brain they would take a much closer look at previous cases involving the Hapstalls, Sam Keating and Lila Stangard.

A few other points I want to mention. One, there were several instances where some of the spoken dialog was almost impossible to understand. Two, why was the courtroom so dark when Wes was on the stand? Dumb move. Three, what does Michaela's mother want, and what did Asher hear when he answered? Four, Annalise's interactions with Hargrove should have been left for another time. They interrupted the flow of the episode. Five, for Nate to be dead, something has to go massively wrong.

Overall, for a penultimate episode, this one missed the mark. Though it had many good points, little actually happened, and the failure to create intensity, perhaps thanks to the added time due to no weekly case, made it a bit of a grind. It had no wow factor at all. Annalise's constant threats really got on my nerves. Next week's winter finale has to deliver. I think it will, but the flash forward format makes this the winter finale I've been least pumped for in this series so far.

Thanks as always for reading! I'm interested to hear what you thought of the episode, and the theories you have as to what might go down next week. Head down to the comments below to let them be known. In the meantime you can find out all you need to know about next week's winter finale here.