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How To Get Away With Murder - I Love Her - Review: "Bonnie's Past"

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For the first time this season, the past was on show in last night's episode of How To Get Away With Murder. The hour pitted Bonnie and Annalise against each other in present day, while detailing how the pair first met in flashbacks going back 15 years. Sarah L. Thompson wrote "I Love Her", which was directed by debutant Lexi Alexander.

I'm generally not the biggest fan of how this series handles its flashbacks, purely because it's not one of the strongest elements of the series, especially when compared to better executors of the technique such as CBS's Person of Interest, and more recently, CW's Frequency. What the creative team managed to do this week was make the flashback story far more compelling than I expected it to be, and tying its relevance in with present day events was also executed very tidily.

Bonnie's history of sexual abuse was no secret, but in last night's flashbacks we saw that it was vastly more severe than we were led to believe when Asher was told in Season 2. In court, we hear Bonnie testifying against a councilman she claimed had raped her. Annalise was sided with the defense and had to cross-examine Bonnie, who told the court that she had been raped numerous times by numerous men, including her father, who is now in prison along with other men who committed crimes against her. It portrayed a (by victim's standards) strong young woman who was doing her best to ensure that those who wronged her in her past were made to pay for their crimes.

Of course, Annalise was younger and less experienced back then as well. She was the understudy to a big time lawyer who pushed her into the cross examination because he was a white male, and doing that could risk the case. What all this did was convey how Annalise acquired her moral stance, which gave her the courage to form her own practice, hiring Bonnie as her first intern, and taking on cases which backed those who couldn't stand up for themselves.

I've been raped by dozens and dozens of men. I don't spend time trying to remember their faces.

It was good, solid storytelling, and it won me over by the time it was all done, especially when it was tied back to present day, which saw Bonnie meeting with Isaac Roa under the alias that was revealed last week. A month had passed in present day since the events in last week's hour - a considerable amount of time given we're now just 2 weeks out from breaking open the flash forward case.

With Annalise building her class action suit, Bonnie was on her tail and trying to shut it down, but she couldn't get over the past she had with Annalise, and sought counsel from Roa. He put two and two together, figuring out that Bonnie's and Annalise's stories matched despite the former using an alias. We don't learn the significance of that in this hour, but it sets what will hopefully be some epicness next week. What we did learn - and this was drawn out quite painfully at times - was that Bonnie loves Annalise, and she's suffering what are basically withdrawal symptoms. Probably the most important thing from all this is that this will impact her responses to what we're seeing in the flash forwards. More on that later.

The Keating 4 had more subdued episode than normal. Laurel, Michaela and Oliver continue to collude on finding details about the former's father's involvement in Wes's death. Michaela and Oliver didn't make much progress so they'll have to try logging into Tegan Price's computer again to get the info they're after. Simon Drake made a cameo appearance once more, though this one fell flat in my book - he added nothing at all, and his interruption of Michaela and Oliver could have been done differently. Simon's closeness with Oliver could be important though.

Laurel continued her friends with benefits thing with Frank, though the steamy scenes were badly underdone compared to what this show has delivered before. Their chemistry wasn't there at all - and it has been in spades before. Frank asked Laurel directly whether her baby was his, and she denied it, but the flashbacks weren't positioned in there for no reason, adding some weight to my statement last week that Laurel's baby might not be hers. Next week's promo mentions a paternity test so that will be exciting if it comes to fruition. Don't expect to hear the result until at least the winter finale though.

I need help. And you need to get off your ass and do something.

Connor continued to be a bum for the most part, and out of the blue he cheated on Oliver, which came out of the blue. He looks set to be the first of the Keating 4 to become reacquainted with Annalise as he looks to become her right hand man on her class action lawsuit, provided Bonnie doesn't shut it down. This is good news because a long term play by the writers could see Connor become the best lawyer of all the four interns, despite dropping out of law school.

Nate was good in this hour as well. He was light on screentime but he's positioned himself right in between Annalise and Bonnie, and therefore the DA's office and Annalise as well. He covered for Annalise by lying to Bonnie, but didn't pledge allegiance to either side.

On a bit of a downer note, the hour's final few seconds brought about what must be the shortest flash forward to date. Last week we saw a distraught Oliver at Caplan & Gold, where the second crime scene was revealed. Bonnie, present once more, asked one of the detectives where the suspect was. He replied that he was in jail. That's where Asher was seen. He wasn't physically wounded, but was bawling his eyes out. The blood at both crime scenes doesn't belong to him, but if he was present at Caplan & Gold, where Oliver was and Michaela likely was, he might have had a part to play. It's worth noting that in present day in this episode, he cottoned onto the fact that Michaela is working on something else. He knew Michaela wasn't at work when he called her, and he was awake when she was calling Laurel about what she and Oliver found.

In any case, 18 seconds isn't enough for a flash forward by any stretch of the imagination. All we learn is Asher is alive and in jail. When an episode of How To Get Away With Murder misses the mark in some areas, the flash forward is what often makes things mostly ok, but this week's effort fell short. It's worth noting that Roa's realization that Annalise and Bonnie are connected will definitely come into play, so this does add a bit of bulk to the learnings going forward.

So Bonnie, Michaela, Laurel, Frank, Isaac Roa, Oliver and Asher are clear of death, while Nate, Connor and Annalise are unaccounted for in the flash forwards at this point. This is surprising because neither of those three characters have the incentive or necessity to be at Caplan & Gold, where the second crime scene was located, so that connection is the main one to watch. The reverse works as well, with none of the safe characters needing to be at Annalise's hotel. Laurel only has the one baby, so she could really only be responsible for one crime scene if her pregnancy is responsible. Something tells me that she's not responsible for either, though, and I can't pinpoint why.

In the end, the mystery is no closer to being solved, and there's not enough new information to spin any significant new theories. I didn't think I'd be saying that the flashback stuff was better than present day stuff, but that's how it is at the end of it. Bonnie's and Annalise's past was well written, though I would mark the hair and makeup team down a bit for failing to make Bonnie look younger. The long hair added a few years in my opinion.

It looks to me like next week's episode will lift things to another level in preparation for the winter finale. In the meantime thanks for reading and be sure to head down to the comments section below to share your thoughts and theories on this week's episode. See you all back here next week!

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