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How To Get Away With Murder - Nobody Roots for Goliath - Review: "Who Is On The Table?"

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The penultimate episode of 2017 for ABC's How To Get Away With Murder could have gone in any direction, but what we saw instead was a highly compact episode which gave away very, very little about what next week's winter finale will bring to the table. Nzingha Stewart directed "Nobody Roots for Goliath" with Daniel Robinson in charge of the script.

Just two subplots dominated this hour. The first was the courtroom hitout between Annalise and the Attorney General concerning the class action lawsuit Annalise was leading, and the second was the formation of a plan to take down Laurel's father, along with Antares Technologies.

The first subplot I mentioned featured considerably more courtroom time than we've seen in any previous episode thus far in the season. Annalise had to rebuff wrongful claims presented about her sobriety, and when Bonnie ran interference to the point of calling their mutual therapist to the stand, all Annalise could do was hope that Isaac Roa didn't say anything that could stop her quest dead in its tracks.

They're putting me on trial.

This stuff was well done all round. The puzzle pieces fit together nicely, and a couple of open ends left in earlier episodes now make sense. At the end of it all, Bonnie's reputation in the eyes of the Attorney General was shattered, with Nate being used to great effect to rub salt in the wound. Annalise even had Denver on her side, with the likelihood that he could improve his campaign polling should his opponent lose his case just too good to pass up. Annalise finally had the green light to proceed with her case, despite multiple attempts by several parties to thwart it.

The second subplot wasn't done quite as well, with the infighting and clumsy decision-making getting on my nerves as Laurel, Michaela, Asher, Oliver and Frank bickered their way to a consensus on how to down Antares via leaked documents from Caplan & Gold. They eventually decided to pin the theft of Tegan Price's access card to the Antares server room to access said documents on Simon Drake, who has appeared frequently to create friction between those at Caplan & Gold. We learned that Simon isn't really in the country legally - originating from Pakistan in fact - and a virus that destroyed much of his computer data could put his career and residency at risk.

This did seem a bit last minute from the creative team here. The other bizarre thing that went down was when Oliver was fixing Simon's computer. no mention of simply restoring a backup was made, and now Oliver just happens to have all the sensitive info he needs to know in order to put the plan into action when that shouldn't be necessary.

I would kill to build a real life with you, but I'm not OK being anyone's second choice

The ongoing fallout between Michaela and Asher was relentless, but it gave Matt McGorry the opportunity to shine for the first time this season, which was the only good thing to come from that mess, really. The ketchup on the wedding dress was clever, but wasn't filmed or edited very well.

I mentioned in last week's review that Connor looked the most comfortable I've ever seen him in a long time, and in this episode we got some confirmation of that from the man himself. He was beaming at Annalise's win, and mentioned to others how pleased he was to be involved with something good. Him and Oliver spent a lot of time bonding, though in these scenes I thought the chemistry just wasn't there and much of it felt forced. The probable reason for that soon became clear, as Oliver, who was sworn to secrecy by Michaela for his role in the Antares takedown, predictably spilled the beans when Connor proposed to him. Oliver politely declined and revealed he knew who killed Wes. From the little we saw of Connor's reaction, he did not take that double whammy of a declined proposal and the revelation of a secret he was being kept from lightly, and his whereabouts is still unknown in the year's final flash forward.

We know who killed Wes.

Said flash forward was again disappointing, but it did summarize concisely who's whereabouts was known. Woven between the characters were scenes of an operating theater, with a team of surgeons and nurses working to stabilize someone. There was talk of blood transfusions and eventual cardiac arrest, with the infamous tone of a monitor's steady beep as the patient's heart stops. We saw no shots of the patient, and there was no mention of age or gender, or the exact nature of the injuries. From what we know, unless there's even more timeshifting going on, Connor, Nate, or even Denver, Simon or Tegan could be on that table. The only thing that can be assumed with relative certainty is it's not Laurel's baby according to the detail on the monitor.

For a series which sees flash forward storytelling as a cornerstone of its character, the creative team have let their game slip big time. The process of elimination concept didn't work in Season 3 because it significantly limited the storytelling options, and it hasn't worked again this season, despite not actively promoting a process of elimination approach. In Season 3 we had a body, but we didn't know who it was, whereas in Season 4, we don't even know if a body exists. The creative team have challenged themselves in a big way, but with no potential endgame on the table from the outset, the storytelling is even further restricted, with the viewer's ability to become invested in the story significantly diminished along with it.

So, working with the very little we have, what do we know, and what could happen?

We know two crime scenes exist. One is at Annalise's hotel, the other is at the Caplan & Gold offices. Annalise is possibly bleeding out or rinsing blood off herself in a third location, while Laurel, minus baby, is in the hospital. Also in the hospital is someone else. Bonnie has visited both crime scenes, and knows the location of Asher (jail) and Oliver (Caplan & Gold). A bloodied and bruised Michaela is at the hospital, along with Roa (who Michaela has made contact with), and Frank (who has made contact with Roa and Laurel). Tegan's whereabouts is unknown, along with Connor, Nate, Simon and Denver. Annalise hasn't made contact with anyone, though Roa has tried and failed.

If you look at the list of unknowns, Connor stands out as the only person who could be justifiably have been at both locations. The others favor one heavily over the other. Further, it seems highly likely that the office party Michaela is planning for Tegan plays center stage, as it's when the Antares leak is scheduled to go down, but something must go awry to pull Frank and Laurel away from the party and the plan (possibly early labour), leaving Michaela and Oliver, likely joined by Asher, and possibly Connor, to continue alone. It's also highly likely Laurel's father will be there, and there's a few people who could do with him dead. He's where my money is at heading into next week.

None of this puts any theories towards what happened in Annalise's hotel room, and we know nothing more thanks to the flash forwards. Nate and Denver going at it for some reason is an outside chance at best. Again, Connor can't be ruled out, but Annalise's newfound respect for Roa in light of his statements in court is likely involved.

In all, things are reasonably well set up for the winter finale, but far below the standard set by the previous 3 seasons. There was a lack of intensity when it was needed most, and a few lackluster moments didn't help the overall quality. Keep an eye out on the site for my flash forwards compilation, which shouldn't take much putting together because of how little substance there's been in that department this season. That will help bring you right up to speed on what's happened in the future in the last 7 episodes.

In the meantime please head down to the comments below to share your thoughts and theories on what you think may happen next week! It's always great hearing what you're all thinking so make your voices heard! See you all back here for the final time in 2017 next week.

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