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How To Get Away With Murder - I Got Played - Review: "Kudos to Michaela"

I haven't really enjoyed the last couple of episodes of How To Get Away With Murder, but I had reasonable hopes that with last night's installment being the penultimate one for 2018 things might improve, and I guess you could say I'm cautiously optimistic. "I Got Played" was written by Maya Goldsmith and directed by debutant Eric Laneuville.

This episode focused on three things. The first was to build on Nate Lahey Sr.'s death at the end of last week's hour. The second was to escalate the newfound conflict between Governor Lynne Birkhead and Annalise, and thirdly, to bring Gabriel closer to the students than he's ever got before.

On the Lahey Sr. focal point, this was done reasonably well for the most part despite its frantic pace. In this single episode, we saw a press conference detailing the death of Lahey Sr., the repeated attempts by Annalise and others to force an inquest, the inquest itself, and then its fallout, which ultimately led to Annalise confronting the Governor.

Lahey's cause of death was unknown, but the press conference led us to believe he had turned violent against the two guards transporting him, stabbed one with a pencil and lunged for their gun, compelling the other to shoot Lahey, killing him instantly. This was destined to attract suspicion, and eventually Annalise managed to convince interim D.A. Miller to open one. There was dirt on the officers that the judge disallowed, and ultimately Annalise herself testified, but blew any chance of a finding in her favor because she spoke to the jury for what actually seemed like an eternity. While the speech on its own was impressive, the time and place certainly wasn't. More on this shortly.

Eventually the jury found no evidence of wrongdoing by the guards. In all of this, Michaela's moment with Nate immediately after the verdict was one of the episode's finest moments. I think it was Michaela finally recognizing that she owes Nate a great deal and has gone through a hell of a lot. Perhaps other than Wes, Michaela is the only student to give something back to Nate in that way. I'm hoping it's not a fleeting moment and, like the stuff between Oliver and his mom last week, a more ominous sign of preparation for departure from the creative team.

Concerning Governor Birkhead in my review of last week's episode, it seems last night's episode proved my thoughts correct. Annalise's decision to take Birkhead's offer was a terrible decision with sizable damage caused. Annalise even went so far as to accuse Birkhead of being responsible for Lahey Sr.'s death. The Fair Defense Project is in the toilet before it even begun. The only silver lining is Annalise very quickly became aware of her mistake, and the question now will be whether both parties make good their promises to each other to take the other down.

I can't wait to take you down.
I'm still by no means a fan of this storyline. I don't believe the series needs yet another antagonist threatening to crush everyone who dissents them. I guess we now know what's going to be happening through early 2019.

Last, but definitely not the least fascinating, was Gabriel's plays in this episode. After Laurel shut the door on him last week he wasted no time moving onto Michaela, both in public and private. He invited himself over to the house to help prep for the inquest, and late in the hour Michaela knocked on his door after putting Asher to sleep, where they're almost guaranteed to have slept together following a decent bit of verbal sparring. They're not really alone, however. It's easier to list who doesn't know than who does know about their not-so-secret encounter.

Credit where its due to the writers and actors, they made the building chemistry between Gabriel and Laurel grow gradually and then turn off with the flick of a switch, but they were then able to flick that switch right back on - and with extra voltage - between Gabriel and Michaela. I'd never picked there being much there to begin with, but Gabriel and Michaela seem to suit each other down to the ground. It's not likely to last because there's still secrets being bandied about between Frank and Laurel about Gabriel, and in a rather bad stroke of luck, Bonnie is now in on the plot, although we viewers aren't just yet. The one thing we do know is Gabriel is going to do anything to get an invite to the wedding, and if that extends to conning Michaela, then there's a lot we don't know.
Gabriel is Annalise's worst nightmare.
In other character news, Bonnie's storyline concerning her lost child saw next to no progression this week which was a touch disappointing even though I don't really care about it. In Coliver land the awkwardness resumed early with the pair butting heads over their choice of a Presbyterian church for the wedding. But by the end of the hour, for the first time in a long time, they looked like a couple should, with Connor going so far as to beat up a guy who mouthed off at him and Oliver while they were kissing outside a gay bar. That explains why Connor looks worse for wear in the flash forwards, which I'll get to shortly.

Returning to Annalise for a moment. She's made two significant errors of judgement in two episodes - firstly taking the Governor's offer while transfixed on the Lahey case, and the second was letting loose on the stand and killing any chance of a win at the inquest. Annoyingly, Annalise's drinking problem reared its unwanted head once more, with Bonnie again putting Annalise to bed and finding several empty hard liquor bottles hidden in the trash.

As if that wasn't enough bad news, the Governor has some leverage over Annalise in the form of adoption papers that were dug up during a background check. It's unclear what these relate to - whether they were between her and Sam in the first season, or whether they may have something to do with Gabriel. It's likely the latter, but Annalise's life and past in particular is so complicated and much of it goes undeveloped for long periods of time that it's really hard to keep up. I do hope it amounts to little and doesn't hinder Annalise fighting the Governor, but if it can be used as blackmail then there's most likely much more to it than that.

The final point I'll mention before the flash forwards is the happenings between Emmett, Tegan and Annalise. With Emmett having Annalise marched out of Caplan & Gold after a war of words last week, and the Governor killing the Fair Defense Project, Annalise needed her job back. However she found an unlikely ally in Tegan, who found out that she wasn't on the list of options for promotion following the Antares scandal last season. Tegan gave the details of Emmett's misconduct allegations to Annalise who used them to win back her position at Caplan & Gold on the condition that she help Emmett defeat the misconduct allegations against him. This all seemed reasonable to me, and the changing dynamics between the trio might be just what's needed to make me enjoy their presence somewhat.

Onto the flash forwards now. Sadly there was no flash forward at the beginning of the hour, but there was one at the end, and it was the best one since the season premiere.

Instead of remaining sequential like the others in this season have, this flash forward took us back out into the snow with Bonnie - where we were in the season premiere. The body of a male can clearly be seen in the background as she approaches someone else who is watching on in first person. Christopher can be heard crying in the background. Bonnie says the following:
Listen to me real close. Take his car, and him, and drive away. We can figure out the rest later, just do whatever you need to to get yourself together. I know you can. I'll take care of everything. Just trust me.
This is massive. I'm stoked the first person concept is back for starters, but in addition to a victim we now have an accomplice. That changes everything. My initial thoughts are that the accomplice is also male, because a female would find it harder to move the body and get it into a car. The mention of a car also links Connor and Asher together who are in the parking lot with Connor's mom. They might not be involved with Bonnie, but they may become involved in other ways. Would Connor say no to a request from Oliver to help move a body? Surely not. Asher wouldn't either. Regardless, all will be revealed on the winter finale next week.

As I said at the beginning of this review, I'm cautiously optimistic that we might have a pretty good winter finale on our hands next week. The lead-up to it has been rather lackluster so my levels of anticipation are noticeably down compared to previous winter finales. I'm pleased the Lahey Sr. case has wrapped for now, but disappointed that all that means is the target has shifted to Governor Birkhead. Kudos to Michaela - she was the character I enjoyed most in this episode.

Thanks as always for reading! Do make sure you stop by the comments section below and share your thoughts and theories on my thoughts and theories, along with your own thoughts and theories. I'd also like to know whether you share the same levels of anticipation for this season's winter finale compared to previous seasons.

One final note. Keep an eye out on the site for my flash forward compilation video. Spoiler alert: due to the severe lack of flash forward content it will be very short and sweet, but hopefully still allow for some solid theory-spinning!.


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