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How To Get Away With Murder - Where Are Your Parents? - Review: "The Biggest Twist Of The Season"

The announcement that Cicely Tyson would be guest starring in her role as Annalise's mother had me quite skeptical for how this episode of How To Get Away With Murder would go. Tyson's presence hasn't been a highlight for me in the past as it brings about unnecessary storytelling, and pushing the cast - particularly Viola Davis - to overact. Thankfully I was proven wrong, with the emotions in this thirteenth episode kept in check, and enough time being left to unveil more of the main storyline, including delivery of the biggest twist of the season. "Where Are Your Parents?" was written by Maya Goldsmith and Daniel Robinson, and directed by DeMane Davis.

Somewhat surprisingly, for the second week running it was the holiday season in HTGAWM land, with Christmas right upon the characters. However despite the jovial atmosphere, there was storytelling to occur, and this was again really good for the most part. Up first was Miller's funeral, and thankfully this was over and done with in good time. Bonnie didn't have much to do with any of the other characters besides Frank and Asher, but Miller's mother ensured she left her mark on Bonnie after the funeral, uttering the following words to her:

Bonnie, you need to catch the people who did this and make sure they get the death penalty so I can watch them die.
This was obviously difficult for Bonnie to take because she was talking to the mother of the man you could say she loved, but that she also murdered. Moments later, a news report gave us some more information on how Nate disposed of Miller's body. The report said that the bleach and acid mix that was used resembled a murder involving a construction company that had close financial ties to Governor Birkhead. I wrote in a past review that I was pleased we were getting to see the professionals handle this job, with the students not being physically involved in any of it therefore not able to screw anything up. That statement still rings true today.

Shortly after, Ophelia was reintroduced, having joined Annalise for Christmas. It didn't take her long to get an inkling that something was wrong because she overheard Nate and Annalise discussing the latter being offered immunity by FBI agent Claire Telesco. Ophelia is a big fan of Nate's and she wasted no time telling Annalise to make sure she protects him.

As hinted last week, Connor's mother also made a somewhat awkward and bumbling return thanks to the photo she posted online which, in addition to her and Asher, also had Nate and Miller in the background. In my opinion she added little to this episode and should have been left out. Her limited motherly input came at the Christmas dinner where she accused the other students of abandoning their families over Christmas, however she has little to no knowledge of the rather awkward circumstances pertaining to their individual situations.

Interestingly, there were two Christmas dinners held in this hour, with the aforementioned one including the students, Connor's mom, and also Gabriel. The other dinner contained what can be loosely described as the adults, with Annalise, Bonnie and Frank, along with Tegan and Emmett among others. Emmett was thankful to be included in the gathering which was a nice touch, but Ophelia again made her presence felt by telling a story about Annalise giving her lunch away when she was a child.

This didn't seem important at the time, but what came later very much was. Tegan went to the FBI, and over Telesco's head, and asked to be reassigned to a new agent because not long earlier she had kissed Telesco in an encounter in the car. This was a rather unexpected twist, especially because it was Tegan with the ulterior motive, and she later confirmed to Annalise that it was her who got Telesco suspended, with the additional ammunition being that she planted evidence against Gabriel, and was preparing to lie in court. The FBI will still be pursuing the investigation, but without the inside knowledge Telesco had, they might be more prone to missing something. Watch this space for sure.
We've escaped this long, so why should we change?
Let's skip to the end of the hour for a moment so we can clear up the biggest twist of the season. After a late night phone call Annalise made her way to a church where she stood face to face with Governor Birkhead. Birkhead immediately wanted to make amends and denied she was involved with the murders of Miller or Lahey Sr. As she was heading for the door, Birkhead forced Annalise to turn back around by saying she knew who killed Lahey Sr. She believed it was Emmett, and handed her a file.

Birkhead's return has been on the cards for some time, but what wasn't expected was for her to come to Annalise directly, or to immediately point the finger at another party. Her scapegoat, Emmett, will take virtually all viewers by surprise because the character has never been shaped to have had any involvement in anything sketchy beyond the issues with his behavior at work. At this point Emmett is also lacking the three primary elements for a murder in the means, motive and opportunity, so Birkhead will have to have something rock solid in order for Annalise to suspend her takedown. Meeting in a church is also unusual and must be symbolic somehow but I can't come up with any theories there. The creative team have a lot of explaining to do in the two remaining episodes of this season.

There were several odds and ends that currently have little place in proceedings but will also surely be important in the next fortnight. For starters, Bonnie is showing clear signs of morning sickness, but claimed a pregnancy test was negative. Laurel continues to receive mysterious calls, and still has the blanket that has crucial blood evidence on it. The FBI had a warrant for the wedding photos from Connor and Oliver's wedding - and Oliver's computer. Though largely sidelined in this hour, Gabriel is still keeping up the lie with his mother that he and Michaela are an item. And finally, Annalise and Emmett came very very close to making out. I will be forever glad that that somehow didn't happen.

At the end of this, things have changed. The FBI investigation has been interrupted, but this won't be enough to bring a stop to it. Telesco won't go quietly, and can easily turn rogue. Birkhead has fronted, and is pointing the finger at Emmett. Tegan is clearly a well established mole, but switched sides thanks to Annalise's generally well-meaning deeds, though this could also be for show and to protect her own agenda. Neither side is clearly winning, but I think if Birkhead's evidence is compelling enough, Annalise may turn back on her side and together they can work to bring down Emmett. Realistically, this is the only way the FBI can be forced to back down and forget about Annalise, but this still doesn't clear up how they intend to deal with Miller's murder. That surely has to be pinned on someone as well. It won't be the first time a crime has been pinned on an innocent party, and I do tend to hope the creative team have something else up their sleeves.

I'm otherwise out of theories, but am once again quite pleased with this episode overall, and that the dream back half of the season continues to perform strongly. The only black mark would be the awkward and needless inclusion of Connor's mother, while Ophelia's appearance was in general much more tolerable for me because the emotion and waterworks remained switched off, and the flow of the storylines didn't have to take a massive detour or go on hold altogether simply to accommodate the character. Ophelia didn't add a lot to this hour, but there was enough there for me to give it a pass. Bringing Emmett into the mix as Lahey Sr.'s killer is the biggest twist this season - even bigger than the revelation that Miller was the murder victim in the season's first half. The character otherwise hasn't had a significant amount of involvement in this season for someone of series regular status, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the Governor has, and whether he remains around for a possible sixth season.

That's all from me for this week. Thanks a lot for reading. Be sure to share your thoughts and theories on the episode in the comments below, and I'll see you right back here for this season's penultimate episode next week.


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