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How To Get Away With Murder - Winter Finale Review: "[Spoiler] Is Back!"

Last night's How To Get Away With Murder winter finale needed to be of a very high caliber to impress me. The good news is that it was a very high caliber, and it definitely did impress me. For a season which hasn't left a great deal to look forward to each week, the April midseason premiere now seems a million years away. "Are You the Mole?" was written by Maisha Closson and directed by Stephen Cragg.

Winter finales in this series have traditionally consisted of multiple time jumps which put the flash forwards that have been aired in their rightful place on the timeline, and added additional content to bring it all together. Sometimes, those time jumps have been too excessive, but the showrunners absolutely nailed this aspect in this episode. It was easy to follow, and made sense. I guess when you don't include the majority of the flash forwards in this finale, that's what can happen. More detail on that shortly.

The hour began in the lecture theater, with an unplanned assembly it seems Annalise called abruptly. Her speech was ominous given what we've seen in the flash forwards last week:

I teach so that some of you will make sure that the justice system lives up to its name.
Words concerning freedom were also included, but we already knew at least some of the characters wouldn't be free by the episode's end.

Later that day - the day before Asher, Michaela and Connor were due to graduate, and Oliver thought it would be a fantastic idea to dish out some ma gic mushrooms. I wasn't a fan of this initially because it seemed like this was just a novel way to pass the time before the flash forwards were put in their place, but the level of character development by the end of that stint made it worthwhile for the most part.

Meanwhile, Tegan and Annalise were at a pre-graduation party for faculty when news suddenly broke alleging Annalise was at the center of a murder conspiracy, with her husband's death apparently back on the agenda. On her way home, Annalise and Tegan walked past the ruins of the former's old house - the center of many a bad deed. Annalise remarked that the insurance money was still tied up in the courts thanks to Sam's sister.

The breaking news had everyone on edge as the source of the leaks to the media remained unknown. That was enough to bring Laurel out of the shadows for the first time this season, when she FaceTimed her high friends. The good news is she looks healthy, as does her baby. Laurel strenuously denied she was the source of the leaks, but wouldn't reveal her location for fear Xavier had the call tapped. While Laurel at least hinting that she's alive should have come sooner in the season, her brief presence was a welcome surprise indeed.

The surprises didn't stop there, with the next one being a massive fallout between long time FWBs Nate and Annalise. For the first time, Nate revealed he hadn't destroyed the Denver files, rightfully claiming they were leverage should he have needed them, and essentially proving he wasn't the mole. He came hard at Annalise however, accusing her of not doing enough to prevent the death of his father. Annalise grabbed the fire iron and threatened to swing it, but Nate wasn't having that, and although Annalise never swung it, he wrestled it off Annalise and threw it across the room.

Playing alongside this was Frank and Gabriel's showdown, with many believing he was the mole. Frank may have shown a couple of cards too many when he once again tried to ward Gabriel off investigating who his father was. That culminated in Frank pinning Gabriel up against a wall and strangling him. The pair weren't to be seen again in that location, so what happened next remains a mystery. The last we saw of Gabriel, he was playing back the recording he took of Frank while he was being manhandled. Then he opened his door to someone. More on that in a moment.

I didn't think the identity of the mole would actually be revealed in this episode, but that all changed when Asher confessed after next to no pressure from his high-as-a-kite-friends. What unfolded next was a long-winded confession, with Asher explaining his mother and sister effectively staged an FBI intervention, forcing him to become an informant - a task which he carried out quite discretely, while also trying to mitigate the risk to his friends. This was a pretty significant moment, but as the flashbacks rolled here it was clear that the showrunners had hidden everything in plain sight, even if it was very vague. Asher pleaded with his friends to side with him and turn on Annalise, and though they were reluctant, they could understand see Asher's perspective.
I'm your best chance of not going to jail.
Then, things took yet another significant turn. Oliver, of all people, hit Asher on the head with the fire iron. Fortunately the blow didn't kill him, but later, completely out of the blue, he bolted to Bonnie's house, as seen in the flash forward. Not long after, the FBI came to arrest Connor and Michaela for murder, and Asher could be seen expiring on the stairs near his apartment - just meters away from Frank and Gabriel, with what could be a baseball object or similar laying next to his body.

Simultaneously, last week's flash forward was replayed, which depicted Annalise disappearing. Adding to that, we see her board a light plane. And later again, the season premiere's flash forward, set at Annalise's funeral, rolled, but added perhaps the entire series' biggest twist yet. A seemingly back from the dead Wes made his way to the front of the chapel to speak.

This was a massive final act, and it has so many possibilities for the final six episodes ever of this series. Annalise is in the wind successfully - for now. She still ends up dead though. Asher is dead, but somehow the FBI were informed that Michaela and Connor were the culprits, when neither were. What seems clear as mud is that neither Michaela, Connor or Oliver have any idea what Asher did or where he went after he ran away to Bonnie's house.

Could Bonnie have committed one final murderous act and clubbed Asher on the head a second time while she walked him home? Or did Frank or Gabriel do that after their disagreement? Or, was it Wes? I think Wes was the one Gabriel answered his door to because he's tall and Gabriel was looking more or less upward. 100/1 wildcards could be Solomon Vick or Gabriel's new girlfriend.

Also worth bearing in mind is that there's five flash forwards in the sequence we've seen that we didn't see in this episode. You can watch my flash forwards compilation that I posted a couple of days ago here. Michaela's interrogation, Connor's interrogation, Connor's collapse, Oliver's admission, and Tegan's crime scene visit are all missing from the flash forwards in this episode, so will most likely be built upon next year.

All up, I really enjoyed this winter finale of How To Get Away With Murder. It was superbly structured, and contained a boatload of twists that will give me plenty to think about over the next 5 months. The score, music and cinematography enjoyed a decent bump in quality, though a couple of crucial lines of dialog remain next to impossible to decipher. That being said, I'm absolutely stoked that Wes is back in some capacity. That alone would be enough for me to watch the final six episodes even if I hated the series in general. Laurel returning is a nice bonus also.

That's all from me for this year. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this episode, and also your theories on who did what, when, where, how and why so be sure to stick them in the comments below! I'll see you back here on April 2!

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