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How To Get Away With Murder - The Reckoning - Review: "Piss-Poor"

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Last week's episode of How To Get Away With Murder gave us more questions than answers, which was most welcome especially given the ridiculously long hiatus, but I certainly didn't expect to get even more answers in last night's hour, especially the most important at present: who killed Asher. "The Reckoning" was written by first-timer Inda Craig-Galvan and directed by DeMane Davis.

I'll come to Asher's situation shortly, but first there's a few things that came before that big reveal, much of which I can't say I enjoyed much at all.

Most of this centers around the return of Ophelia, Annalise's mother. The timing for her return couldn't have been poorer, which I believe was part of the plan inside the writers room, but with fans expecting a lot from the final five episodes of this series, the last thing I, for one, wanted to see, was a largely irrelevant and ineffective attempt at further exploring Annalise's character.

Ophelia's return was jarring to begin with, and it never got better than that as the episode progressed. Worked among this fiasco early on was the ridiculously hurried return of Annalise from Mexico, where she somehow managed to get essentially released on house arrest, and claiming she had her ailing mother to look after. Besides the electronic monitor, it's as if Mexico never happened.

The lack of charges brought by the AUSA at that hearing did lay the foundation for the rest of the subplot concerning what the FBI may be planning. That prompted Annalise to rope in Frank, Bonnie and Tegan for their help and advice, culminating in a plan to file a motion forcing the government to reveal the future charges they planned on bringing.

This was a smart play, and it had the side effect of building some suspense in the minds of Connor, Michaela and Oliver, who would therefore be exposed as FBI informants. Just when they thought they might be getting somewhere, and potentially able to score a win over Annalise, when the motion was granted and the charges revealed, again they find themselves essentially at her mercy. Nate was also potentially marked as an informant, with an article about a fire tied to Annalise's childhood making its way into FBI hands, and Annalise therefore believing that the only way that the article could have ended up there is if the FBI also had copies of the Denver files. However, if Denver had the article, then that's not to say the FBI couldn't have found it on their own either, though this possibility seems to have been discounted based on the flashback we saw to the winter finale when Nate handed the files to Annalise.

I'm actually pleased to see that Nate is playing the game and fending for himself if it is indeed the case that he's helping the FBI out. Right from day one he's been a pawn for Annalise, even going to jail for crimes he didn't commit in an earlier season. It's high time he scored a few points, though his weakness is the rage he still feels over his father's death. That clouds his judgment a lot.

The final quarter of this hour is when things finally began to pick up, and that big answer came. The groundwork was laid a little earlier in the episode as Asher's final moments were played out in more detail through flashbacks. After smashing his own phone, Asher asked to borrow Gabriel's and after giving Gabriel some precious detail on Sam Keating's death, he called his sister asking for advice. She said she would send a car to pick him up.

While waiting for that car to come, Asher continued to keep Gabriel's phone, despite Gabriel asking for it back. It appears that during this time he decided to call the FBI for that ride instead of waiting for the one his sister arranged, in addition to recording the video message later played to Michaela, Connor and Oliver. Eventually, "Agent Pollock" arrives to collect Asher, but ends up murdering him. Gabriel witnessed the murder by peeking under his door, and we also see he was the first to go to Asher's aid. Gabriel then went to the FBI and asked to change his statement to say that he believed Laurel was the murderer, but as soon as the lead agent entered the room, he realized she was in fact the murderer. Unbeknownst to Gabriel, that same woman was planted by Xavier Castillo to monitor Annalise, but now also turns out to be an FBI agent. Good thing Gabriel was able to tell Michaela, Connor and Oliver later on.

As pleasing as it is to know who killed Asher, what's frustrating is that again the Castillos are involved, and again it's come out of nowhere with no one having the slightest chance at being able to speculate on that possibility. It's as useful as if a random mugger off the street killed Asher - in fact that would have been more interesting than a Castillo connection. If you want to take all the wind out of the sails of an intriguing mystery, just say the Castillos did it. Way to go showrunners! I can't even come up with any reasons why the Castillos might want Asher dead to begin with. It's a major let-down in my opinion.

For now, where to from here is anyone's guess. The most interesting outcome now is that Gabriel has, out of nowhere, found himself properly trapped. Leaving aside the question of why he didn't pursue Asher's killer in the first place, how is he going to successfully accuse an FBI agent of murdering Asher? Regardless of the answer, if the FBI's case falls over because the murderer, "Agent Pollock", goes AWOL, then there's your potential answer for how everyone gets away with murder. However for that to happen, all of the protagonists have to band together for one last time, deal or no deal, whether they like each other or not. As much as I do want to see some charges stick, with Annalise's murder still to come, I think its more likely from a showrunning perspective that the group will find a way out of their current situation.

There's a lot of things I haven't touched on from this episode, mostly because they aren't important or were filler. The scenes featuring Ophelia fell into that category, and the ominous dream Annalise had right at the top of the hour also fell into that category once its relevance was later revealed. Some of the moments featuring Michaela, Connor and Oliver, and also Frank and Bonnie also aren't relevant as they were mostly in a holding pattern while they waited on the outcome of Annalise's motion.

Overall, despite the revelations at the end, this episode of How To Get Away With Murder didn't meet my expectations. I really do hope we never see Ophelia again, unless it's at Annalise's funeral. Trying to develop Annalise's character simply isn't needed at this point, even if her death may be looming. I'm disappointed that the Castillos are involved in Asher's death - that was a cheap and far from thrilling answer to one of the biggest questions held over during the 4 1/2 month break. I blamed that break last week for killing the season's momentum, but credited that episode for making the best of that bad situation. However this episode did a terrible job of trying to build on last week and re-establish some new momentum. I don't even have any decent quotes to use in this review like I normally do, hence their absence. How To Get Away With Murder's final four episodes simply cannot afford to be as piss poor as this one.

Thanks as always for reading. If you're in a part of the world that's currently experiencing COVID-19 lockdown, hopefully you're safe and well. That might also mean you have some more time on your hands to share your thoughts and theories on this episode, so I'd love to see them in the comments. See you right back here next week.

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