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How To Get Away With Murder - What If Sam Wasn’t the Bad Guy This Whole Time - Review: "Yeah, No"


After another terribly timed two week break, How To Get Away With Murder is finally homeward-bound. Just two more episodes of this series remain, but much of last night's episode really did seem to be a lot of wheel spinning, without actually going anywhere. "What If Sam Wasn’t the Bad Guy This Whole Time?" was written by Ricardo C. Lara and directed by Dawn Wilkinson.

From what we knew of Sam Keating prior to this episode, much of it wasn't good. I'm not going to dive deep on what we've seen in earlier episodes and seasons, but to put it bluntly, Sam had terrible impulse control, and couldn't keep his dick in his pants. Long before he was killed, he left a trail of destruction.

Retelling history in this hour was Vivian. To cut a long story short - if you can even believe her - she revealed that her and Sam were far more than just pen pals when Annalise believed things between Sam and Vivian were done. Further to that, Sam and his sister, Hannah, were apparently in an incestuous relationship with each other, With Tegan tasked to investigate further on behalf of Annalise in preparation for her trial, a DNA match revealed that Hannah ended up pregnant.

Who is it?

Frank.
Yep. Apparently, in addition to Sam fathering Gabriel with Vivian, an unborn child with Lila Stangard, and a stillborn son with Annalise, he also fathered Frank with his sister.

According to the promo for this episode, this big reveal was "the biggest plot twist of the entire series".

Yeah, no. No no no. It's definitely not.

What were the showrunners thinking here? What were they attempting to achieve? And how could they possibly call this the biggest plot twist of the entire series? My jaw definitely wasn't on the floor. Why? Because this moment was retold the wrong way. Hannah Keating is still alive, a decent portion of this episode involved her, and she wasn't even featured in this hour minus a couple of seconds in an irrelevant flashback. My jaw still wouldn't have been on the floor if Hannah strolled in and said "Hello, my dear boy" to Frank, but it would have had a fair bit more impact.

Regardless of how it was told, I felt this episode wasted a substantial amount of time trying to tell us something we already knew. We already knew Sam Keating had many skeletons in his closet. We already knew he was a bad guy, and arguably at least as bad as many other characters this series has featured.

But it boils down to this. Why waste the majority of the third last episode of the series to tell us who Frank's parents are? And further to that, why did Annalise not know this already? She knows the intimate details about everyone she's dealt with on a long term basis, so how the hell has she never queried Frank's parents?



I wish I had the answers, but again, much like last week, this storyline was another sidetrack, only this time it's one I care even less about because the overall story wasn't advanced by its inclusion. Unless Hannah being Frank's mother somehow magically turns into a vital piece of information that ends up letting all the characters get away with the murders they've committed - or getting jailed for them, honestly what's the point in revealing it, let alone dedicating such a significant portion of an episode?

It really is bizarre. However the precious remaining screen time was put to decent use.

Xavier's death at the hands of Nate is beginning to show some repercussions. Frank told Annalise what had happened, and now the worry for them and Bonnie was that Nate would frame Xavier's death on Frank.

Nate had other ideas, and his contribution to this episode was the part that I enjoyed the most, because he actually got stuff done. His mind looks clearer, too. He ordered Frank to leave Xavier's body untouched, and to follow his orders in future. He decided to look back at Bonnie's car accident in the Season 4 finale to find a connection between the corrupt Agent Pollock. Traffic camera footage (boy, the shot the camera got was ridiculously cliche, see below) was enough to make Agent Langford take a look into his partner's background, and somehow he managed to confirm Nate's theory. Maybe Agent Pollock coming clean is part of the Castillo's plan though.



Connor, Michaela and Oliver barely featured in this episode, which wasn't the best move by the showrunners. Connor and Michaela in particular both played an interesting hand as they tried to justify their part in the recording Annalise took of them both confessing to being FBI informants. Agent Langford wasn't thrilled, and declared their deals void. Both Connor and Michaela argued against that, but that didn't work and they were presented with what appeared to be less favorable deals. To push Connor to decide quicker, Langford offered to add Oliver as a co-defendant. Later, Michaela and Connor confirmed they had kept their same deals, though as soon as Michaela left the room, Connor confessed to Oliver that he had taken a new deal. I highly suspect Michaela has done exactly the same thing.
Agree to new terms, or we'll charge you with everything.
Gabriel didn't interact with anyone other than his mother in this hour, and even then most of that seemed largely filler. Gabriel seemed to be coming to the realization that he might never find the answers he seeks, and some of his dialog could also be loosely interpreted as a possible preparation for his death. Perhaps the only positive aspect of the Sam storyline in this hour was it revealed that Vivian knows a hell of a lot more than she lets on, and her son doesn't have the slightest idea how much she's withholding.



Overall, as had been the trend for the last couple of episodes at least, this installment just didn't have the content in it that one would expect from a series that now has just two more episodes to run. Maybe I'd have cared more about Sam, Hannah and Frank's past if How To Get Away With Murder didn't end in a fortnight. The showrunners last week telegraphed a ton of small-time characters that could come out of the woodwork and have a huge impact on how the series wraps everything up, but we didn't see a single one in this episode when we really should have - especially Hannah. The supposed "biggest plot twist of the entire series" was a massive dud, and goes against Annalise's character in particular with regard to how this secret could have stayed unknown to her for so long. And along with that twist, gone are any possibility fans may have to try to guess what's going to happen, because who in their right mind could have expected such a revelation? I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that a massive part of How To Get Away With Murder's early appeal was that guessing game, and I'm pretty disappointed that its almost certainly not going to be possible during the next fortnight, when it really should be the number one element of this final season that has fans engaged.

To end with a positive note, however, I'm pleased to see Nate in a different headspace, and having some success in weeding out Agent Pollock. Though it seems too easy, it's a step in the right direction without a doubt.

Thanks as always for reading. What did you think of this episode's big revelation? Any ideas what might happen in the final two episodes. Be sure to share your thoughts and theories in the comments below. See you right back here next week.

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