TV Review: How to Get Away with Murder 3×02 “There Are Worse Things Than Murder”

credit: (ABC/Nicole Wilder)
credit: (ABC/Nicole Wilder)

Welcome to our newest method of reviewing/recapping season three of How to Get Away with Murder, where film section editor and film writer Allyson Johnson is joined by film writer Alana Jane Chase in discussing (mainly reacting to) the latest episodes live. The discussion has been edited for (some) clarity.

How to Get Away with Murder cleans up nicely. After a generally fantastic, fun and only sometimes frustrating (in the sense that we can’t EVER figure out what’s coming next) season three opener, the follow-up episode proved itself in all its show-specific merit. “There Are Worse Things Than Murder” isn’t just a clever title; it’s sophomore episode whose strengths shone in character studies, careful handling of darker subject matter and sizzling dialogue-heavy scenes. (And the perpetually gorgeous cast, whom I’m sure Ally and I will never entirely get over.)

Continue to page two to read the conversation Ally and I had live as the episode aired, which mainly involved our overwhelming and unbridled love for Connor Walsh, our appreciation for the clever ways in which the show is constructed and our yearning for a glass (or bottle) of wine after the episode’s clinch in the last five minutes. After all, the new format for HTGAWM reviews/recaps on The Young Folks is meant to highlight the fun of the show — and boy, oh boy, did Ally and I have some good fun with this one.

Allyson Johnson: After last weeks’ crazy season three premiere, is there anything that you want to predict will happen on this weeks episode? Or do you think we’re past the point of being able to predict anything? I feel like we might see the return of season one Connor who is innately more selfish without Oliver to smooth down his edges, and I think we might learn more about Maggie, Wes’s new girlfriend, who I feel like will have more to her than meets the eye. My only other thought is that this Frank business will be wrapped up sooner than we think.

Alana Jane Chase: I think my biggest prediction for this episode, apart from the notion that nothing can truly be predicted, falls in line with yours regarding Connor. I’m loving the new Oliver “I Can Be Bad Too” Hampton, but after last week’s heartbreak of a bomb drop, I can definitely empathize with any not-so-polished/irrational behavior from Connor. Not that I’m necessarily complaining; self-centered bad boy Connor was what had me hooked in season 1, I wouldn’t oppose returning to that starting point. That being said, I think we’ll get a bit of the same from Oliver. More self-motivated, less hesitant. I’m iffy about Maggie; she seems interesting, but she could be a total dud (not unlike a lot of the other secondary characters on the show). I’d love to see the filthy Frank — sorry, He Who Shall Not be Named — situation carry on into next week’s episode just so it isn’t cut too too short, but I agree in thinking we won’t get much overall.
AJ: Regarding Frank — I agree that I don’t want it cut too short. My main reasoning thinking it won’t last long is because of the mystery of who is trying to paint Annalise as a murderer around campus and if that’s going to tie in with the fact that the board wants to revoke her of some of her titles. And with the Connor and Oliver situation I’m hesitant only because I think I enjoyed a Connor who was morally grey opposed to strictly “bad boy” but I feel like out of the Keating Five he’s oddly been fleshed out the least so if the break up allows some time for character exploration I’d be pleased.
 AJCOooh you make a good point there! With HTGAWM, it’s always in the viewer’s best interest to assume a ton of things are connected in some way, so I can totally see that linking up. Maybe I’m retroactively looking at Connor with rose-colored glasses after last week’s episode, but the majority of my interest around the K5 bunch is in him. Though he is a criminal, in terms of development and exploration into his character, Connor can do no wrong. Gimme any well-crafted, well-written scenes with that bearded boy and I’ll be set.
AJ: I mean I totally agree (he’s a favorite) but I think it’s funny that we can have two different favorite versions of the character. And, before the show starts: how much do you think season three is actively going to pretend season two didn’t happen?
AJC: As much as New Girl pretended season 3 didn’t happen. I think (and hope) season 3 will very much feel like the aftermath of acknowledging that a lot didn’t work in season 2. And, at the risk of overgeneralizing, I think a lot of fans would be alright sweeping some of the events under the rug.
AJ: That’s a surprisingly apt comparison. I would be happy if they blatantly just wrote it out of their history.
AJC: Ditto. So much same.
 AJ: And here we go!
AJC: Still can’t decide: real tears or crocodile tears?
AJ: Now I’m thinking crocodile because of the whole “ask me about burning down my house” which makes me think they’re covering up another murder by burning the house down. So I guess the question is who is a) expendable and b) who would they want to murde?
AJC: And I’ve noticed a pattern that may uphold here: whenever Annalise is acting, she seems to overact a bit. “ARREST ME!” is a little reactionary.
AJC: Now THAT’S an opener.
AJ: Agreed. That the line that all of a sudden made me think she might not be genuine. And right? Way to appeal to the audience at hand…(Sidebar: Annalise is rocking that purple.)
AJC: Now any time I get excited about a particular moment, I’ll just be thinking, “They’re doing this so you forget season 2.” No objections though. (Her outfit’s color palette is everything right now.)
AJ: I know I don’t know if there’s been a more specific focus on making everyone look gorgeous this season but they’re doing something and they all look amazing.
AJC: RIGHT?! I just have one request for this season. If nothing else transpires that I hope to, please just PLEASE make everyone uglier. I can’t take the beauty.
AJ: It shines too bright!
AJ:I can’t tell you how unnecessary I find emotional Frank interludes.
AJC: I’m so over Frank. Sorry, Charlie.
AJ: It just always seems like time that could be better spent elsewhere with characters we actually care about.
AJC: That scene also felt sloppy for Frank. Especially compared with how meticulous he was with Lila’s murder. It was clean, he was careful. This was a little haphazard, even considering the circumstances.
AJ: I guess it’s a good visual representation of where his emotional state is? But again, perhaps I’d care if it were any other character at the center of it where as with Frank we’ve been told why we should like him but never shown.
AJC: *prayer hands emoji*
AJC: And now some characters we DO care about.
AJ: I care too much.
AJC: Nearly thought this was a flashback.
AJ: This is hurting my heart.
AJC: Asher, they’re OUR boys.
AJ: Right? Hands off.
 AJC: “Damn, the girl’s cocky.” Maybe definitely chuckled.
 AJ: Ew!
AJC: Still never fully used to the gore. And I’m a massive Hannibal fan.
 AJ: It’s always surprising to see and now I’m worried about this storyline. Me too!
AJC: The return of the case of the week is SO great to see. We had a ton of awesome storylines in season one, and then season two… yeah, we know what happened there.
AJ: Asher go to hell. “Racism for the win” is the worst line ever spoken by the character.
AJC: At times when Asher speaks, I just hear the Charlie Brown drone. Waaah-waah-waah.
AJ: And yeah I am glad that we’re back to a case to the week basis too rather than the ongoing case last year that ate up too much time. And I’m so pumped for Connor after our pre-episode discussion!
AJC: Nothing like an exciting opportunity at work to take your mind off a breakup! Connor’s going to crush it.

AJ: Since Connor has mainly been involved in romantic storylines for the entire series, this is an interesting change of pace. We need to be reminded every once in a while why these characters were supposed to be the best of the best at the start of season one.
 AJC: I completely agree. Because as much as we love them, and as much as they’re now linked by blood, they’re still supposed to be the top tier. And there are tons of students at Middleton who could be filling their spots.
 AJ: So I don’t hate this Maggie character but I have little faith in Wes’s taste after Rebecca.
AJC: 100% agree. There’s gotta be something sinister beneath the surface.
AJ: Someone needs to punch that new guy in the face. And I like the “seem sweet” at Laurel and Wes since Connor knows better.
AJC: Michaela, you can do SO MUCH BETTER than this human equivalent of an unsalted peanut. Yeah, not a fan of him.
 AJ: Michaela needs to find literally anyone better.
AJ: What is going on here? What’s the connection.
AJC: Connor’s tone of voice… there’s something there.
AJ: Right? Or maybe we’re looking too much into it. But I am so enjoying his storyline.
AJC: List of enemies: 400 pages long.
AJ: Never-ending even.
AJ: Bonnie butt out!
AJC: Bonnie’s bored, but I’m bored of Bonnie.
AJ: I can’t be any more bored than Bonnie.
AJC: Connor looks like he paints houses and makes lemonade and calls people “darling.”
AJ: AKA a babe. And I am getting so angry at all these men asking a victim to justify her trauma. Connor is going to be in so much shit for this, but man did it make me feel so satisfied, even though, again, it’s kind of unfortunate that it’s a man speaking for her.
AJC: The “Why didn’t you just leave?” question… MY BLOOD IS BOILING.
AJ: Exactly. Kudos to the show for shining a light on what really is asked in these type of situations and the sheer ignorance of justice systems sometimes.
AJC: There has to be a personal connection here. As devastating as that would be, I can’t ignore the subtleties in his voice and phrasing.
AJ: I agree and at this point I’ll be more than a little annoyed if he’s just frustrated because of the break up. That doesn’t seem like it would be enough to rile him up to such a degree.
AJC: It would be doing his character such an injustice, and would be super reductive.
AJ: The show is typically strong in representing these type of sensitive thematic issues so hopefully it will continue to do so.
AJC: If Connor needs a hug, I’d be more than willing to offer one.
AJ: It’s an injustice that he hasn’t even been offered one.
AJ: “I am not your teacher.” Loving the honesty Michaela.
AJC: “Your terrible white habits.” Bless this woman.
AJ: Bless this show! It is so confident in its identity.
AJ: I don’t get this new obsession Laurel has with Wes.
AJC: Some residual complications. Uh-oh. Yeah, what’s with the women on this show getting mixed up with admittedly mediocre men?
AJ: They just shine brighter because of it…What are you doing Connor?!
AJC: CONNOR. NO. WHAT. NO. I- Words. What are words?
AJ: Well. Now I’m terrified for his well-being. Where does he even go from this? Is this a gamble that pays off? Or completely screws him in the eyes of Annalise and then makes him expendable?
AJC: Can’t swallow those words now. This will completely change his trajectory. Whether that’s positively or otherwise, I’m scared to see.
AJ: It was a bit of the cocky, bad boy Connor back but not in the way I was hoping for… Fingers crossed now! But this could also be a red herring of who is ultimately in danger.
AJC: They’re “my girls.” Cringe. “I came here to be my dad.” Please shut your mouth.
AJ: However he didn’t completely loose me on that little speech…In terms of both of them attending to become people they weren’t.
AJC: He got there in the end! He just struggles a bit.
AJ: The show toes the line of being evocative and exploitative very delicately and this is a very well done monologue.
AJC: Very, very affecting…Connor, the first person you call is Ollie… my heart.
AJ: Ollie needs to give their relationship another chance.
AJ: Annalise is amazing…”You got out and then Irene took your place.” The cycle of abuse being shown in different ways is also important on this show.
AJC: Like it does in dialogue, the show handles the multi-faceted nature of really heavy subjects so well. It’s never black and white, and I commend them for bringing it to light in such a real way. That smile. I feel what you feel, Annie.
AJ: Especially in a show that very often leans on more, “soap opera” tactics in it’s relationship drama and I know! She got a high and then an immediate low, but now she’s fighting back.
AJ: I’d like to see someone TRY and get in her way when she’s on a warpath. They wouldn’t have a shot in hell.
AJC: We all know what happened to Emily Sinclair…
AJ: Another part of season two I’m happy to forget.
AJC: It was a hot mess. Minus the hot, triple the mess.
AJ: And a forgettable mess. Nothing worse than a boring melodrama. We only have ten minutes left?! This show moves so quick through its episodes.
AJ: Ollie, this is called mix signals.
AJC: Oh damn. Confused? Ollie, so is Connor!!!
AJ: Ollie you heartless human being! What are you doing and why are you doing this. How are you having a hard time?
AJC: Connor Walsh: too good, too pure for this earth.
AJ: I am so confused on what I should be feeling.
AJC: Is he hiding something?
AJ: Right? Like this all seems so sudden.
AJ: Bonnie and Laurel have more chemistry then Laurel and Frank ever did.
AJC: There has to be something. He’s a domestic prince, cooking Connor dinner and then flips to cold-shouldered and confusing. Laurel is honestly the best thing about Bonnie.
AJ: It’s the only reason this scene is tolerable
AJC: Or just kill Frank, which isn’t totally out of reach for this season.
AJC: Viola Davis tweeted: “5 MINUTES LEFT… DO.NOT.BLINK!”
Continue on to page three for our final thoughts!

 AJC: Something’s going to happen to Laurel here, I can feel it.
AJ: Holy shit!
AJC: AHHH. So it’s not Oliver. OH MY GOD.
AJ: I can’t believe he’s the first one to be declared safe
AJC: I thought they’d let it linger longer.
AJ: I am so worried!
AJC: Do we think moving forward we’ll be able to check a single character off as safe each episode?
AJ: I think that’s their plan, yes. But all I know is that Michaela and Connor NEED NEED NEED to be safe or I will riot and I don’t see any possible way that it’s Wes. So in that context, I guess we could guess Laurel or Bonnie and I’d only be okay wit the latter so yup, here we are again with me stressed out over this ridiculous show.
AJC: I will go full Daenerys and burn cities if they aren’t safe. Wes is generally always exempt from any harm, so I agree. It could be Asher, but again, I wouldn’t be phased.
AJ: Asher might be the most expendable of the five. But I’d like to think that they wouldn’t have Connor be dumped THEN also kill him off.
AJC: That’s just cruel.
AJ: I guess we’re going to have to wait but it’s making me crave spoilers!
AJC: I won’t actively look, but won’t be too upset if some of my worries are calmed with some info leaks. And with that ending, I’ll revisit my post-show wish from last week: a large glass of wine, please.
AJ: As long as I know Connor is safe I’ll breathe easy… And please upgrade me to a bottle.
AJ: Final thoughts on the episode?
AJC: A strong sophomore episode for the third season, but not quite as strong as the premiere. So insanely invested in Connor at this point; he definitely has my heart and my attention. Hoping for more development re: Wes/Maggie next week and the week after. Special praise goes to the powerful monologues and the careful handling of difficult topics. This season is shaping up to be the strongest yet, as it’s honing in on what makes it so special. 7/10 in terms of score for me!
AJ: I agree that it didn’t flow as effortlessly as the first episode but it did further set up some plot developments that will work their way into the season. Also, similarly to you, I was very pleased to see my favorite character get the spotlight. I think 7/10 is a fair score and I’m excited to see where next week brings us!
Rating: 7/10



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