I am not married. I have not been married. I want to get married—it’s a desire that flares up each time I see a baby laugh or a puppy trot or a 50-year-old bachelor buy single-serve noodles. But no, I’m not married, and the only thing I’m engaged to are tweets from Denny’s. So to say I am in any position to throw judgmental side-eye at an unfortunate marriage is to lie completely. MUCH LIKE SAM KEATING. Ohhh, do you see what I did there? Because he’s a liar! And maybe a murderer! But definitely a liar! Welcome to the recap of How to Get Away with Murder, Episode Two: The One with the Sketchy Husbands.
If every marriage is like the two and a half unions on display in episode 2–titled “It’s All Her Fault”—then maybe I’d better rethink my stance on rushing into the institution. Or, more accurately, maybe I’d better just make sure to give my future spouse a comprehensive evaluation before we wed. For instance: Does he seem like the kind of guy who would exchange innocuous emails with a much younger woman but delete them in a panic if I ever raised an eyebrow? Does he exhibit murderer-ish tendencies like hunting, taxidermy, a bizarre affection for knives, or wearing a mauve waist towel post-shower? Does he have either (a) crazy eyes, (b) shirts that are too crisp, or (c) a killer combination of both? If yes to all, then maybe it’s time to reconsider the idea of wedded not-so-bliss, which was certainly the hot topic on Thursday’s episode. And it’s all because Annalise thinks her hubby may have gotten away with murder.
IT’S A DELETED E-MAIL, CHARLIE BROWN!
The big, looming umbrella that casts a shadow over this episode is the idea that Annalise—after her epic “Betcha the boyfriend did it” shade toss in the final moments of the pilot—has begun to fall deeper into suspicion that her husband, Sam, killed his student Lila Stangard.
At first, it seems as if she’s just giving him skeptical glances here and there, but we have to remember that Annalise isn’t just taking stock of what Sam says about Lila, but how he says it. She’s noticing body language, demeanor, emotion (or lack thereof). Annalise’s vacant looks while her husband makes morning small-talk are simultaneously saying everything and nothing; they’re filled with some combination of scrutiny, sadness, maybe even hatred, and certainly by the end of the hour, when she’s become convinced of Sam’s culpability, there’s a fourth element: fear. (That said, the actual dialogue Sam says is important, too, like when he remarks, “All the time her body was in that water tank probably destroyed any evidence,” an offhand statement made while pouring coffee and looking altogether way too cheerful for the morning.)
Tying in with Annalise’s marital misgiving is the case-of-the-week, featuring guest star Steven Weber (already creepy, but even more so when wearing cream fabrics) as Max St. Vincent, a billionaire hunter who stands trial for savagely stabbing his wife in their bed in his horrifying taxidermy-ed McMansion. It’s another case of obvious guilt, but Annalise’s students do a bang-up job of getting him off by tossing out the murder weapon (thanks, Wes and a police receptionist who hates her job), attacking the motive (thanks, Connor and IT guy Oliver) and securing the alibi (thanks, Frank and Prom Queen and Douche Face and strip club-based blackmail). The kids manage to land a Not Guilty verdict for Max, and they get their first taste of public outrage when they’re harangued into an elevator by angry patrons crying for justice. (First to crack: Michaela, because obviously.) The overall theme to the case, though, has to do with murdering whack-job husbands who dovetail with Annalise’s classroom question at the episode’s outset: “Do you know who anyone really is? Your instincts better be good, or you’ll find yourself choosing the wrong people to make a study group with, to sleep with, or even marry.” And so, back to Sam and Annalise…
Two major things are revealed in Keatingland: first, that Sam had e-mail exchanges with Dead Girl Lila. Annalise sneakily searches through her husband’s phone while he’s in the shower mulling the benefits of chicken tikka masala and finds emails between Sam and DGL that, all things considered, are pretty run-of-the-mill professor-student interactions: things about office hours and exam grades and thesis ideas and whether you can really see Ben Affleck’s penis in Gone Girl. But what really seems to bug Annalise is the way Lila signs her name—L. Just L.
Now, I have to say, I sign my emails with a single letter every once in a while, which, although douchey, doesn’t necessarily suggest that I’m sleeping with every coworker and publicist with whom I interact. So it makes me wonder—if the simple letter “L” is really the only thing sending Annalise into such a fit of suspicion, then maybe there’s a level of unreliability to her that suggests she’s overreacting and we shouldn’t necessarily believe everything Annalise believes.
But she has reason to be skeptical, and that’s thanks to the second big development: Sam had another affair. It comes out when Annalise asks Sam, point blank, “Were you screwing her?” Sam avoids eye contact and says no, and Annalise hits right back, “You sure about that?” So he accuses her of being crazy, and she GOES CRACKERS (not full-on Ritz but, like, definitely Wheat Thins): “Well, shouldn’t I be!? It’s happened before.” BOOM. Drop the mic, spike the football, take the cookies out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Sam’s adulterous history—with another student, or perhaps with Bonnie?—is a big revelation and certainly one that we’ll revisit in the future, but in the present, we now know Annalise has a concrete reason to be paranoid. Sam, you ostensibly sleazy, reportedly adulterous, possibly homicidal sketchball!
And so, after an already distrustful Annalise discovers that Sam has later deleted the emails from Lila, she goes into full-on panic mode and runs to Nate, who is still upset with her for, oh, casually blackmailing him last week. (“I’m done with your crazy,” he sassed her outside the courthouse.) But Annalise fearfully and tearfully begs Nate to look into Sam’s alibi—he was allegedly at Yale the night she was killed—because she believes Sam’s alibi might not check out.
So what does this mean for us amateur sleuths trying to solve Lila’s murder? First, it definitely proves Annalise is not a suspect in Lila’s case—look no further than the teardrop on her pillow after she sleeps with Sam. That teardrop signifies Annalise’s genuine pain and fear and, frankly, you simply cannot lie to viewers in private moments like those (a mistake Homeland made in season 3 when it tried to pull a fast one). Second, we now know that Sam is definitely adulterous, had more than a passing connection to L, and felt a reason to delete her emails—so what else is he hiding?
But oh, Sam can rest easy for now because we’ve already got our first (but certainly not last) arrests in the DGL case. Shortly after the police rule Lila’s death a homicide, the cops interview her boyfriend Griffin, who, hours later, is arrested—along with Wes’ neighbor Rebecca.
Let’s talk about Rebecca, shall we?
NEXT: I literally just told you we’re going to talk about Rebecca.