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Annalise Got Played – ‘HTGAWM’ Season 5, Episode 7 Review

Last night’s How To Get Away With Murder did an excellent job of building off of the twists of last week to create a truly intense and captivating episode. The episode opens with the official police statement on Nate Sr’s death: that he started an altercation with the two guards transporting him to the mental home, then turned violent and stabbed an officer in the leg with a pencil. It is at that point when one of the officers pulled out their gun and shot him in the head. The death is ruled as a “justifiable homicide” by the police yet nothing about that story makes sense. Why would Nate Sr suddenly turn violent and attack guards on his very last day of imprisonment?

The sentiment is shared by the characters as the episode transitions to show everyone’s reaction to the police statement. Connor vocalizes what everyone watching was thinking: that it’s an obvious cover-up. Annalise feels betrayed and shocked by the ruling, and demands an inquest. Going first to the governor, she gets and expected no. It seems that at this point Annalise finally realizes how shady the governor’s deal was, and comes to the conclusion that Birkhead must’ve placed the hit on Lahey. Annalise enlists Teagen to help her uncover the dirt on their boss as blackmail to rehire her, establishing a powerful team that’s sure to make moves in the rest of the season.

Teagen and Annalise teaming up. Image via HTGAWM official Twitter

Annalise goes to the DA for an inquest, and despite Bonnie’s protests, he puts forth an inquest. Unfortunately, the inquest goes just as well as expected. While the reveal that one of the officers abused her husband, and Annalise taking the stand gave us a glimmer of hope that the jury would be persuaded, it didn’t work. Nate Sr’s death has not been revenged yet, and Annalise makes it very clear that she will not stop until it is. That vengeance begins with taking down Governor Birkhead.

Michaela and Nate Jr. after the inquest. Image Credit of Peter Nowalk’s Twitter

However, going against the Governor will be tougher than usual for Annalise, because in a tense standoff between the two powerhouses (best line in the episode: “You’re basic!”), Birkhead reveals she has serious dirt on Annalise: the adoption papers. Hold on, adoption papers? We don’t know yet what these refer to, but it’s very serious for Annalise. We saw that Bonnie knows, and it’s so bad that she gave Annalise another drink, despite her reawakened addiction. Seeing Annalise losing her sobriety is heartbreaking, but Bonnie’s words of encouragement uphold a theme in this season of dealing/helping others with mental health. Annalise watched over Bonnie in an earlier episode when her past snuck back up on her, and it seems it’s Annalise’s turn to face her demons. Fans have so far theorized that the adoption papers are Annalise’s own, or they’re Gabriel’s, and he is in fact her son.

Speaking of Gabriel, every episode he gets stranger and more confusing. As Frank continues to monitor him along with Laurel, we see Gabriel stalking Michaela’s Instagram. This becomes even creepier when at the end of the episode when the two hookup in his room. Frank comes so close to telling Annalise about Gabriel’s strange behavior, but misses his chance when Bonnie picks up the phone and informs him that Annalise is drinking again. The episode ends with another scene from the wedding, and this one is crucial: it’s Bonnie leaving the body of the deceased and comforting and unknown person. People have gone crazy trying to dissect who died from the small glimpse we got, as well as who Bonnie is even talking to.

This episode had some amazing messages this week too. Keeping with the theme of issues in the incarceration system, especially black people and their interactions with enforcement, Annalise delivers a stunning speech to the jury. She pleads for them to do the right thing and reminds them of the troubling narrative that has been placed onto black people for over a century. It is powerful and inspiring, and the speech itself was created Viola Davis, who delivered a poignant performance this week. Annalise on the jury stands out as the most memorable moment in the episode, and I can’t wait to see what other messages of empowerment she delivers.

Viola Davis’ script. Image via Peter Nowalk’s Twitter. 

Annalise’s goal to create genuine social change is one that’s so relevant to current times, and HTGAWM exploring this topic is exactly what TV needs. Birkhead pulled the plug on the project her and Annalise were supposed to roll out the next week (unsurprisingly), but Annalise makes it clear that that won’t stop her. She even changes her tune with Emmett, promising to help him with the board instead of blackmailing him. It’ll be interesting to see how his misconduct story line unfolds, as it can result in an insensitive bout of victim-blaming, or it can result in a very important story of how men are also abused or betrayed. So far it seems that the latter will be the tune of Emmett’s story line, as Annalise likens what happened to her breaking free of her husband’s betrayal.

In this episode, a lot was revealed while still keeping us asking for more details. It was tensely crafted and fiery. The episode was a strong pickup from last week’s repetitive lull, and I’m immensely excited for how next week will move forward and develop everything we’ve learned this episode.

Featured Image Credit of HTGAWM Official Twitter 

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