By Lexie Schapitl
In this week’s episode of “HTGAWM,” the Lila Stangard trial was the COTW, which makes my life a whole lot easier. The episode opens with the team conducting Rebecca’s trial prep, which she is not taking very seriously. Throughout the episode, Rebecca proves to be a difficult client. Annalise calls her “the terrorist” and says she makes her “grateful for the miscarriages.” A little harsh, Annie. But Rebecca calling Sam “Mr. Darcy” and being generally annoying doesn’t help the situation.
Then, Frank bursts in and tells them to turn on the TV. An anonymous source has leaked to the press the news of Rebecca and Griffin’s tryst the night Lila was murdered, and suggested that Rebecca was the one to initiate it. After all, Griffin the virgin quarterback had taken a vow of chastity while Rebecca was the “townie slut” drug dealer. Annalise believes Griffin’s defense team or the prosecution was behind this, in an effort to slut shame Rebecca. “Everyone knows that it’s a woman who gets vilified in these scenarios,” she says at a court hearing. Preach, girl.
Because the media attention surrounding the case could create undue bias for or against the codefendants, the judge rules that a gag order be put in place.
After this issue is settled, Griffin’s attorney motions for Lila’s body to be exhumed for a second autopsy, as he believes evidence has been overlooked. There are marks on Lila’s neck that his expert witness claims are consistent with fingernail marks. Because Griffin has to keep his fingernails short for football, this evidence would greatly help O’Reilly’s case. Rebecca’s, not so much.
Annalise and company attempt to stop the exhumation by discrediting this so-called expert witness. DA Wendy Parks doesn’t want this exhumation either, so she provides Annalise with history of the expert’s past testimony, which is shaky at best. The team also convinces Mrs. Stangard to testify. She cries on the stand, saying that Rebecca and Griffin murdered her baby girl “like animals,” and pleads that her daughter be allowed to rest in peace. Things are looking pretty good for the Keating team until Parks turns on them in court, presenting the testimony of another expert who claims the marks are consistent with a woman’s fingernails.
What caused the sudden shift? Annalise goes to Nate to find out, but he won’t help her. This has happened so many times I’m starting to wonder if Annalise has short-term memory loss. Nate doesn’t want to help you. Take a hint. But he does reveal that he knows about Frank planting the phone in Griffin’s car.
It turns out Parks flip-flopped because Griffin’s defense had agreed to accept a plea deal, but only if the exhumation was granted. With Griffin’s defense and the DA colluding, Rebecca doesn’t stand a chance. But, if the team could portray Griffin as such a deplorable person that the DA could never justify negotiating with him, then the plea deal would be off the table. Just one problem: The gag order that Keating ironically fought for forty minutes earlier. Annalise and her team can’t legally speak to the press, but Rebecca potentially could as long as Annalise does not tell her to (which she implicitly does).
Rebecca tells the press that Griffin raped her the night Lila died, and everybody else justifiably loses their minds. Parks and the O’Reilly team insist that Keating was behind this convenient leak, and the judge says she will order an investigation from the bar should any evidence suggest this. But the plan ultimately works: Griffin’s plea deal is definitely not in the cards anymore.
However, the judge does order exhumation and a second autopsy, as the results of the initial autopsy are hazy and questionable.
After court, Wes is mad at Rebecca for lying to the press, and the two fight in his apartment. Shonda once again employs the fight-kiss convention, and Wes and Rebecca end up in bed after an entire episode of the two insisting they were “not screwing.” Afterward, Wes tells Rebecca a little bit more about himself: He was born in Haiti, is allergic to peanuts, and oh by the way his mom committed suicide when he was 12. UMMM. Way to bury the lead there, Waitlist.
Later, Rebecca is buying ice cream in a convenience store when Nate approaches her. He reveals that he used to work for the police department, and that he knows she didn’t kill Lila. “We both know who did,” he says. “Help me catch him.”
Bonnie comes to Annalise and Sam’s room late that night to share the results of the second autopsy. The good news: The marks on Lila’s neck are actually postmortem ant bites. The bad news: The ME missed something else the first time around. Lila was about six weeks pregnant.
Stop. It was already a stretch to suggest that a medical examiner would overlook puncture marks on Lila’s neck while investigating a murder by strangulation, but a pregnancy?? A literal fetus growing inside the victim? Did this guy cheat his way through ME school? Can I get Dr. Warner up in here please?
In our flash forwards, it is suggested that Rebecca was the one who killed Sam. First we see Wes cleaning up Rebecca, who is covered in Sam’s blood, before the two share a kiss. Because nothing sets the mood like homicide. Later, Rebecca and Wes are in her hotel room when she says she “had to kill him or he was going to kill me,” so she grabbed the trophy and did what she had to do. She also adds she’s glad he’s dead and he deserved to die.
Other takeaways: The rest of the Keating 5 are somewhat irrelevant to this episode. Most importantly, Flaurel reunite. After Laurel considers leaving the firm for a job at legal aid with Khan, Frank apologizes for being a jerk since she turned him down, and says that while he thinks about her all the time, he’ll get over it. To this Laurel says she doesn’t want him to get over it, and the two have sex on Annalise’s porch.
Connor is torn up over Oliver, and is finding comfort in any guy he can find on “Humpr.” Asher is once again consigned to comic relief. Michaela needs to sign a pre-nup. Nothing earth shattering.
So how did Lila end up with a bun in the oven and strangled in a water tank? We’ll find out next week, when we hear the story “straight from the dead pregnant sorority girl.” That was an actual quote from the promo for episode eight.