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'How To Get Away With Murder' Season 1, Episode 3: Smile or Go to Jail

Kelly O'Mara |
October 10, 2014 | 12:04 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

If every week is going to be a flash back and forth as we learn more about what brought each of the fabulous five to the murdering point, then last week was Wes’s and this week is Michaela’s.

We start again in the present — with the bonfire and the partying college kids — but this time it’s right after the murder. Wes comforts Rebecca, while Michaela has a nervous breakdown in the corner. “We have to go,” they all tell her, but she is freaking out. In all fairness, this is probably completely legitimate response to seeing your classmates kill your professor’s husband using a trophy that you hoped to win.

Back two months earlierm Michaela is having sex with her fiance. He is attractive and ambitious, because non-attractive, non-ambitious people aren’t allowed on the grounds of this fictional university. But, then she gets a call from Professor Keating and has to leave.

While she’s having bedroom fun, Wes is not having fun at the police station. He wants to talk to his mysterious neighbor Rebecca, who is locked up on account of possibly killing Lila Stanguard, but the clerk says he can only get in if he’s a lawyer. As Wes leaves, the football player, ex-boyfriend of Lila (possible ex-something to Rebecca) is being released on bail.

READ MORE: "'How To Get Away With Murder' Season 1, Episode 2: It's All Her Fault

At the school, the headmaster is asking Professor Keating to represent the star football player, Griffin, at trial. The headmaster says some pretty awesome things while asking this, like “The female suspect is none of our concern” and “We’ve given you virtually unlimited latitude in how you run your class.” That’s certainly one way to put it. Keating says she’ll think about it.

But first she has to call Detective Nate, her former (or not so former?) lover. She needs to know if he’s found anything about her husband’s alibi for the night of Lila’s murder. He says he’s at Yale right now checking it out. 

Are you surprised that he finds out her husband cancelled the lecture last minute? You’re not surprised? Of course you’re not.

At Keating’s office, Michaela is making out with her fiance Aidan on the porch when Keating and the group walk out. I think the writers did this just so we could see Viola Davis/Keating’s face upon this intrusion onto her porch. Michaela introduces Aidan to everyone, but Connor already knows, like knows, him from boarding school. “Guess we have more in common that I thought,” Connor says to Michaela. It takes her another 20 minutes in the show to figure out what we have already figured out from this comment.

At the police station, the gang meets this week’s case. While they’re waiting, Wes asks Connor if his IT friend could hack a phone. The case they’re meeting is a suburban mom arrested for sex in the park. What?! That’s so boring, so mundane. Law associate Bonnie tells them not all cases are glamorous and exciting. For a second I actually believed her. But, then, they walk out of the police station and three FBI vans pull up to arrest the suburban mom. She’s wanted for the 1994 bombing of a world financial institution! Her name isn’t really her name! Of course, a sex in the park case isn’t really a simple sex in the park case!

At the jail, Keating interviews Paula Murphy and Elena Aguilar. She's the suburban sex mom turned eco-bomber (or the other way around). She’s been on the run since the bombing, which killed a janitor. But her fingerprints were run after she jerked off some guy in the park. This is why you shouldn’t jerk off people in parks. Her husband is, understandably, not happy. She wants to take the 10 year deal with the feds, but Keating says, “We can win this.”

When Connor disputes that claim later in her office, she takes away the trophy from him. Isn’t the need to declare one person the best each week really just a manifestation of so many other issues here? She takes it away from him because he shouldn’t doubt her. So there.

Cutting back and forth between class and the courtroom — or, isn’t the courtroom like a classroom — Keating quizzes them about the Patty Hearst case and what it takes to establish a mind control defense. They need to establish one leader had influence and that the bombing was his idea. Keating plants these seeds during her examinations of the other co-conspirators from the bombing, who are all in jail. Wasn’t it really all Gabe Sachs who pushed them, who led them down this path?

In the office, Frank wants to help with lawyer work, but Keating tells him to leave it to the real lawyers. Asher — the odd man out in the murderous squad — finds Gabe Sachs’ prison records. He’s in the federal hospital, where he went the day after Elena was arrested.

Keating tries to convince Elena to go talk to Gabe and convince him to testify to help her. The rest of the group debates the fact that Frank isn’t really a lawyer. Wes’s phone rings. Only, it’s not his phone; it’s the phone Rebecca left at his house. The person on the line is calling for Lila, though, not Rebecca! He was told Lila could “hook him up.”

Flashing forward again to the four of them in the woods with the body. Michaela is still freaking out, but Laurel has the genius idea that they should use the college bonfire as their alibi. They all go to the party and fake have fun, snapping pictures. “Smile or go to jail,” Connor tells Michaela. True. So true.

READ MORE: "'How To Get Away With Murder' Premiere Recap"

Back in the past, Elena talks to Gabe in prison. There is a lot of sparking going on in that room. They hold hands and he promises to say she had nothing to do with the bombing.

As they drive back from the prison, Elena says she missed him. He makes her feel alive. She was missing that thrill in her life, which is why she went to the park to jerk off that random guy. But that wasn’t what she needed. What she needed was sexy eyes from a bomber locked up in jail. Keating looks deep in thought. She knows what it is to need the thrill. Oh, she knows.

She’s still thinking about that while having dinner with her husband and friends. Her husband says he didn’t get the job at Yale because they went with someone else, but we know it’s because he skipped his lecture there last minute. So many lies.

Keating texts Detective Nate, who is still in Yale tracking down this alibi. He is, perhaps, a very slow detective. But, he’s effective. He finds the garage where he husband’s car was during his trip. Except that it wasn’t there one night, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Could that be when he killed Lila?

At the office/house, the crew interview a new potential client: Griffin, the star football player. He tells them a complicated story. He was at a party at his frat and some of the guys wanted drugs, so he called Rebecca, a drug dealer who Lila was friends with. He was really messed up, so he and Rebecca started having sex, which is when Lila walked in. Him and Lila were both virgins though! Lila flips out, he says, and starts scratching him. See, that’s why his DNA is under her fingernails. Totally legitimate. Rebecca, he says, set up the whole thing and texted Lila to come over. She must be the one who murdered Lila. Wes is skeptical of this story.

Naturally, Wes then decides to doctor a lawyer’s ID and sneak in to talk to Rebecca in jail as her “public defender.” He tells her he found Lila’s phone and that she needs to trust him. She yells for a guard instead and rats him out to the guard.

Over at the office, Laurel asks for permission to go to a law school party. Frank says go and they make googly eyes at each other. At the party, she starts talking to a guy from legal aid. Frank walks in and thinks she’s smiling at him, but she’s smiling at the legal aid guy, who she then makes out with. Frank is hurt. Even non-lawyers have feelings. 

Michaela finally catches on that her fiance had sex with Connor back during boarding school. She loses it. She loses it a lot this episode.

While they’re partying, Keating has to come and pick Wes up at the police station, where presumably he is being detained for impersonating a lawyer, though I’m not actually sure that’s illegal. Wes launches into a big speech about fairness and justice and star football player Griffin is a liar and Rebecca has nothing. Rebecca needs Keating. Fire him, if you want, but she needs you, he says. 

Keating says they have a case they have to deal with first. Back in court, Gabe Sachs is called for the prosecution, not the defense! What do you think will happen?! If you guessed that he’ll say the bombing was all Elena's idea, then you’d be right. I think you might be starting to get the hang of this show. On cross-examination, he says he agreed to testify for the prosecution because he was promised early release.

Elena is upset. Her husband is upset. Keating is upset.

Keating tells the law crew to prove their worth, which seems to be something she says every week. So, Michaela charges off and finds something about Elena's mom calling Gabe in prison. But, when she rushes back to share the news, it doesn’t matter. Elena's gone missing. We see her get on a bus, with her hair hidden under a hat as a super secret disguise, and sit down next to Gabe and start making out with him.

“Choose your husband wisely,” Keating tells Michaela. She’s always full of good life advice.

Detective Nate and Professor Keating meet in a car and he tells her what he found in Yale. He says he found nothing suspicious. Her husband was at the lecture and couldn’t have had anything to do with Lila’s death. We know he’s lying, but why? Why? She tries to love up on him and he tells her to go home.

Back in the murderous dark woods, they’re done with the burning of the body, but Michaela is freaking out because she lost her engagement ring. That, guys, is the real tragedy here.

Back in the past, we see her and Aidan make up and make out. She tells him she has a plan for her life and it does not include him screwing it up. If he does, she will divorce him and destroy him. Which I sort of want to see.

Keating tells the university president/headmaster that she’s made a decision. Bonnie tells Keating’s husband the same decision, while making flirty faces at him. Does anyone want to take the bet that he wasn’t at Yale because he was having sexy times with Bonnie? 

The decision Keating has made is that she will represent Rebecca. She gives Wes the super special trophy for his big speech.

Unfortunately for everyone, when the crew shows up at the jail to interview Rebecca, the prosecutor tells them she just confessed. On tape. How will they fix this? If only we could find out in a regularly scheduled time once a week.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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