Review – How to Get Away With Murder S02E04

Season 2, Episode 4 – ‘Skanks Get Shanked’

Since the season premiere, I’ve been asking myself, what could Annalise possibly do to Wes, Conner, Laurel and Michaela that would warrant her attempted murder? This week we are given an explanation that might actually make sense – a rare occurrence for this series. Sure, Murder has some awesome moments, but even its fans have to agree that it is shaping up to be a mess.

In ‘Skanks Get Shanked’, Annalise is defending a doe-eyed high schooler accused of murdering her best friend. By the way, I’m still on the fence about whether this is the worst or greatest episode title ever. Annalise’s defence rests on the argument that Zoe was coerced into stabbing her best friend a whopping fifty-two times by a clique of mean school girls. It’s a rather weak defence, helped in no part by the fact that Annalise spends most of the episode distracted by her own inner turmoil.

Nate’s wife, Nia Lahey (you know, the one dying of cancer that is always conveniently forgotten about until she is needed for plot purposes), makes her first real appearance in this episode as she pleads with Annalise to kill her. All of their interactions were rather bizarre. Nia (Enuka Okuma) alternates between guilt tripping Annalise, begging Annalise to love the husband who cheated on her and blackmailing Annalise into outsourcing the pills she needs to euthanise herself. It’s a subplot that the series could have done without. In fact, I can’t even understand why Nate needed a dying spouse in the first place, other than to make him even more insufferable.

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There’s a brief reprieve for Katherine and Caleb this week. Annalise sends Michaela to investigate whether or not the incest rumours between the two are actually true, primarily because Michaela “has boobs” and if Caleb is interested in her then he mustn’t be sleeping with his adopted sister. It’s a cheap ploy and something I’d expect from Frank, not an empowered woman like Annalise. Michaela ends up discovering that Katherine is a virgin, something that they can be medically proven to a jury, and develops a crush on Caleb in the process.

It was difficult to invest in the case of the week, mostly because the outcome seemed dire from the get-go and the client was not even remotely sympathetic. I always find it funny when a TV series goes down the well-trodden route of ‘the unpopular impressionable girl’ is lured to the dark side by the ‘popular girls’ when all the actors cast look like extras from Pretty Little Liars.

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The most interesting aspect of the case were the parallels Conner drew between Annalise’s opening argument in court and the subtle manipulation Annalise exerts over her students. Conner makes a compelling argument when he compares Annalise’s treatment of them to that of a cult, an elite club that elevates their feelings of superiority and implicitly ties them to their leader. Connor has been slowly resisting Annalise more and more and this episode gives even more weight to his chilly words, “It’s always your fault” in the flash forward. Combined with Wes teaming up with Nate and Rebecca’s foster brother Levi, I’m hoping to see more of the Keating Five rebelling against their mentor because it can only end horribly for all parties involved.

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