This post will contain major spoilers for episode 3×09 of How to Get Away with Murder. I will talk at length about this season’s ‘Under the Sheet’ reveal so if you don’t want to know yet, don’t read on.
I’ve honestly been dreading writing this recap since I watched the midseason finale, ‘Who’s Dead?’. It was an incredibly intense episode and definitely felt like one of HTGAWM’s trademark jaw-dropping, mind-racing episodes but it left me chilled and numb to my core. I’ll try to keep myself in check but this was the worst episode of HTGAWM for me, and I’m not sure whether I want to continue watching or what exactly I’ll be watching if I do. I’ll keep up with the rest of season 3 but I think 3×09 has started the show’s descent, quite frankly. I struggled to write this recap because I can’t look at this episode in a light-hearted, entertaining, humorous way like I usually try to and I think this will be my last HTGAWM recap. (However, I may be recapping Scandal season 6 when it airs in the new year, so stay tuned for that). We finally found out the big reveal that this season has been torturously building up to and I’m mad. My theories were wrong, my hopes were destroyed and my interest in this show and it’s story has been left considerably weakened. I’d been reading various theories beforehand and convinced myself it couldn’t possibly happen but alas. Let’s get on with the recap. This post will probably be more of a tribute to our fallen character, rather than a solid recap because I just want to plainly tell you what happened and agonize over the reveal.
The episode begins where it ended last week: Frank holding a gun to his head while Annalise and Bonnie yell contradicting things at him, like an angel and devil sat on his shoulders. Bonnie eventually convinces him to stop by telling him she loves him and he loves her and he shouldn’t hurt himself, if only for her. Annalise who’s been tormenting Bonnie about sleeping with Frank for the past few episodes seems super surprised once it’s finally confirmed for her – probably because she senses a shift in allegiance from Bonnie who’s been so loyal to her up until now, or at least seemed that way.
Then begins the slow build-up to the reveal. Annalise throws her students an end-of-term party because they’ve all passed and provides them with bottles of champagne. Annalise is not a regular mom, she’s a cool mom. They all use this opportunity to get as wasted as they can, including Laurel, who still doesn’t realise she’s pregnant. Before Michaela can drown herself in celebrations and alcohol, Asher reveals that he answered Michaela’s phone and her mother is on the way to her place. Michaela is basically screaming on the inside and goes home to deal with her mother, who wants to stay with her for a few weeks. Meanwhile, Laurel and Wes fight over Frank knowing about them and the insecurities they feel in their relationship.
Annalise’s hairdresser reveals that the ADA (Annalise 2.0 but worse – like those updates Apple keep pulling on us all) has been showing up to the same salon and collecting information about Annalise. She is bad news and weirdly obsessive. Annalise marches into her office and let’s her know that this is essentially war and Annalise always wins. Afterwards, Annalise confronts Nate and they have another explosive fight, this time in public and Annalise hilariously tells a random passerby to “keep walking!” while her and Nate call each other bitches. Afterwards, Nate goes to Annalise 2.0 and tells her their little fling is over. He was used by the original Annalise and he’ll be damned if he lets her wannabe walk all over him too.
Annalise is at her house, drowning her sorrows in alcohol, remembering everything that’s happened so far and destroying her laptop and case files on Rebecca and Sam and all the mess on this show. She later goes to Bonnie’s drunk and Bonnie takes care of her. Annalise is bitter about Bonnie and Frank but Bonnie tells her it meant nothing, when it quite clearly did. Before Bonnie tucks Annalise in, they kiss. I’m so confused and disturbed by the power dynamics displayed in this trio’s relationship. Meanwhile, Wes gets a call from his lawyer, who tells him to come down to the police station for some questioning – which the sneaky ADA is behind. She wants to get Annalise and she’s going through our poor Wes. The police reveal that they’ve found Rebecca’s body, building on their murder case against Annalise. Oh damn.
While Bonnie and Frank cosy up and Bonnie tries to convince Frank to take the fall for everything because of the investigation into Annalise, Annalise wakes up and calls her students to meet at her house before going to Oliver at the clinic in order to get him to hack into the ADA’s system. Oliver, who, after a brief conversation with Connor earlier on in the episode, has been putting the pieces together about the night of Sam’s death and the bonfire where Connor showed up at his place traumatised, is more than ready to help. Meanwhile Nate shows up at the Keating House, followed closely by Laurel, who continues to text Wes about his whereabouts after their fight. Laurel walks into the house calling Annalise’s name while the door shuts and the camera pans away to show the whole house eerily standing in the night, before the explosive fire goes off.
Now, all the confusing, mysterious green-toned scenes we’ve gotten throughout the season are put together like a puzzle. Annalise shows up at the scene, sees the body. She meets Oliver and asks him to erase everything on her phone before she’s arrested. Mugshots are taken, calls are made. Bonnie arrives as Annalise’s lawyer and meets up with Oliver. The fire brigade reveal that another body is in the building – Laurel is revealed to be injured but alive and pregnant. Annalise is charged with arson and first-degree murder after an anonymous source has come forward. We find out the person Bonnie was calling from the hospital was Frank, who’s alive. Oliver calls Connor’s phone which is at Michaela’s place, while Connor is out sleeping with Thomas at Asher’s party in the dorms. Laurel wakes up and worriedly scribbles Wes’ name on a notepad Meggy gives her. Asher, Michaela and Oliver confront Bonnie and ask her to tell them who’s been killed. Connor shows up at the hospital and joins in. With Bonnie, Annalise, Frank, Michaela, Laurel, Asher, Connor and Oliver accounted for – Wes and Nate are left. The reveal begins. A coroner stands over a sheet-covered body, recording the injuries and cause of death as someone walks up to her. We hear Nate before we see him and the sheet is lifted. A half-burnt Wes is under the sheet. We see Annalise’s initial reaction outside the Keating House. Bonnie confirms it for the students – tears and shock. Meggy sees a smiling picture of Wes on the news as it’s confirmed and turns around to a distraught Laurel. They curl up and cry together. We get to see some of Wes’ final moments alive. He didn’t snitch but left the police station while the police went to get him full immunity. He got Annalise’s message and was making his way towards the house – scurrying past the police and Nate at the station. Before we see a final shot of Wes walking out the police station doors, Nate shows up at Annalise’s cell in the present time and tells her that Wes was already dead before the fire. Someone murdered him between the time he left the police station and the fire. The episode ends.
You guys. I. Am. Devastated. And heartbroken. This usually doesn’t happen to me with TV shows but here I am – mourning a fictional character who deserved better than what he got. After investing so much time in a show, in a character, in a world, in a storyline, a reveal like this really hurts. Wes Gibbins was the heart of HTGAWM. Everything on this show revolved around him as much as it did Annalise. He was the core of the show – everything that happened from the very first episode was directly or indirectly related to him. And he shouldn’t have died. He still had so much potential, he was still caught up in so many storylines and his death feels like nothing more than a clumsy decision for cheap shock value – something this show didn’t need. Kudos to them for lulling so many of us into a false sense of security by telling us they would reveal one alive person every week, showing us Wes and then pulling this. But I’m bitter as hell. I’d seen people present theories that it could still be Wes under the sheet because his so-called snitching was not time-stamped for after the fire but I desperately wanted to believe that couldn’t be true. I’d prepared myself for a Nate or Frank death – deaths that would have made much more sense. So, as much as I dreaded they would do this and felt uneasy throughout the whole episode – it still comes as a shock and still hurts.
I know Alfie Enoch has revealed he’ll be in the second half of the season through flashbacks, as we try to figure out who’s murdered Wes but I’m sad that I won’t get to see him grace my screen as an alive Wes. It’s sad to see an incredibly talented actor and well-developed character have his time cut short. Now that I know Wes has been dead all along, it’s soured all the episodes of season 3 so far and I doubt the future episodes will be any sweeter. Looking back at this season, I can’t bring myself to enjoy his story or happiness or his relationship with Laurel that was cut short before it could bloom. It was incredibly jarring to see Wes’ dead body like that, interspersed with the happy picture of him the news showed and the other characters’ reactions. It was gratuitous – the writers made it as shocking and unnecessarily awful as they could. I’m mad that Wes’ life and story was cut short when he had so much potential and so much left to give this show – whether you liked him or not, he was this show’s heart and soul. I’m not quite sure where this show will go without Wes, but I’m not at all confident it’ll be upwards – much like how Teen Wolf suffered after the death of Allison Argent in its third season. This is all part of the reason that I don’t know whether I’ll be watching season 3 – a decision like this has never ended well and I personally can’t begin to comprehend HTGAWM as a show without Wes Gibbins. Maybe I just need time but I’ll be forever bitter. B-I-T-T-E-R.
I’m mad that Wes’s story ends so horribly and so abruptly – the story of a young black man who had every awful thing happen to him and yet still remained kind and loving despite his circumstances. He was the one character who tried to always do right and support everyone around him and was unfairly blamed for everything that went wrong. In a show with awful characters who make awful decisions, he was always a quiet gem – a character who got caught up in the mess but still tried to be the best person he could, a character the audience could relate to, a character the audience was rooting for. I’m sad that Annalise has lost her surrogate son who she worked so hard to protect. I’m sad that Wes’ mother sacrificed herself so that her son could have a better life and he couldn’t attain it. I’m upset that Laurel has lost her person – her best friend, her boyfriend, the one person she consistently trusted. I’m mad that Wes died while in a fight with Laurel, unaware that she’s pregnant with his child – it hasn’t been confirmed but it seems pretty likely at this point that he is in fact the father. I’m sad that we were given their happiness before it was cruelly torn away. It’s devastating that Wes won’t graduate, become a lawyer, settle down away from everything and find the happiness he deserved. I’m sad that a mentally-ill character, who suffered so much, was just on the brink of happiness with a strong support system he’d craved for so long and it was taken away. It’s such a waste to see two and a half seasons of solid character-building being thrown away, for god knows what. There was still more to Wes’s story, to Wes’s life – it’s hard to believe this could’ve been a well-thought out decision, it doesn’t feel like it.
I do think HTGAWM is going to take a huge hit going forward – how do you continue breathing life into a show after tearing away its heart? The dynamics will change for sure but there will be a huge hole left in the fabric of the show that no amount of shock twists, exceptional acting or contrived plots will be able to mend. While I believe this – I can acknowledge that the writers have done brilliantly to keep disillusioned fans like me to keep watching, at least for the remainder of the season. We want to know what happened to Wes and we want to enjoy what is probably Alfie’s remaining time on the show. In true HTGAWM fashion, the midseason finale left us with more questions than it did answers:
Who killed Wes? Who caused the fire? Why did Annalise call everyone to the house? Who snitched on Annalise? How did the police find Rebecca? Where was Nate while the fire happened and how did he leave the house unscathed? What did Bonnie convince Frank to do? Because Laurel seemed to be unsure whether Wes was alive as she woke up and scribbled his name, did she get to see him alive before he died? I guess we’ll all have to tune in to the second half of the season when it airs, but I’ll still have a bitter taste in my mouth. RIP Wes Gibbins. You had more to give and you deserved a better ending.