How to Get Away with Murder RECAP: Smile or Go to Jail... Or, Michaela's Day in the Limelight (S1:E3)


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  • Dean Thomas’ neighbor is under arrest in connection with the Lila Stangard murder, as is Lila’s boyfriend.
  • Annalise worries her husband may be involved in Lila’s murder, too.
  • Everyone in the world is kind of an asshole except maybe Dean Thomas.
  • Three months in the future, Annalise’s husband is dead and her top students are trying to hide the body.

We open up at the Middleton pep rally three months into the future. As the revelry continues at the bonfire, America’s Next Top Lawyers arrive at Annalise’s house where Sam is dead. Dean Thomas is comforting Goth Girl while Michaela is the corner freaking out. Laurel and Connor try to snap her out of it so they can focus on what to do next.

God, Michaela! You can’t freak out over dead bodies so much, you wimp!

God, Michaela! You can’t freak out over dead bodies so much, you wimp!

Michaela can’t stop staring at the dead body and reflects on how much simpler her life was three months earlier when all she was doing was having sex with her fiancé and planning her wedding.

At least I hope that guy is her fiancé. Everyone sleeps around so much on this show.


As Michaela and her fiancé Aiden lay in bed, they plan their Perfect Future™ together. He jokingly offers to quit his job and move to Philadelphia to be with her, and she not so jokingly tells him, “I’m not marrying a loser.” Michaela is very specific about the kind of future she wants with Aiden: one kid, one nanny, and a chef to follow them around as they take over the world.

She quickly shoots down Aiden’s suggestions of multiple kids and becoming a stay at home dad. Before he can really protest, Michaela is called to go meet Annalise and America’s Next Top Lawyers at the office to get brief on The Client of the Week.

At the police station, Dean Thomas tries to get information on Goth Girl while she is in custody after last episode’s arrest. Meanwhile, Griffin (murdered college student Lila’s boyfriend) gets released, and the Middleton administration informs Annalise that they would like her to represent him.

Annalise is not impressed with being called to use her lawyer powers like a trained dog, but the administration points out that it’s time she paid them back. “We let you use your personal life to write your own curriculum,” they point out. “And we don’t say a word when you encourage your students to lie, cheat, steal, or prostitute themselves to win your court cases.”



Annalise agrees to think about it, but before making a decision she calls her cop ex-boyfriend, Nate, first. She asks him to double check Sam’s alibi for the night of Lila’s murder. Nate talks to a psych professor who was visiting Yale at the same time that Sam supposedly was. She tells him that Sam never showed up for the lecture.

At the office, Michaela introduces Aiden to the group. As it turns out, he and Connor know each other from boarding school. “Guess we have more in common than we thought,” whispers Connor suggestively to Michaela.

It’s never a good sign when your frenemy knows your fiancé. It’s also not a good sign if your frenemy may know your fiancé biblically.

The gang arrives at the police station to pick up The Client of the Week, who was arrested for prostituting herself. Asher is disappointed that this week’s case will be relatively boring compared to their last two. Bonnie reprimands him for being so bloodthirsty. “Not every case is a serial killer,” she lectures. “If you want to be like Annalise, you have to build up a client base.” Meanwhile, Dean Thomas asks if Connor will get his IT Boy Toy to hack a phone for him—I mean, a friend.

“You have a friend?” asks Connor.

They walk Hooker Mom out of jail, and Annalise assures her that this whole thing is now behind her. However, a police van pulls up and informs everyone that Hooker Mom was part of bomb plot in 1992 and is wanted for felony murder.

Never mind, every case WILL be a serial killer.

Never mind, every case WILL be a serial killer.

So Hooker Mom turns out to be Bomb Mom. “I freaking love this job!” squeals Asher. Connor tells Michaela that if Bomb Mom hid this type of secret from her family, then what kind of secrets is Aiden hiding from her? Bomb Mom shamefully admits to being part of a terrorist group years ago and is all ready to accept the plea bargain to serve time in prison. However, Annalise convinces her to turn it down and vows to win her case.

She gathers America’s Next Top Lawyers and doles out the assignments. Connor complains that there is no way to win, so Annalise takes away his Lady Justice statue as punishment for not believing in her.


Rule Number One in the Cult of Annalise: never doubt her abilities to win a case.

In class, Annalise has rewritten the syllabus to be about how to successfully plead brainwashing to win a case. The defense will be that poor, innocent Bomb Mom was led astray by the big, bad leader Gabriel.

Asher, in a brownnosing mood, tells Annalise that Gabriel is being held “sick” in prison by the feds so he can’t testify. Annalise asks him how he got all that. Asher tries to be mysterious and claims, “I have my ways.”

“You mean your daddy does,” grumbles Frank.

Annalise orders Elena to go with them to visit Gabriel and convince him to corroborate their argument.

Meanwhile, America’s Next Top Lawyers discuss Frank because as it turns out, he is not actually a lawyer like the rest of them. Connor jokes that Frank is eye candy. “What about me?” asks Asher. “Am I not eye candy?”



Michaela announces that she knew Frank wasn’t a lawyer because of his accent, and Laurel calls her elitist. Everyone then teases Laurel for having a crush on Frank. Dean Thomas gets call on the phone Goth Girl left in his bathroom. The guy on the line asks for Lila, looking for drugs.

There is a flashback/forward to the coin toss and after Dean Thomas orders them to get going. Michaela tries to protest, but Laurel tells her that their alibi will be that they were at the bonfire. The gang heads over to the party and tries to be seen by as many people as possible. Connor grabs an increasingly hysterical Michaela and forces her to take selfies with him. “Smile, or go to jail,” he orders.

Hey, that’s the title of this episode!

Everyone takes a field trip to meet the terrorist leader, Gabriel. He is happy to see Elena, and they clasp hands. Annalise asks him to testify on their behalf, and Gabriel agrees to say whatever they want him to if it protects Elena.

In the car, Elena suddenly starts laughing as she remembers the thrill of believing in someone or something—especially when it was someone like Gabriel. She admits that she misses Gabriel and finds her suburban life boring. Annalise, Michaela, and Bonnie all start thinking about the men in their lives.

“Man, our love lives are just all messed up, huh?”

“Man, our love lives are just all messed up, huh?”

At Casa Keating, Annalise and Sam are having dinner with their friends. They ask if Annalise is going to represent Griffin. Sam tells Annalise to be careful because it will be a lot of pressure. Annalise becomes annoyed and is all, “What? You don’t think I can win?”

Sam needs to review the rules of the Cult of Annalise.

In bed, Annalise contemplates her life with Sam. She texts Nate and asks if he found anything yet. Nate is at Yale, investigating Sam’s alibi. He is at a parking garage of the hotel Sam stayed at and finds out that Sam’s car wasn’t in the garage for a whole night—the night of Lila’s murder.



Real quick, I want to note that Annalise has her hair wrapped in bed, which is a big deal since most shows forget that black women have very specific hair routines.

Bonnie yells at the Lawyers to clean the place up for Griffin’s arrival. They interview Griffin, and he reveals that on the night of the party he and Lila were drinking and then their friends decided that they wanted to party even harder. So they called over Goth Girl for a drug deal and Lila caught Griffin cheating on her with Goth Girl. Griffin claims that Goth Girl texted Lila so she would catch them together and blames her for the murder.

Dean Thomas refuses to believe that his mean, spiteful Goth neighbor would so such a thing and fakes an attorney’s license to go see her. “Tell me you’re not actually my lawyer,” she snarks.

What an ungrateful Goth.

What an ungrateful Goth.

“I found Lila’s phone,” Dean Thomas tells her. He asks if there’s anything that can prove her innocence. He begs her to trust him because otherwise she is screwed. However, Ungrateful Goth is ungrateful and outs him to the guards. As he is being dragged out, Dean Thomas warns her that Griffin is planning on pinning the crime on her.

At the law office, Laurel asks to leave early to attend a law review party. Frank lets her go, much to Bonnie’s displeasure. At the bar, a Cute Guy approaches Laurel and flirts with her. Michaela and Aiden are also there, and Connor keeps interrupting their reunion to reminisce over boarding school days with Aiden. Finally, Connor quits dropping not so subtle hints and gleefully reveals that he and Aiden used to hook up at boarding school.

Oh, boy.

Frank arrives at the bar, hoping to chat up Laurel. He quickly leaves though when he sees Laurel talking to hot guys that are more appropriate for her age.

Back at the police station, Dean Thomas got in trouble for impersonating a lawyer, and Annalise has to bail him out. Actually, Annalise is more upset that he never told her that Goth Girl was his neighbor. Dean Thomas insists that Goth Girl is a pawn and it’s not fair that Griffin will get to walk away because he plays sports and is rich. He begs Annalise not to represent him.

“For once, actually defend the innocent people!”

“For once, actually defend the innocent people!”

In the courthouse, the trial for Bomb Mom is proceeding. Connor can’t stop rubbing it in Michaela’s face that he knows what her fiancé looks like naked. Asher teases Laurel about making out with the guy from her bar and tells her that Frank was so repulsed by the scene that he left the bar.

“Frank was there?” asks a confused Laurel.



The prosecution calls on Gabriel to testify, and he claims that the bomb was Bomb Mom’s idea. “Hence her nickname,” he explains.

Annalise is pissed considering the deal they made the other day, and Bomber Mom is scared. Gabriel is all, “I love Elena. I would have said anything to protect her, but now I am trying to deliver justice and tell the truth!”


Annalise is all, “The truth is you’re a jerk!” Gabriel admits that he was promised early release and that’s why he changed his testimony.

There is a brief recess, and the defense has three hours to come up a new argument since Gabriel flip flops more than a fish and there’s too much evidence against Bomb Mom. Michaela does a little digging and finds out that Gabriel has been receiving phone calls from Bomb Mom’s mother since their visit to the prison.

Wait, what?

Frank barges in and announces that Bomb Mom made a run for it. With Gabriel.


Poor Bomb Mom’s husband is left in a lurch as his supposedly faithful wife runs off with a terrorist. Annalise wryly tells Michaela to choose her husband wisely or else she’ll end up like them.

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER RECAP: Smile or Go to Jail... Or, Michaela's Day in the Limelight (S1:E3)

Hopefully without the terrorism subplot.

Nate meets with Annalise and lies, telling her that Sam’s alibi is solid. She is relieved. She tries to kiss him but he tells her to go home.

Flash forward: after the gang has buried the body, Michaela realizes she lost her engagement ring in the woods. Everybody looks ready to kill her and they can totally do it, considering they just covered up a dead body.

Aiden shows up at Michaela’s place to work things out. She demands to know if he’s gay or straight. I wonder if bisexuality is going to be an option in this universe, but it’s not. Aiden insists that he isn’t on the down low and that he loves her. I wonder if we’re going to get a nuanced discussion about homosexuality in the black community, but we don’t.

We don’t get a lot of things from this plotline.

Finally, Michaela calms down long enough to tell Aiden that she has a very specific plan for her life and he better not mess it up for her. “If you do anything like that ever again, I will divorce you and I will take all your money and I will destroy any chance you had at a political career,” she threatens.

Then they make up.

How very romantic.

How very romantic.

In class, Annalise announces that she will be representing Goth Girl in the Lila Stangard case and awards Dean Thomas the trophy. Annalise and the Lawyers go to the police station to meet with Goth Girl, but the prosecution is already there and they gloat that Goth Girl has already confessed to the murder.

That ungrateful Goth.

What we learned about getting away with murder:

  • If you are on trial, pretend you’re going to the bathroom and then just never come back.
  • That’s it.

Previous Episodes:

Season 1

Episode 1: This Is Nothing Like Hogwarts

Episode 2: It’s All Her Fault… Or, Is This Even Allowed?




Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

TV Show: How to Get Away with Murder

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