As How to Get Away with Murder can attest, the “previously on” section that starts a TV show can tell you a lot about how difficult a show is to follow. Many shows have a thirty second clip that just gives the same general background. “The Night Lila Died,” the penultimate episode of How to Get Away With Murder's first season, has a minute and a half of various plot points delivered as quickly as it can. I’m surprised it only took that much time.
We’re entering the final two episodes of the season, and that means we’re getting flashbacks to the biggest murder case on the show so far: Lila Stangard’s (Megan West) strangulation. And the show isn’t going easy on the revelations this time, as every glimpse of the night gives us a new secret. All of them belong to Rebecca (Katie Findlay), who’s looking so guilty that she ends the episode tied up and duct-taped. But first things first.
There’s still a case of the week: A priest is pleading guilty for murder of another priest, but changes his mind. Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) fights to prove his innocence despite knowing he is in fact guilty, a nice correlation with the other case she’s secretly trying to fight. In that one, she can’t defend her lover Nate (Billy Brown) for her husband’s death despite the fact that she knows he’s innocent, because she’s the one who set him up.
I know, it’s confusing even after the “previous on” explains everything. Let’s just take each plot one at a time.
First, the priest’s case. This one’s straightforward, and overshadowed by the ongoing murder cases, but it still manages to delve into weighty issues. Both the client and the victim knew a young boy who had committed suicide before the murder. According to the client, the boy was abused by Father Bernard (Lou Richards), the murder victim. But since he learned that in a confession, he won’t reveal it in order to reduce his charge from murder to manslaughter. Instead, Keating arranges for the woman he knew to falsely claim they were together at the time of the murder. The client switches his plea to guilty in response. In the end, Keating can’t win.
Meanwhile, Keating has to fight Nate in order to help him. She uses an unwitting Asher (Matt McGorry), who remains a douche with hidden decency, to get an uncooperative judge off the case. At the end of the episode, Nate is on bail, and it looks like he might once again trust Keating enough to let her help him.
Wes (Alfred Enoch) has the juicy plot, however: he’s still investigating Rebecca, and is becoming more and more convinced that she’s actually the one who murdered Lila. Through his investigation, we learn more about her lies regarding that night.
Five months earlier, Rebecca fought with Lila, who denounced their friendship while also dumping Sam Keating for her old boyfriend Griffin (Lenny Platt). Rebecca then seduced Griffin as revenge, and when Lila scratched him, she got his DNA under her fingernails, just as he said when he testified later. So far, so incriminating: it looks like Rebecca’s story doesn’t hold up.
When the others confront her, Rebecca can’t convince them she’s innocent, so she makes a different move: she reveals that she has tracked down the one loose end tying the students to Sam Keating’s death.
The night that they all moved his body, a security guard stopped them, forcing them to make up a stupid lie about moving Keating’s rug. Worse, Rebecca wasn’t there, and so she wouldn’t be incriminated if the guard were to come forward. Rebecca has his number and threatens to call.
The next time we see them, they’ve tied her up and called in Keating to help them. What happens next? For once, we don’t need to wait to find out. The season finale is a double-feature, and it picks right up with the teasingly titled final episode, “It’s All My Fault.”