How to Get Away With Murder Recap: Pilot

By Kitin Miranda | 2 years ago
How to Get Away With Murder Recap: Pilot

“How to Get Away With Murder” Season 1 Episode 1 “Pilot” aired on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, at 10:00 p.m. on ABC. In this episode, Wesley Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza), Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) and Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King) competed with their other classmates to help solve their professor’s, Annelise Keating (Viola Davis), case in a bid to get a spot to join her firm. This episode is interspersed with flash forwards into the future, with another case that happened simultaneously while their classes were going on. Read on to learn more about this episode.

In order to understand the bigger picture, the entire episode will be broken down into three parts —  the flash backs, which show the four protagonists undergoing their classes with Professor Annelise Keating, and which show the events leading to the flash forwards; the flash forwards; and the case of the missing student, Lila Stanguard, that happened simultaneously as the flash backs.


Three months before the flash forwards, Wesley Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) and Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), attended Professor Annelise Keating’s (Viola Davis) class for the first time. Annelise introduced her one-of-a-kind course, Criminal 100, as “How to Get Away With Murder.”

Right away, she grilled her students about the first case that they had to deal with. Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) introduced the case and told the class that the case was dealt with Gina Sadowski, otherwise known as the “Aspirin Killer.” Gina was the second assistant and mistress of Arthur Kaufman, a CEO of a known advertising agency. Student Asher Millstone informed the class that after Kaufman’s wife learned of the affair, Kaufman ended his affair with Gina and transferred her to the accounting department. However, as revenge, she switched his blood pressure pill with an aspirin, to which he was allergic to. Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King) then informed them that Kaufman went to anaphylactic shock. Luckily, his first assistant was able to revive him, leaving him paralyzed and wheelchair bound. Then Annelise asked Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) what Gina’s “mens rhea” was. However, Wes was unfortunately unprepared and did not receive the email on the case for that session as he was only accepted two days ago from the waitlist. Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) then told the class that the “mens rhea” or the intent was to kill Mr. Kaufman. However, instead of receiving praise from Annelise, she was scolded for not letting Wes learn from that moment.

Annelise then revealed that the Aspirin Killer case was a case that she had taken on just the week before and needed the student’s help to win the case. At Annelise’s firm, Gin told the students that she was in love with Mr. Kaufman and was shocked when she came back from her lunch break and saw paramedics around Mr. Kaufman. Annelise then told them that their assignment was to come up with a one-minute defense speech that would beat her current plan and that no two students could have the same idea. She also assigned Wes to be the last one to give his speech.

She also revealed that she would be using that case to find out which four students she should hire for her firm, as that was her custom. The top student would get a prize, a trophy, called the immunity idol, which could be handed in at any time during the course in order to be exempted from one exam.

That night, Wes had a hard time preparing for his defense because of his neighbor’s, bartender Rebecca (Katie Findlay), music, who refused to turn it down for him.

The next day, the defense speeches began. Those who were able to retain their seats would be still in the competition. By the time it had reached Wes, several students, including Laurel, Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry), Michaela and Connor, still had their seats. Michaela had suggested to offer the jury another suspect, the wife. Laurel suggested that they play on the jury’s sympathy towards Gina, as most jurors would be coming from the working class and would not be sympathetic towards the rich Mr. Kaufman. Connor argued that the murder charge was bogus as they could argue that Gina’s intent wasn’t really to kill. Wes, at a loss at ideas, told them that they could plead for self-defense. He argued that Gina could be suffering from Stockholm syndrome, which is fairly common with those who have demanding bosses, and that the affair showed how far his hold over her was. In order to break free from this situation, Gina had poisoned him, thus justifying that fact that it could be self-defense. Annelise, impressed at his quick thinking, told him to sit down.

She then revealed her battle plan when it came to being a defense lawyer — discredit the witness, introduce a new suspect, and bury the evidence.

The next day, at court, Michaela came in late, while Annelise was questioning Mr. Kaufman’s first assistant. She immediately ran to Annelise’s associate Frank Delfino (Charlie Weber) and Annelise to tell her something.

It was revealed that Gina was suffering from anxiety, as the first assistant had constantly harassed Gina at work. Gina’s anxiety medication was color blue, and the aspirin that was used to poison Mr. Kaufman, as he was allergic to aspirin was yellow.


The first assistant had claimed that she had seen a pill on Gina’s plate that afternoon. Annelise then asked the assistant if the pill was yellow, “just like the prosecutor’s shirt.” To this, the first assistant had replied yes, even if the shirt in question was blue, revealing that she was color blind, therefore discrediting her as a credible witness.

It turned out that Michaela had noticed that the first assistant had eyeglasses in her Facebook photos, so she impersonated an insurance claims worker and discovered that the first assistant was color blind.

That night, Wes, who had an idea, decided to inform Annelise and went into her house. As the front door was open, he slipped in and discovered his professor with a man in her study. He was then made to leave but was stopped by Annelise herself. After hearing him out, she told him that it was a bad idea and kicked him out of her house.

That same night, Connor, who refused to be beaten by Michaela, went to a gay bar frequented by guys who worked at the advertising agency of Mr. Kaufman. There, he seduced one of the IT employees and was able to obtain a very interesting email which he handed to Annelise, informing her that it was not obtained legally.

Annelise then questioned the witness on the stand — Mr. Kaufman’s business partner. It turned out that Mr. Kaufman’s business partner had a meeting with him (Mr. Kaufman), the day that Kaufman was poisoned. They had met regarding Mr. Kaufman’s relationship with Gina, even after he had transferred her to the accounting department. According to the email, which the business partner read out loud for the court, he asked Mr. Kaufman to step down as CEO. However, if Mr. Kaufman did this, all the shares would go to the business partner, giving him motive to poison Mr. Kaufman.

The prosecutor objected to this, as the email was not part of the original discovery file and was probably obtained illegally. However, Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil), Annelise’s associate, claimed that she had found it and assumed that it was part of the file. However, the judge admitted the email, turning the tide over to Annelise.

After the hearing, Laurel noticed that Agnes Kaufman was headed towards the bathroom and decided to slip in and spy on her. Inside, she saw Gina and Agnes exchange a look and a moment, revealing that they were in cahoots with each other. Agnes, fed up with her husband’s cheating ways, had teamed up with Gina to exact revenge. She later on revealed this information to Frank, noting that Gina was in fact guilty. Based on the look on Frank’s face, Laurel realized that Frank must have known that fact but did not openly deny or confirm it. Laurel retorted that he wouldn’t dare admit it because then he would have to deal with the moral repercussions of it. He then informed her that they often got idealistic girls like Laurel, but in the end, most of them opt to just become housewives. This insulted Laurel, who walked out of the office.

While Laurel was at the office, talking to Frank, the rest of the students were at the dinner cocktail, rubbing elbows with their professors. Wes then discovered, much to his surprise, that Annelise was married to Psychology professor Sam Keating (Tom Verica). Disturbed, he went to the bathroom to collect his thoughts but was followed by Annelise. There, she apologized to him and explained to him that her marriage had been recently strained as Sam wanted to have a baby and that pressure had  taken a toll on their marriage. Wes then promised not to tell anyone about what he had seen. Later that night, Sam and Annelise returned back to their house, where Frank and Bonnie were preparing to leave. Bonnie greeted Sam affectionately and looked at the husband and wife, as if she was uncomfortable with them being together.

The next day, at court, Detective Gil and the prosecution presented video footage from a convenience store showing Gina buying aspirin — the same aspirin that was used to poison Mr. Kaufman. At her office, Annelise released her anger on Gina, who had told them about that incident, and at Frank, who had not had noticed it.

The next day, Annelise brought out another witness — Detective Nate Lahee, her boyfriend, whom Wes had seen her with. She then questioned him and asked him where he was two nights ago when Detective Gil had brought in the video footage. She then played up the fact that his wife had cancer and asked him if he was aware that there had been incidents of tampering with evidence, such as the video. She asked this as she had noticed that the footage was received sometime in the evening, and it was only logged in at two in the morning. As he could not say where he was two nights ago, because he was with Annelise, he agreed that there have been incidents of evidence tampering. Thus, the video footage presented might not be credible.

Because of this, Gina, much to Laurel’s horror, was acquitted. Laurel also noticed that Gina and Agnes Kaufman exchanged a significant look before the latter stepped into the car.

In class, Annelise chose the students who would be joining her firm — Connor Walsh, who also won the immunity idol; Asher Millstone; Michaela Pratt; Laurel Castillo; and Wes Gibbins. She decided to hire an extra student as she claimed that they needed extra hands on deck at the firm.

After class, Wes confronted Annelise as he thought that the reason he got an extra slot was because he had seen Annelise together with her boyfriend, Detective Lahee, whom she had convinced to lie on the stand. However, she told him to be careful with what he was saying and informed him that she picked him as his defense proved that he could think quickly on his feet.  She then gave him a choice of ever he wanted to join her firm and gain opportunities or not.

The flash forwards in the episode were set three months later, during the busiest night on campus in the entire year — bonfire night. The four protagonists met up in the forest to discuss what to do as they had a dead body on their hands. Wes had gotten the immunity idol, the trophy, which was the murder weapon. Laurel suggested that they clean it, put it back and bury the body, to which Wes agreed to. However, both Michaela and Connor, who were both panicking, wanted to leave the body in the house. Unable to decide, the four agreed to let a coin toss decide what to do — transport the body to the woods and bury it.

The four then went back to Annelise’s house in order to wrap the body in an old rug. However, as they were bringing it out, they were stopped by an officer who told them off as Connor’s car was in the way. Thanks to Michaela’s bluff about Annelise instructing them to burn an old rug at the bonfire. They were let off the hook.

They then passed by a gasoline station in order to buy some supplies for what they were about to do.

Back in the woods, they ducked for cover of darkness as they noticed a couple nearby. However, they were nearly discovered because Laurel’s phone rang as Frank was calling her.

The four then laid the body on the ground, opened kerosene jugs, and gathered twigs in order to burn the body. They decided to do this so that all of the evidence would be destroyed. As Wes lit the match, the audience is shown the body’s face — Annelise’s husband, Sam.

While the case of the week and the flash forwards were going on, the case of the missing student, Lila Stanguard, ran in the background and happened simultaneous as the flash backs during Annelise’s class, three months before the flash forwards.  Lila, the girlfriend of football star Griffin O’ Reily (Lenny Platt) and Sam Keating’s student, went missing.

During the episode, the viewers are introduced to her case as there are flyers posted about her around campus, and Wes’ bartender neighbor, Rebecca, watched a news portion about Lila’s disappearance. Rebecca was also close to Lila’s boyfriend, Griffin, and Wes once caught them arguing with each other at Rebecca’s apartment.

At the end of the episode, Lila’s body was found in the water tank of the Kappa Kappa Theta sorority house.

As the news segment on the finding of Lila’s body played on the news, Annelise asked her husband, Sam, who looked a little bit uncomfortable, if he was okay. He said that he was and that he pitied the parents. Annelise then told him that she “bet that the boyfriend did it,” to which Sam replied that they would have to wait and see about that. Annelise then looked away from her husband and straight at the camera.

What do you think of the episode? Why do you think Sam Keating was murdered? Do you think Connor, Laurel, Michaela and Wes did it? Who is responsible for Lila Stanguard’s death? Let us know by posting your comments below!

And that’s it for the recap on “How to Get Away With Murder” Season 1 Episode 1 “Pilot.” For more news and updates, including spoilers and recaps on “How to Get Away With Murder” and other television shows, keep following Movie News Guide (MNG).

Catch “How to Get Away With Murder” every Thursday at 1o:00 p.m. on ABC.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/ABC