The old Annalise can’t come to the phone right now
This week on How to Get Away with Murder, it’s the Annalise Keating rehabilitation hour.
The episode is framed around Annalise’s meetings with her court-ordered psychiatrist, who now has a name: Isaac Roa (Jimmy Smits). It’s clear from the word go that Annalise doesn’t trust him — she tells him she’s tired, and we see her googling him in the wee hours of the morning while she struggles to resist the allure of her hotel mini-bar. But she’s also tired for another reason: She has taken on her first case since her license was reinstated. And it’s a doozy. Her latest client is her cellmate from her season 3 prison stint — Jasmine.
Now back on her feet and restored to her designer clothes and fierce hairdos, Annalise returns to prison to offer her services to Jasmine and replace her state-appointed public defender. Jasmine is impressed by Annalise’s “got her groove back” look. She initially rejects Annalise’s offer because she can’t afford it, but Annalise offers her services pro bono. Wait, wait, wait, is Annalise actually doing something nice for someone with no ulterior motive???
Meanwhile, the Keating Four are preparing to restart their lives at a legal job fair where they will go through preliminary interviews for internships at top law firms. They all prepare in different ways. Laurel googles her dad’s company (Antares Technologies) with a series of white-collar crimes; Connor snarkily responds to Oliver’s mock interview questions with sexual innuendo. Oliver is trying to pick up the pieces of his life by working at “I.T. for Me” in a purple eggplant emoji uniform.
They rendezvous at the job fair to prep their game plans. Michaela is in beast mode, but Laurel has a thick file full of research on why she wants to work for Caplan & Gold, who have a case headed for the Supreme Court. Asher brought adult diapers to stuff in his suit to combat his nervous sweating. Weaselly McWeasel face, also known as Simon, warns them that the only reason they got interviews is because everyone wants to gossip about Annalise — and Connor reluctantly acknowledges he’s right.
Their interviews go much as expected — Michaela nails them with characteristic fierceness and even parrots some of Laurel’s research; Laurel does her best to B.S. her way through with lies about her commitment to social justice; Asher sweats (literally and figuratively) under pressure, tripping over his words; and Connor shuts down completely when asked why he wants to be a lawyer. In the end, all their interviewers want to know (as predicted) what it was like working with Annalise. Connor and Laurel brush it off, saying she was intense and they didn’t know her that well. Asher blames the patriarchy (you been reading Matt McGorry’s Instagram feed, Asher?) for Annalise even being discussed. And Michaela drops the mic on her former employer, saying, “The most important thing she taught me is the kind of lawyer I don’t want to be.”
Annalise is in preliminary hearings attempting to get Jasmine’s case thrown out for being an illegal stop and frisk. The prosecution tells her the body cam footage reveals Jasmine is getting off easy — and when Annalise watches it, it’s clear Jasmine could have also been tried for battery and soliciting an officer. When she confronts Jasmine about her behavior, Jasmine lashes out at her, saying that Annalise is only helping her to stroke her own ego. Jasmine reveals that she was gang-raped at 13, beginning her cycle of prostitution and drug use — if Annalise really wants to help her, she has to go back to that moment. It’s meant as an impossible plea, but it inspires a new approach for Annalise.
When Annalise recounts the details of Jasmine’s case to her therapist, he pushes back, asking her to fill out a checklist of traumatic life experiences and accusing her of talking about the case as evasion. She tells him that he’s not a good doctor for refusing to listen and not letting her control the narrative. He rebuts that her self-deflection is classic alcoholic behavior and threatens to tell the board she’s refusing to participate in her sessions.
Bonnie asks Nate for help on a trespassing case, but he is still convinced she is a mole for Annalise. When Nate runs into Annalise trying to gain access to Jasmine’s court records, he grills her on Bonnie’s new job, but Annalise reveals she fired Bonnie and was unaware of her new job until she saw her in court that morning. Annalise gets the files she needs and discovers Jasmine has been charged for prostitution spanning from the age of 18 to 58. To her, something doesn’t add up. When she questions Jasmine she realizes that there is a missing sealed file from a juvenile arrest.
Annalise turns to Bonnie for help accessing the sealed file, but Bonnie coldly slams the door in her face. Later that night, a wasted Bonnie calls Frank to tell him about turning her back on Annalise — Frank is in his usual spot, monitoring Laurel in her apartment. But Frank abandons his stalker post to bring the sealed file Annalise needs to Annalise’s hotel room in yet another attempt to get back on her good side. Now it’s her turn to close doors in people’s faces, but he shoves the file into her hands with a Liam Neeson-worthy promise that he’s always going to be there.
The Keating Four share their interview experiences, and Connor admits he’s not even sure he still wants to be a lawyer. Oliver calls him out for his white privilege, urging him to help others and do something meaningful with his second chance. That’s what Oliver is doing — well, sort of — with his new I.T. company, “Control Oli Delete.” Laurel thinks that company name is precisely as silly as we do. Michaela finds out she got five callbacks, Asher has three, and both Laurel and Connor say they have zero.
Asher and Michaela jointly attend the coveted Caplan & Gold second-round interviews. They are impressed by the free champagne, but less so by Simon’s presence as another intern candidate. Michaela is dominating the field, wowing the firm with her research knowledge (which she has courtesy of a peek inside Laurel’s hefty files, at Laurel’s invitation). Asher is having a far worse experience — Simon goads him into striking him with comments about his father. Michaela has to talk Asher down and threatens to cut off parts of Simon’s anatomy if he doesn’t leave Asher alone.
Connor goes to attempt to interview with a social justice firm he previously ignored, only to discover Laurel lied about not getting any callbacks and just didn’t show up. He goes to her apartment to find out why she didn’t show; she says she doesn’t care anymore, and he offers his assistance in finding out what happened to Wes. Wracked with guilt, he tearfully confesses he still hates himself for the circumstances of his presence at Wes’ death and the lies afterward. Laurel says he owes her and so he has to forgive himself because she says so.
Now we alternate between Annalise’s battle with Isaac in her therapy session and her fight for Jasmine in court. Annalise has called the prosecutor from Jasmine’s first juvenile arrest to the stand and interrogates him on why he chose to prosecute a 13-year-old for prostitution instead of recognizing she was a victim of sex trafficking. The most damning evidence against him – white girls with the exact same circumstances as Jasmine were given a fresh start with a safe place to sleep and seek help. In contrast, Jasmine was released back onto the streets with a sealed file, “doomed to a life in and out of prison.” Annalise requests they vacate all of Jasmine’s prior convictions so she can be given the second chance she deserved when she was 13. The judge can’t do that, but he does seal all of her priors so she can be eligible for government assistance and can apply for jobs without the shadow of her criminal history.
It’s a win for both Jasmine and Annalise, and it feels oddly good? Normally Annalise’s victories are tainted with sin – murder, extortion, legal loopholes, etc. Here, it’s just a good old-fashioned win for the both of them. And Annalise doubles down on that by handing Jasmine a government-issued ID and a wad of cash to help her get back on her feet and really have a fair shot at a fresh start. I can honestly say I like Annalise in this moment more than I ever have before.
In therapy, Isaac tries to get Annalise to admit she took on Jasmine as her first client because she sees herself in Jasmine’s story of sexual abuse and the resulting vicious cycle. She slams back at Isaac’s admittedly questionable strategy of trying to trigger Annalise into opening up about assault. Annalise says she is nothing like Jasmine because of the resources and love she found in her mother and teachers. She takes a pessimistic view of Jasmine in front of Isaac saying she expects a voicemail from her asking to be bailed out of jail because people don’t change. This prompts Isaac to reveal he changed — he was a heroin addict — which Annalise is bizarrely very upset to learn. She then drops her own bomb on Isaac: her experiences from the first time she went to therapy and how that therapist became her husband, Sam.
Nate and Bonnie bond over their shared Annalise trauma — he suggests they start a support group called Annalise Anonymous where the treatment is getting really drunk. Amen to that. She admits to Nate that she slightly blackmailed Denver to get the job in his office.
Back at the bar, the Keating Four have their new job prospects. Michaela got three offers, including the Caplan & Gold gig, while everyone else is back to square one. Laurel pulls Michaela aside and tells her she must accept the Caplan & Gold job (great news: Michaela already did). Laurel, in a very uncharacteristic move, tells Michaela the truth — she wants someone on the inside at the firm because they represent her father. “My father killed Wes and you’re going to help me take him down,” she tells Michaela. Guess we’ll have to wait until next week to see how Michaela processes that news and approximately how long it takes the rest of the four to hear about it. My guess is less time than it takes Asher to say something stupid.
Then we return to the flash-forward and the hospital/mental institution of the season premiere. While Laurel screams about her missing baby to Frank, Isaac steps away and leaves an ominous voicemail for…ANNALISE!!! I knew she couldn’t stay out of their lives for very long. “She’s awake,” he says. “Answer the damn phone.” Gasp.
But the old Annalise can’t answer the phone right now. Why? ‘Cause she’s dead — or at least she appears to be. Bonnie, walking through the hallway of Annalise’s hotel, overhears the police discussing that the room is registered to Annalise. And that’s when Bonnie walks into a fresh horror mystery: The elevator is covered in blood and bloody handprints.
So what do you think — is the blood Annalise’s? Or is this a classic HTGAWM bait-and-switch, and she’s not answering her phone for another reason altogether?
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