After Wes’s killer was revealed (and covered up) at the end of last season, Season 4 opens with Laurel and her father, who (along with family friend/assassin Dominic) is the one responsible for Wes’s murder. We still don’t know WHY but we know that he’s involved and Laurel is pretending to be the loving daughter even though she knows. She also chooses to tell her father that she was pregnant but that she chose to have an abortion. We soon find out that she was lying to him and I can’t really blame her because he’s a total psycho.
Laurel goes to meet Annalise and the rest of the Keating Four (plus Bonnie) at a fancy restaurant. Annalise has summoned them all there and they each have envelopes on their plates, but before we learn wtf is going on, we get rolling with the classic HTGAWM flashback sequences.
We find Annalise a week earlier, traveling to Memphis to visit her family. On the plane she meets Desmond, a handsome stranger (played by Viola Davis’ real-life husband Julius Tennon). Desmond hits on her and she tolerates it as she struggles to ignore his alcoholic beverage. Annalise tells him her name is Bonnie and he gives her his number.
Annalise’s mother, Ophelia, is in the early stages of dementia, and Annalise wants to arrange (and pay for) her to move to a nice facility in the area because her father, Mac, isn’t responsible enough to take care of her. Mac has a history of abandoning the women in the family, and he has a problem with drinking, and Ophelia has already had at least one incident where she’s wandered off in the night. Mac’s solution: a bell on the back door. To Annalise, it’s yet another example of his neglect and she doesn’t trust him to keep Ophelia safe.
Bonnie throws a wrench into Annalise’s plan to pay for her mother’s care when she calls to let her know that Hannah Keating is suing her for the insurance money she received for the house, which—with her law license in serious jeopardy and her teaching career over—is Annalise’s only real source of money at the moment. Hannah just can’t let it go and now Annalise is stuck with the very real possibility that she won’t be able to help her mother after all.
It almost drives her to take a drink but she decides to look for a local AA meeting to go to. But instead of going to a meeting, she decides to booty call Desmond. They don’t get very far before Desmond gets a call from a woman called Cece. It turns Annalise off even though Desmond claims that Cece is his daughter. It’s more likely that Annalise realized that sleeping with a stranger isn’t really what she wants to be doing. She leaves and on the way out tells hm her real name is Annalise.
Ophelia has an episode in the night in which she is reliving the fire she set to kill Annalise’s abuser, the evil Uncle Clyde. Annalise tries to calm her and bring her back to the present and Ophelia wets herself. Annalise helps bathe and dress her mother and it’s one of those moments sprinkled throughout the series that reminds us that, despite her tough exterior and many faults, at her core Annalise is actually a warm, loving person. Ophelia had been violently against going to the nursing home but, sitting on the toilet as her daughter cares for her, she agrees to go take a look at the facility.
Annalise, Ophelia, Mac, and Celestine go to visit the facility, which seems very nice. During the tour Ophelia sees a collection of old black-and-white photos of white people and the tour guide tells her that the residents like to remember “the good old days.” Ophelia has the best and most brutally honest line of the episode when she asks, “Whose good old days?” Annalise gets into a fight with her father in the middle of the home and Mac goes so far as to blame Ophelia’s dementia on Annalise. He suggests that Annalise’s presence triggers Ophelia. The family quarrel embarrasses Ophelia, who is the only one of them acting with any sense of decorum.
Annalise has a heart-to-heart with her sister and tells Celestine that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to pay for the place anymore, not just because of Hannah Keating’s lawsuit but also her possible disbarment at the upcoming hearing. She also tells her about her drinking problem and Celestine is sympathetic, telling Annalise that if she had her life she’d probably be an alcoholic too.
Even though she doesn’t know how she’d pay for it, Annalise tells Ophelia that it is her decision whether she’d rather stay at home or go to the facility. She accepts the fact that her mother wants to stay at home with her father in charge of taking care of her. In another touching moment, Ophelia acknowledges that her dementia is only going to get worse. She knows how much loss Annalise has suffered in her life and promises her daughter that she will hold on as long as she can.
Before she leaves to go home, she confronts her father and tells Mac that he had better take good care of Ophelia and be responsible with his drinking. They get into it a bit but then Mac finally verbally acknowledges and apologizes to Annalise for what Clyde did to her when he abandoned the family. While I doubt that this one brief conversation and apology is enough to mend their relationship, Annalise seems to accept it as a decent first step.
We return to Philly to find Frank and Bonnie touring an office space that Frank found. He’s planning to pay for it himself using the suitcase money. He wants to be back in with Annalise and thinks that something good should come from the blackmail money that led to Annalise’s car accident and her baby’s death.
We get some updates on the rest of the squad in Philly. Connor and Oliver are at a gay bar where an obnoxious bachelorette party is ruining Connor’s mood. Oliver is still waiting for Connor to respond (and hopefully accept) his marriage proposal but, as usual, Connor isn’t giving him what he wants. He goes on a bit of an anti-marriage diatribe and Oliver shrugs it off. He’s hopeful that Connor will come around eventually and, for now, he seems willing to wait.
Michaela and Asher are still going strong, although Asher’s insecurities come out during a mattress shopping expedition with a particularly attractive salesman. Michaela is mortified as Asher, in very typical Asher fashion, tells the guy how often they go to “Pound Town.” Michaela refers to their upcoming dinner with Annalise as “the last supper.”
At Annalise’s hearing, Bonnie is representing her and tries to make the claim that the blood alcohol results should be thrown out because of Denver’s vendetta against her. It’s actually a decent argument and probably would have worked but Annalise decides to stand up and tell the truth (sort of): she was drunk that night and she’s wracked with guilt over Wes’s death, which she blames on the fact that she was drunk. She promises that she is clean and sober and literally begs the court to give her another chance because without the ability to practice law she has absolutely nothing left.
The court shows mercy and Annalise is able to practice law again. We finally return to the dinner, where Laurel tells everyone that (contrary to what she told her father) she’s still pregnant and plans on keeping the baby. The happy occasion actually does turn out to be a “last supper” though because the envelopes on everyone’s plates are letters of recommendation from Annalise, who is letting them all go—including Bonnie.
She wants them all to have a clean start away from her. Laurel is furious and storms out. Asher wants to try and change her mind and a furious Michaela rails at Annalise that she can’t just dump them all after ruining their lives. Only Connor is cool with it—not surprising since he’s wanted to get away from Annalise for a while now. Bonnie is, understandably, more devastated than anyone since she’s been with Annalise the longest and was completely blindsided.
All their letters are glowing recommendations in which Annalise extols all the virtues of the people who she’s worked with for so long. Everything she says about each of them is true and we see each of them trying to move on. Michaela wants Asher to get into “beast mode” with her to try and find a new internship so they can be “Michelle and White Barack.” Connor has a heart-to-heart with Oliver about the proposal and tells him that he does want to marry him but he wants to accept the proposal only when they are in a good, stable place in their lives. Bonnie seems to be interviewing with Denver, which is perhaps a spiteful choice (although she could be plotting against him to get back in Annalise’s good graces). We see Laurel who is creepily living in Wes’s old apartment. She gets a text from her dad with the father-daughter picture they took together attached and she almost texts him back, “Why did you kill Wes?” but thinks better of it. Also, she keeps a gun next to the bed so she’s clearly not in a great place right now.
As for Annalise, she moves into a furnished apartment and starts some court-ordered therapy with a no-nonsense doctor played by Jimmy Smits (who I love and was very excited to see join the cast).
This being HTGAWM, the episode ends with a flash forward that introduces this season’s mystery. It is three months later and we see Jimmy Smits frantically arriving at what looks like some sort of hospital. Frank is there and he asks him about someone who Frank says is still unconsious and had drugs in their system. I assumed it was Annalise but when we enter the room it is Laurel in the hospital bed. When she wakes up we see she’s got a flat stomach and starts screaming, “Where’s the baby?”
And so the mystery of what happened Laurel and her baby begins. I’m not sure if this is something that will play out over the course of the entire season or if it’s just one part of a larger mystery. I kind of hope it’s the latter because I don’t think the Laurel thing alone can sustain an entire season’s worth of intrigue. That said, I am very curious as to what the hell is going on with her (and what Jimmy Smits has to do with it).