How To Get Away With Murder Episode 4×04 Review: “Was She Ever Good At Her Job?”

This week finds Annalise ready to start working on her class action suit: “Keating vs. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Having learned from her mistakes, she’s starting fresh with an old-school tape recorder. Annalise unpacking it and saying, “Hack this, bitch,” was a welcome reminder of the old Annalise in a season that has focused on a kinder, gentler version.

Annalise needs to find 40 plaintiffs for the case and decides to focus on now-disgraced Chief Public Defender Virginia Cross’s past cases. There’s one major obstacle to her progress: she’s broke af and class action suits require lots of time and resources (read: money) she doesn’t have. She’s so desperate for cash that she goes to her old frenemy, Middleton U. President Soraya Hargrove. Annalise asks Hargrove if she can take her divorce/custody case. Hargrove already has counsel, but Annalise says she will work as a consultant and Hargrove only has to pay her if she can get her a better deal than her lawyer. Hargrove knows she did Annalise dirty making a deal with Denver and that Annalise nearly lost everything because of it so she agrees because she’s not a total monster.

While Annalise is working on her preliminary casework, the Keating Four (sans Connor) are—gasp—actually in class! I literally cannot remember the last time these kids were in a classroom. The day’s lesson is, conveniently enough, class action suits. Of course, it’s too much to ask for any of them to be paying attention. Michaela is thinking about Caplan & Gold, Asher is looking for internships, and Laurel is thinking about Antares and her evil dad. But hey, at least they bothered to show up.

Meanwhile, dropout Connor is at home with Oliver, who wants to know more about Connor’s relationship with his dad. Connor doesn’t particularly want to talk about him but tells Oliver that his mom had a nervous breakdown when his dad came out. Connor has never forgiven him for it and, since they have no relationship, he thinks his dad is only there to get the tuition money back from him. Connor leaves the room to take a pre-sex shower when Oliver receives a message from Mr. Walsh. The only way for him to get to Connor is through Oliver, who agrees to meet him and Connor’s stepdad, Jeff, for lunch.

connor oliver
Source: How To Get Away With Murder / ABC

Bonnie, who is still majorly hung-up on Annalise, goes to Denver and requests a team to look at all of Virginia Cross’s past cases to make sure the D.A.’s office isn’t leaving itself open to indictment in a misconduct suit. This is a totally reasonable thing for someone who works in the D.A.’s office to do, but since it’s Bonnie, who is still hung-up on Annalise, it’s definitely more about sticking it to her former boss than it is covering the ass of her new one. Denver doesn’t seem to care even though he is running for Attorney General. He tells Bonnie she can look into it but she has to do it on her own.

Back at Middleton, Asher feeling sorry for himself for being a broke loser with no internship, Michaela is stressing about work, and Laurel is super horny after going off her antidepressants. Those pregnancy hormones are so strong she finds herself checking out Asher’s ass in front of Michaela when she sends him for a coffee. Michaela’s got some bad news for Laurel: Caplan & Gold tracks all the staff’s network activity and she’s not going to be able to look into Antares without leaving a record of everything she’s looked at. Laurel has confidence that the brilliant, beautiful Michaela will figure something out (and so do I).

Michaela’s new mentor, Tegan Price, takes her along for an arbitration meeting. The client is Soraya Hargrove, and guess who’s with her? Michaela gets an unwelcome surprise when she enters the conference room to find Annalise staring back at her. Neither is particularly happy to see the other but Michaela is extra cold.

tegan michaela elevatr
Source: How To Get Away With Murder / ABC

Hargrove’s ex-husband, Roland, arrives with his lawyer. Roland is asking for $6 million, claiming that the pre-nup is invalidated by the severe emotional distress he suffered as a result of her alcoholism. He’s got the receipts on her drinking, too, and his lawyer hands over a USB drive with video footage of her totally wasted. This video, if it gets filed as evidence, becomes public domain and will almost certainly result in her losing her job. She thinks she’s got no choice but to settle and give her husband the millions he’s asking for but Annalise tells her to fight back. She wants to file a countersuit against Roland based on invasion of privacy/voyeurism. Tegan is not at all on board with the countersuit but Hargrove decides to give Annalise’s strategy a shot.

Oliver meets with Connor’s dads in secret and he learns the story of when Connor came out. Mr. Walsh tells Oliver, despite his insistence he should hear it from Connor, the story of when 12-year-old Connor sat down at the dinner table and told his parents that he was gay, and if they didn’t accept him for who he was he was going to run off to the West Village to live with “his people.” Mr. Walsh says that Connor’s example gave him the courage that he needed to finally come out, which he did one week later. He regrets the way he did it, which was not sensitive enough to his wife or to Connor, and tells Oliver that he needs his help to make things right with Connor. Oliver caves (because of course he does) but when he brings Connor’s dads back to the apartment they get more than they bargained for. Connor is waiting for Ollie, naked from the waist down and the whole thing is awkward for everyone involved.

connor dads
Source: How To Get Away With Murder / ABC

At the D.A.’s office, Denver sees Laurel and chews Bonnie out for hiring her. He wants her gone but Bonnie says they can’t fire her because she’s pregnant and he’ll be starting his campaign with a discrimination lawsuit. Meanwhile, Laurel discovers Denver is running for Attorney General and Nate finds out that Bonnie is reviewing Cross’s old cases. He assumes that it’s about Annalise and tells both Laurel and Bonnie to keep their noses clean.

At Caplan & Gold, Tegan goes to Michaela and asks her if she knows Annalise. Michaela admits Annalise was her professor and tells Tegan she hates her. She offers to step off the Hargrove case but Tegan tells her that if she wants to be a “boss bitch,” she’s going to have to learn how to work with people she hates. Annalise approaches Tegan and tells her she emailed her a draft of the countersuit. She wants Tegan to look it over but Tegan disagrees with the strategy and refuses to do Annalise’s job for her. When Tegan asks Michaela what she thinks, she happily sides with Tegan over Annalise.

Michaela catches Annalise at the elevator to give her Roland’s lawyer’s email address. She takes the opportunity to tell Annalise they need to keep things professional for the sake of the client but Annalise isn’t having it. She tells Michaela to tell Tegan to kiss her ass.

Annalise’s attempt to multitask while waiting for her appointment with Isaac is a huge disaster. While on a call with the court clerk, she accidentally sends a copy of Hargrove’s countersuit to one of the board members at Middleton. She’s probably distracted by the fact that the clerk says it’s going to cost her 30 grand for all the copies she wants. Even just the first pages with the defendants’ names are going to run her $3K.

After unknowingly emailing the wrong guy, Annalise has her appointment with Isaac. She almost immediately gets a call from Michaela but she ignores it. She tells Isaac point blank that she’s in a good mood doesn’t want him to ruin it but he’s not letting her off that easy. Instead, he wants to explore why working on the class action suit makes her happy. She says that it’s something important to her and that she’s not hurting anyone but Isaac points out that Virginia Cross was hurt in the process. Then he pivots hard and tells her that he thinks the case is an attempt to distract herself from her grief over Wes’s death. At the mention of Wes, Annalise snaps and shuts down.

Michaela finally gets a username and passwords (plural) to access the C&G network but the IT guy tells her that, as an intern, she only has access to email. This throws yet another wrench into Laurel’s Antares plan, but Michaela doesn’t have time to deal with that because Annalise has arrived and now they all have to work to fix her massive email screw up.

Hargrove rips into Annalise in the conference room, accusing her of screwing up either on purpose or because she’s been drinking again. She hits below the belt when she tells Annalise she doesn’t know what it’s like to have children and lose them. Annalise assures Hargrove that she’s still sober and promises to fix her mistake. Meanwhile, Tegan and Michaela are outside looking in and Tegan asks Michaela if Annalise was ever good at her job. Michaela, surprisingly, sort of defends her, telling Tegan that she’s been through a lot. They can both agree that she’s still hot, though.

Annalise goes home to find Frank waiting for her with the infamous suitcase full of money. When he offers it to her she’s immediately triggered and screams at him to leave. He’s especially hurt when she tells him, “All you do is hurt me.” I don’t know what Frank expected, though, honestly. I know he’s trying to do right by Annalise but maybe try some sort of direct deposit situation instead of the ACTUAL SUITCASE OF DEAD BABY MONEY.

The squad (sans super-intern Michaela) goes to Oliver and Connor’s place for dinner with the Dads. Connor is cold to his father and still thinks he’s just there for the money. Connor’s dad gives a toast to Connor and his “second family” and tells Connor that, law school or no law school, he’s always been his “teacher.” The squad seems to buy into his loving Dad act but I still think Mr. Walsh is just as shady and manipulative as Connor, if not more so.

Bonnie calls Frank to complain that Laurel the Lazy Ass Millennial has left early. Said lazy-ass millennial just so happens to be in the passenger seat of the car while Frank lies to Bonnie about studying for his LSATs. Let’s be real: it was inevitable that uber- horny Laurel and her pregnancy hormones were going to end up with Frank but I figured they’d at least make it out of the car first. I have to say, as messed up and toxic as they are, I do love me some Flaurel. Now, if only it was Frank’s baby and not Wes’s…

flaurel
Source: How To Get Away With Murder / ABC

After receiving an email from Isaac with a copy of his report to the disciplinary board, a lightbulb goes off for Annalise. She wants to subpoena Roland’s therapist’s notes, which they can do because he’s claiming emotional distress. Michaela takes charge of the lesser interns, reveling in what little power she has, and tells them to go through the notes and find a smoking gun to nail the ex-husband. One of the interns comes up with something that indicates Roland was cheating. However, it’s even worse than that. The person in the therapist’s notes was not another woman but the Hargroves’ money manager, who Roland met with to illegally hide assets before their divorce. His bank statements indicate foul play and, instead of dealing with a potential IRS audit, Roland agrees to joint custody and a $1 million settlement. Annalise managed to pull it off after all, impressing Tegan in the process.

Back at Middleton, Connor and his Dad walk around campus having the world’s shittiest heart-to-heart. Connor tries to give his dad the check back and tells him he can’t buy his love and forgiveness, and while he doesn’t hate him anymore, they just don’t have anything in common. Then Mr. Walsh goes full shady, telling Connor he is making a huge mistake marrying Oliver. He thinks Connor is faking being happy and pretending to be someone he’s not. Apparently, from the three seconds he’s spent with Connor in the past few days, he’s decided that his son is no longer the independent, strong person he once was. Connor is quickly fed up with his dad’s bullshit and he rips up the check, throws it at him, and leaves.

Tegan, impressed by Annalise’s performance in the Hargrove settlement, offers to put in a word for her with the other partners but the prospect of working for Annalise again is too much for Michaela to stomach. She chases after Annalise on her way out and forbids her to come work for Caplan & Gold. She’s finally started over after the nightmare that was working for Annalise and now she has a positive mentor in Tegan. Annalise burns her unnecessarily hard when she tells her she’s making the same mistake she made with her, looking for a mommy in Tegan. It cuts Michaela real deep and she’s speechless as Annalise leaves.

tegan job offer
Source: How To Get Away With Murder / ABC

Flush with that Hargrove cash, Annalise gets the court documents (front pages only) that she needs to start her class action. Nate confronts her at the courthouse, wanting to know what her ulterior motive is for pursuing the case. Annalise promises she’s doing it for the right reasons and Nate—in yet another of many sick burns this episode—says, “You’ve never been on the right side of anything.” Historically that has been true, but not this time (to our knowledge, anyway).

Isaac records his patient notes for Annalise and his professional opinion of her is not great. He thinks she’s tenuously maintaining sobriety and overwhelming herself with work, prioritizing helping others over her own needs, and self-inflicting penance for lives she thinks she’s ruined. He believes that she will relapse if/when she fails. Isaac thinks that she’s isolating and refusing help as a defense mechanism to process her many traumas, and that she’s exhibiting hypomanic tendencies. At the end, Isaac is forced to admit that Annalise is a trigger for him and he needs to be mindful of it. We get no more info on that score because a new patient arrives: it’s Bonnie, but she’s calling herself “Julie.”

At the D.A.’s office, Laurel finds a name on Denver’s list of campaign donors—Trent Stockton—who, as it turns out, is guy who used to work for Antares and died under mysterious circumstances. She comes to the conclusion that her dad is paying Denver to cover up Wes’s murder. Michaela says she knows how to get into Tegan’s accounts and enlists the services of their hacker-in-residence, Oliver.

Nate goes to Bonnie’s office to give her some misfiled paperwork and Bonnie presents him with her new theory. She thinks that Annalise took down Cross to get her job. Nate tells her to drop it and says, “You’re back on the crack, and it’s called Annalise.” And Nate would know, being a reformed Annalise-crack-addict himself.

Flash forward to one and a half months later. Michaela is crying in Isaac’s arms outside the nursery when he gets a call from “Julie Barden.” He ignores it and we see that it’s Bonnie calling him from Caplan & Gold, which is now a crime scene. The police tape seems to be in the vicinity of Tegan’s office and Michaela’s desk. There’s blood on the floor and on the glass window of Tegan’s office, and “the witness” Bonnie has come to see is inside. It’s Oliver, wearing a shock blanket and looking, as always, like he’s in way over his head.

bonnie
Source: How To Get Away With Murder / ABC

And so the plot thickens. There goes my theory that the blood on Michaela was from Laurel’s miscarriage. The season seems to be moving away from the whole “what happened to Laurel’s baby” thing as the central mystery, which is good because that’s boring. The baby is still missing, of course, but now we’ve got blood in two different locations and Bonnie seeing Annalise’s shrink under a fake name. The Isaac mystery continues to be the most compelling thing about this season for me, partially because I love Jimmy Smits and partially because we know so little about him. What exactly is it about Annalise that’s triggering him? How does he know Laurel and Michaela? And what the hell is Bonnie talking to him about?

Tune in to How To Get Away With Murder on ABC Thursday at 10pm for more questions and no answers.

 

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Author: Ali Sciarabba

Twitter: @alimscribbles

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