How to Get Away with Murder is finally back! We've been waiting months to find out why Laurel's (Karla Souza) dad, Jorge (Esai Morales) killed the father of his unborn grandchild in a devastating twist. The last season left us with more questions than answers, so we were more than ready to pick up the Shondaland show again.
But the How to Get Away with Murder season 4 premiere was less about the mystery (and the murder) and more about the emotion behind the show. Viola Davis' brilliant portrayal of Annalise Keating is the glue that holds the series together, and we saw her dramatic perfection in full force tonight.
Annalise and the Keating Four are, of course, still dealing with the aftermath of Wes' (Alfred Enoch) death and the Keating house fire. Though she hadn't been reinstated as a lawyer yet, Annalise was at least getting insurance payments from the house — but it looks like that's come to a halt, thanks to Sam's sister, Hannah (Marcia Gay Harden). We didn't see Hannah in this episode, but we learn that she's suing Annalise for the house, so the insurance payments are frozen. Hannah and Annalise haven't gotten along in the past, so this might not end well.
But on a positive note for Annalise, she's reinstated as a lawyer after a court hearing to discuss her probation violation (there was alcohol in her system on the night of the fire). From the first episode, it does seem like Annalise is trying to make amends for the past. She's staying sober, turning down a drink from a mysterious stranger, Desmond (Davis' real-life husband, Julius Tennon). Annalise started the third season by telling the Keating Five that they were "good people now" — but in this episode, Annalise really is a good person.
Also not going well, though, is the fact that Annalise's mom, Ophelia (Cicely Tyson) is slipping further into the dementia we saw last season. She's still talking about Annalise's uncle Clyde, who abused Annalise when she was younger. We learned last season that years ago, Ophelia started a house fire to kill Clyde. And when Annalise visits her in Memphis, Ophelia wakes her up, thinking the house is on fire and Clyde is still alive. She eventually agrees to visit a nursing home, as Annalise and her sister don't believe their father can take care of her declining mental health. (His current solution to make sure Ophelia doesn't escape in the middle of the night is to put a bell on the inside of their front door.)
It's heartbreaking to watch Annalise care for her ailing mother. And it's even more heartbreaking when Ophelia tells her daughter that she's already suffered so much, she shouldn't have to lose her mother, too. But the most tear-inducing moment comes when Annalise leaves to fly back to Pennsylvania, and her father apologises to her about Clyde for the first time.
Back in Pennsylvania, Annalise assembles the Keating Four, along with Bonnie (Liza Weil), only to let them go. Sending them off with letters of recommendation for future legal internships, Annalise tells them it's her fault that Wes died, and she can't let them get hurt because of her, too. Some of them take it better than others — Laurel and Michaela (Aja Naomi King) storm off, while Connor (Jack Falahee) at least thanks Annalise. The true shock is that Bonnie receives a letter too; it's clear she thought Annalise was only dismissing the law students. But don't feel too sorry for Bonnie — at the end of the episode, we see her going to take a job with D.A. Denver (Benito Martinez), who wanted to throw Annalise in jail for most of the third season.
Apparently, Frank (Charlie Weber) and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) weren't worthy of invites to the breakup dinner. Frank is still trying to get back in Annalise's good graces, visiting a potential new office for her; Oliver's main storyline this episode is about his proposal to Connor. On that front, Connor tells Oliver that he does want to get married — but he wants to get engaged when things are normal for their relationship, not when they're going through all of the Keating-related drama.
After the dismissal, Michaela is determined to get he schoolwork back on track and to go into "beast mode" to jump start her career. She forces Asher (Matt McGorry) to work on his résumé, too. And if the preview for next week's episode is any indication, it looks like they'll be taking on their rival classmate Simon (Behzad Dabu) once again. Considering the fact that the Keating Four are at the bottom of their class, beast mode is going to be necessary.
There is one truly gasp-worthy moment at the end of the episode, though, and it comes courtesy of Laurel. After Jorge makes a suspicious visit to the Middleton campus, Laurel tells him she had an abortion. It's not clear if she's telling the truth or not; she told the other members of the Keating Four that she was keeping the baby. But the true surprise comes when Jorge texts his daughter the photo they took on campus together — and she types back (but doesn't send) a message that says "Why did you kill Wes?" Clearly, Laurel at least suspects her father could be responsible; Dominic's (Nicholas Gonzalez) arrival in New York was a bit too suspicious.
Aside from the fact that Laurel is apparently wise to her dad's actions, it's also not clear whether or not she's still pregnant. The episode ends with a flash forward to three months later, with Frank and another man (who's also apparently Annalise's court-ordered therapist?) looking over Laurel, who's in a medical gown and apparently has drugs in her system. Laurel is screaming at Frank, asking where her baby is — and we're just as confused as she is. Her stomach definitely looks flat, so if this is a flash forward, it looks like she's lost the baby. We'll have to wait for the rest of the season to find out what really happened, and who she was lying to in the premiere.