Welcome back to How To Get Away With Murder. The
Keating 5 Keating 4 are eating their feelings. Annalise (Viola Davis) and Isaac (Jimmy Smits) are eating pancakes while giving off major will-they-won't-they-vibes. As innocuous as "Ask Him About Stella" started, pretty much everything will go to hell by the end of the episode — though there may just be a Gladiator in a white hat ready to turn the whole thing around.
The Many Faces Of Isaac
Did Isaac really kill his daughter? Not quite, but he's far more "broken" than Annalise's one-time therapist ever let on. (The fact that this guy was allowed to practice is a little alarming, but this is also the universe in which Frank murders someone every third episode without any ramifications.)
The episode opens with Isaac buying drugs from a burger truck — he tosses the burger and fries and goes straight for the K-Pex, an opioid he snorts. Annalise knocks on his door, but he doesn't open it... for obvious reasons. The next day, however, Isaac tells Annalise, over pancakes at a diner, what we assume is "the truth." The therapist informs her that he got high, hence not opening the door — his first time in 23 years.
Later on, Isaac gets even more "honest" (the quotes are for a reason, I promise) when he tells her that he wasn't exactly so clean when his daughter, Stella, died of an overdose. It turns out that Stella took some of Isaac's pills, which led to her death three years earlier. In order for his addiction secret to stay under wraps, he faked a suicide text to his ex-wife. So, no: He didn't murder his daughter, but he also didn't have the decency to tell the truth about what really went down that night.
Bonnie (Liza Weil) smooth talks another assistant district attorney to get in on Isaac's pending murder charge. She just wants to help, you guys! She's definitely not a double agent for Annalise Keating! It seems to work, until it doesn't — and Bonnie, already terrified that Denver (Benito Martinez) is going to cut her breaks or blow up her house thanks to his Antares connection — confronts the D.A. directly. She'll expose him to the press if he doesn't back the hell off her, Annalise, and Isaac's case.
Annalise goes to Isaac's house to tell him the good news, and they very nearly kiss — until Annalise realizes that Isaac is very much high. The two get into a rather scary confrontation: It's unclear if Isaac insisting Annalise "ruined" him is the drugs talking, or an entirely other side fo Isaac's usually calm and collected personality. Either way, Annalise is not having it. She calls his ex wife and tells her to ask him about Stella. Annalise out.
The Case Comes To A Head
How To Get Away With Murder has never shied away from the political, but I couldn't help but be particularly impressed with the way the series has weaved the real-world need for prison reform into its storyline. For a series where people tend to, umm, get away with murder, it's important to remember that, for many people (specifically, poor people of color) it's extremely difficult to get out of the punitive cycle of the criminal justice system.
It's heartbreaking to watch Nate (Billy Brown) see his father Nate Sr. (Glynn Turman) talk about the many ways he's been screwed since the beginning. He was poor, so he stole to feed his kids. When he got out of prison, he couldn't make even the smallest of infractions without getting sent back to prison for an even longer sentence. His solitary confinement stint (he thought a month, it was actually a full year) caused his mind to, essentially, break — hence the murder that he committed while behind bars.
The cycle never ended.
Michaela (Aja Naomi King) and Connor (Jack Falahee) fight over the best way to present Big Nate's case in court, while Asher (Matt McGorry) feeds everyone baked goods. Honestly, I would watch this group in a roommate comedy spin-off, completely sans murder. They're so cute when they're being lawyerly, even if Connor isn't technically enrolled in law school right now. By the end of the episode, he makes the obvious choice to catch up with summer classes, his passion reignited. It's so good to see him happy — and not just because he also proposes to Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) in the same breath.
When Annalise finally presents her case in court, she's told that it's being taken to Harrisburg, where it will be reviewed by the State Supreme Court. All she has to do is write a brief. Annalise is pissed — they're doing it so it's easier for her lawsuit to get thrown out completely. She's right, because... that's exactly what happens.
Michaela, however, isn't giving up. She's tells Annalise that sometimes, people need help in order to succeed. They need someone who knows how to fix things.
They need Olivia Pope (!!!). So, Annalise goes to find her. Appropriately, she's guest lecturing on a college campus. The topic she writes on the board? In pilot episode Annalise-esque handwriting, it's: How To Survive A Scandal.
The official crossover episode won't arrive until March 1, but, umm, I am SO EXCITED I COULD BURST.
Laurel's Baby Drama Continues...
Frank (Charlie Weber) tries to figure out how Sandrine Castillo (Lolita Davidovich) really knew Wes/Christophe, but ends up discovering that Sandrine has called Jorge (Esai Morales) every single day. Are they working together? Frank is convinced, so much so that, when Laurel (Karla Souza) is granted visitation of her baby (whom she names Christopher, after Wes) he decides to go with her.
Frank also tells her that he knows he is the one who caused premature labor — his "Catholic guilt" was eating him alive. (Oh sweet, murderous Frank.) Laurel tells him not to worry about it — things are actually looking up for her and her baby.
But Frank does not know how to "not worry" about anything. Since he's not getting answers from tapping Sandrine's phone, he meets her on the street and just asks her how she knew Wes. Guess that's one answer we'll be getting when the series returns for its epic Scandal crossover on March 1.