Laurel's mommie dearest comes to town — and the plot thickens

By Maureen Lee Lenker
February 02, 2018 at 12:16 AM EST
Mitch Haaseth/ABC
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Much comes to a head this week on HTGAWM. Annalise’s class action finds her face case — and it’s Nate’s dad; Laurel has her custody hearing; and everything we thought we knew about Jorge Castillo is thrown into question.

We open on Asher and Connor calling Annalise with the news about the Nate Lahey case file – it turns out it’s Nate’s father and Nate is listed as a family member. But Annalise is a bit distracted trying to suss out whether involving Laurel’s mother in the custody hearing might be a good idea. Laurel wins this round.

Laurel preps for the hearing — she goes with a nice maternal pink because appearances are sometimes everything in court. Michaela wants to keep investigating the link between Wes and Dominic, but Laurel only wants to focus on the hearing. How does it feel, Laurel? You wouldn’t leave Michaela alone once she started at C&G, and now you’ve created a monster. But never fear — Bonnie is on the case, pouring over the evidence in Denver’s office to try to get to the bottom of it. Only there’s something funny going on with her screen and she calls Oliver to verify that her computer is being mirrored by an outside party. Now all of the Keating four are worried they’re being spied on.

Annalise goes to see Nate and he admits he slipped his father’s file in the mail to her. His father was in prison since he was a kid and they lost contact after he was convicted of beating another prisoner to death. Nate hasn’t seen his dad in 15 years. After some convincing, they go to visit his father, who has been in solitary for over two years and as a result seems a bit unstable. The meeting does not go well. To put it mildly. Nate’s father goes off, calling Nate “a pig” and “a bitch for the white man” for being a cop and is carried out still raving. Yes, they went there.

Laurel’s trial gets underway, and Frank has a trial of his own — meeting her mother, who promptly ignores him. Ms. Castillo (Lolita Davidovich) is French, which is an opportunity for actress Karla Souza to showcase the fact she speaks fluent French in addition to Spanish and English. Can we talk about how she doesn’t get enough credit on any front? Her performances are fabulous and she speaks three languages — girl is TALENTED. Before the trial stars, Laurel confronts her father in the courtroom hallway, and they aren’t pulling any punches. She says she doesn’t have the hard drive and he retorts that he didn’t kill Wes (all subtext is gone) — and for the first time I might sort of believe him?

Laurel testifies first and delivers heartbreaking testimony about how her mental distress came solely from not being allowed to see or hold her son after he was born. She admits to cocaine use as a teen as part of an eating disorder, but things go off the rails when she’s asked about the number of men she was sleeping with when she became pregnant. Annalise (and collectively all of Shondaland) does not standing for slut-shaming. Hell yes. But then they accuse Wes of being a sociopath and Laurel of taking cocaine to deliberately harm her child. This is the most insane custody hearing ever!

Oliver is working on a fundraiser to bring Simon’s parents over from Pakistan to visit him — which will cost $15,000 due to legal and visa issues. Connor explains to him — as his lawyer, not his boyfriend, mind you — that the fact that Oliver was present at Simon’s death, visited him at the hospital, and is now doing this fundraiser makes him look very guilty. He has to stop unless he wants to go to jail, which will break Connor’s heart. And, let’s be honest, mine too. Oliver is the only here who is still remotely pure and good.

Laurel shows her mom a picture of Wes, but she doesn’t want to talk about her relationships otherwise. Speaking of her boo, Frank is in a parking garage with Bonnie. She says she’s putting her life on the line to investigate Denver and Wes’ case while Frank isn’t even sure if Jorge is the guilty party anymore. Bonnie is afraid of being offed, but Frank promises to protect her.

Back in court, Laurel’s mom has gone missing just before taking the stand. She’s just outside getting some air, which gives Annalise the time to question her about whether she’s truly ready to take the stand. Annalise is worried she’ll break under pressure and ruin the case. Back inside, it turns out Ms. Castillo should have been more afraid of Annalise than her husband’s lawyer. Annalise questions her about Laurel’s childhood and whether she was a fit mother, but there’s a point to this line of questioning: It makes Ms. Castillo admit that Laurel would make an excellent mother because she already was one to her throughout her childhood. (Recap continues on page 2)

Annalise goes back to Nate because she wants to make his father her face case — he was never granted a psych evaluation or permitted to make an insanity plea despite the effects of solitary confinement. This is the lynchpin she wants to hang the class action on, so Nate needs to talk him into signing up for it. He goes back to visit his father and gently explains to him that he’s mentally ill. The system has made him sick. If he signs up for the case, he’ll show how broken the system is and mean a lot to many people — including Nate.

Suspiciously, Jorge’s lawyer declines to cross-examine Laurel’s mother. Isaac takes the stand to attest to his assessment of Laurel’s mental health and they annihilate him. They not only bring up his history of drug abuse, but worse, they implicate him in his daughter’s death (which was previously ruled a suicide). His testimony is thrown out because it’s revealed that his daughter’s case is being reopened and he’s being investigated for murder — which, of course, is being handled by Denver and the DA’s office personally.

Bonnie and Annalise have a heart-to-heart in a car (why are people always hiding in cars on this show? Surely someone would’ve caught on to this ruse by now). Annalise is convinced they’re framing Isaac, but Bonnie insists the evidence against him looks real.

It’s time for the ruling, and since they have to throw out Isaac’s claim that Laurel is mentally fit, the judge must award custody to Jorge. Even worse, there are no current arrangements for visitation, and this requires further conferring with human services. Annalise and Jorge have a stare-down for the ages.

Back at Wes-now-Laurel’s apartment, Laurel worries that she got it all wrong and her father didn’t kill Wes. Her mother tells her that’s what Jorge wants her to believe and assures her Wes the baby will come home soon.

Nate shows up at Annalise’s place with the piece of paper officially signing his father on to her class action lawsuit. He wants to take her to dinner, and they kiss. It’s hot, but she stops it, and he goes to the elevator in resignation. I wait eagerly for her to open her door and run after him — but this is not that show.

In jail, Nate Senior tears apart his cell trying to find something. He finally does — and it’s a photo of him and Nate as a child. He presses it to his chest and breaks down into tears.

Michaela gets back to her apartment to find Connor, Asher, and Oliver celebrating Nate’s dad being Annalise’s official face case. But she ends the party very quickly with the news that Laurel lost custody.

Annalise goes to Isaac’s house to check on him, but his door is locked and he won’t answer. We see he’s inside, sitting in his chair with his eyes closed in a state of malaise that could possibly be a result of drug use? There are no definitive answers either way.

Bonnie meets Frank in their favorite parking garage (if they ever get married, will the reception be there? I mean, it is kind of their spot). She went through Wes’ files more — he only called Dominic once, so there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection there. But there’s something else — Wes met with Laurel’s mother the day before he died.

So what do you think? Is Laurel’s mother the big bad after all and Jorge is innocent? Or are they working together (as the tease for next week suggests)? Is Wes still alive or did Ms. Castillo really mean the baby would be coming home soon? How long does Isaac have left to live? Or Bonnie for that matter? Sound off in the comments below or hit me up @themaureenlee.

Viola Davis stars as a law professor where she teaches, wait for it, how to get away with murder.
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