Mitch Haaseth/ABC

Annalise travels to Memphis to visit her ailing mother

September 28, 2017 at 11:00 PM EDT

After months away, we’re back with the Keating Five Four and ramping up for a new mystery. The first episode of season 4 jumps into some of the questions left open last season, but they’re not necessarily the ones you’re expecting. We spend far more time exploring whether or not Connor will accept Oliver’s proposal and what Annalise is going to do about her mother’s dementia than we do on the biggest issues of the season 3 finale: What did Annalise mean when she called Wes “her son”? And why did Laurel’s dad killed Wes?

Laurel meets her father on campus, probing him about Dominic and asking why he lied to her about why the hitman was in New York. She can’t bring herself to ask about Wes. Instead, she tells dear old dad that she was pregnant, but that she got an abortion. He naturally assumes it was Frank’s, and Laurel does nothing to dispel this notion. Before they go, he insists that they take a photo together on campus, which feels weird and not at all like a natural fatherly sentiment — this is Laurel’s dad, after all.

Laurel then goes to meet Annalise, Bonnie, and the Keating Four at a restaurant, per Annalise’s request. They each have envelopes on their plate, but Annalise insists they can’t open them until after dinner. More on that later, because first we have to flash back to one week earlier and get caught up on what everyone’s been up to in the meantime.

The majority of “I’m Going Away” focuses on Annalise’s trip to Memphis to visit her mother, who, as Annalise learned in prison, is suffering from dementia. Annalise gets hit on by a guy (Desmond) on the plane, and he writes his number on a napkin — she tells him her name is Bonnie.

At home, things are worse than she suspected. Her father has put a bell on the door to alert him when Ophelia leaves the house because she’s already wandered over to the neighbors’ place in the middle of the night. Annalise admits to her mother that she’s come to visit so they can check out a potential nursing home for her “safety,” which angers Ophelia. “What the hell do you know about safety? You got people dying all around you every day,” she retorts — and, well, she has a point.

Later, Annalise receives a call from Bonnie, who says Hannah Keating is going to protest Annalise’s ownership of the house and sue for the insurance money. This means Annalise’s cash windfall (and means of caring for her mother) is potentially gone. She wants a drink after hearing this, but after looking up AA meetings in the area, she ultimately decides to go hook up with the guy she met on the plane. They don’t get very far, though, because he receives a call from “Cece,” whom he claims is his daughter. She walks out and tells him her real name is Annalise.

In the middle of the night, Ophelia wakes up Annalise screaming that the house is on fire: an episode of dementia recalling the fire that killed Uncle Clyde. Annalise bathes her mother, who wet herself in fear, and Ophelia agrees to check out the nursing home.

The home is nice but sad, full of pictures of white movie stars on the walls celebrating the “good old days,” which Ophelia mocks (“Whose good old days?). Annalise and Mac argue over whether Ophelia should go to the home (which costs $5,000/month), and he blames Ophelia’s worsening condition on Annalise’s visit, causing a scene in the nursing home.

Annalise later admits to her sister that she doesn’t have the money anymore because of Sam’s sister’s lawsuit, and she’s not even sure whether she’ll still have a job when she gets home because of the prospect of being disbarred. Celestine responds with the truest evaluation of Annalise’s alcoholism on the show ever uttered: “I’d be drinking too, if I had your life.”

Ultimately, Annalise leaves the choice up to her mother and decides to allow her to stay in her house and be cared for by Mac. They share a moving heart-to-heart where Ophelia acknowledges her worsening condition and her guilt over Annalise facing the prospect of losing another person in her life. “I’ll stay as long as I can,” Ophelia says. “I promise you I’ll hold on to me for as long as I can, and what I want is for you to hold on to me too.” Before leaving, Annalise has one last confrontation with her father, telling him she will hold him responsible if anything happens to her mother because he’s too drunk to notice. At long last, he apologizes for leaving her and leaving the door open for Uncle Clyde to molest her. She seems to accept the apology, promising to text when she lands.

Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, Frank shows Bonnie the new office he has found for the firm he is calling Keating Winterbottom Delfino. Frank wants to get back in Annalise’s good graces, so he is planning to buy the office for them all with “suitcase money” (the money he received in the blackmail that resulted in Annalise’s car crash and the death of her child). Bonnie is very skeptical this plan will work.

We get some brief updates on the show’s two main couples left standing: Connor and Oliver, and Michaela and Asher. Connor and Oliver are at a gay bar, where Oliver is pressuring Connor for an answer to his marriage proposal. Disgusted by the bachelorette party around them, Connor rails against marriage and the institution as a way of proving their love to each other. Methinks Connor doth protest too much. (Recap continues on page 2)

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