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How To Get Away With Murder - Stay Strong, Mama - Review: "Roa"


Last night's episode of How To Get Away With Murder was one of the season's better ones as the fourth season approaches the usual winter finale climax. Isaac Roa's character was fleshed out substantially more, just as the stakes at Caplan & Gold grew significantly. "Stay Strong, Mama" was written by Morenike Balogun and directed by Cherie Nowlan.

I'll start by discussing Isaac Roa, because his role in the series of events we're seeing in the flash forwards is more important than ever. In the last couple of episodes we've heard Roa refer to Annalise as a trigger for him, which was further exacerbated by Bonnie in the sessions he had with her. Last night we saw Roa meet with his own therapist, who turned out to be his ex-wife, Jacqueline, Roa had become emotionally fixated on both Annalise and Bonnie because of the grief they had experienced - Annalise having lost a child years ago, and Bonnie having close ties to Annalise as well as her own awful past.

Initially this signals to me that Roa isn't the best of therapists, which was further cemented by his actions in this hour, which included diverting Annalise away from trigger subjects in his session with her, and going to Bonnie's workplace to ask her to follow up with the therapists he recommended when she ended their sessions. Roa consulting with his ex-wife at least showed he cared in the right way, but his judgement was clearly impaired.



The Laurel/Michaela/Oliver triangle saw solid progression inside Caplan & Gold. Laurel's father came to town and met with the firm's senior partners including Tegan, Michaela's boss and mentor. The long and short of it was that the meeting was concerning Antares Technologies' upcoming IPO, which would make the Castillo's - including Laurel - filthy rich. In addition, the writers gave us all a rather low-effort reason to hate Antares and Laurel's father, Jorje, because they installed several servers in the Caplan & Gold premises. This can almost certainly be assumed to be something dodgy, because last time I checked, law offices weren't data centers, and that does nothing to help with the company's shady standing as it is.



The biggest surprise for this trio, however, came in the form of Asher, who broke up with Michaela over her recent dishonesty, which pales in comparison to the other lies everyone has been protecting. In a last-ditch effort to prevent him leaving, Michaela told Asher that Laurel's father killed Wes and they were trying to take him down, but that proved ineffective. Instead, Asher went to Bonnie's house looking for Frank, but he was with Laurel, unbeknownst to them both. Bonnie was in tears after being dumped by her boss, Denver, for having a conscience which aligned with a stunt Annalise pulled in the DA's office. I cringed at the sight, but Asher and Bonnie could be back on again.

That stunt Annalise pulled stemmed from her ongoing class action work against the state. Denver was not going to back down on plans to forfeit a house one of Annalise's class action clients used to deal drugs from. Annalise got her client's sons to make a public plea to effectively blackmail a judge into signing an injunction, and create a rift in the DA's office when she barged into the DA's office to kick up a fuss about Denver's actions.

Connor, meanwhile, looked right at home by Annalise's side in all of this. He seemed the most comfortable I've seen him in a long time, probably due to the fact that he was part of something good, and part of something that didn't involve people getting killed. The cynic in me says it could be a setup for and end to the character, especially given that he's still not 'safe' in the flash forwards.

Speaking of the flash forwards, last week's paltry 18 second effort was barely improved on in this week's hour, which topped out at a measly 23 seconds. In those seconds, Roa's unanswered phone call to Annalise from the hospital was expanded on slightly. No additional dialog was on show, but immediately after Roa said his last words on the phone, we saw blood and water running down a drain, with the camera panning up to show Annalise slumped at the base of a shower, bleeding out.

I'm pretty certain there's a time jump here somewhere - and this has always been the case in the flash forward events of earlier seasons. We've seen previously that Bonnie and the police are at Annalise's hotel room, so if she was laying in the hotel bathroom then she would have been found. This could mean there's a third crime scene - Annalise's hotel room and elevator, the Caplan & Gold offices, and wherever Annalise lies. How she came to be there isn't answered yet, but Annalise's past suicide attempt came up briefly in this hour so that can't be ruled out. There really isn't much more to be gleaned from this episode's flash forwards, which is pretty disappointing really.



In other minor details, Laurel hiding her pregnancy was interesting. I'm surprised she went out in the first place and didn't feign an excuse to pass on her father's dinner offer. I am, however, pretty certain he did notice something was up, and won't have any difficulty - either from putting two and two together himself, or having a spy keep eyes on Laurel - coming to the conclusion that she didn't have an abortion after all. I remember saying at the time that Laurel shouldn't have made up an abortion story at all for this exact reason.

Her and Frank look to be rebuilding things, though, and its good to hear a paternity test is probably underway. Again, Frank's outing was rather subdued, and aside from making his love and devotion to Laurel known, he didn't do much else except provide Asher with some rather weird advice on dealing with Michaela's deception. He also got his LSAT scores back, but how those play out will have to wait another week.

A final word on Tegan and Michaela. I'm fairly certain Tegan is smart enough not to take Michaela at face value. She's leaking information slowly to Michaela to keep her close, and to have someone to pin any blowbacks on should they occur. Michaela is too jaded and naive to notice, it seems. If she's anywhere near the intellectual level of Annalise, she will have her all figured out already.

That's it from me for this episode of How To Get Away With Murder. I enjoyed it more than usual, with particular highlights being the stuff with Roa, and the happenings in the DA's office. Next week is the penultimate episode of the year, and things are shaping up well, but come on creative team, we badly need better flash forwards.

Thanks as always for reading! I look forward to reading your thoughts and theories in the comments below. See you back here next week.







 
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