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How To Get Away With Murder - He's a Bad Father - Review: "About Average"

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The eleventh episode of ABC's How To Get Away With Murder was a bit of a mixed bag in my view. In some areas it managed to hold the decent standard we've seen so far in the back half of Season 4, but it faltered badly in others. The three main storylines were moved forward in decent fashion, though there's one twist I'm not so sure about. "He's a Bad Father" was written by Maya Goldsmith and was directed by Marta Cunningham.

The custody battle, the class action case, and the circumstances surrounding Wes's actions in the days before he died all achieved good screen time in this hour. Starting with the custody case, we watched as Annalise fought Laurel's father, Jorge, for custody of her baby. Laurel took the stand in front of a noticeably subdued Annalise, and a viscous lawyer representing Jorge who walked all over Annalise and the poorly performing judge, resulting in a win for Jorge and another episode at least where Laurel is still without custody of her baby.

While the ladies were tied up with that, the boys made some progress on the class action suit. They confirmed the Nate Lahey in prison was the father of Nate we know. Annalise decided to use the elder Lahey as her face case, and woven into the subplot was some good character development.

In the third topic, Laurel's mother appeared to meet Wes in suspicious circumstances only a day before his death. This information came courtesy of Bonnie, who, through these actions, has now confirmed she's working for both the DA's office and Annalise.

The headline at the end of last week's hour was Laurel's mother making an appearance this week. Overall, this went better than I expected. I was expecting a rich, ditsy, mentally unstable woman to essentially wreak havoc in the clich├ęd style we've seen nasty mothers and in-laws take over episodes in one-off or short term stints across many a television show or movie. Fortunately, this wasn't to be. We instead got a bilingual woman who was fairly well behaved and coherent, and who followed the plan pretty well. Annalise took a different tack when examining her in court, opting for an aggressive approach to force her into conceding that her own mothering skills were inferior, therefore Laurel had learned what to do and what not to do purely based on the poor examples she set when it was her turn.

I love my son. I just want the chance to be his mother.

It was good to see, but Annalise was no match for Jorge's lawyer, who, as I mentioned, walked all over Annalise and the judge on multiple occasions. Annalise looked weak and tired in court, which may be true, but I suspected that some below average writing didn't do her character justice, with the focus on the writers room being to make sure she lost the case, instead of going down with much of a fight.

Jorge's lawyer picked holes in Annalise's witness, Isaac Roa. We've heard previously how Roa's daughter committed suicide, so the lawyer went hard on this fact, destroying Roa's credibility in next to no time while Annalise stood by and watched. When the judge had a decision, it went the way of Jorge, as I had expected before the case was heard. This custody battle storyline took a big leap up the list of end of season cliffhanger possibilities following the verdict, and Roa's relapse as seen shortly before the top of the hour adds another interesting dimension moving forward.

Do you know Nate's dad has been in jail for 33 years?

The class action case was nothing but filler to keep Asher, Oliver and Connor occupied while the girls were fronting the custody battle in this hour. They were brushed to the side while further development was handed to Nate in particular, along with Annalise and Nate's father. I thought this was the most well done part of the hour in my book. It was a good example of not needing some massive conspiracy to cause friction. The fact of the matter was Nate's dad was a criminal who went inside when Nate was young, and the pair haven't had any contact in many years, with a point of contention being Nate's occupation as a police officer, which Nate Sr disapproves of passionately. The initial tension-filled failure of a meeting between the Nates and Annalise soon gave way, and Nate Sr agreed to join the class action, giving Annalise the ideal face case moving forward.

You stopped being my son the moment you became a pig.

I'm not sure how I feel about the small but significant development to Wes's case. The main reason for this is that I'm not a big fan of introducing a new character effectively out of the blue to suddenly become a vital piece of a larger, longer term puzzle. Laurel's mother is such an example. It worked in the custody case, but now her influence becomes ongoing because she appears to have met with Wes not long after Wes called Dominic. That's a bit frustrating. If that meeting had been revealed before Laurel's mother came into the fray, it appears more thought out and less of a rushed introduction by the writers. A character or the viewer putting two and two together from matching hairstyles in the surveillance camera photo and in real life is a better approach, and represents the premise of the series much better as well.

It was also blatantly obvious very early in the hour that Laurel's parents were definitely working together. They didn't so much as look at each other with intimidating expressions in the courtroom despite countless opportunities. Why they're working together isn't clear, as are their motives. The promo for next week's episode indicates we might get some answers, but it's very open-ended at present. Given how the creative team go out of their way to include racism into storylines wherever possible, it wouldn't surprise me if both parents were underground white supremacists and despite their failed marriage, were against their daughter having the child of a black man.

Some smaller points worth mentioning include Oliver's attempt to crowdfund a trip for Simon's parents to visit him, and Connor - as Oliver's lawyer - advising against that. Big thumbs up there from me. It was also refreshing seeing Michaela attempt to be intimate with Asher despite him rambling on about the case. But a big thumbs down to Nate's attempt to rekindle something with Annalise. I could not understand that at all. Nate's ability to not do stupid stuff needs to be preserved, but that took a hit here. I'm amazed Annalise was the bigger person and called him off. Slightly redeeming, however, was Bonnie and Frank's meeting concerning the danger she's in as she straddles her ADA's role with feeding information to Annalise. This will come to a head eventually, which I'm really looking forward to.

Overall, this was an about average episode of How To Get Away With Murder. There was nothing particularly great or bad about it. The overall story progression was decent, but this wasn't one to rave about or spend hours dissecting. If you agree or disagree, I'd love to hear why so please share your thoughts and theories in the comments below. See you right back here next week.

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