Thursday’s episode of How to Get Away With Murder is brought to you by the letter “D” — as in, “daddy issues.” (Or “dysfunctional family.” Whichever works.)
We already knew that Laurel Castillo had a messed-up relationship with her father, which led to the murder of her boyfriend and the very custody battle featured in Thursday’s installment of the ABC drama. But this particular hour also revealed the fraught dynamic between Nate and his father and an unsettling side of Isaac’s relationship with his daughter. (The main takeaway from the episode? Trust no one.)
Here’s what went down:
COURT BATTLE ROYALE | Picking up where last week’s episode left off, Laurel chats on the phone with her mother (in fluent French!) and reveals to Annalise and Frank that (1) her mom knows that Dominic is dead, but is currently under the impression that Jorge is responsible, and (2) her mom is coming to town to testify against Jorge during the custody hearing.
But even though Laurel finally has an ally in the courtroom, it doesn’t do her much good. Yes, Laurel gives a compelling testimony on the stand, tearfully begging the room to understand how horrifying it is to have one’s baby taken away without one’s consent. And yes, Laurel’s mom does come to Laurel’s defense when it’s her turn to testify, detailing how well Laurel took care of her when her bipolar disorder reared its ugly head during Laurel’s childhood.
What the judge really needs to hear, though, is testimony from a credible medical expert that indicates Laurel is mentally fit to take care of her child. At first, it seems Isaac fits this description perfectly; having already evaluated Laurel at the hospital, Isaac takes the stand and confirms to Annalise that there is no reason Laurel shouldn’t be given custody of her son. All signs point to Laurel winning her case, right?
So, so wrong. During Isaac’s cross-examination, Jorge’s lawyer — played by Heroes‘ Jack Coleman — grills Isaac about his daughter’s suicide. How did she kill herself, exactly? (Pills.) Is it true that Isaac was in his house for a full 15 minutes before calling the police about his daughter’s dead body? (Yes.) Is it true that Isaac was named a person of interest after Stella’s death? (Yes — and, as Jorge’s lawyer reveals to Isaac while he’s on the stand, Stella’s case is actually being reopened by D.A. Denver, and Isaac is once again under investigation as a suspect in what is now being considered a homicide.)
And just like that, Laurel’s petition for custody goes down the drain. Despite heartbreaking testimony from Laurel and her mother, the judge denies Laurel custody of her son, given that Isaac is no longer a credible expert and can’t be trusted to say whether Laurel is mentally stable or not. Jorge gets to maintain custody of Baby Wes, and Laurel will have to settle for visitation for now, until she wins for good — and Annalise assures her that she will.
Later that night, while Laurel’s mother is comforting her after the disheartening verdict, Bonnie meets with Frank to deliver some puzzling news. The night before he died, it seems Wes typed an address into his phone’s map app. And upon arriving at that location, he took a secret meeting… with Laurel’s mom. (See? Trust no one!)
A TALE OF TWO LAHEYS | After hearing from Connor that Nate’s father has been in prison for the last 33 years, Annalise approaches Nate and tries to understand why he didn’t just ask Annalise to include his father in her class-action lawsuit from the get-go. But Nate reveals that he and his father don’t have the warmest and/or fuzziest of relationships; even though Nate Sr. was originally tossed behind bars for smaller infractions, like drugs and parole violations, he was locked up for murder when Nate Jr. was 15, after he beat a fellow inmate to death. Nate hasn’t visited his father since that incident occurred, and he’s not eager to do so — until Annalise convinces him, of course.
Nate’s first meeting with his father is a gut-wrenching disaster. Having been kept in solitary confinement for far too long (and clearly battling some sort of mental illness), Nate Sr. barely looks at his son at first, then finally turns to him and says, “You stopped being my son the moment you became a pig. You still a pig?” Nate tries to have a calm conversation with his dad, but it doesn’t happen. “You know what a pig is? It’s a bitch for the white man,” Nate Sr. scoffs, before escalating to full-on screams that Nate isn’t his son. He’s dragged away by the guards, and he vows to never sign any paperwork that would help Nate in the long run.
Annalise isn’t deterred, though. She believes that Nate Sr. is the perfect “face case” for her lawsuit. No, he’s not a model inmate, but he’s clearly been broken down by the judicial system, seeing as he’s had 15-plus public defenders, never had any fair hearings and was never given a psych evaluation. He should have pleaded insanity years ago, but he was always tried as a competent defendant — and that’s unjust in itself.
So, Nate goes back to his father sans Annalise and has a slightly more productive conversation with the man. He convinces his dad that he needs mental help, and he could get that by joining Annalise’s lawsuit. Eventually, Nate Sr. agrees and signs the paperwork for the class-action suit — and Nate Jr. celebrates with Annalise by kissing her, before Annalise breaks off the make-out sesh. “We can’t,” she says, and Nate reluctantly leaves her building — but something tells me his willpower won’t last.
With that, I hand it over to you. What did you think of Murder‘s latest outing? Drop a comment below with your reactions to the episode!