How to Get Away With Murder (S04E12) “Ask Him About Stella”

Last night’s episode was the “Isaac show” (Jimmy Smits) in large part, showing the fallout from his terrible cross examination by the opposing counsel in Laurel’s (Karla Souza) custody trial. We saw some movement and then some stalling of Annalise’s (Viola Davis) class action suit. The best part was Laurel finally getting to meet her baby, the newly-named Christopher!

This episode felt weaker than normal, that is, right up until the last few minutes with Isaac and Annalise having a huge fight that might actually be their final one – for real this time. To be honest, this was very much a filler episode, providing some background and some setbacks to move the plot forward. While you need this, on occasion, let’s hope the next episode brings us back to some real HTGAWM action.

We pick up with Isaac in his car, losing his mind reliving the cross examination by Mr. Castillo’s (Esai Morales) lawyer. No one imagined that his testimony on Laurel’s behalf would lead to accusations that Isaac was complicit in his daughter Stella’s death. Unfortunately, we all knew what was coming next – he goes straight for his drug of choice. He snorts a full four crushed up pills, which put him in the drugged-up state we saw at the end of last episode when Annalise went to his house.

Isaac’s on and off fight with the drugs takes up much of the rest of the episode, with several scenes of him and Annalise in a diner just laughing, her attempt to be his support system, I suppose. I found these scenes, well, boring, to be honest. I’m still not sure why we had to repeat this scene over and over again. It’s during one of these that we learn that Isaac had been doing heroin for 10 years before meeting his ex-wife Jacqueline (Katherine Erbe) who helped him get clean 23 years ago. It’s only later, after Bonnie (Liza Weil) tells Annalise what drug Stella OD’d on that Isaac actually confesses the whole truth. It turns out that he’d been lying about being clean in his marriage, Stella had found his drugs and took them all. When he found her dead, he was devastated, but also  concerned that his wife would find out he’d been doing drugs all along. That’s why there was a delay in him calling 9-1-1, he spent 15 minutes cleaning up, getting rid of the drugs and then sending a FAKE suicide note to his wife from Stella’s phone!  That rocked me, I can’t even imagine having the presence of mind to do that when you’ve just found your daughter dead on the bathroom floor. When Annalise later finds him high AGAIN, they have a huge blowout fight, and we get our episode title when Annalise speaks with Isaac’s ex-wife Jacqueline, telling her that Isaac is in trouble and to “ask him about Stella.” Annalise and Isaac are so toxic together, I really hope this is finally the end for the two of them.

As for Annalise’s class action suit – the students work together to come up with a great opening statement, only to have Annalise throw the whole thing out, telling them she’d just wing it. But none of that matters, the ADA stops the trial before it can even begin. She tells the judge that the state Supreme Court has decided it will rule on the case – and Annalise is only to send them a briefing, not even have her clients testify. Annalise is understandably furious, her whole case is about her clients not getting their time in court and it’s happening yet again! Unfortunately the Supreme Court then throws out the case, which feels like a huge loss to everyone involved. Even Nate’s (Billy Brown) dad (Glynn Turman) thinks the whole thing was him being played. Nate has to talk him down from being angry at Annalise, but we get a sweet moment when he promises his dad that although he may have lost the case, he hadn’t lost Nate. At least ONE family gets a nice (ish) reunion.

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Thankfully Michaela (Aja Naomi King) doesn’t give up as easily as her friends. She goes to Annalise and convinces her that with the right powerful person, Annalise could get her class action heard in the actual US Supreme Court. Cue the excitement, because who is she talking about but none other than Scandal’s Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). When HTGAWM returns, March 1st, it will be as part of a 2 episode Scandal/HTGAWM crossever event! Shonda Rimes goodness for 2 hours!

I think the writer here was tasked with getting a lot of background information across, which left the episode feeling a little flat. We’ve become so used to highly charged emotional scenes that this slower pace felt  like a bit of a let down. I’m sure they’ll make up for that in March, I’m looking forward to seeing Viola Davis and Kerry Washington together. Cue the power team!

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