Screen: ABC

The Mother Of All Mamas

Annalise calls in her savior to cook, calm, and tell it like it t-i-i-s.

With Annalise in a stupor, her mom's left to pick up the pieces at home, and Bonnie stumbles trying to fill her boss's shoes in court. Nate's rotting away in jail while the interns are palling around in bars like this has turned into a sitcom all of a sudden. Meanwhile, there's trouble in Wes and Rebecca's low-rent version of paradise, on account of her being a pathological liar, or worse. But all that other stuff's filler; the only things that matter this episode are the mother-daughter moments.

  1. Annalise's Mom

    The incomparable Cicely Tyson channels a couple centuries' worth of bad-ass matriarchs to fill the best guest role of the season. "Don't you know a VIP when you see one?" she says, checking Bonnie and Frank on arrival. "Your boss came outta my V and her daddy's P, so show a little respect for her mama!" Some writer no doubt high-fived him-/herself after penning that one -- if so, it was well-deserved.

    There are so many golden utterances (some trite, save for their perfect delivery) that they deserve their own post. Moms is so no-nonsense, you expect her to tell angry glass-throwing Anna Mae (Annalise's given, pre-money-and-status name) to go out back and pick a switch. My personal favorite lines, in no particular order:

    "You showin' your ass, Anna Mae!"
    "Where is the home training?!"
    "What the hell are you talkin' about? Who you think you are? Oprah?"

    She leads with the tough love, melts a bit when she sees Annalise has gone full-on basket case, then proves to her sad-sack daughter that life's too short to play the victim. Just pick yourself up, hook up your kitchen (for those confused, that refers to the coarser hairs at the nape of many black folks' necks), and handle your business, that's her motto. Cross her and you will get burned, literally. Annalise's mom should have her own show on OWN.

  2. Annalise
    She already earned this week's runner-up spot last week when she arranged for her mom's visit. Annalise wallows through three quarters of this episode, which only lets her mom's light shine all the brighter. We do get some insight into her character when it's revealed she was raped by her uncle as a child and she's long blamed her mother for doing nothing to protect her. When Annalise learns that lifelong grudge was a misguided one -- that her mom did, indeed, ultimately save the day, in her own murder-y/arson-y way -- they share a brief moment of tenderness that is big-time Emmy bait.
  3. Bonnie
    Her idol's indisposed, so Bonnie's out to prove her worth. But this starts with a guffaw-able blunder -- accidentally saying "guilty" instead of "not guilty" in her opening arguments. It's the first of multiple "d'oh!" moments in her attempt to exonerate a female nurse accused of raping an unconscious male patient. But you can't keep a good lackey down. Bonnie wins her "Freaky Nightingale" case and claims her prize. In this case, that prize is Asher's junk, claimed in the courthouse parking lot.
  4. Nate
    His clothes go in the right direction in the opening scene, but for the wrong reasons. Nate keeps it dignified even as he bends over to cough, then promenades past angry inmates on the way to his cell. Despite the double-cross, he looks so composed sitting in his orange jumpsuit. In fact, you could almost imagine him rescuing himself without Annalise's help. She's half a mess lately anyway, so he may as well give it a shot.
  5. Michaela
    She's crusading to get Nate cleared out of some strong guilty feelings. It's the first time we see Michaela put someone else's interests ahead of her own. "How are we supposed to be okay with this? He's innocent…and black." Huh. I never pegged her for a race-card-thrower and it's only barely believable when she does it. Either way, her newfound sense of justice elevates her this week. I do take exception to her indignantly shouting, "When have I ever done anything stupid?" at a cautious Laurel. Considering Michaela's barging into Sam and Annalise's house was a major factor in getting all the interns involved in Sam's murder in the first place, it's clear that being stupid even just the once is plenty enough.
  6. Connor & Oliver
    They're here for that whole handy hacker plot device and to add the evening's only levity. They both have little hearts floating over their heads. There's definite cuteness, but with undertones of dread. Something is gonna come along and capsize their Love Boat in due time.
  7. Laurel
    She's gracious under fire, good at lying, and knows where to get a good fake ID. Why Laurel wants to team up with Wes, thus sullying her brand, is anyone's guess.
  8. Asher
    His "Justice!" legal-eagle sight gag does a little to thaw my cold shoulder. Likewise, I don't hate watching his Bonnie crush grow as she dominates in court. But waiting on Asher to become more than just an air-humper and a boy toy is making a fool out of me.
  9. Frank
    There's nobody to frame and no evidence to plant. Without any justice to obstruct, Frank just plays "Bonnie whisperer" when she's low and "Bonnie & Asher shipper" when she's high. Laurel needs to give this dog a bone because he's resorting to creepy voyeurism now.
  10. Wes
    "Rudy Watch" carries Wes to the police department, where he learns that the mystery man overdosed in his apartment, then wound up in a psychiatric hospital. His growing hunch that Rudy had something to do with Lila's murder is solidified when a picture of Rebecca triggers Rudy's potentially incriminating stammering. And with that quasi-proof, Wes's "anxious" stare transforms into an "Oh no, my goth lite girlfriend might actually be a murderer after all" stare.
  11. Rebecca
    The jig is up. The only person in this whole operation who's even still checking for Rebecca now knows she's been lying to him from day one. Wes is now too through. Let the witch hunt commence (again).
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