When the flashforward hits this episode, we realize that we’re a week away from the timelines converging. It’s all about to collapse into one central timeline and we’re no closer to figuring any single part of this out. There’s too many people covered in blood, staring catatonically at the wall to know exactly what happened.
“Stay Strong, Mama” opens with Annalise talking to Jimmy Smits and Jimmy Smits talking to some new master therapist. A therapist’s therapist. The therapist’s therapist wants him to come clean to Annalise about Bonnie because Bonnie might be a threat. Jimmy Smits wants to keep seeing Annalise because she might fall off the wagon, and when you think about it, how bad was what Bonnie did? She only falsified her info to a court-mandated therapist to get back at Annalise — okay, okay, I hear it now. The master therapist tells Jimmy Smits that Annalise is stressing him out and triggering him so much that he needs to return to therapy. We’re all setting up for the Jimmy Smits–Viola Davis love scene, aren’t we? Annalise spends too much time this episode complaining that she hasn’t gotten laid in months. It’s Chekhov’s Bang and it’s not staying in the drawer.
Jimmy Smits doesn’t get rid of Annalise as a client, but instead he assigns her homework. She’s supposed to write a letter to Sam. Has anyone ever done this in real life? Written a therapist-assigned letter to a person who can’t read it? Is this a real therapeutic technique or just a way to get your characters to do a voice-over monologue? While Annalise is at home with a legal pad, Connor storms in because the DA’s office has struck their latest blow against the class-action plaintiffs.
The DA sent a letter announcing that they’re going to seize Claudia’s house. The DA’s office can seize any property that was used to commit a crime and even though it’s in her mother’s name, they’re gonna do it. Annalise and Connor visit Claudia and her son, Tyrone, and Tyrone goes off on Annalise in a 15-year-old fashion. Connor calms him down by saying that Annalise is a genius. She’ll fix it.
I’m all for Annalise showing new depths and doubting herself and her abilities as she moves forward, but I’d love for her to do that because she doesn’t know if she can do her job sober, or because she’s worried that she can’t handle letting everyone down. Not just because the plot requires it and gives Connor a win. Who cares about giving Connor a win? I’m tired of the Keating Gang. I’d rather see Annalise get a win on her own or gather her own strength and figure things out.
Meanwhile, Michaela is trying not to lose her cool over hacking into the system when Laurel’s dad shows up in the office with no notice. Laurel didn’t even know he was coming into town. She was in the middle of asking for a paternity test and BOY would I love it if this baby was Frank’s and snaps her out of this completely unearned Wes obsession. Wessession? Does that work? Is that thing?
Jimmy Smits shows up at the DA’s office to talk to Bonnie. She thinks he’s worried about a malpractice suit or that she’s going to fly off the handle and go after Annalise again. He just wants her to go to another therapist because she was making such good progress. Jimmy Smits just wants the best for everybody.
Asher confronts Michaela that he saw her with Laurel when she said she was working. She lies and says she’s Laurel’s birthing buddy. Are we really gonna do these Scooby-Doo antics? There’s no reason to believe that Asher wouldn’t keep their secret. Again, it just feels like things that have to happen to set up some twist in next week’s episode. Why would Michaela lie about being Laurel’s birthing partner? She could have come home that first night she worked late or met with Laurel and said, “I’m her Lamaze buddy.”
Annalise is dismayed because a judge wouldn’t stop the DA’s seizure of property and suggests she might not be the right person for the job because of, y’know … her whole … everything. So she storms into the DA’s office and launches into a passionate speech asking how the whole office can sleep at night. What do they tell their children? They had a nice day stealing from families? Bonnie’s reaction to the speech is to storm Nate in the men’s room and ask if he told the other investigators to lay off Annalise’s plaintiffs. Nate fires back that Bonnie is only taking people’s homes away to get a little sad applause from the DA. Point, Nate.
Before Laurel goes to see her dad for dinner, Asher drops off a teddy bear. Laurel’s dad wants her to have a glass of Champagne because they’re all about to be very rich. Even richer than they already are. I keep forgetting that Laurel is rich because she insists on living in Wes’s Les Misérables apartment. His company is going public and he’s transferred 10 percent to all of his kids before the public offering. Everyone should just walk away at this point. Sorry about Wes and all, but…
But no, Laurel wants to continue this crusade against her father. She finally puts it all together and spills to Michaela and Oliver, which means they have to leak the details before they go public.
Meanwhile, Annalise keeps trying and failing to write her letter to Sam. She finally goes into Jimmy Smits’s office and spills about her baby, delivering an amazing speech about all the pressures she’s under: to be a mother, a hero, a mentor. She has to be stronger than everyone, take on everyone else’s pain, and somehow just move on. Jimmy Smits does the wrong thing and tells her that she’s stronger than she knows. Annalise reveals that she tried to take her own life after her child died. Sam never knew. Jimmy Smits goes to the master therapist and she tells him he’s getting too close and he’s on the verge of becoming very, very sick.
Bonnie tries to tell the DA that this campaign against Claudia is hurting him. He reassigns her for being too emotional, which is strange because Bonnie has literally never expressed any human emotion. Connor comes up with a plan to save the day: Tyrone should write a letter to the DA and read it on the news. I guess everybody is writing letters now? Anyway, Annalise tells a judge that she is the perfect person to take on this case because she’s been where her clients are. The judge agrees to stop the seizure.
Michaela, Oliver, and Laurel all sit around and realize that the only way to get into the server is for Michaela to steal Tegan’s security badge, which could sabotage Tegan’s entire career. Someone better stand up to Laurel on this one because she’s got pregnancy brain and this benefits nobody but … oh shit, this doesn’t benefit ANYONE. There’s no upside on this for anyone. It doesn’t even technically benefit Laurel at this point. Everyone needs to take a goddamn nap. Asher is watching on the teddy bear. It was a nanny cam.
By the time Michaela comes home, he’s packing his things up. He wants an explanation and then he’s out. She didn’t trust him and lied to him. He runs over to Bonnie’s house and she breaks down in his arms. Frank gets his LSAT score back and he got a really good one — not Elle Woods good, but good. He goes over to Laurel’s and says he loves her and he’s going to take care of her.
Jimmy Smits is at home watching videos of his daughter and literally weeping alone at his desk. The master therapist stops by Annalise’s house and says that she’s Jacqueline Roa, Jimmy Smits’s ex-wife. GASP.
One week later, Annalise is lying on the floor in her shower with blood down the drain. SO JACQUELINE DIES, RIGHT? CHEKHOV’S WIFE?!