Cicely Tyson is a mother and grandmother to us all with a strength, wisdom and beauty that transcends time.
But just in case you forgot who the 81-year-old matriarch is, she swooped down to deliver an awe-inspiring performance on How To Get Away with Murder Thursday night that will have people talking and shaking their heads clear through the weekend.
Tyson played Annalise’s mama Ophelia, a woman with a tight gray wig and a sharp tongue full of truth and brilliance. One of her best lines came at the top of the episode when Bonnie asked whom she was.
“Don’t you know a VIP when you see one?” Ophelia responded. “Your boss came out of my V and her daddy’s P.”
Ooh wee! Best of all, executive producer Shonda Rhimes inspired that chestnut of a quote – or someone she knows did.
True story: That VIP line came from someone I know in real life. It was spontaneous and badass and amazing to witness. #HTGAWM#TGIT
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) February 20, 2015
That was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to things Ophelia had to say. First off, she quickly reminded Annalise that her real name is Anna Mae, the name her southern mother gave her at birth.
It wasn’t all about the one-liners. In the most powerful scene of the episode, Ophelia tried to lighten the mood and make small talk with Annalise about her latest client – a female nurse accused of raping a male patient.
Ophelia’s seemingly innocent comment about women being nurturers caused Annalise to challenge her mother and reveal that someone named Uncle Clyde had sexually assaulted Annalise. Ultimately, she blamed her mother because she felt unprotected and defenseless.
Even as Annalise’s rage caused her to throw a glass across the room, her mother explained that men often hurt women and that she, like her child, had been sexually abused by men.
That’s why it meant the world to viewers when Ophelia combed and scratched the dandruff off Annalise’s head all while confessing that she had killed Uncle Clyde for what he’d done to her baby. Yup. That’s right. Murder runs in the family. Sometimes, the ends are justified.
I love Ophelia. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, especially if it means getting rid of men who are the scum of the earth. #HTGAWM
— TheFrightenedTatiana (@MyrcellasEar) February 20, 2015
There were other things that happened in this episode. Bonnie filled in for Annalise and stumbled into a win for her client thanks to Asher. Then Bonnie rewarded Asher with another sexual tryst.
Michaela felt mounds of guilt for sending Nate to jail for their murder and she actually addressed that fact that he’s innocent and black. Michaela also had folks giggling when she seriously asked Laurel if she’d ever done anything stupid. Uh. Yeah.
#HTGAWM Did Michaela just ask when she ever did something stupid? Where do I start? How about losing her ENGAGEMENT RING in the woods?
— Sistah Geek (@S_Hero4Hire) February 20, 2015
Michaela all you do is stupid stuff. Like trying to slap Lynn Whitfield. Girl, that was dumb as hell. #HTGAWM
— Sheila Carter (@revealingmia) February 20, 2015
Meanwhile, thanks to Wes and Laurel’s visit to the psychiatric hospital to see Rudy, they confirmed that Rebecca killed Lila after all. Poor stupid Wes. Poor dead Sam.
BUT mostly, this was an episode that proved that Viola Davis is a genius because she was the one who wanted Tyson to come on the show and play with her. And boy did they play. Every scene they had together was raw and delicious. What a treat.
What did you think of the latest HTGAWM and are you ready for next week’s season-one finale? Weigh in below: