Michaela Pratt has come a long way since How to Get Away with Murder began.

We all remember the Michaela Pratt of How to Get Away wit Murder season 1. Sam’s murder took its toll on every member of the Keating 5, but Michaela seemed to take it the hardest. While the rest of the group worked to form a plan, she crumbled.

Desperate to overcome the poverty and neglect that she’d experienced in her youth, she’d painstakingly cultivated the perfect life that she thought she wanted. She was on track to having the perfect career as a lawyer, she scored the perfect internship with Annalise, and she was engaged to the perfect man.

Whenever something happened that didn’t fit on the path that she’d so meticulously laid out for herself, she would simply do what needed to be done to change it. Nothing was going to knock her off track.

Then, something happened that she couldn’t fix. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t course-correct after Sam’s murder. It would not and could not fit into the equation. Her mind could not compute, and she completely broke down.

Now, fast forward to How to Get Away with Murder season 4. Once again, the Keating 5 (or, a variation of it, at least) found themselves in the room with a dead body, but Michaela couldn’t have reacted more differently.

Instead of breaking down, she took charge. She got Laurel out of the building (after shielding her from Simon’s potential attack) to avoid raising her father’s suspicion, she reconstructed the crime scene that Asher carelessly meddled with, and she even helped to calm Oliver down.

Then, even though she probably had the most to lose, out of everyone involved, she put herself in the line of fire by facing all of her coworkers and putting on the performance of a lifetime. Oh yeah, and while she was at it, she also managed to send Connor to Laurel’s aid.

In just four seasons, she’s gone from the weak link, to the character who’s taking care of everyone. This version of her has been slowly emerging ever since she began standing up for herself with Aiden’s mother, and in How to Get Away with Murder season 4, she’s almost unrecognizable from the girl that we first met.

There are a few factors that have contributed to Michaela’s character growth. The first, as I mentioned earlier, was Sam’s murder and all of the craziness that followed in How to Get Away with Murder season 1.

Her relationship with Aiden fell apart, her grades slipped, and she eventually learned that the woman she admired was, unfortunately, just a flawed human like the rest of us. The huge assault to her perfect façade forced her to confront a lot of things in her life and evaluate what she actually wanted.

As a result of everything she’s been through, she’s traded in appearance for substance, and relationships that look good for relationships that feel good. While Aiden may have fit the “Barack” profile that she was looking for, the friendships she’s formed with the Keating 5 provide her with actual support and love. She’s become a better person through being a part of a real team.

Speaking of love, Asher is another contributing factor to the new-and-improved Michaela. In one way, he’s forced her to abandon the picture that she had of her future. He’s nothing like what she thought she wanted, but in reality, he’s everything that she needed. Michaela never had a loving family, nor did she have a solid group of friends. Asher, being the extraordinarily caring person that he is, has taught her what it’s like to both love and be loved.

Finally, Michaela sealed her fate as the “mom” of the Keating 5 when she was able to confront her own foster mother in How to Get Away with Murder season 3. I’m sure a big part of her wanted her mom to walk back into her life and care for her the way she’s always needed. When that didn’t happen, Michaela picked herself up and finally put her past behind her. Now that she has Asher and her friends, she knows she doesn’t need that, anymore.

Even though, in my mind, Michaela has conquered those demons, Annalise has, on multiple occasions, accused Michaela of having some pretty severe mommy issues. But, what about the other members of the Keating 5? Aren’t they all searching for a family to make up for the ones that have failed them?

Wes’ mother died when he was just a child, Laurel’s family is beyond problematic, Connor has some very deep-seated issues with his father, and even Asher’s picture-perfect family fell apart. Really, they’re all looking for validation and support. They didn’t find what they were looking for with Annalise, but it looks like Michaela might be up to the task.

She was a lone wolf in the beginning, but she became Connor’s literal partner-in-crime in How to Get Away with Murder season 1, she’s Laurel’s confidante, she’s risking everything to avenge Wes’ death, and she’s clearly the dominant force in her relationship with Asher. Even her apartment has become a veritable boarding house for the Keating 5. She’s become the central cog of the group. Holding everyone together, and helping everything run as smoothly as possible.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Michaela becomes the one to help Annalise through her brokenness. It’s like the student has become the teacher, and Annalise now has as much to learn from her interns as they ever did from her.

We still don’t know how Michaela will be affected, in the long term, by Simon’s death, but given the strong, capable, loving, and courageous woman that she’s developed into, I have no doubt that she’ll make it through just fine, and help everyone else do the same.

How do you feel about Michaela’s character development on ‘How to Get Away with Murder’?

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