Agonizing over which character is under that sheet on “How to Get Away with Murder” is turning our Thursday nights into a big ball of stress. Luckily, we can now cross one of our favorite characters off the list of potential victims.
All of you Bonnie (Liza Weil) fans can relax because Thursday’s (Oct. 6) episode revealed that Annalise’s (Viola Davis) right hand woman has not been viciously murdered or burned to death inside the Keating house. Unfortunately, she didn’t look too happy about a second victim being found alive inside the inferno.
Besides featuring some heavy choices for Bonnie and Annalise, “Always Bet on Black” gave us some long-awaited backstory on Laurel (Karla Souza) and her degenerate daddy.
If you were expecting a mobster or a criminal of some kind to be the patriarch of Laurel’s family tree, then you guessed wrong. Laurel’s father made his millions in weapons — in the selling of bombs and drones — basically qualifying him as a war profiteer. Naturally, when she needs to find her missing hit-man boyfriend, she begrudgingly calls up her dad to track him down.
We got to speak with Karla Souza about her part in building Laurel’s backstory and why we should be more nervous than ever about exactly who is under that sheet.
Were you excited to dig into Laurel’s backstory and family history?
Karla Souza: For sure. [Peter Nowalk] is such a collaborator, and we were sort of always talking about what her father could do as a job, who her family was and why she’s so bitter towards him. I pitched both the mother having mental health issues and her being kidnapped. The fact that he’s written it in, and the way it’s actually come out to be part of her life — she’s not like emotionally sharing it, it’s just second nature to her — I find that speaks about her strength so much.
The way they wrote it, and the way they wrote the scene with the therapist, or … what do they call her, conflict mediator? I just think it’s so brilliant, and I’m very happy that we got this out finally so that fans can see who her dad is.
And, also, Esai Morales is such a great acting partner, he was wonderful to work with.
Her dad turns out to be a really shady guy. How do you think that has affected Laurel as a person?
I remember Pete saying, “We want him to be adorable and charismatic.” Because the people that I’ve met that are actually the most powerful people and the most evil, in a way, are the people who others don’t see that way. They’re like, “But they’re so lovely, what do you mean?”
So her father seems lovely and brings her cake, and he’s just like, “Oh, I love you, Mija,” and all these things. But the bitterness of his actions, like the reason that Laurel was kidnapped in the first place, was because of what her father does. So to know at 16 that you’re kidnapped because of your father, and not only that, but your father does nothing to get you back? Talk about trauma.
Having a mother with a mental health disorder, and your dad literally leaving her mid-crisis, it is the worst time you could ever leave your family. It’s actually very true because a lot of people check out. They don’t know how to deal with it, they don’t know how to handle it. I wanted to pitch that because there’s a lot of stigma surrounding that, and I wanted to sort of deal with that on network TV and talk about these subjects.
I also wanted to have her father be powerful and rich, but for him not to be involved with drugs. For me, as a Latina, I haven’t seen myself represented on TV because it was all about the drug cartel. My career has been saying no to all those things, specifically, because I want people to see more and not just that … the fact that her father, yes, is an awful person, but not just the awful, not just on the nose.
It’s been a great collaboration, and for it to finally be out for the fans to enjoy and see is really exciting.
Are there any other sides of Laurel that you hope to explore in future episodes?
I really would want to meet her mom, and I would really want see what Laurel’s life is in Mexico. Where she lives, where she comes from, where she grew up.
Also, her kidnapping. Like, are you kidding me? I would love deal with that. Having pitched that story to Pete, I pitched it because I have a lot of people in my life who have been kidnapped. The stories that you hear, it is a life-changing trauma. It is the most awful thing. It’s just terrifying.
I actually think because of the pain and all the things she’s gone through, that’s why she’s grown so much, she’s so mature and she deals with things the way she does. To be able to go back to that kidnapping situation would be very interesting.
Laurel didn’t tell Annalise where Frank is, so where do you think her loyalties truly lie?
When Frank calls her and Frank says Annalise tried to kill me, whether she likes it or not, her loyalty shifts. Right now, she doesn’t know if she can trust Annalise.
And she’s blackmailed by her father. Laurel would have never before signed that document if it wasn’t for the fact that she wanted to know and needed to know where Frank was. So I think that just shows her feelings for Frank and the desperation she has to find him, and the lengths to which she goes.
The strength of her not telling Annalise, I think, is like good on Laurel! That’s her find, she’s going to deal with it before she shares it with anyone. She’s really clever in that way. It just buys her time.
Will she miss Frank’s beard now that he’s shaved it off?
[Laughs] Oh my goodness, yes! I always make jokes about it, Laurel and beards. First Frank, and then Wes got a beard, so I thought it was funny. Now one of them is gone! If and when she ever sees [Frank] again, I’m very curious to see how she’ll react to that.
Speaking of Wes, how would you describe the dynamic between Laurel and Wes right now?
I think it’s the relationship that’s had the slowest burn of the whole show. From Season 1 until now, they’ve been worked in as friends, and we know that the lines can be blurred very easily. They’ve been through so much together that it just felt like a natural progression.
Things are also very complicated and messy because now he has a girlfriend, and it feels like they shouldn’t be so close, and they should have some distance. He’s trying his best to try to be a normal person, and Laurel wants the best for him. It’s that push and pull that makes for great TV.
Do you know who’s under the sheet?
Yes, I do. I try to forget it every day.
It is the saddest, most heartbreaking thing. It’s really sad. We’re a family and to be losing someone — it’s very unexpected and heartbreaking.
“How to Get Away with Murder” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.