HTGAWM's Five Wildest Moments — Plus: Karla Souza Talks Laurel's Dangerous Duplicity

Michael Slezak

In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.

That might be the tagline for Law & Order: SVU, but damned if it wasn’t the unofficial theme of this week’s How to Get Away With Murder.

RELATED2017 Renewal Scorecard: What’s Coming Back? What’s Getting Cancelled? What’s on the Bubble?

Yes, yes, network cross-polinaton is as rare as Republicans and Democrats locking arms and singing “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” but don’t tell me that if Olivia Benson and Annalise Keating joined forces, they couldn’t be at least as powerful as the Justice League or the Avengers.

But while HTGAWM‘s case/defendant of the week is perhaps the most foul in the show’s three-season history, at least we got a double shot of LOLs to chase down the bitter tonic. I know Annalise was half-joking, but her mid-episode whopper — “I’ll talk to the D.A. Just go and make sure our client isn’t out trying to purchase Michaela” — legitimately deserves an Emmy nomination in the race for Outstanding One-Liner Dropped Unsuspectingly by a Lead Actress in a Drama.

Since deliciously ambitious Laurel was front-and-center to this week’s overarching mythology, we got her portrayer Karla Souza on the phone to dish her character’s pivotal scenes. But before we deliver our hot, fresh Q&A, let’s recap the five wildest moments from Season 3, Episode 3, “Always Bet Black.”

RELATEDRatings: ABC’s Conviction Premiere Delivers Sub-Castle Numbers

WHY’D YOU COME IN HERE LOOKIN’ LIKE THAT | As Oliver (and some other legal types) pop into Annalise’s home office on a work call, he spies Nate wearing a sleeveless, half-unzipped hoodie and glistening with a magical, possibly even mythica post-workout sweat. Is there really any question about what (or which abs) cause the flash-forward inferno that reduces the Keating residence to ash and dust?

MUG LIFE | The weekly flash-forward finds Annalise going through the humiliating process of mug-shot/pat-down/fingerprinting, but fret not: Oliver is heeding her directive to wipe her phone clean. And when he returns to the scene of whatever crime’s been committed, Bonnie (she lives! yesssss!) is on the scene to distract the lead detective so Ollie can casually drop the pilfered cellular device on the ground, as if Annlise had accidentally lost it during her arrest. Oh, but wait, as he finishes his illegal act, a fire fighter on the scene has an announcement to make: There’s a person in the basement. And that person* still has a pulse! (Almost definitely not Rebecca)

ANNALISE’S BOSS IS MOS DEF GOING DOWN | It’s still not clear what exactly is the deal with Lauren Vélez’s Middleton Law president — Annalise reduces her to a tragic grade-schooler obsessed with “collecting gold stars from the board” — but girlfriend takes a mysterious call from some guy named Barry, who shares her unnatural obsession with La Keating and her headline-generating ways. Doesn’t she know that, like an old-school Destiny’s Child lyric instructs, Annalise is “not the one to sit around and be played”?

PUTTING THE “ICK” IN LEGAL CLINIC | Annalise’s latest classroom client is Toby Solomon, a nasty piece of work who left a prostitute to die in the street from a drug overdose – but not before taking a selfie with her unconscious body. The new ADA, Renee Atwood, tells Annalise there’s no way she’ll get a deal for this fleabag — or any of her clients – but Annalise winds up schooling the overly cocky (and yet pretty formidable) youngster in court. Turns out Toby has another victim’s blood on his hands, a teenage runaway whose head he bashed in with a baseball bat. “It could’ve been me,” observes a devastated Bonnie, who might’ve fled her abusive home life had the justice system not intervened. And after Annalise tells Nate that “there’s a dead girl in a freezer and I can’t do anything about it,” he concocts a bit of courtroom craziness in which Toby reveals the runaway’s whereabouts while pinning it on another terrible, no-good, especially unredeemable convict. When Toby balks at a compromise that’ll find him serving three years, though, Annalise delivers a thunderous slap to his face that is the human embodiment of the outdated hashtag #winning. “You let one woman die in the street and left another to rot in a freezer,” she rages. “You still think you get to complain?” Bitch better take his plea deal.

WHAT HAPPENS IN ATLANTIC CITY | Asher offers up sex — with penetration! — to Connor, if his gay BFF agrees to withhold from Michaela the news that her onetime fiancé (and Connor’s onetime conquest) is engaged again. All of this leads to Michaela and Asher and Connor and Oliver in A.C., gambling $20,000 in cash stolen from Toby’s secret stash. While the road trip maybe/possibly brings Michaela and Meat Stick closer together, Connor winds up drawing the increasingly irksome Ollie’s ire after he gets into a fight with a hottie whose “no fats, no fems, no blacks, no Asians” profile on Humper reveals he’s in no way interested with our wide-eyed tech whiz.

With those whoppers added to the public record, let’s get Karla Souza’s breakdown of Laurel’s key moments/lies to Annalise.

TVLINE | The #WhoIsUnderTheSheet tagline has been a hallmark of Season 3. We still don’t know if it’s Laurel who dies in the flash-forward, but I have to ask: Do you know, at this point in filming, who is on that stretcher?
I do know, but here’s the thing: We also learned any of us could still be [doomed], because they play a lot with time cuts. Who you think is safe might not be safe, as well. As always, it’s a very complicated timeline. By Episode 9, I don’t even know if you’ll be able to fully understand it, because then why would you watch Episode 10?

It’s heartbreaking. Yes, for the story, it’s great and exciting, and we love #WhoIsUnderTheSheet. But when you really think about it, it’s #WhoDoesntHaveAJobAnymore? [Laughs] Who is not going to be here with us anymore? Will I be gone and have to look for another job? The first episode coming back, [creator and showrunner] Pete [Nowalk] gave us the information that someone was dead. So, we’re going through the same stuff as the audience.

TVLINE | Every week when you get the script, do you jump ahead to the last page — to see who survives the fire?
Of course! It spreads like rapid fire. But again, you can’t assume you’re safe at any time.

TVLINE | I loved your fight scene with your dad, played by Esai Morales: The look on your face when you realize he’s brought a mediator into the room, the way your character escalates the ange. Walk me through Laurel’s state of mind in that moment, and how you approached the scene.
First of all, it was so exciting to play opposite Esai Morales. And then the idea of Laurel’s father had been in the oven of ideas for so long. What does he do? The pitch of him being in this multi-billion dollar technology corporation was something I pitched to Pete because I didn’t want it to have anything to do with the drug cartel. That’s something in my activism that’s really important, to not play into that stereotype.

Then you learn he left Laurel with a mother that had a mental health disorder, left her for his lover, it’s like, “What?!” We all know of someone or have someone close to us who’ve had mental health disorders, and that would be the worst time to leave them. Add that to the fire. And then we learn she was kidnapped when she was 16. That happened to three of my friends when I was young, and I pitched that to Pete. It happens, unfortunately, a lot in South America and it happened to me specifically. I was very intrigued by how a girl would feel if her father didn’t pay her ransom. Acting-wise, though, I thought about how there had been the passage of time, Laurel is grown up and she’s probably gone through a lot of therapy. How you’d talk about that would be very passionate, but also subdued because you want to show you’ve matured. She’s not this naive girl. And on top of it all, her father knows she’s here to find Frank, and that gives him power. She has to sit through this because she wants to find him.

TVLINE | I loved the way the entire conversation slipped back into Spanish at a certain point.
The Spanish aspect of it was so fun. I speak English all the time with my mom, but whenever we get mad or passionate, we slip into Spanish. It was great to use both languages. People watching that moment who have grown up in a similar situation will be seen — they won’t feel invisible — and with everything that’s going on in this country, there’s something lovely to be able to include them on national TV.

TVLINE | Was the switch to Spanish specifically noted in the script, or did you and Esai play with when that shift would occur?
I played with that moment. She starts talking about classified information, so she’s almost teasing her father, knowing the mediator doesn’t speak Spanish, and that’s her time to review all the [bad] stuff that he does. She’s clever in how and when she does shift into another language.

TVLINE | We’ve seen Laurel align with Annalise and Bonnie. We’ve seen her side with Frank. In some ways, she seems more naturally adept at lying and playing both sides than any member of the Keating Five. But in this episode, after her father tells her Frank is camped out near Pittsburgh, and after Frank calls her and shares that Annalise tried to have him killed, she makes the decision to hide from Annalise and Bonnie that she knows where Frank is. Should we be worried that Laurel is swimming in a pool alongside people who have a lot more experience being duplicitous and deceitful?
That’s something Laurel might be naive about. She feels she knows more than she actually does. Maybe she knows more than the Keating Five — she deals with a lot of their problems better than them, she’s not as reckless as them, she’s very savvy. But she’s dealing with Annalise Keating, who is unmatched at what she does. She’s dealing with a psychopath killer in Frank. And she’s dealing with a millionaire father who has a technology software company. What is she thinking? Why does she think she can get away with anything? She’s being taught by the master in Annalise, so she’s learning, but there are going to be mistakes along the way.

TVLINE | Laurel lied so easily to Wes this week, pretending she was at her grandmother’s funeral until he told her Annalise had shared the trutg about her whereabouts. I think there’s a split faction within the HTGAWM fandom: One side sees Laurel and Wes’ romantic sparks and gets grossed out – “Ewww! They’re like siblings!” Then there’s a group of fans who want to see them hook up — and even Wes’ girlfriend Meggie brought up the chemistry. Will we see the Wes-Laurel dynamic explored more in Season 3?
I also felt like he was my brother, and so when I read I was going to kiss him, I was like, “What?!” [Laughs] It’s such a challenge as an actor to make it work somehow, to be like, “OK, it actually does make sense.” They share so much, they spend so much time together, they trust each other so much, they’ve been through murder and they’re bonded by blood. In some weird, incestuous way it makes sense. And Laurel is trying to forget Frank, too. So while she’s happy to see Wes get his life together and be a happy, normal person, she’s happy for him. But I don’t know much it’s actually possible to forget what we’ve done. So the Laurel-Wes relationship is probably the most slow-burn of all the relationships on the show. So where they take it is definitely going to be as much a surprise to the fans as it all has been to us.

TVLINE | And, of course, Laurel might still be in love with Frank, too, seeing how she ultimately withheld his whereabouts from Annalise and Bonnie.
Exactly. Laurel goes to see the one person she hates most – her father — and that shows the addiction to Frank is still there. But [when it comes to Annalise], she knows better. She’s buying herself time. She can’t trust anyone — except maybe Wes. She can’t relay that information to Annalise and Bonnie without being one step ahead, and so she’s planned that out.

What did you think of this week’s HTGAWM? Who do you think is under the sheet? And should Laurel be worried about swimming in the deep end? Sound off below!

Related stories

Once Upon a Time Recap: Twisted (Step)sister

Grey's Anatomy: Jessica Capshaw Talks Arizona's 'Exciting, Fresh' Start

Grey's Anatomy Recap: True Lies

Get more from TVLine: Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter