Warning: The following contains spoilers from the season four premiere of How to Get Away With Murder. If you haven't watched yet, you may want to bookmark this page and return once you have. Proceed with caution!
We knew that Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) would be front and center when How to Get Away With Murder finally returned for season four—the final moments of season three did reveal that is was her father who had poor Wes (Alfred Enoch) murdered after all—but we had no idea it would be this intense. Foolish, we know. This is Shondaland, after all.
Not only did the season premiere reveal that Laurel was keeping Wes' baby after all (which we learned after a fake out in which she told her dad she'd actually had an abortion), but we also learned that she's already on to dear old dad, she's living in Wes' old apartment, and she's sleeping with a gun by her side. With Annalise (Viola Davis) firing the whole gang in an effort to save their souls (and lives, probably), we thought it couldn't get much lower for poor Laurel. And then that flash forward came along to throw us for one heck of a loop.
It turns out the season's big mystery hinges on Laurel and what caused her to wake up in that creepy hospital bed three months, begging Frank (Charlie Weber) to tell her what happened to the baby that was no longer in her uterus. How'd she get there? What happened to the baby? And how in the hell is Annalise's court-ordered therapist (played by new guest star Jimmy Smits) involved?
To break the shocking season premiere down, E! News got Souza on the phone. What follows is our full Q&A. Don't say we didn't try to get answers!
E! News: I want to start with Laurel's decision to keep the baby. Were you surprised when you found out she'd be keeping Wes' baby? What was your reaction when you found out this was where she was going to go this season?
I'll tell you, not at Laurel, but as an actor—because I had heard that babies don't really make it on TV because they're a hassle. [Laughs] So, I had assumed, because I was told by Shondaland fans that it almost never made it to fruition, so I was expecting it to somehow
not be the case. So when I came back and Pete sat me down to give me the play-by-play until the midseason finale, where he said the whole
hashtag's going to be "#WheresMyBaby" from Laurel, I was like, 'Wait a minute, we're actually having a baby?" Because it's a committment, let me tell you. As a production, to go through pregnancy, have all these prosthetic bellies, to then actually have a kid, a baby, like an infant running around, that is definitely commitment. Having them decide that made me realize how important this storyline really was, and I was super grateful.
Then also because of that, they've written in so many juicy things for Laurel from the start. Her keeping it from her father shows how she's staying in power by not telling him. Also, she's hinting at things to see how he reacts because she has a huge suspicion that he's the one that killed Wes. So, I think her telling him, 'Oh, don't worry, I got rid of it' buys her time whereas if she said, 'Oh yeah, I'm having the baby,' it would make him feel extremely unsettled because he would say, 'Uh-oh, she going to find out I killed the father of the baby.' So I think she holds her cards close, she decides to tell that to her father, then she's expecting to have the baby almost with Annalise and that's why she also decided to have it. And then as soon as Annalise tells her—even after Laurel very clearly, you can see in the episode, is like telling her 'We're having the baby' so both of them can have redemption through this. And then to have Annalise turn around and reject her and say, 'OK, we'll, you're fired' I think is one of the biggest blows to Laurel.
That'll go through the next episodes, as to how she handles that. That means that she's basically having this baby on her own, which is super brave. Not only that, she's moved in to dead man's apartment. She has to have a gun because I'm sure she's aware that people might want to plant false information there or come and get information to see how much he knew or what he knew. So that's why she's there. To protect herself from her father's little army. She's really brave and strong and it's incredible that she's decided to do this and to still take revenge and to live grief that way. For me, knowing the hashtag or the whole arc is "Where's my baby" is going to be such a strong thing to know because then all of these episodes coming up to that point, there's going to be such a relationship to—everything Laurel does is because of that baby being the way of her redemption. So, it gives it a lot more weight.
You brought up a bunch of points I wanted to ask questions about. First thing, Annalise breaking up the gang and firing everybody after Laurel breaks that news. How does Laurel, moving forward, handle the gang being scattered in separate ways as Annalise tried to do?
I think that even though it looks like she takes it as calmly as possible, I think she's very proud and she's not going to show weakness. But I think that's really a low blow for her, and she's probably realizing how it's going to be a lot harder to not have Annalise with her. However, it sort of clears a path for her take revenge on her own terms without having to ask anyone's permission. I think she then becomes a woman on a mission. Well, a pregnant woman on a mission, which is even scarier. You know, she really expected Annalise to be happy with the news and take her in. When that doesn't happen, you're going to see in the next few episodes how that relationship unfolds because of her having done that. I think laurel definitely was hurt by that. Whether it's the most hurt, who knows? But Laurel's decision to keep the baby was also based on her relationship with Annalise. She knew Annaise had lost a baby and she knew that this was sort of both of their ways to have a second chance.
I wanted to ask you about Laurel's state of mind this season. She's on to her dad already, which I guess seems to surprising to us, but clearly there's so much history between the two of them that she would go to that place. She's sleeping with a gun beside her. What is her state of mind? Is it a sense of paranoia? Where's her head at in the way she's handling her suspicions?
That was a very big question of mine: How does she jump from thinking it was the Mahoneys last season with the gun about to jump the guy to then straight-away thinking, 'Oh my God, it's my father.' We sort of decided that the presence of Dominick, the guy who appears at the end of the season in the middle of the street and stops me, really has to be such an important thing that had happened in my past that, somehow,
whether it was when I was kidnapped or something. Whenever he appears, it's because my father has sent him. or my father is somehow involved in all of the things that are going down. So I think seeing him there makes her straight-away drop the Mahoneys and think,'How is my father involved in this?'
Throughout the two months that we have before the show starts, she's moved into Wes' apartment which means she's probably protecting it from being meddled with by father because what her father could do is, I don't know, plant some information which could make us think Wes was whatever it is. She's protecting his legacy. And it's really only against her father. So her moving into Wes' apartment, leaving her own apartment, and then not telling her father about the baby, you can tell this is a huge suspicion for her. Now, obviously throughout the next episode, she'll have to prove it. Not only for herself, but the audience will go with her along the way, kind of finding out whether it is or isn't her father, which we know it is because of the phone call, but we're going to find out such a strong suspicion that it is him and what she decides to do ultimately to avenge Wes' death.
We obviously have to talk about that flash forward because, like you said, that is going to be what everybody will be talking about. That didn't seem to me to be an average, everday hospital floor. What can you tell us about where Laurel is and what is in store with this flash forward as it unravels.
Again, we'll find out, once we do catch up to episode eight, which is the midseason finale, we'll realize why certain characters like Jimmy Smits is there. Why Frank is the first one to come and tell her something. We don't know what it is that he's telling her as she's waking up. Where is the baby? Is it alive? It's been seven months, so it's a premature baby. Also, a lot more things happen that night that are intertwined with every single one of the characters, so it'll be, again, a puzzle of what went down, who's involved, what happened and I think that what you're saying, the weirdness of it all, will definitely be explained.
What do you think is going on in the flash forward? Sound off with your best theories in the comments below!
How to Get Away With Murder airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.