Sooo, it’s a Laurel episode. Does that phrase send you into an excited chatter, or does it leave you un-invigorated and pained like you’ve just gotten through your third and final Lunchable pizza? You’d be correct to react either way, because Laurel is both nobody’s favorite character and everybody’s should-be favorite character.
You see, without Laurel, you probably wouldn’t appreciate how comparatively interesting Connor seems, or how feisty and stylish Michaela is, or how sea-turtle-stuck-in-plastic-six-pack-ring Wes appears to be. Without Laurel, you wouldn’t know as much about Annalise’s methods for shaming kids in the classroom, or Frank’s still-skeezy sensitive side, or Bonnie’s icy side-eye gaze (which she’s perfected only after years of glaring at anyone else who dared wear pearls with beige). No, Laurel’s not the most outrageous or endearing—when everyone else is Toy Story, she is Cars—but hey, she kind of grew on me tonight.
Maybe it’s the complete lack of shame she feels when showing off after she’s done something right—the “I got us a mistrial, now give me extra credit and a pumpkin spice” attitude. Maybe it’s her random, hypersexual ferocity which finally came on display after weeks of low simmer. Hell, maybe it’s Maybelline. But there’s a kind of quiet badassery to Laurel that I didn’t notice before. Here’s a lady who’s silent and smart, a wallflower who will show up to school even if the cheerleader forgets her name and the principal forgets her existence. She’s some kind of cross between Reese Witherspoon in Election and Rachael Leigh Cook in She’s All That and Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind and Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream and maybe a third Jennifer Connelly movie that someone probably saw. Laurel has a lot of secret weaponry hidden behind that soft stare, and much like an Orange Is the New Black calendar, she’s got crazy eyes for days.
Tonight, Laurel exercised some reckless if ultimately savvy law shenanigans during the case of the week—about a kid who killed his abusive father, and the emotional manipulation that Annalise’s office would need to employ to get the jury to forget the media’s sociopathic portrait of the teenager—but most impressive is Laurel’s behavior on the Night of the Flying Cheerleader. After Michaela breaks down into crackers, Laurel volunteers herself to take Michaela’s place and return the incriminating murder trophy to Asher (who hasn’t even won it yet in the six-weeks-earlier timeline). It’s a brave move and a level-headed one when everyone else is losing their sh-t. As Connor sinks into manic depression and Wes lets his Rebecca goggles cloud his judgment and Michaela goes full Pepperidge Farm, Laurel stays strong and calm and cool, like a Sharper Image ocean sounds fan, forever scintillating, forever soothing.
But Laurel still makes her mistakes on the night of Sam’s murder. Her phone goes off, and it’s a sexy picture of Frank calling; the resultant ring (put it on vibrate, girl!) attracts the unwanted attention of a pair of drunk lovers in the woods (who cannot let Jen find out about this, says the horny girl). Laurel’s bigger mistake, though, may be her arrival at Frank’s apartment after the burning/burial. She brings him the trophy—bleached and blood-less—and asks him for help, and it seems like she’s about to explain the whole scenario to him. What is it with these kids going to other people’s houses after murdering a guy!? Connor went to Oliver’s, Laurel went to Frank’s, Wes went to Rebecca’s (motel), and you better believe Michaela probably went right up to her not-gay fiance’s doorstep and cried into her $5,000 sheets. And now I’m sad because I realize that if I ever covered up a murder, I would probably just go home and go to bed alone while watching a Friends rerun. And that’s the real tragedy here.
NEXT: “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” “Uhhhhhhhh…”