'Scandal' postmortem: Joe Morton on that finale twist
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Scandal. Read at your own risk!
The title of the Scandal‘s season finale was correct: “You Can’t Take Command.” But you sure as hell can take down Eli Pope.
After Rowan (Joe Morton) blackmailed the First Lady (Bellamy Young) into giving him the names of the jurors on the case against B613, the seemingly untouchable head of B613 forced Huck (Guillermo Diaz) to maim and kill all of them by threatening his family—which ensured that Rowan would once again get off scot-free.
When it then looked like all hope of dismantling the deadly black ops organization was lost, Olivia (Kerry Washington) realized they could use the money Huck had siphoned from B613 to make it look like Rowan—or rather, his normal persona, Eli Pope—had been embezzling money from the Smithsonian, therefore landing him behind bars. Have Olivia and her associates really won? Or will Rowan be back next season with a vengeance? EW caught up with Morton to get the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Has Rowan really been beaten or is he already planning his next move now that he’s behind bars?
JOE MORTON: Rowan is always planning his next move. He’s probably frustrated at the moment. In my mind, it feels like something he can slip out of fairly easily. I know they’re accusing him of extortion, but given everything else that he’s done, it seems like something he should be able to slip out of it. Now I say that, but the other side of the coin is that he’s spent all kinds of time, energy and money to protect Rowan, but maybe not time and effort to protect Eli. It comes to him, “Oh, I may have messed up here. I didn’t spend time to protect this particular chess piece.”
Going into the finale, was there a part of you that was worried Rowan would die?
Not really. I actually thought Jake was the one who was going to be going because of what Russell was doing. But at this point, given what the scripts were, that never crossed my mind.
Is Rowan just the ultimate survivor?
My ultimate fantasy is that he will be the last man standing.
With that said, will you be back next season?
I would say yes, but I’m not Shonda Rhimes. [Laughs]
Rowan does have pretty damning information not just on Mellie, but pretty much everyone. Is that something he’d use to his advantage to get out of jail?
Sure. He had two aces up his sleeve, which were Cyrus and Mellie, but I still think those cards can be played.
Is this the first crack in his façade?
Remember the dragon from Tolkien novels? The dragon is all powerful, collects gold and he has a small chink in his armor on his underbelly. I think Eli may be that chink at the moment.
Would Rowan take pride in knowing he basically caused the First Family to break up? Or does it upset him more knowing it opens the door for Fitz and Olivia to be together?
He would be annoyed that it opens the door for Fitz and Olivia. He may use Mellie and Cyrus to break that up again, or to do something. If you think about it, Fitz can’t admit to anyone openly that Olivia is in the White House. That has to be a secret because he hasn’t announced publicly what his situation with Mellie is. If he does, what does that do for his administration if his wife is pinned with what happened to those jurors?
How does this change the dynamic between father and daughter?
It certainly ups the game. She’s found a weakness that he now has to take care of. And the fact that Maya is now on the loose again. Now he’s got a number of different fronts that he has to make sure are protected.
Is it the ultimate blow that he’s behind the bars and Maya’s not?
Yeah. On some level, I’m sure Olivia will take pride in the fact that she managed to get her mother free—although she has to worry about that—and put her father behind bars.
Do you feel like there’s more story left to tell with Rowan, especially when fans were hoping for the end of B613?
There’s probably more to tell with Rowan. Clearly, systematically, Rowan has wiped out B613. Maya had to sign a paper that said it no longer exists. Cyrus was fired. Mellie is out of White House. All of the agents [are done], except for one actually that not has been dealt with that might be another ace in the hole. There’s one agent that did him an enormous favor that is still, for all intents and purposes, free.
What’s one thing you don’t know about Rowan that you wish you did?
You hit the nail on the head. That’s hard to say because the only things I know about Rowan are his history. Everything he’s said he’s going to do is what he ends up doing. What the future holds, the only person who knows that is Shonda. The only thing that is missing is maybe the situation with Mellie and Cyrus. I don’t know where Shonda will take all of this for next season.
Is there anything you can tell us about your new TNT show Proof?
You’ll love the new show. Proof is going to be, in many ways, a mystery. It’s not a procedural in any way, it’s not a medical drama. It really is about trying to investigate whether or not there’s life after death. The way the stories are put together and the way it arcs, I think will hopefully have people intrigued and get them to want to know what’s going to happen next.
Scandal will return to ABC this fall.