Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

Scandal’s midseason finale floored viewers when Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia (Kerry Washington) not only broke up, but Olivia got an abortion — something that surprised even the cast during the episode’s table read.

“You can imagine we were all pretty shocked,” co-star Guillermo Diaz told EW editor Henry Goldblatt during The Editors Hour show on Entertainment Weekly Radio. “Usually at the end of table reads, we’re all jumping up and yelling and clapping because the scripts are always so unpredictable and amazing. But this time it was all sort of ominously quiet. I think everyone was surprised, but also very excited that it was something that hasn’t really been seen on television before. It felt like, ‘Oh my god, we’re going there. This is real, it’s a reality, it’s life.’ That part was really exciting. It was something different and new and I hope people appreciated how Shonda [Rhimes] went there with no fear.”

The storyline was both cheered by Planned Parenthood — which, in the episode, was championed by Mellie Grant in a filibuster — and criticized by conservative Media Research Center. (Get the full details here.) For the network’s part, Diaz says ABC has been supportive. “They trust [Shonda], she’s been working on television for over 12 years,” he says. “They respect and trust and know that she’s going to bring in a good product and it’s going to ultimately be received well. Whether people have an angry reaction or happy or can relate to it, it’s all good. It’s just great that she’s our boss, and she’s our leader, and we all trust her so much. We know she’s not going to lead us down a wrong path.”

Listen below to find out how Washington reacted to the storyline:

Scandal will return Thursday, Feb. 11 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Shonda Rhimes’ political drama: Sex! Murder! Olivia’s suits!

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