By Natalie Abrams
March 09, 2017 at 10:00 PM EST
Kelsey McNeal/ABC
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Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of Scandal. Read at your own risk!

Jake Ballard, what did you do?

Thursday’s episode of Scandal finally revealed where Jake (Scott Foley) disappeared to on Election Night. Right after Vargas (Ricardo Chavira) was announced as the new POTUS, Jake got a text and disappeared into the night. Where? To meet Rowan, but not because they’re colluding. Because Rowan has a plan: The world is about to turn upside down, Rowan says, and if Jake plays the part right, he will be vice president — but only if he comes home to Rowan.

But Jake was MIA for much longer than that, with OPA deducing that he actually killed the Vargas aide who had left the message pointing the finger at Cyrus. Before his estrangement from Vanessa, whom he looked ready to murder, Jake was also going through Olivia’s data records — perhaps explaining how the mysterious other voicemail magically appeared on the OPA servers.

However, Jake confronts Olivia with a copy of her records that insinuate she was the one to pay off Tom to frame Cyrus — though that, too, is a frame job. Before you think Rowan has really gone off the deep end, it looks like the former head of B613 is not even the big man in charge anymore, taking orders from someone else — a mystery woman played by Jeff Perry’s real-life daughter Zoe Perry, who used the account as an insurance policy to keep Olivia’s conscience in check so she wouldn’t dig into Cyrus’ innocence.

Jake drives Olivia to the middle of nowhere, and it looks like he’s going to kill her, but instead we see that Jake actually kept the Vargas aide alive. Why? And who is this new mystery organization?! EW turned to Foley to find out.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Rowan knew the assassination was coming. Do you think Jake has any regrets in the role he played considering he didn’t try to stop it?
SCOTT FOLEY: No, I don’t think he has any regrets considering he didn’t try to stop it. I think Jake has been in the military, been in this B613 organization, been a man taking orders his entire life. He knows what he’s responsible for, what he’s not, what he can stop, what he can’t, the things he can control. He’s resigned himself. “These things are out of my control.” He understands that the assassination of Frankie Vargas was completely out of his control. Now, going forward, he’s got a lot of control with what to do with that information, and how to play it out. But, with regards to the assassination, I think he thinks, yes, it was out of his control.

But he did keep the aide Jennifer alive. To what end?
I’m not even sure that he knows to what end, but he knows that she did not deserve to die, and he also knows that she’s a very important piece of this puzzle. Even Jake is not fully aware, at this point, of how and why Frankie Vargas was assassinated, and how Cyrus has somehow ended up in prison for it. He definitely knows right from wrong. I believe he spent his entire life doing what he believes is right. To take out Jennifer Fields in order to cover up the truth from coming out, he knows would be wrong. To what end to keep her alive is to bring the truth of the assassination out, to ultimately, he believes, help Olivia Pope.

If Rowan is not actually in charge, who is? How do they compare to B613? How scary are these people?
We’ve never seen Rowan really afraid of anything before this. I think the introduction of this woman and this organization that she works for is a really interesting development here. The fact that there are other factions that are — crazy as it might seem — more powerful and have more control than B613, on a show that’s really shown that B613 is all powerful, is crazy! We don’t know yet, we don’t know all the backstory and the history, we don’t know who is pulling the strings back there, but they’ve got something on Rowan, something over him; whether it’s his daughter, whether it’s something he did in his past, it’s something that has him terrified and doing their dirty work for him.

Does this group have a name?
No, not yet. No name. They’re the no-name group, which is even scarier, by the way.

It sounds like we’re going to find out who actually killed Frankie in next week’s episode. Is there anything you can tease of the reveal?
The season is different in that we’re focused on this one detail, this assassination, right? We’re checking out everybody’s backstories, seeing where they were, what part they played in it. As each episode airs and unravels, the fogged up mirror will get more clear. I think next week we will be, as we are this week, one step even closer to finding out who it was but not why, or why but not who — one of the two.

Did Jake really consider killing Vanessa in that moment?
Yes. I say yes because I needed to believe, when shooting that scene, that that’s what was going through his head. We shot that scene a couple different ways. We rehearsed it quite a bit. I was hesitant. He knows she didn’t do anything wrong, he knows she’s the mouse in the treadmill here, just spinning the wheel and not getting anywhere, but man, she’s frustrating as all hell, she’s in my way, she’s driving me crazy, she’s asking questions not that I just don’t want to answer, but that I can’t answer. It would be so much easier. Knowing Jake, he could snap her neck in a heartbeat and just get this done with, but I think he’s smart enough to realize the role that she plays in all of this, and the role that she plays in his relationship with Olivia; and that’s ultimately why he didn’t do it.

What does that marriage look like moving forward?
You hope it’s easier. You hope she’s come to her senses and understands what Jake told her and what Mellie’s telling her, to back off, put on a smile, go do your thing and everything will be okay. Once you’ve got the Oval, you’ve got the power. But gosh, I’ve been in relationships — we’ve all been in relationships like that — where you want more, you’re dying for more and it’s hard to not get it. I hope, for Vanessa’s sake, that she listened to Mellie, that she took what Jake was saying and internalizes, but I don’t necessarily trust that.

Once the reveal does come out about who’s behind the assassination and why, how do you think it changes the show?
Depending on what happens with the reveal, there’s going to be a new POTUS, right? Fitzgerald Grant will no longer be the president. That’s a huge change in the show. That upends all the dynamics that we know about. Let’s say if Mellie becomes president, Jake is the vice president, I would think that would put Olivia exactly where she wants to be, and she’s been fighting the entire show to be exactly where she wants to be, and that would change the entire dynamic of the show. It’s a different fight now.

Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Episode Recaps

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