'Scandal's' Kerry Washington Previews 'Game Changer' for Huck and Olivia in Revealing Midseason Finale

Plus the newly minted SAG Award nominee talks with THR about the ensemble series snub. "It doesn't belong to me; it belongs to all the people who are across from me, in front of and behind the camera."
"Scandal's" Kerry Washington

Gladiators, it's time to buckle up. ABC's Scandal will wrap up the first half of its roller-coaster third season Thursday, with a midseason finale that star Kerry Washington says will be filled with new information and leave viewers with more questions.

After VP Sally Langston (Kate Burton) shockingly killed her husband after his extramarital (and same-sex!) affair, her presidential ambitions are left lingering, as it's anybody's guess as to how she'll find her way out of it. Meanwhile, Olivia Pope & Associates is coming undone after Huck (Guillermo Diaz) tortures one of their own, leaving Quinn (Katie Lowes) to try and find her way out of working for B613.

As if that weren't enough, Olivia (Washington) has to contend with the fact that she just helped a terrorist -- her mother! (Khandi Alexander) -- escape the country after her father, Rowan (Joe Morton), kept the presumed-dead Mrs. Pope locked up for more than 20 years in a bid to protect the country.

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With so many lingering questions, The Hollywood Reporter turned to newly minted SAG Award and Golden Globe nominee Washington to get the scoop on what's ahead.

Congrats on your SAG Award nomination! We can't believe the cast didn't get an ensemble nom, too.

I agree completely. For me, it's hard to understand how I could have a nomination and there not be an ensemble nomination, because I know that I really am part of a company of actors who really hold each other up and elevate each other every week. I'm very grateful and anytime that I receive an acknowledgment like this -- particularly from other actors -- I know it doesn't belong to me; it belongs to all the people who are across from me, in front of and behind the camera, who are inspiring that performance.

There are several dangling questions -- what did Maya do? What's the truth about Operation Remington? -- heading into the midseason finale. How much resolution can viewers expect?

It's handled in a Scandal way, meaning you'll get a lot more information than you have now but you'll also have more questions, which is what these writers do to us.  

Both Fitz and Sally are now murderers. How might the White House respond to Daniel's death?

It's funny, I've been reading some of the reactions online and you would think it means one thing for Sally [laughs] but it's much more complicated than you would imagine. The thing to remember is that everybody on our show has skeletons in their closet -- everybody.

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How will we see Sally "fix" Daniel's slaying? Who will she call for help?

You get to see a bit of her strategic mastermind in who she calls -- it's the person who she thinks can help her the most in relation to what she wants for the future.

Olivia was wrong about her mother after learning she was a terrorist. How will this change Olivia going forward?

One of the interesting things you learn in the midseason finale about Olivia in relationship to that information is that, in a way that is somewhat surprising, it brings her even closer to her father. That is a twist that I certainly did not expect.

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After all this time, Rowan isn't a total bad guy. What can Olivia expect from him going forward? Can we see them work together?

You'd think so! You have to stay tuned for more of that. There's been so much hurt. What you realize in this triangulation of hurt between mother-father-child, is that there's a lot of emotional scar tissue between them all.

How will all the baggage she's carrying about her family right now impact what Olivia wants for her personal life? Does her damaged family make her hesitant to start one of her own and pursue what she wants -- be it Fitz, Jake or someone else?

I don't think it's clear at this point; in a lot of ways, she often tables the personal for the professional and for the national. It's been really fun to watch Joe Morton (Rowan) on Twitter because he was new to it and has taken to it so quickly. He often tweets in character as Rowan, and one of my favorites this season was in that moment when Abby (Darby Stanchfield) offers Olivia a hug even though she's not a hugger, you can see how deeply uncomfortable Olivia is at receiving that. Joe tweeted as Rowan saying, "I think I might have something to do with her inability to be hugged." Her parental background contributes to her difficult with intimacy. There's that great line that the writers wrote along the lines of, "I can't have intimate relationships because my dad is that thing that goes bump in the night." There's real truth to that and when you add to that the complicated loss of her mother, it's definitely a lot to get over.

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The core of OPA -- Huck and Quinn -- is drastically at odds. How might that change OPA's dynamic?

It's pretty huge. One of the things that I found so interesting was the bond between Huck and Olivia, which has always been a sacred one. She always set the boundary between them -- "You and I live on the dark side" -- and that's unlike all of the others. The reaction Olivia has to what he does is a very big one and it's a game changer.

Mellie might be getting a love interest in the second half of the season in Major Crimes' Jon Tenney. If that's true, could that open the door for Olivia and Fitz?

I don't know that that's been confirmed for Mellie but I'm not going to say. But so much of what keeps Olivia and Fitz apart is not about the external. He has said many times to Olivia that he will leave his wife for her and she refuses. So it's hard to say if Olivia knew that she would be happier with someone else, how that would impact that decision. So far, it seems like the things that keep them apart are as internal as they external.

Scandal's midseason finale airs Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC. Hit the comments below with your theories and check back to THR's The Live Feed after the episode for our weekly Scandal Case Study postmortem.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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