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Why would Scandal‘s president of the free world trust the most dangerous man in the country? That’s one of the central questions lingering for many diehard Gladiators after Scandal‘s Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) believed Rowan Pope (Joe Morton) when the head of black ops group B613 told the president that his former Army buddy was responsible for the death of his son, Jerry Jr.
As it turns out, Goldwyn had a hard time with the reveal as well.
During “The Key,” Rowan informs Fitz that Jake (Scott Foley) was the man responsible for the death of his son and not only took out the Grants’ eldest son but also Harrison because the former B613 Command was “obsessed” with Olivia (Kerry Washington).
“It was hard for me as an actor,” Goldwyn told THR during a recent set visit. “That was the hardest thing for me to get my brain around: Why Fitz would trust Rowan over Jake when Jake was literally telling the truth. Then I realized that Fitz got it wrong about Rowan before.”
The actor, who is also directing Scandal‘s midseason finale, pointed to Fitz and company having Rowan arrested during season three when everyone — including his daughter — believed that he was a monster and responsible for everything.
“We let Maya Pope (Khandi Alexander) go and she ended up murdering people, hijacking a plane and Rowan was right,” Goldwyn explains. “And still Fitz ostracized Rowan and defanged him and put Jake in Command. Jake basically messed up being Command. Maya Pope ran wild, there was the bombing in the church, Fitz almost got assassinated and his child ended up being killed as a result of all this mayhem.”
Fitz’s belief in Rowan led Fitz to come to blows with Jake in a bid to beat a confession out of his old friend, who has done nothing but be vigilant about trying to take down Rowan and all of B613. It’s also driven a massive wedge between the old friends after Jake took the opportunity to regale the president with tales of standing in the sun with Olivia.
“In Fitz’s view, he misjudged Rowan and he made him Command again. In the three-ish months since Jerry Jr.’s death, Rowan is someone who Fitz has come to realize — even though he thinks he’s an awful human being and has been a terrible person to Olivia — the man knows his job,” Goldwyn adds. “In that sense, he’s a professional and Fitz trusted him. Jake has done nothing but lose Fitz’s trust because he failed with the Maya Pope thing, ran off with Olivia at Fitz’s darkest moment and took advantage of that and manipulated her in Fitz’s view. So when all the fingers point at Jake, Fitz’s complicated feelings about Olivia and the way Jake has failed him, all points to Rowan as a man Fitz can trust on a professional level. But it was very difficult to get my brain around that because Rowan is so awful!”
Meanwhile, Olivia doesn’t completely believe her father when he reveals that her boyfriend was so obsessed with her that he would kill a teenage boy because it meant giving her what she wanted: having Fitz elected to a second term. So at least there’s still someone who is skeptical of Rowan.
Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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