On Monday's episode airing at 10/9c, that's the question on the mind of Detective Joanna Locasto (Meagan Good), who's currently working as the personal assistant to Edward's father, Robert Bowers (Victor Garber), and conducting an undercover investigation for the FBI on who killed her childhood best friend, Vivian Bowers. "It's sort of liberating to play someone who doesn't care if you like him and just assumes that you don't like him," Donovan tells TVGuide.com about the role. "You can just sort of say what you want and how you feel if you don't care if people like you or not. Actors tend not to see [their characters] as good or bad, at least I try not to. ... I sort of leave the judging to the audience.
"I don't think [Edward's] bad or evil or terrible, or a monster, but I think [he] sometimes acts out of fear, like everyone else," he adds.
And he certainly has good reason to keep his defenses up. More than a decade earlier, Edward was accused of raping and murdering a girl but was never convicted of the crime. In last week's episode, viewers were told that Edward actually did kill her, but doesn't remember doing so — and the whole thing was covered up by his father's now-rival, Sen. Dwight Haverstock (John Larroquette).
"This character is somebody who the whole world thinks is kind of a monster," Donovan explains. "Everyone thinks he got off because he's so wealthy. And well, what does that do to a human being, when the whole world sort of thinks you're a terrible person? I think you sort of become a terrible person, because he just assumes that you don't like him. I'm always intrigued by what that must be like psychologically, for someone to have that happen to them."
Fast-forward to present day, when the story takes place, and the customarily defensive Edward is the only one who smells a rat when Joanna reconnects with the family at Vivian's funeral. But does he have additional motives for not wanting her around, asking questions?
"When you play a guy like him, you sort of can't help but be on his side and see why he's reacting that way," Donovan says. "I think he is suspicious naturally. He's a smart guy, and he has reason to feel like, 'What is this girl doing in our house?' He has a lot of secrets, and I imagine Edward doesn't like a lot of strangers. He doesn't like a lot of people. When you have a lot of secrets, you tend to isolate yourself a lot more. And so, he just doesn't like some sort of stranger coming back in. Even though he really liked her when he was a kid, it's all changed for him."
On Monday's episode, Edward confronts Robert about the cover-up in a scene that Donovan says he relished playing with his longtime friend and frequent co-star, Garber. "It's a really powerful scene," Donovan says. "I felt like I was doing an Arthur Miller play, classic father-son rivalry, tension, years of resentment built up. It's good."
And as for the identity of Vivian's killer, Donovan said he just learned it a couple of weeks ago, when the show finished shooting its final episode — but his lips are sealed.
"It's surprising and at once it makes total sense," Donovan teases. "When you look back on the whole season, you're like, 'Oh, yeah, I should have known.'"
Deception airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.