[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Thursday's episode of Scandal. Read at your own risk.]
Family was the major theme of Scandal's winter finale on Thursday.
While Mellie (Bellamy Young) went on a filibuster to protect Planned Parenthood's funding, Olivia (Kerry Washington), suffocated by her First Lady-esque duties and hostage-like existence in the White House, secretly had an abortion before breaking up with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) following their most uncomfortable, hooch-infused war of words yet ("There is no jam," Gladiators!). Yup, she cuts Fitz loose in favor of Rowan (Joe Morton), whom she had Huck (Guillermo Diaz) keep alive in captivity — not to mention a new couch.
The irony is Rowan, of course, is not all about the lovey-dovey family stuff. He laments his "many ungrateful [B613] children," tells Huck that family is a burden that can destroy you and as usual condemns Huck's (lack of) parenting skills. But instead of falling prey again to another Papa Popelogue, Huck plays some reverse psychology on Rowan, reminding him that the only reason he is still alive is because of his daughter Olivia. In the end, Huck doesn't resort to violence and drops off Rowan at his home, where Rowan invites "son" Jake (Scott Foley) in, moments after he killed former Papa Pope minion Russell (Brian White).
What the Huck is going on with this new Huck? Diaz gives us the scoop.
We saw a different kind of Huck last night. He let Rowan go at the end, like he was casually dropping him off after dinner. Do you think that was hard for him to do?
Guillermo Diaz: I think he's a changed man. He's trying really hard. It's just a small tiny glimpse in what Shonda [Rhimes] has in mind. I don't even know for sure what's gonna happen after Huck drops Rowan off and Jake shows up at the house. There's a lot there that we, the actors, don't know about it. But for Huck, it was a little bit of a test for himself to see if he can do this. Can he be in the presence of this man who has ruined his life basically and not torture him or kill him? And he did it. Huck knows that that's what he needs to do and that's who he needs to be in order to be with his family again.
It seems like he was able to pass this test because he has finally accepted the fact that he just might not be with his family again.
Diaz: Exactly. It's little things like, "Oh, my God, I didn't strangle him to death. I didn't shoot him." All those little moments are steps that get him to closer to being in front of his wife and child and being a "normal guy." It sort of becomes more exciting toward the end when Huck is putting on his coat and he's like, "Family is the only thing that has kept you alive." That's the case for both of them. Family is the only thing that's kept Rowan alive because Olivia wants him alive. A lot going on there!
Huck usually resorts to violence and physical torture, but he f---ed with Rowan's mind this time. How do you think that evolution came about?
Diaz: I think in Huck's head, he's thinking these other methods have been effective — I've killed people, I've tortured people — but ultimately going that route has been worse for his well-being. He's taking care of business, but it's destroying him little by little, all those deaths. I think somewhere in his brain, he's like, "Let me try this other way. Let me use reverse psychology. Let me get in his brain and try to mess with him that way." And it worked. It was interesting to see Rowan take in everything he was saying. You can see that it was really getting to him because we've never seen Rowan like that before — that weak, emotional state where something was affecting him that much.
He seemed to respect Huck more. Rowan has always manipulated Huck by threatening his family.
Diaz: Absolutely. Hopefully he gained a little bit of respect from Rowan.
How much of Huck's actions was influenced by Olivia since she wanted Rowan alive?
Diaz: I think a lot of it, like 85 to 90 percent of the reason he didn't kill Rowan was because of her. He knows that would've destroyed Huck and Olivia's relationship with each other. I don't think she would've been able to forgive him for that. I think that was a major part of him not killing Rowan.
What do you think went through Huck's mind when Rowan said that family is a burden that can destroy you?
Diaz: I was playing the moment as if Huck was almost feeling sad for Rowan. I think in that moment, Huck really felt sympathy for Rowan, like, "Wow. You really have no one." The fact that he's saying family is a burden when family is everything to Huck — that's the only reason for him being alive - he thought, "How sad for you, Rowan. This is where your life is. You have no one." You can also see when Huck drops Rowan off and says "Merry Christmas," I think he really meant that from the heart, like, "Dude, find your happiness. It's Christmas. I want you to feel as happy as I feel in this moment," whatever that is. It's absolutely pity. I think Huck has a long way to go, but I think him overcoming that and not hurting Rowan physically, he won a battle with himself. It's funny how the tables have turned, but this is just one episode. Who knows what's gonna happen.
What do you think his relationship with Rowan is gonna be like now? Does he want to be Rowan's "son"? He seems to want to be done with B613
Diaz: I don't know what Shonda has in store. I don't know if he necessarily wants to be Rowan's son. I think he wants to get away from that lifestyle as much as possible. There are going to be moments in that lifestyle that keep drawing Huck back in, but ultimately I think he wants to separate himself as much as he can from Rowan. That's where I think it's gonna go. B613 is what's keeping him away from his family.
But maybe killing Rowan is the key to getting rid of B613.
Diaz: Right. When you kill the head vampire, all the rest disappear and die as well. Then how would that affect Huck to know that he's responsible for that even though it would be for the greater good? I think he would kill him and be OK with it if Olivia said, "Huck, take care of it."
What did you think of the other story lines with Planned Parenthood and Olivia's abortion?
Diaz: Obviously [the abortion] was quite shocking. There was a moment for me at the table read, when I thought how powerful and how interesting that it's going to be handled this way on a TV show, this reality of having an abortion. We also have to remember that this is a story that Shonda is telling about these people. This is just a little stop in the journey of Scandal. It was in the middle of this story that ultimately will have an ending. We have to remember that it's a fictional story. It's part of Olivia and Fitz's journey right now. You're in store for some really juicy stuff with them, I can tell you that. Of course, people are going to have very strong opinions about [the abortion] for obvious reasons, but that's what makes great television too. It makes people think and starts conversations. That's a good thing. That was such an intense scene between them — the way it went in and out and to Rowan and myself.
Is Olivia going to tell anyone about the abortion?
Diaz: My gut tells me that she would probably confide in Abby [Darby Stanchfield] of all people. But I don't know if she'll say anything. It definitely seems like something she won't share unless she has to. But if she were to, I think it'd be Abby.
How will Huck and everyone else react to Fitz and Olivia breaking up? They went through so much to make the public accept them together.
Diaz: I can only speak for Huck. I think he will feel relieved and she is doing what she truly wants. If this is what makes her happy, he's going to be happy for her. He's that guy. If she's happy, he's happy. I think he'll be glad she stood up and she left because she didn't wanna be there. I think that's what he would do in that situation. I think he will always stand by Olivia.
What I really wanna know is, how did the lash marks on Liz's (Portia de Rossi) back disappear? Huck tortured her real well and she just flaunted that smooth back in that backless dress.
Diaz: [Laughs] Well, you know, D.C. people are very wealthy. Plus, makeup and plastic surgery. It's been a while since he tortured her. I don't know exactly how long, but listen, she's a pretty wealthy woman! Find a good plastic surgeon and in three months you can be looking like a different person!
It would've been badass had she shown off the scars.
Diaz: Oh, definitely! Send a memo to Shondaland. Maybe next time!
Scandal will return Thursday, Feb. 11 at 9/8c on ABC.