Kerry Washingont, Scott Foley, Tony Goldwyn Kerry Washingont, Scott Foley, Tony Goldwyn

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Thursday's midseason finale of Scandal. Read at your own risk.]

Scandal had a case of déjà vu on Thursday. Not only did Papa Pope get away yet again, but we're once again asking: Where's Olivia Pope?

With Olivia (Kerry Washington), Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Jake (Scott Foley) desperate for his head on a silver platter, Rowan (Joe Morton) initiates a B613 shutdown protocol and puts Jake and Quinn (Katie Lowes) on a kill list. Both survive — Quinn after a Mr. and Mrs. Smith-like tussle with would-be killer Charlie (George Newbern) — and while Jake scopes out a false location, Rowan faces off with his daughter in her apartment. As he launches into yet another scathing monologue, telling Liv she's not normal and doesn't know how to love, she grabs his gun from the table... and nervously takes the kill shot. But it's empty. "You just shot your own father?!" Rowan gleefully mocks before leaving. 

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After Mama Pope (Khandi Alexander) breaks it to Liv that she's just like her father (burn!) and that "girl, you need to move on," Liv does so by putting on some Stevie Wonder, pulling a Kelly Taylor and asking Jake to dance it out with her. (Shondaland synergy!) He heads to her bedroom to grab a blanket and pillows so they can comfortably bone on the piano, but when he returns, Liv has vanished.

Who took her? Earlier, Huck (Guillermo Diaz) had determined that Liz (Portia de Rossi), VP Andrew (Jon Tenney) and Kubiak were all at Winslow's firm the night Caitlin was murdered for a meeting with a client called WACO Inc. Quinn figures out WACO stands for West Angola Commercial Organization and thus the West Angola bombing on Andrew last week was staged. When Fitz opts not to declare war on West Angola like Lizzie Bear & Co. had anticipated, Andrew gets all mustache-twirly in POTUS' face, as Fitz realizes he's targeting his One True Jam-Maker.

Elsewhere, and before Liv's kidnapping, Liz leaks "sexy time" photos of Cyrus (Jeff Perry) and Michael (Matthew Del Negro). ("Chief of Staffs" headline FTW!) Liv attempts to handle it with a sham marriage between Cy and Mike, because America is forgiving of a good ol' love story, even one between the president's chief of staff and his prostitute. Cyrus nixes the idea out of respect for James and resigns. But before he can take off for Greece (also, where's his daughter?), Liv goes full Moonstruck "Cyrus Beene" on Cyrus Beene, barking at him to stop being a "little bitch baby" and to be a patriot. Cyrus complies, announces his (faux) engagement with Michael and returns to his post.

So what's next? Would Fitz actually go to war to save Olivia? We caught up with Goldwyn, who directed the episode, to get the scoop. Plus: Can he take down Jake on the dance floor?

She's gone again! Where in the world is Olivia Pope?
Tony Goldwyn:
 Your guess is as good as mine. I don't think she's on an island. That's the good and bad news, but I don't know. ... It's definitely all hands on deck to find her [when the show returns], but I can't tell you where we leave here. That's a really great surprise.

What are Andrew's terms? Declare war on West Angola and he'll return Olivia? It can't be that black and white. 
  That's what he says: "If we go to war..." There's obviously some right-wing Republican plot to take down Fitz and support Andrew. And he's accomplished what he did with some major power players. I have no idea who's behind Andrew. I'm speaking as an audience member here because I honestly don't know. A man who is vice president couldn't do this on his own. The whole scene was kind of a shock to me. I was kind of shocked actually at how dark Andrew went. I did not see that coming. Obviously I have my issues with Andrew, but I was very surprised that he turned out to be part of something so Machiavellian.
Would Fitz really declare war just to get Olivia back? She really would be Helen of Troy then.
Goldwyn: That's a really tough call. Fitz was already considering going to war. He doesn't know yet that Quinn and Huck discovered that the whole bombing was faked. As far as he knows, we were still attacked on our own soil. He might. I think it would go against everything in his being to declare war. If it is an unnecessary war, that's a real Sophie's Choice. If what Andrew says it's true and he'd get Olivia back, that's a tough one. ... It depends on how much danger Olivia is in. I honestly don't know how far he'd go. Olivia's life is at stake. But do you sacrifice the person you love for the benefit of the greater good? That's the territory we're headed into in the second half of the season. It's this very big, impossible choice. It's going to get even messier as if it's not messy now.

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Someone is always undermining Fitz.

Goldwyn: Yeah! I feel sad for him. I think Fitz sees himself to some degree as some unwitting Angel of Death after the death of his son. Shonda [Rhimes] and I had talked about this. He has the best intentions in his life and a desperate ambition to rise above the man that his father was. Fitz seems to, without intending to, be the agent of death and destruction. All the people he loves come to death and destruction.

Will Fitz and Jake work together? I like that they found common ground against Rowan even thought it turned into a pissing contest.
Goldwyn: Look how that worked out! [Laughs] All I can say is that would be my first move. Jake really is, ironically, the only person he can trust. He knows Jake would do anything for Olivia. But he also abused Jake. He got it wrong. But that would be my first move because I don't know who else Fitz can rely on.

Could Rowan be behind this too? It is convenient how last week he told Olivia, "Wait til you see what the world is like without me," so he backs away after she tries to kill him and now she's disappeared.
 Yeah, I wouldn't put anything past Rowan, that's for sure. But I also know that Shonda always surprises me. I guarantee you that Rowan has not disappeared. [Laughs] He's always pulling puppet strings in the background. My guess is it wouldn't be as simple as Rowan being the orchestrator of this plot. I don't know that he cares about politics per se and this thing was afoot for some time with Elizabeth North and Andrew and these conspirators. 

It would be something if you all teamed up with him to find Olivia.
 Maybe that's where we'll end up! That would be very interesting since Rowan did in fact order the murder of Fitz's son and Fitz would like nothing more than to see Rowan dead. 

Were you surprised that they didn't kill Rowan off? That's what a lot of people were hoping and expecting.
 I really wanted people to think when she pulled the trigger that that would be it. That was a great scene with Olivia and Rowan. I didn't think they would kill him. [Laughs] He's too malicious! We might eventually see the demise of Rowan, but I didn't think Shonda was doing to do it here. Joe Morton is just too fantastic. 

I loved Mama Pope telling Olivia she's Rowan, and Rowan hates Fitz.
 Exactly. And as a figure in Olivia's life, he's still too big to dispose of him right now, I think.

Andrew has now slept with Mellie and kidnapped Olivia. How will this affect Fitz and Mellie's relationship? We already know how she feels about Olivia, but it's a whole new dynamic with Andrew part of the equation.
Goldwyn: Fitz and Mellie have such a bizarre relationship. Mellie has now been betrayed by Andrew. First of all, I don't know who Fitz can tell about this because it's a very dangerous situation. I don't know that he'll be able to share with Mellie what's going on. But the thing with Andrew is broken now for Mellie, so it'd be great for Fitz if Mellie is useful to him, but this is such a volatile situation. Mellie is also not trustworthy. She's very impulsive. 

She might also have a target on her back after her awesome confrontation with Liz.
 That's interesting, yeah, she might. That was pretty good, right? Mellie's a tough lady, but it appears Elizabeth North is not to be messed with either.

Can there still be hope for Fitz and Olivia after his vice president kidnaps her?
 Of course. I do believe it. I don't know if anyone else does, but I do. He would never give up on the fantasy; that's what keeps him alive. He is absolutely resolute in his certainty that if they're given that chance, they would have a great, healthy relationship. He may live in a fantasy world, but he truly believes that he and Olivia are the answer for one another no matter what. If they can just do that, he thinks everything else can sort itself out, but circumstances and Olivia herself have conspired against him. She has turned away from him multiple times now. Olivia wants it all! She wants to have her cake and eat it too!

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And now she's choosing herself.
 She chooses herself! I'm not sure what that means, but OK. [Laughs]

What is it like for Fitz — and Olivia — knowing that his enemies are aware that she is his biggest weakness? She'll always be a target when he's in power.
 Yeah, that is part of the terrible irony of being Fitz. That's sort of the thing I was talking about of him being this sort of angel of death. Because he holds power, he is a target. Because he is protected, the next targets are the things and people he loves: his son, Olivia. People seek to destroy those things dear to him. It's like he said to Liv: "Heavy is the head that wears the crown."

I really liked the scene between Fitz and Cyrus when he convinced you to accept his resignation. Now that he's back, what is their relationship like? Is it any different, especially since Cyrus has a fake wedding to plan?
 I think Cyrus and Fitz have come to have a very deep and mutually trusting relationship. ... Through all of their trials together, Fitz and Cyrus are pretty solid. They've gone through some really terrible stuff together. That resignation thing, that scene, when Fitz takes it — it's like losing his right arm. It's a massive sacrifice. I say to him, "It's been an honor" — that's a painful thing to do. That moment solidifies for Fitz what Cyrus means. It's like when you lose the thing you take for granted. I think Cyrus was so deeply humiliated and frankly Cyrus was right, politically, to resign that Fitz didn't [try to stop him]. If Olivia hadn't engineered this cockaminnie plan, which obviously worked, it could only be bad for the administration. On a practical level, it made sense. It really was for Cyrus. Fitz could not indulge himself and allow Cyrus be dragged through that kind of humiliation that it appeared he would be dragged through.

And then Liv gives him a wake-up call to stop being a "little bitch baby."
 Oh, my God! That scene was great. Kerry was so hilarious.

You lucked out directing this episode. My favorite scene was the Quinn and Charlie fight.
 Wasn't that so good? I really did luck out. I love Quinn and Charlie. They make me so happy. Shonda's choice of playing "Endless Love" over that fight was genius!

The other big thing was Liv and Jake dancing it out. What are your dance moves like? Are they better than Scott's?
 Hopefully you'll never have to find out! [Laughs] There's a difference [between] dancing with friends and dancing in front of millions of people. Scott rocked it! He was so charming and great. 

How many takes did you do?
 When I direct something like that, you want people to be themselves. You don't want to plan too much, so we just set up cameras where they could just dance. They did it many times, but it was always just letting it go so they could have fun with it. And we had a bunch of cameras rolling to capture it so it felt authentic. And of course it's a very important scene for Shonda. You have one scene with Olivia shooting her father in the head almost and the next, she's dancing with her boyfriend! It's classic Shonda! But yeah, hopefully Jake and Fitz will never have a dance-off!

Well, now that you've put it out there...
 I know, I shouldn't have said anything!

Scandal returns Thursday, Jan. 29 at 9/8c on ABC. What did you think of the midseason finale?

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