Things looked grim for Rowan “Eli” Pope, also known as Papa Pope, also known as veteran actor Joe Morton, at the beginning of the Scandal season finale tonight. Eli was rushed to the hospital within the first few minutes, having been stabbed by his estranged (to put it mildly) wife Maya. But not only did he make it out alive, he was revealed, by episode’s end, as the mastermind behind nearly all of the nefarious events (including the murders of two major players!) in the finale.
Visiting the Vanity Fair offices earlier in the day, Morton was mum about his character’s fate, admitting that even his daughters “have no idea what’s going to happen tonight. It would take all the suspense out of it.”
Papa Pope’s near-death experience was far from the biggest mortal twist of the season—a few weeks ago journalist James Novak, played by Dan Bucatinsky, was shot by Jake Ballard, the character played by Scott Foley. As Morton puts it, it was such a big loss for the cast that even Foley felt guilty about firing that fatal shot:
“Dan Bucatinsky was a big loss. Poor Scott [Foley]. He actually felt guilty. The cast gets together sometimes and we view the next week’s episode. It’s usually at Jeff Perry’s house but this last time it was at Scott’s because Scott wanted to make amends with Dan.”
Morton, a veteran stage actor with hopes to return to the stag, credits the training he and many of his Scandal co-stars went through for their commitment to the story, even when it’s rough on their characters.
“Everyone loves their jobs. And I think one of the big reasons is that we’re all theater actors. Theater actors are always there to support the script. So we have that in common without even meeting one another. That forms a kind of bond that sometimes other shows don’t have.”
And a bond that Morton—twist!—won’t have to say goodbye to after all. We tip our hats to you and your power, Papa Pope.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season three finale, “The Price of Free and Fair Election,” of ABC’s Scandal.] ABC’s political thriller Scandal closed up its third season Thursday with a heart-racing hour that focused on Election Day, as President Fitzgerald Grant looked to lock up four more years in the White House and prevail over his vice president and opposition, Sally Langston, while OPA teamed with B613 to bring down a terror ring led by Olivia’s mother.
“One of the things that we talked about is how irredeemable Rowan becomes at the end and one of the things that most impacted me, besides just the shock of what he did, is that he says ‘He took my child so I took his.’ And the fact that that is a dishonest statement makes me hate him.”—Tony Goldwyn in tonight’s podcast (via scandalouscastleanatomy)