Scandal's Joshua Malina Previews David's 'Down and Dirty' Plot to Take Down Olivia

Joshua Malina of Scandal Season 2Disgraced U.S. Attorney David Rosen senses that uberfixer Olivia Pope is engaging in Scandal-ous behavior — and now he’s out to prove it.

Already this season on the ABC drama (airing Thursdays at 10/9c), Olivia made a secret phone call that torpedoed David’s rock-solid case against “Molotov Mistress” Quinn Perkins. She then asked her crush, President Grant, to put the kibosh on the autopsy of a revered pastor that David’s office had ordered. Professionally sidelined by those two blindsides, David — armed with an apartment wall papered with clues — is determined to fell Olivia and her small army of gladiators. Joshua Malina shared with TVLine a peek at what’s ahead.

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TVLINE | Something special seems to be going on in David’s apartment there.
That is true. Many special things are happening in my apartment in episodes to come.

TVLINE | How would you describe this upcoming arc for him?
Clearly, Olivia has done me wrong, and I’m obsessed with figuring out how she’s always one step ahead of me, how she’s always going over my head, how she has, essentially at this point, lost me the biggest case of my career, at least temporarily lost me my job, and put the kibosh on this high-profile autopsy that should have been another slam-dunk for us in law enforcement. So I’m going into this unshaved, questionable-hygiene world of obsessive investigation.

TVLINE | Were you glad to see David get to a point where he just said “Enough,” that he didn’t keep toeing that line between friend and adversary?
I was delighted, because I think that white hat-wise, David really is the winner. Any honest viewer has to admit that Olivia wears a gray hat. She is willing to do all sorts of things in the name of what she feels is right, but far and away, David is the more, “Let’s do this the right way.” I actually care about the means in addition to the end. Who knows what will happen in the future? They may find common ground, professional or even personal, again, but for a while, the gloves are off and he is getting down and dirty. I like that we’re seeing David out of his suit, too.

TVLINE | Too much Brooks Brothers going on there.
Yeah, exactly.

TVLINE | Do you think viewers will be feeling a bit conflicted, because as much as we root for Olivia, we’re going to want to root for David to do his thing, too?
I read too much into Twitter — that is a fault of mine — but there seems to be, at this point, a fair amount of pity for David. I hope. Right now, I think people are feeling badly, like, “Wow, this guy just can’t catch a break. She’s got his number so badly.” So I think I’m going to start turning people around a bit and getting them more actively on David’s side.

TVLINE | How long it will be before David digs up his first juicy lead or clue?
It happens fairly quickly. In classic Shonda [Rhimes] style, and this is why she’s so good and so evil, every answer raises two more questions. So he will find out his first big lead very shortly, but it will lead to more questions. I can also tease that at the end of this next episode, there’s a big surprise that comes out of nowhere, regarding David, that I think fans will enjoy.

TVLINE | He’s schtupping his assistant there, isn’t he? I sensed something when they had that late night cram season last season.
Could be that. I’m not saying. I think there is a little spark there. That being said, one hopes, and one believes, that she could do better.

TVLINE | You weren’t made a series regular until this summer. Do you think it was it always Shonda’s plan to send David down this rabbit hole for Season 2?
That’s an interesting question. I did the pilot as a one-off, because I love Shonda and I loved the script. Then they put me actually in every episode last season, and I signed a contract knowing that if they were going to go to Season 2, either they wouldn’t use me at all or I’d be a regular. So I was very hopeful. But it’s hard to tell with Shonda. Not once has she said, “Hey, you should know that in the next episode, blah-blah-blah….” Just never. My clearance level is half a step up from the public’s. I think Shonda likes to write herself and her staff into a corner because she’s so good at getting out of them. I think that’s what she sparks to.

TVLINE | Right, I never expected that she would in essence sic David on Pope & Associates, and with such a bulldog mentality. It’s this whole other storyline prong.
Nor did I. After the first season, I thought, “Wow, that was like a really special thing she created. How in God’s name is she going to do it a second time?” Now I have every confidence that she can do any number of seasons, and there will always be something where you are, like, “I didn’t see that coming.”

TVLINE | Between the rat-a-tat dialogue and the D.C. setting, do you ever get West Wing vibes?
Absolutely. For one, Shonda is an unabashed fan [of The West Wing]. And by nature, she likes to write similar stuff. Aaron [Sorkin] will tell you that he writes almost to the sound of the dialogue more than the meaning, and Shonda also has definite patterns and rhythms that are a lot of fun to play as an actor. What’s also very familiar is getting a script that’s really too long for an hour drama and realizing we’re going to have to speak at what we call “Scandal-pace,” otherwise we will not complete the show!