Olivia and Fitz’s relationship wasn’t the only casualty of Scandal‘s far-reaching Defiance imbroglio.
In Thursday’s episode (10/9c, ABC), viewers will learn that James ended up kicking his morally flexible husband Cyrus out of the house for the role he played in the incident and subsequent cover-up (watch a sneak peek here).
But does the end of their cohabitation mean the end of their marriage? Not necessarily, according to James’ portrayer Dan Bucatinsky, who in the following Q&A tees up his character’s return this week, looks ahead to the show’s season finale, and answers the question on the mind of Scandal fans everywhere: How will James react if/when he finds out Cyrus nearly had him murdered?
TVLINE | So Cyrus and James are or aren’t broken up?
In this week’s episode, you will see that we are very much a married couple dealing with a bump in the road. The aftermath of Defiance has had an impact on this relationship. You’ll watch them deal with this conflict in the same way a real married couple would.
TVLINE | What has James been up to since we last saw him?
James has been taking care of the baby and integrating him into life at home. James made a deal with Cyrus about what kind of role he would play in the creation of their family, and he’s certainly held up his end of the bargain.
TVLINE | Is he getting the itch to resume his journalism career?
At some point I’m sure he will feel the itch to go back to work. When you have two passions that are both extremely strong — one being professional and the other being a parent — one doesn’t necessarily go away when you get the other. I think it will be fun to explore how both of those things push against each other.
TVLINE | On the Scale of Dysfunction — with one being completely healthy and 10 being War of the Roses — where do Cyrus and James fall?
Oh my God. I have to think about that for a second. On the one hand, there’s something unbelievably normal about their working-couple marriage, and it’s irrelevant that we’re both men. On the other hand, we’ve certainly been pushed to limits that not every couple in America’s had to deal with. Whether testifying against your spouse or lying under oath to protect your spouse, those are things that are pretty heightened. So, on the scale of one to 10, I’m going to have to say seven. I think 10 would be full-on Fitz and Olivia.
TVLINE | What about the fact that Cyrus put out a hit on James — and nearly went through with it?
But James doesn’t know that.
TVLINE | What did you make of that particular twist? For me as a viewer, it’s hard to root for that relationship now.
I’m really glad that James doesn’t know that that happened, because I think that would be a harder thing to justify. As an actor, I have to play with the reality of what I know. James made certain decisions that were for the good of his family and his marriage, and Cyrus made decisions that were based on not just the good of the country and the good of the work relationship he has, but, ultimately, good for his marriage and family. So, the way I wrap my brain around it is, in the world of Scandal — which is heightened — what you consider to be the normal level of forgiveness is amped up. This is a show about people who are willing to do almost anything to get what they want — James included. And I think, once you accept that rule of the game then you start to judge all the characters on that playing field… Ultimately, the fact that Cyrus didn’t have him killed is suddenly looked at as such a romantic gesture.
TVLINE | That’s hilarious. And true.
How sweet of him to, actually, say stop [to the hitman]. Given what’s at stake, given the passion that he has for politics and for the President — for whom he is absolutely devoted — it’s ultimately, an act of romance.
TVLINE | You’re coming up on the end of the season. Are you as anxious as viewers to find out what happens?
Oh my God. You have no idea. We sit at those table reads and pass notes to each other. We point arrows to different people we think might be the mole that moment.
TVLINE | You also work as a writer on Grey’s Anatomy. Doesn’t that give you extra special access to Scandal scoop?
No one tells me. I’m not kidding. We only know what’s in the latest script. You would be amazed at how everyone, up to [and including] Kerry Washington, have no knowledge of what’s coming in the next script. It’s quite exciting.