SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched Season 5, episode 6 of “Scandal,” which aired on Oct. 29.
Last week, everyone on “Scandal” was served. This week, while the Gladiators, Olivia (Kerry Washington) and Mellie (Bellamy Young), were asked to testify in Fitz’s impeachment case, more papers were served — and those were divorce papers, making President Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Mellie’s split finalized.
“How that moment transpires between these two people, it’s as ugly and heart-wrenching as you would imagine,” Young tells Variety of Mellie and Fitz finally splitting.
With that breakup becoming official, wedding bells were almost in the air. Fitz proposed at the White House, but Olivia turned him down. Then, she changed her mind when he showed her the ring, and got so far as dressing up in white and readying up to head to the courthouse until she got a call from none other than Mellie who put a pin in the paperwork — that is, Fitz and Olivia’s imminent marriage license.
However, Mellie didn’t come in between the couple for personal relationship reasons. She was actually helping Olivia, who didn’t truly want to marry Fitz, but had come to terms with the marriage, since it would enable her to sit out of testifying against Fitz. After Olivia realized that her father Rowan (Joe Morton) had another plan to get her out of testifying, Mellie was able to get Papa Pope out of jail, in Olivia’s favor.
However, freeing Rowan came after Mellie finally found out that he was the one who had her son Jerry killed — so why would she let him out of jail?
“We talked a lot about that because that was a question I had,” Young says. “Ultimately, I think what I made peace with and how I think Mellie processed it is that it was her only play — being as devastated as she was, she’s burned everything to the ground and she’s at her worst. Mellie is at rock bottom after finding out about Rowan and Jerry and then having her catharsis with Fitz when they sign the divorce papers. I think when you are at rock bottom, options that your right mind would never consider are suddenly the only ones you have at hand, and also exceedingly reasonable. I think rock bottom led her to a choice that she would never meet otherwise.”
Here, Bellamy Young tells Variety what to expect with Mellie now that she’s officially divorced from Fitz, has done a huge favor for Olivia and knows the truth about Rowan.
Mellie and Fitz are officially divorced now. What does that mean for their ongoing relationship?
Mellie’s heart is finally broken. For so many years, for decades, she’s been hurt, but sort of soldiered on because her love for Fitz was her fuel. Finally, she sees him as he really is and she sees what she sacrificed and how her life has turned into, instead of a grand oak, a little bonsai tree, because of him.
Mellie also flips out on Fitz, telling him that she risked everything to be with him. Now that they’re divorced and Fitz was not impeached, where does Mellie’s political career go from here?
I think for Mellie, I really do believe that her heart is now cold to Fitz. I think that door has closed, but I think that she understands the power of people owing you something. In her mind, she saved Fitz and he’ll owe her and he’ll have to campaign for her.
I can’t believe that Mellie let Rowan out of jail, after finding out the truth about him being Olivia’s father and killing Jerry. She was so wrecked by that…
Finding out about Rowan, it’s almost more than she can wrap her head around and definitely more than she can wrap her heart around because Damascus Bainbridge is the placeholder for everything that has derailed her life — more than Olivia, more than Fitz. In her mind, if she hadn’t met Damascus Bainbridge, she still could have been still maintaining the status quo. So to be handed Damascus Bainbridge’s picture was enough, and then to find out that he’s her father sort of makes this whole house of cards collapse in her mind because now everyone’s connected. Up until this time, Mellie has believed that something else happened to Jerry. She didn’t even know this was a possibility. So that single event is what unhinges her and sets her up for all the surprising choices she will make in the coming weeks. That is the fork in the road in her life.
So where do we go from here, now that Mellie knows who Rowan truly is and he’s free?
It will be interesting going forward. We’ve definitely seen Rowan effectively neutralized because they put him in jail, and now he’s effectively on the prowl again, but it’s interesting because the Lazarus One plot has been set in motion as well. It’s interesting to watch the politics of power play out. Things aren’t always what they seem and how the cards all fall down there is too shocking for me to ruin it for you — it’s so genius and terrifying.
Speaking of Lazarus One, poor Jake! His ex-wife was killed — and Olivia threw the Fitz marriage question in Jake’s face.
It’s always interesting the way Liv reaches out to Jake — he’s her go-to, he’s the guy that’s always there for her and to watch her try to lean on him through this decision of whether or not to marry Fitz was just torture living through that for Jake.
I’m assuming it won’t go over well when Mellie approaches Fitz and tells him she knows who killed Jerry?
I think in this episode she goes just a little crazy. Too many big things hit her at once and she just cracks up a little bit inside — you just see the little eggshell, and then really by the end, it’s all broken.
Mellie told Olivia that she owes her since she got Rowan out of jail. Where does Mellie and Olivia’s relationship stand?
I can’t speak to Olivia’s feelings. I can only imagine that as a smart survivor woman, she is wise to not trust what’s happening in the moment. I think it must also be a shock for her for Mellie to have done a complete 180. Olivia looked so devastated, almost equally devastated to have told Mellie what Rowan had done in killing little Jerry. I think it killed Olivia inside. I think it must be terrifying to her to think how desperate Mellie must be that even knowing that, she still let him free and is standing in a tunnel behind him. I don’t know, but I’d think the sheer sight of Mellie and Rowan standing side-by-side in that tunnel is apocalyptically terrifying for her.
It was also very interesting to see the tables turned with Olivia and Mellie when Liv has her First Lady moment when she almost married Fitz. She’s got to be freaked out by that, right?
Olivia has gone through the First Lady machine and we see a whole new Olivia and it’s so startling to watch. We’ve seen this side of Mellie for so long — she has such potential, she can be so much more. But we’ve seen Olivia living her potential and being a fully-realized human and affecting change and helping people, so then to see her neutered and just by virtue of being put into the First Lady role, it’s really sobering and I think something that Fitz will have to recognize eventually, in terms of gender politics and in terms of his effect on the women he’s in relationships with.
Olivia obviously didn’t end up marrying Fitz. What can we expect coming up in the world of Olitz?
I think that she’s on track to be his partner — she puts on his ring and puts on the front of First Lady and she’s living there and they are together — but I think anyone that’s asked someone to partner with them and has been rebuffed, even if they’re still living in your house, there’s a constant friction. There’s no more innocence in Fitz and Olivia’s love, which she warned him about before and said it will all change.
By the end of this episode, Mellie has really had her whole world fall apart between Fitz, Rowan and Jerry. Should we be concerned about her?
As for Mellie, she’s bereft, but she’s also liberated. I think it’s a terrifying time. She goes a little crazy at the end because she’s all alone — it’s a “be careful what you wish for” scenario. So yes, she has her future ahead of her, she has her emancipation and her dreams, but at what price? Who in the world is on her side? She is grasping to have an alliance with Olivia based on you-owe-me, but that’s not a real friendship and certainly not a real ally. It’s a lonely time, and I definitely think she’ll try to throw herself into her work — if she still can, because she’s wrecked herself politically, too. It’s a bit of a reckless moment for her. She has nothing to lose, and people are so dangerous when they have nothing to lose.