SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the Mar. 16 episode of “Scandal,” titled “Extinction.”
The mystery of the season has finally been solved — this week’s episode of “Scandal” revealed who shot Frankie Vargas.
In a flashback, Rowan (Joe Morton) reunited with an old flame from graduate school, a woman named Sandra, who ended up hiring Rowan to work in her dinosaurs lab. Though everything seems peachy at first, Papa Pope notices a camera hidden in the lab, and that’s when he meets the mysterious new character from last week, played by Zoe Perry. (Remember, this is the woman who seemingly has Rowan wrapped around her finger; but at this point in the flashback, we don’t know why.)
Rowan has his private investigator research Perry’s character, and that’s when they realize her name actually doesn’t exist — so Rowan knows something is up. The next day, he pulls his graduate school friend into a closet, which she thinks is an adult game of seven-minutes-in-heaven, but he really ends up demanding her to tell him everything — with a gun in hand. “They came to my office, they brought me here,” she says in a panic. “They’re everywhere.”
Rowan confronts the group and demands to get them out of his way. The task proves not to be so easy, and they tell him they want him to get Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) in the White House. So, Rowan says they’ll get what they want, as long as they let his lover free.
Rowan gets to work and tries to rig the election with voting machines, but Olivia (Kerry Washington) finds out and undoes Rowan’s work.
When Rowan gets home, none other than the mysterious woman is sitting in his home. “You promised to win this election and you failed,” she says, threatening him. “It is not looking good for Mellie. It’s your job to make it look good for Mellie.” Before she leaves, she says she’ll kill his graduate school friend and then leaves him with this greeting: “For the record, I’m going to be the one who’s going to give you nightmares.”
That’s where the plan to kill Frankie Vargas (Ricardo Chavira) comes into play. Rowan gives one of his guys a gun and tells him to “await my instructions.” Flash forward to election night and Rowan sneaks into the tunnels behind Frankie’s platform where he’s greeting the people, after winning the presidency. Hiding right underneath Frankie, Rowan points a gun at him and ends up shooting him.
That’s right: Rowan shot Frankie.
But, in true Rowan form, he then makes a call to the Secret Service, yelling, “Shots fired! Parking structure, fifth floor!” And that’s where Rowan’s guy is — on the fifth floor, staged to look as if there was a solo assassin who shot Frankie from a distance.
To answer more questions behind the past few episodes, remember when Jennifer Fields makes a call and says “Cyrus Beene killed Frankie Vargas?” Rowan was behind that, too. Yep — Rowan was the one who shot Frankie and framed Cyrus (Jeff Perry).
When Rowan gets back to the office, the group of puppet-masters say, “We found your weakness. It’s standing right next to you,” pointing to his lover from grad school. “You have a streak of weakness, Eli. We found it.” They tell Papa Pope that he’s now going to work for them because as long as they threaten to kill his woman, he’ll follow their instructions.
Well, not so fast. Rowan ends up shooting and killing his lady. “I have no weaknesses. No one owns me,” he says.
Here, Joe Morton talks to Variety about Rowan’s big episode…
What was your reaction when you read the script and found out that Rowan killed Frankie?
On one hand, I was surprised. I was surprised it was him who did it directly. On the other hand, I wasn’t surprised that he was behind it at all.
Does Rowan have guilt for killing Frankie?
In some sense, yes. One, because he thinks that Frankie did not deserve to be killed. Two, because he probably thinks Frankie would make a great president. And three, even though he’s doing it to keep his daughter alive, he still has to destroy innocence to do it. So I think in that sense, he feels some guilt.
Is there any chance anyone will find out that it was actually Rowan who killed Frankie?
Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Will Olivia ever find out that Rowan killed Frankie?
I’m going to guess that eventually she will find out that it was him.
If she did, how do you think she would react, and would it totally ruin the relationship between Olivia and Rowan?
If she finds out, and if she finds out the whole story and that it was done to keep her alive, then they’re in the same situation they’ve always been in — the interesting thing about these two is it’s unconditional love, although Olivia has tried to kill him twice, and he has never, ever tried to kill her. So I think if she found out the whole story, they would still be pretty solid.
So Rowan killed Frankie to keep Olivia alive, by the demands of this mysterious group — who are these people?
By this point, I don’t know that Rowan even knows who they are. He knows what they want. He has an idea about how they want to get what they want, but I don’t think they have any idea of who they are. He understand their power, he understands that his daughter is in jeopardy. But I think beyond that, he doesn’t know who they are.
Why did they want Mellie to win?
I still don’t know the answer to that question, and Rowan doesn’t know. I can guess that it has to do with the space that they want in the White House. But what we don’t know yet is the long-term vision that this group has about wanting power in this country and certainly in the White House. So I don’t think we know anything.
So now does Rowan really work for them?
I think the thing we all know about Rowan is he may look like he’s doing something, but he’s probably trying to do something else. I think the way Rowan works is he’s going to do what he needs to do on the surface, but down below, he’s going to do what he has to do to figure out how to get out of the mess.
Do you think Rowan has a master plan to get rid of these people?
I would imagine he’s putting one together — whether that will be successful or not is another story.
Why do they want to spy on Olivia?
Since Olivia is Mellie’s campaign manager, they want to be able to control that campaign and control me…That’s his whole dilemma — Olivia is his weakness because they can control him through her, so he has to change that dynamic.
Will Rowan’s guilt for killing Sandra haunt him?
I don’t know that in particular will haunt him. I think it will stay with him for a while. Anytime you lose someone you love, just that alone, that loss stays with you for a while. So imagine what it might be like when you not only lost the person you love, but you were responsible for that lost. But on the other side of thing, he understand that if she was alive, she would be a constant target, so in a sense, he did her a favor because now she’s not under anybody’s thumb — now just he and Olivia are under their thumb. But he will hold onto this for a while. It’s a hard one for him.
Rowan doesn’t know that Jennifer Fields is alive at this point. Now that Olivia knows that Jennifer Fields is alive, will that help her figure out that Rowan killed Frankie?
As Jake said, Rowan needs her dead so he killed her — so from Rowan’s point of view, Jake has done what he was asked to do. Jake, in my opinion, is like Fitz, which is why I think Olivia is attracted to both of them — neither Jake or Fitz wants power, they’re not hungry for power, they want to get out of the game. So I think what Jake might be doing is figuring out a way to get out of the game.
If Jennifer Fields does find out that Jake has been keeping Jennifer Fields alive, what would his reaction be?
That’s hard to say because I think Rowan is wrestling with so many other things that are bigger than that and I think by the time he finds out, I’m not sure if he’ll care with everything else going on.
Now that Olivia knows Jennifer Fields is alive, will she start to put the pieces together and figure out that Cyrus didn’t kill Frankie? And if so, will she get him out of jail?
I think that given the way Olivia is talking and the way she’s been acing, if she knows the truth, she’s not going to want Cyrus to stay in prison. She doesn’t want the White House that way. She wants this one to be clean. So that is her dilemma.
If Olivia did end up getting Cyrus out of jail, would that cause trouble for Rowan?
All of these people — Cyrus, Rowan, Olivia — they all have done really terrible, terrible things. It is a kind of chess game where there is no check mate…it’s like they’re part of this terrible club and the club is all about the secrets that they know about each other, so it’s difficult for anyone to get revenge.
At this point, is it safe to assume that Mellie will become president?
All I can tell you is it’s never safe to assume anything on this show.