SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched the “Scandal” Season 5 finale, which aired on Thursday, May 12.
The “Scandal” finale set up the presidential election for Season 6 in ways Gladiators could have never expected. After Mellie (Bellamy Young) and Frankie Vargas (Ricardo Chavira) nabbed the presidential nominations last week, their vice presidential running mates were revealed in Thursday night’s season ender.
Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) ended up being selected to run with Mellie, though he doesn’t seem privy to the idea — but he’s going along with it because Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) came up with the idea in order to save him. However, it seems that Rowan (Joe Morton) has a master plan to get Jake, Olivia and himself into the White House by way of Mellie’s ticket. At the close of the episode, Papa Pope smiles and says “that’s my girl,” as he’s watching the former First Lady’s convention unfold, knowing that his “son” and daughter could be taking over the Oval Office.
On the Democratic side of things, Frankie’s VP is going to be none other than Cyrus (Jeff Perry). The selection came as a shock to everyone, including Olivia and the Gladiators — and Mellie doesn’t even know yet.
Here, Scott Foley and Bellamy Young break down the finale and tease what’s to come in Season 6. (Foley and Young were interviewed separately.)
What was your reaction to finding out that Jake would be Mellie’s running mate?
Scott Foley: The last episode, Jake made this big cry for help to Edison, and Olivia trying to figure out a way to save Jake from her father was a big story point in this episode. You can’t really cross Command so how the hell is Olivia going to save Jake without ending up dead herself? It’s a crazy conundrum. The fact that she came up with this idea of saving Jake right in front of his face, I thought was really smart. But, turns out, it’s sort of what Rowan has wanted all along — getting back into the Oval and getting the position of power, and now it looks like that’s through both Olivia and Jake. That’s a really interesting storyline that hopefully will play out in Season 6.
Bellamy Young: It’s so interesting because I just don’t think that Mellie knows that much about Jake. We haven’t had many scenes together or feelings together, so I think she has no idea what she attached herself to. I think she has no idea that she just sat down in Papa Pope’s lap. I know that on paper, Jake is just sterling, he’s fantastic and pristine. At the convention when she’s standing with Jake beside her, I think she’s just drunk with optimism because things couldn’t be going any better — she also has no idea that Cyrus is running with Frankie. She’s still naive and in her happy place.
How will Mellie and Jake work together?
Scott: It’s so interesting. Scott Foley has not had a lot of scenes with Bellamy Young. Our storylines have been so opposite to each other that I don’t remember many scenes at all. I think he is a good running mate, and I think he is exactly what Mellie needs. I think as long as he believes that this is what Olivia wants, he is not going to ruffle any feathers.
Bellamy: Between slowly finding out the truth about Jake, I also don’t think he’ll do well in an ornamental, not functional position. I think there will be a lot of friction there.
Is Jake part of Rowan’s bigger plan?
Bellamy: The way when we read it, I think it’s intentionally murky so that we’re left wondering this summer. I know I was left wondering. It seems like it was Rowan’s plan all along, but whether or not Jake was in on the plan, I can’t tell. So I’m interested.
Scott: That’s a good question. I think Rowan is the mastermind in all of this. We don’t know if Jake was his toy to get him into the White House. What they had Jake say where he says to Olivia, ‘I just want a normal life,’ and she sort of snaps at him and says, ‘I never wanted to be ordinary’…I don’t think that Jake wants this. He’s been wrapped up in government and B613 and this subplot of intrigue and espionage for so long, that I think he jus wants out. There was a Jake-centric episode a few weeks ago when we saw how Jake became Jake Ballard and how he came under Rowan’s thumb, and I just think he really wants to break away. I don’t think he is a part of this plan.
But you don’t know for sure?
Scott: I have absolutely no idea. They could flip it on it’s head and Jake could end up being Command and could have been Command all along! I mean, Jake could be a woman for all we know! [laughing] We have no idea.
So you really believe that he is Olivia’s b-tch at this point, and he’s not part of this master plan with Rowan and Olivia is being played?
Scott: I think this is all part of Rowan’s master plan, but I don’t know if Jake necessarily knows that he’s part of the plan. There were plans to make Jake Vargas’ vice president and that fell out because Olivia scooped him up and realized making him Mellie’s vice president was the only way to save him. I believe that he believes that he’s gone from being one person’s b-tch to the next [laughing].
If Mellie finds out that Rowan is behind this, how will she feel?
Bellamy: On the one hand, Mellie knows Rowan as the devil, but on the other hand, she has made a deal with the devil in the past. I would wager that being so close [to being President], she’d be able to make peace with it in her mind that if she could just get the office, then she’d have the power and it wouldn’t matter how she got there. But as we all know, any dance you do with Papa Pope is rather deathly.
Where does your relationship with Olivia stand?
Bellamy: I’ve really enjoyed Mellie and Liv having converging paths that they’ve really found their trust again and they’ve been able to support each other. Finding out about what Liv did to Andrew, she hasn’t had a moment to process that. I just think that was the moment they started diverging and I think the chasm between them will cause much pain and agony, as the campaign goes forward.
Scott: Jake would always love to run away with Olivia and get out and just live their lives…The last scene that we saw with them when Olivia tells Jake to put on his tie and get the f–k out there, I think it is sort of emblematic in where they are — it seems to be all business right now. Maybe once this is all taken care of, there will be some room for pleasure. I never say never in regards to these two. In my mind — and I am going to get a ton of crap for this when you print this — she has chosen Jake. She’s not able to, but she has chosen Jake.
Why do you think she’s chosen Jake?
Scott: In the church right before he was about to marry Vanessa, she basically broke his heart and said, ‘I love Fitz,’ just to save Jake’s life. She sacrificed herself and her love for him. That’s such a huge move. I think there’s always hope [for Jake and Olivia].
So do you think Olivia and Fitz are over for good?
Scott: I think so, and maybe things will change. Maybe when he’s out of the White House, he will be a more viable option and a free man. But personally, I would like to see Olivia on her own for a bit. Just making choices that make her happy, regardless of the men in her life.
Is Fitz okay with Jake being Mellie’s VP?
Scott: I think he is. There is a point where Olivia goes into the Oval and she says they’re choosing Jake Ballard and he says he thinks that’s a good choice, and then he says very pointedly something like, ‘I accept your choice, not that you need my support.’ She thinks he’s talking about Jake, but he’s talking about her medical records [her abortion]. It’s a very Shonda moment. It’s a very democratic, liberal view of his stance. I don’t think Fitz has any problems in regards to Jake being Mellie’s running mate. There’s a military men bond the two of them have that is almost unbreakable. At this moment, Fitz is supportive of Jake being the vice president.
Bellamy: He might be okay with Jake. I think he knows a lot about Jake — certainly more than he’s ever shared with Mellie. He’s trusted him implicitly in the past, even after great deceit. The real hiccup would be how is he feeling about Liv in that moment and how jealous is he of the proximity it will give Jake to Liv. But the Fitz we leave in the finale of this season is a really open-hearted Fitz.
What will Fitz do next season when he’s no longer President?
Bellamy: We don’t know! I don’t know! He’s in such a dear, open moment, isn’t he? They have so much love and history and respect between them, but also so much animosity and blame and fury. I was so grateful to have that scene with Tony, and for her to really be able to hold up a mirror to him in that scene, and to his credit, for him to be able to hear it and take it in and also be able to accept Liv’s abortion, I don’t know — he really might be open-hearted Fitz now.
What about Vanessa? Where is she?! You just killed her father…
Scott: Where the hell is Vanessa? I have no idea! [laughing] She’s there to serve a purpose — to round him out and to make sure that he checks all the boxes. He obviously doesn’t love her. He said as much to Olivia a few episodes ago. She was a tool in this whole election process to make Jake a viable option, and I think at some point, she’s going to be cut loose. You’re guess is as good as mine though. I mean, really, where the hell is she? Was she in the bathroom when I was killing her dad?!
Any chance that Jake may back out of being Mellie’s running mate?
Scott: I think it’s a twofold problem. He doesn’t want to endanger himself in regards to Rowan, but also, Olivia has a hold on him and he wants to do what makes her happy and wants to do what she wants, and as much as I think he’d like to get the hell out, I don’t know if he wants to get out without Olivia. As long as she says, ‘This is what you do,’ I think this is what he’s going to be doing — until he mans up. But for now, he’s just following orders. In tonight’s episode, he says, ‘I went from being Rowan’s b-tch to your b-tch,’ and I think that’s how he feels.
Bellamy: I have no idea! Anything is possible. We could come back Season 6 a year later or we could come back and do it all again — it could have been a dream! [Laughing] We never know. That weirdly makes it fun.
What do you think about Cyrus being Frankie’s running mate?
Scott: I think it’s genius. I just wish we could have seen the conversation where he convinces Vargas that he could be the vice president. That’s the one scene I wish we could have not skipped over — I would love in some sort of flashback to see that.
Bellamy: It’s crazy, right? We lost our minds. I think that sends a chill through every spine in D.C. when that gets announced because Cyrus is such a monster and has the dirt on everyone and everyone knows that he’s capable of anything. I think that is a deep, deep terror for everyone. Mellie doesn’t know when we leave the finale, but it will shatter her. She’s a little hubris about beating Vargas, but paired with Cyrus, all bets are off. It will really be bloodbath if we come back to an election in Season 6.
How will Cyrus being Frankie’s running mate shift alliances in Season 6?
Scott: Cyrus is so good at getting people on his team and he knows exactly how to play his game. I think the dynamic between him and Olivia, as he said in tonight’s episode, it’s the old guard vs. the new guard. But yeah, you’ve got Fitz on Mellie’s side, you’ve got Abby and the Gladiators and Rowan pulling for Mellie. Cyrus is on an island by himself at this point. But I think that he really believes in this candidate — he really believes that Frankie Vargas is the best choice and the real deal. It’s going to be interesting to see if what Cyrus did to get Frankie to this point [this shooting at the capital] comes out.