SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the Season 6 premiere of “Scandal,” which aired on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Frankie Vargas (Ricardo Chavira) won the election, devastating the presidential hopeful Mellie (Bellamy Young) and Olivia (Kerry Washington) — but moments after his victory was announced, he was shot.
Fatally hit by a mystery shooter, Frankie died just moments after being elected, thus tasking Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) with appointing the next president. The sensible choice would be his running mate (Jeff Perry), but he could have also selected Mellie. He didn’t. So, Cyrus Beene is now the next president of the United States.
Olivia was determined to figure out the identity of Frankie’s shooter, especially because she thinks Cyrus has something to do with it. Liv thinks that Cyrus killed his way into the Oval Office, and she says she’s going to prove it.
When a tip comes in from a woman who worked on the Vargas campaign, Jennifer, who knows too much about Cyrus, Quinn (Katie Lowes) and Huck (Guillermo Díaz) flee to a cabin in the woods where the tip sent them, only to find the cabin exploding into flames. The only remaining evidence? Jennifer’s charred hand, which they bring back to Liv, hoping it’ll be the piece they need to prove that Cyrus was behind killing both Jennifer and Frankie.
Here, Bellamy Young talks to Variety about the Season 6 premiere of “Scandal,” and whether Cyrus will stay in office.
The premiere parallels what’s happening in American right now: electing a new president into office. Was “Scandal” influenced by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this season?
We shot the first five episodes last summer from July to September, so absolutely not…They were shot well before our American election cycle, but it’s been so interesting to come back to work in January, starting with episode six and living in a world that’s very different from the world that we were living in or the world that some of us thought we might be living in by now.
Did Cyrus kill Frankie?
Umm, umm, umm, umm…I plead the fifth! There’s no good way to answer that that doesn’t ruin some real yumminess to come. I will say that Mellie doesn’t know the truth of whether or not Cyrus actually had Frankie killed.
Do you know at what point in the season we will find out if Cyrus killed Frankie?
I don’t yet. I don’t know yet.
At the end of the episode, Liv whispers in Cyrus’ ear that she thinks he killed Frankie. Is Olivia going to try to take down Cyrus?
I think, after losing the election, Olivia was a woman in need of a mission, and she grabs it like somebody who’s drowning grabs a rope. She grabs that mission. That definitely will drive her.
Is it a possibility that Cyrus won’t remain president?
I think everything in Shondaland is a possibility.
How will Frankie being killed impact Mellie?
Frankie’s murder rocks Mellie on every level. Politically, it’s something she wanted so it could have been her standing there. It causes sort of an existential crisis in her business brain. After everything’s she’s lost, why would she keep going down such a cursed path? I think it just makes her question her life in terms of what person does she want to be and what life does she want to be living? Only Mellie would make someone’s murder about her [laughing], but those are always moments of reflection when we lose people, and I think the campaign trail has a momentum of its own and you lose yourself at some point and I think that is a sobering moment of Mellie, which immediately scares her.
Is Frankie being shot supposed to be making a statement about Latinos in office, especially after the real-life election that brought Latinos and immigrants into a controversial conversation?
That’s a really good question, but I don’t know the answer to that. You should ask Shonda that. That’s an important and relevant question. I wish I could answer it for you. But I love that we don’t let that slip by — I love that Huck has that moment of when he says that he would have been the first Latino president…It is important. Yes, America finally elected a black man, but no one else has a seat at the table. It’s important to remember there are other communities that can offer their representation.
Will the relationship between Fitz and Mellie be damaged, now that he chose Cyrus to be president over her?
I don’t think she’s surprised. I think she’s disappointed. We haven’t shot anything to address that, but Fitz has not shown up for her so many times, so I think this betrayal is not a surprise. She’s also a smart woman and she can see the logic — the people elected Frankie and Cyrus is his VP. She wants to honor the people’s choice. There’s a one percent sliver in her heart that Fitz would one day respect her and esteem her — as a colleague and give her what she deserves. So this is just another time he doesn’t. But it hurts because she knows she deserves it.
Quinn and Huck found Jennifer’s burnt hand from the exploding cabin. Will that be the evidence that proves Cyrus is behind this all?
That is definitely going to move us forward in surprising ways. To start a girl’s story with a charred hand with a ring on it blows my mind [laughing]. Jennifer’s story is crucial to Cyrus’ guilt or innocence, and we will delve as far as we can. We will get to the truth, as far as we can understand it.