Scandal's Jeff Perry Talks Blindsided Cyrus, Fitz/ Olivia Roadblocks and the 'Exquisite Hell' Ahead

Scandal Season 3 SpoilersThroughout nearly two-and-a-half seasons of ABC’s Scandal (Thursdays, 10/9c), Cyrus Beene had been able to rely on a (relatively!) stable home life whilst managing President Grant’s White House affairs (and affairs). His marriage to James, however, became picture-imperfect when a plot to dangle his hubby as bait for VP Sally Langston’s wandering mate delivered unto his Blackberry an eyeful of X-rated interactions.

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What’s the old saying — “Be careful what you conspire to frame a potential White House contender’s gay husband for”? Here, Jeff Perry shares Cyrus’ utter disorientation in the wake of James’ indiscretion, ponders whether Olivia will work her magic for Fitz again and teases one “hell” of a fall finale.

TVLINE | Cyrus has really done it now, huh?
No kidding, man. No kidding. My goodness. This is a level of miscalculation and blind spot that I don’t think we’ve seen in Cyrus.

TVLINE | And Mellie warned him, too. But he was all, “My husband is not your husband.”
Exactly. Exactly. He just pooh-poohed that. There was no reality for Cyrus that included this outcome. He had a giant emotional blind spot about this contingency. I imagine that there was a railroad train of speedy dread that led to a sleepless night after we saw Cyrus look at those pictures.

TVLINE | Would you describe him best as “shattered” or “crestfallen?”
He’s shattering. He’s shattering because I’ve got pictures of what looks like consensual adultery, useless in leveraging Sally to stay in the fold. And if I can’t keep Sally in the fold, I can’t get Fitz re-elected. And I’ve simultaneously screwed my marriage, possibly. For someone who lives for putting his finger in the dike and figuring out how to fix and keep something going forward, he’s been the architect of what could be the demise of the two things he cares about. I think he’s in a disorientation we haven’t seen before.

TVLINE | Of course, this being Shonda Rhimes, James could have just staged these photos. Maybe he and Daniel Douglas didn’t actually do anything. They were just putting on a show for the photog they knew was in the bushes.
I love that possibility.

TVLINE | Because it is Shonda.
It is Shonda.

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TVLINE | So even though Cyrus got the compromising pictures of Daniel Douglas that he sorely needed, they are now basically unusable.
As far as I can tell. I think Cyrus’ first estimation of them is, “Sally would laugh in my face.” Who am I going to release this to? It looks like consensual adultery.

TVLINE | This week’s episode is titled “YOLO,” raising the question: How did it take this long for Scandal to title an episode “YOLO”?
That’s a writer question. One for our professional surprisers!

TVLINE | Now that Olivia’s a free agent again, TONY GOLDWYN, KERRY WASHINGTONis it going to take some negotiation to get her back on board the Re-Elect Fitz train?
Yeah. I don’t think that will be easy, but I can certainly imagine Mellie and Cyrus trying.

TVLINE | What would Olivia’s reservations now be? Because she and Fitz seem to have arrived at some sort of peace regarding what he did or didn’t do to her mother, with whatever intentions, all those years ago.
But I think the Earth is so scorched from the time that we first got Fitz elected. And from the revelation that we cheated to do it. And that the participants now know that we cheated to do it. And there’s Olivia trying to find redemption somewhere, going back to the “white hat.” There’s that firewall between what was and what she wants to be. There are some big emotional roadblocks.

TVLINE | And granted, we’re talking about D.C. politics, but could she in good conscience help keep in office a man who did do this thing – shooting down a passenger plane – regardless of the agenda?
That’s another great question.

TVLINE | Fitz, last we saw, was resolved to take down B-613. Is Cyrus going to fight him every step of the way, fearing for his own life amongst other things?JOE MORTON, JEFF PERRY
Cyrus considers Rowan the scariest animal on the planet and takes every warning and every threat deeply to heart. So, yeah, I think just as we’ve seen so far, he would try to dissuade Fitz from any encroachment on that firewall.

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TVLINE | Turning to the fall finale (airing Dec. 12), I’m going to walk you through the official press release and you’re going to tease it best you can. It starts, “Now that the truth is out there, things will never be the same.” What sorts of truth? Big truths? Juicy truths?
Well, what are the possibilities? For James and Cyrus, who are right on the edge at the end of the last episode we’ve seen, there’s the possibility, just like in the naked scene, of the truth of the situation being uttered between them — and where do you go from there? The truth of what happened in Remington is on a precipice, so there’s possibility of the full reveal of that….

TVLINE | And the second part reads, “Everyone will have to face the consequences of their actions.” Does that include Cyrus?
It does include Cyrus. And I can tease it to the extent that Shonda and the writers have Cyrus in some exquisite hell, unlike anything we’ve seen him go through.

TVLINE | Actors love exquisite hell.
Exactly. That’s a blast.

TVLINE | So, no shinier, happier second half of the season (premiering Feb. 27), I take it?
Someone posed a question, “Would Scandal cease to exist if anybody gets too happy?” And I laughed and thought, “You know, you’ve got something there. Yeah, it probably would.” A fuel of discontent and anxiety is probably pretty central to the fuel at Scandal!

Want more scoop on Scandal, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.