Thursday’s season finale of Scandal turned an already intense presidential race into a full-blown political war, complete with a casualty.
TVLine spoke with Scott Foley — soon to be known as Vice President Jake Ballard — about the episode’s biggest twists, but first, a quick recap:
In order to free him from Rowan’s clutches, Olivia got Jake to step in as Mellie’s vice president — but only after Rowan nearly put a bullet through Jake’s brain and, of course, after Jake murked Vanessa’s father for a few bucks. In the episode’s final moments, we learned that getting Jake on the Republican ticket has been Rowan’s plan this whole time… along with successfully transforming his daughter into Rowan 2.0.
Over in the Democratic corner, Cyrus somehow convinced Frankie to select him as his running mate, a decision which led Cyrus to end things with Tom and reunite with his picture-perfect family.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Fitz discovered Olivia’s medical records on Abby’s desk, and told her he approved of her decision. (She, of course, thought he was talking about the decision to name Jake as Mellie’s running mate. But a nice moment is a nice moment, right?)
OK, time to start grilling Foley…
TVLINE | For the record, when I found out I’d be talking to you, I thought, ‘They’re totally killing him off.’
Right? I’m pretty happy about not being killed off. Three kids and private school? I’m happy to still have a job.
TVLINE | Are you at all surprised Jake has survived this long? He seems like he’s living on borrowed time.
On a show like Scandal, you’re grateful for every episode you get, but I’m not totally surprised. Between you and me, and I’m sure I’m going to piss a bunch of people off by saying this, I think Olivia has chosen him already. And she’s done so in such a way that actually saved his life. Olivia didn’t want to break Jake’s heart at his wedding a few weeks ago, but in doing that, we got to see that she really does love him. He’s the one that she’s chosen. That’s not to say that things won’t be different once Fitz is out of the White House; there’s always going to be an interest there. But I think there’s still room for her to grow with Jake.
TVLINE | Given everything he’s done, you still see Jake’s happy ending with Olivia as a possibility?
Yes, it’s absolutely something I see. I’ve always said that Jake does these bad things with the Republic’s best interest in mind, but now I’m starting to think he’s also doing a lot of this to find a way for he and Liv to be together. He’s gotten sucked up in the past few episodes in being vice president, in Rowan’s plan to make him a viable candidate — whether it’s marrying Vanessa or killing her father for the money. He’s been doing that because he’s been forced to, but in the back of his mind, he’ll do whatever he can to stay around to make sure Olivia knows he’s still there.
TVLINE | Is it possible that Jake is still working with Rowan?
I mean, there’s always a possibility we’re going to find out that Jake knew about Rowan’s plan all along, but I don’t think so. I think Jake knew about the plan with Vargas, but that was before he broke free. … Meanwhile, Cyrus is kind of an island unto himself right now. Everybody else — Jake, Olivia, Fitz and the Gladiators — are all behind Jake and Mellie. It looks like that’s the campaign to beat.
TVLINE | When he does find out what Rowan is up to, might Jake throw the election to avoid handing Rowan more power?
Oh man, to blow the whole thing up? That’s an interesting idea. I think it would be something that, once they’ve figured out this was part of Rowan’s plan, and that he might still have control over them if they win, that’s a very viable option. But even that’s terrifying, because that puts Cyrus in the White House — and nobody wants that.
TVLINE | It feels like the presidential candidates are the friendly faces, while the VPs are the ones doing the dirty work. In your mind, what is that Jake/Cyrus showdown going to look like?
At this point, Jake doesn’t want to be there. He even said that to Olivia: “I’ve gone from being his bitch to being yours.” If Jake embraces his role here, then there will be a Cyrus/Jake showdown, and there would be a lot of questions coming into play there. Once this episode airs, I don’t know when we’re going to come back on, but it’s going to be a while. Even though the United States is embroiled in its own political campaign right now, are people going to be tired of elections? Do they want to watch more elections on Scandal? That’s something the writers have to wrestle with. Maybe it’ll blow up in the first episode back, or maybe there will be a time jump.
TVLINE | As you said, he’s gone from Rowan’s bitch to Liv’s bitch. Do you think there’s a part of him that enjoys being someone’s bitch?
I don’t know if he enjoys it, but it’s definitely comfortable for him. It’s a place he’s been for a long, long time. We saw that a few weeks back in that Jake-centric episode. … We all fall into these roles in life, and that’s the role Jake has: to serve. I’m totally replacing “to serve” with “being a bitch,” right? It’s the same thing. I think he’s having a hard time breaking out of it. He’s so good at it.
TVLINE | I spoke with Bellamy Young about the table read for this finale, and how everyone lost their minds. Which moments surprised you the most?
Jake becoming Mellie’s running mate was a shock; I thought he was going to be Vargas’. I also want to see the scene where Cyrus convinces Vargas that he’s the right guy — how did he manage to do that? The biggest shocker for me, though, came after Fitz read the file Abby had on Liv. It was a great scene between the two of them in the Oval Office. … Without being too preachy, to hear the President of the United States say to a woman who aborted his child, “I respect your choice, not that you need my support” was a really surprising moment to me. You don’t expect to see something like that, especially done that well, on network television.
Your thoughts on Scandal’s big finish? Grade the episode below, then drop a comment with your full review.