In addition to setting the stage for a brutal final season, Thursday’s two-hour Scandal finale posed a crucial philosophical question: How many different hats can one Gladiator wear at once?
TVLine spoke with Bellamy Young (aka Madam President!) about the episode’s biggest twists, but first, a quick recap: Following Jake’s discovery that Maya intended to assassinate Mellie on Inauguration Day, OPA launched a full investigation into Mama Pope’s whereabouts, eventually tracking her down… only to discover that she was merely being paid by none other than Luna Vargas. (I’ll admit it, I gasped.) Frankie’s “grieving” widow was then given an ultimatum by Jake and Olivia — kill yourself, or we’ll kill you — to which she chose Option A.
Meanwhile, after revealing that she’s pregnant with Charlie’s baby, Quinn asked Abby to take over as the head of OPA; Fitz decided to leave D.C. to operate his foundation in Vermont; Olivia opted to reinstate B613, with herself as its new leader; and it was ultimately revealed that Cyrus was the one who filled Luna’s head with all those crazy ideas, as part of a much larger scheme to get power for himself. Given all of that, is it any surprise that Olivia — in the episode’s final moments — appeared to side with Cyrus, telling him not to leave D.C. so she could make him Mellie’s new vice president?
Like I said, lots of curveballs this week. So let’s break ’em all down with Young:
TVLINE | First of all, congratulations just on surviving this finale.
[Laughs] Oh, It was a nail biter, wasn’t it? And I don’t take anything for granted in Shondaland. I certainly never imagined that I would get to be president, much less that I would survive that horrible threat from Mama Pope.
TVLINE | And then to find out that Luna had been in on it…
That was a real shock, too, because she’s been nothing but girl power and support. She’s been such a formidable partner on this road. Mellie hasn’t found that out yet, and I don’t know how that will all play out next year, but I think it will really gut her to think that Luna had anything to do with it.
TVLINE | What was your reaction to that death scene?
You know, Tessie [Santiago] played Luna with such heart and so much depth. I actually haven’t seen her last scene yet, but I’m sure, at the very least, she’s gorgeous in it — she’s such a beautiful woman. That was a really difficult position Luna was put in, I don’t think she really had a choice.
TVLINE | And then there was that Cyrus bombshell at the end. If he really ends up as her vice president, could you see them even possibly getting along?
That was the biggest reveal for me, that Cyrus was the one behind it all. But I don’t think Mellie ever underestimates him. When she’s in a room with him, she doesn’t let her guard down. She never thinks, “Oh, he might really be on my side.” So were they to be teamed, I think she’d appreciate him as an asset — no one knows Washington like Cyrus — but she wouldn’t for a moment forget that she’s making a deal with the Devil.
TVLINE | It’s looking like Fitz is heading to Vermont and leaving Liv behind. Is that a couple you root for, even though you used to play Fitz’s wife?
Gosh, I’m definitely a romantic. I believe in love, which — as an audience member — makes me want to pull for them. But I’m also curious to see what next year will bring for our Tony [Goldwyn]. We love him so dearly, and we want him around, so I’m excited to see how that plays out.
TVLINE | What does it mean, for you, to be playing the Scandal universe’s first female president?
Well, [Sally Langston] got to be president for a minute when Fitz was in a coma. So Mellie’s not exactly the first, but the first one to come from an election. And I think it’s huge. America’s really behind the rest of the world in terms of female leadership, and I think it was very important for our creator — and for many of us — to show that inauguration, to show Americans watching a woman being inaugurated. This was always such a dream of Mellie’s, but gosh, that crucible she was in, especially in that last chapter with Peus and the Mystery Woman and Mama Pope. She had to surrender the frivolity of it being her dream and really embrace the mission of service. Public office should be a service, so it stopped being about her and started being about the nation and the world and what it could mean to be willing to die to give the world that moment. And she was willing. So I hope that nobility and sense of purpose follows her into the White House.
TVLINE | Lastly, with Olivia running B613 and working as Mellie’s chief of staff, I imagine things will get… complicated, let’s say?
[Laughs] We’ll see! I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. We could go forward in time, who knows? … Mellie really still believes in Olivia. She still thinks that if you have a hard question, you go to Olivia. She won’t give you the easy answer, she’ll give you the honest answer. When Mellie loses herself, she turns to Olivia to remind herself who she is. So there’s a lot of room next year, if we go forward, for Mellie and Olivia to have a lot of friction. Olivia now has all the good power in the White House and all the evil power in B613.
Your thoughts on the finale? Hopes for Season 7? Grade the episode below, then drop a comment with your full review.