‘Scandal’s’ New President In Her Game-Changing Season 6 Finale

BELLAMY YOUNG

ABC’s Scandal wrapped up its sixth season by introducing a new president — and a new, darker version of Olivia Pope! Yeah, really darker version.  Downright evil, in fact.   After successfully getting Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) elected and sworn in as the show’s next president of the United States, Olivia finally cracked who was behind Frankie Vargas’ assassination.

TONY GOLDWYN, BELLAMY YOUNG

The culprit was Frankie’s wife, Luna Vargas. Only Cyrus (Jeff Perry) was the puppet master who put the notion that Luna would be more effective in the White House if she were the widowed vice president of the United States.

 

While Olivia (Kerry Washington) cracked the case — with Quinn (Katie Lowes) and the rest of OPA, which officially welcomed Abby (Darby Stanchfield) back into the fold — she went dark in the process. Olivia used her power as Mellie’s chief of staff to push through orders to reinstate black-ops group B613. But rather than bringing her father, Rowan (Joe Morton), back to run it, Olivia instead takes on the role of Command, becoming what Cyrus dubbed the “most powerful person in the world.” And her first order? Nominating Cyrus — as the new VP after successfully eliminating the Luna threat.

Bellamy Young spoke with THR overnight.

When did you know that season seven would be it for Scandal and how did you and the rest of the cast respond? 

Shonda just told us last week so we’ve known for a week. It was a difficult conversation but she’s right and we know she’s right. She’s always said she knew where the story starts and she knows where the story ends. She wanted to go out on a high and finish it the way she wanted to — and not overstay our time at the ball. But it was still crushing for all of us because we’ve become such a family.


Were there tears? Did anyone pitch alternatives to keep it going or spinoffs?

No one pitched alternative ideas, spinoffs or extensions. We were grateful — shocked and a little speechless. Kerry stepped up as our thoughtful, heartfelt and eloquent leader and was able to speak for all of our hearts and thank Shonda for this ride and be appreciative that we get another year together to really bring it home in the way we know we can.

BELLAMY YOUNG, TESSIE SANTIAGO, JESSE D. GOINS

Did you talk about the ultimate series finale and what Shonda has mind?

We don’t even ask; we trust her completely and didn’t get into that. We accepted the news and we all knew that our days were number when we did 15 episodes this season and thought it might be the beginning of the end. So much changed this year in terms of our real world and the way that our writers found to tell the story that we got our hopes up that maybe they would all be reinvigorated and would stay with it longer. But I can’t say that any of us were genuinely surprised by Shonda’s announcement. We were sad and took it in and then in fine Scandal family fashion, had a love fest and were grateful for our time and to have all of next season to see where these characters land.

 

How much do you know about season seven? Do you have an episode count? Will there be a time jump?

I don’t know anything content. I was told 18 episodes, but I don’t know that that’s reliable information.

 

In terms of the finale, how does Olivia going dark and reinstating (and running) B613 set up what’s to come in season seven?

We’ve always had some major cliffhanger but this is such a different circumstance this year because it’s the end of an administration so everyone is reinvented. What is Fitz going to do? Where is Abby going to go? Will Mellie finally get to be president? Thank heavens, yes! Bhat’s interesting is where Olivia will be in terms of her morality. We’ve seen a very heroic Olivia with a lot of white hat wearing. We’ve seen a very dark Olivia in the days of kidnapping. Papa Pope has an incredible bit of material in the finale about how absolute power corrupts and has to leave so that Olivia doesn’t have any weaknesses. Olivia’s moral fiber is being put on trial by having all — she has unlimited power both in the light and the dark: she has the White House and B613. It will be an interesting time and a befitting ultimate final chapter for finding out who Olivia Pope really is. And she’ll be finding out as we do. It’s going to be a really interesting last year.

 

Do you have a sense about the theme of the final season?

It’s good vs. evil. That also resonates politically for the people who work on the show creatively — especially with where we are in the world right now. We’ve done a lot with racial politics but with Mellie in the White House and Quinn being pregnant, there’s fertile opportunity to explore gender politics in the workplace.

 

What kind of president will Mellie be?

It’s interesting when something you wanted your whole life finally shows up. Who are you anymore without the identity of wanting it? Can you be the person you thought in your dreams you would be? This last chapter of trying to become president was formative for Mellie. She went through hell and had a very naïve notion of being president instead of being the president. Now that it’s a reality, I hope it will ground her in her power. She fluttered above power for years because so much of her opposition was ornamental and not functional. I hope she’ll allow herself to come from a place of truth and, if not integrity, strength and wisdom. But it will be interesting with Olivia having gone so dark to see how much friction there is between the two of them next year.BELLAMY YOUNG

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   ABC
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