Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season 5 finale of Scandal. Read at your own risk!
That’s one way to get in the White House!
Even though Olivia (Kerry Washington) truly believed she was saving Jake (Scott Foley) from Rowan (Joe Morton) by getting him on Mellie’s (Bellamy Young) ticket as the Republican VP nominee, OPA’s lead Gladiator played right into the hands of her father and Cyrus (Jeff Perry), who was then free to become the running mate to Francisco Vargas (Ricardo Chavira). (Read our postmortem on that twist with Bellamy Young here.)
Was Jake in on this plan the whole time? Does that mean his speech about wanting to be normal was a ruse? EW turned to Foley to get some answers:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is Jake still working for Rowan right now? Was this all part of Rowan’s plan, and he was in on it?
SCOTT FOLEY: It was all part of Rowan’s plan. We know that Rowan has been gunning for the Oval, for the White House, for power again. Up until the Vargas campaign fiasco, I think Jake was being let in on the plan. I don’t think he was in full agreement with it, obviously. Now he has no idea. I could be wrong; we could come back next season and you could see Jake and Rowan sitting down scheming like, “Hey, we did it!” and clinking champagne glasses. But everything that I worked with, character-wise and motivation-wise in this episode, is that Jake had no idea that this was going to happen, and this was Olivia’s way of saving him, of getting him out.
There’s that scene between Jake and Olivia right before she says, “Get your ass up and get on that stage,” and he says, “I went from being his bitch to yours,” where he believes that he’s free, he’s out, and he’s safe. He says, “Let’s go live a normal life, let’s have normal kids and unimpressive lives. We can do this and live in this crappy house.” I think that’s what he wants. He wants so badly to not be under someone’s thumb, and all of a sudden, he’s back under someone’s thumb, but this time it’s Olivia’s. He’s much more comfortable with that than when it was Rowan.
From the beginning of the show, Jake was 10 steps ahead of everyone, very strong, very put together. Then we saw that flashback episode where we learned how he ended up in B613. Were you surprised — and don’t be offended by this — by how weak he was?
No, and I’m not offended by that either. Seeing how he became Jake Ballard, how he got to where he was, there’s airs that people put on and things they have to believe. Whether you want to call it Stockholm syndrome or being beat into submission for so many months and years by Rowan, he truly had gotten to the point where he believed he was doing the right thing. He believed that all these murders and things he was doing was for the good of the Republic. That gave him strength believing he was doing the right thing, even though deep down somewhere, he knew that he was under someone else’s control.
There’s a power that we all have to a certain degree. Look, you are a quasi-famous — as I call myself semi-famous — reporter for Entertainment Weekly, a very prestigious, prominent publication. Your name is on the bylines, and you have a Twitter account that a bunch of people follow. When you go to these red carpet things, people save a space for you, so you walk in with your chest out and your head held up high. You’re talking to people who want to talk to you. There’s a certain air of confidence you have. Jake had that same thing. He’d be trained, he was dedicated, he was respected. There was a confidence to him and a badass thing that he had. Getting to see behind that shell in that Jake-centric episode, and then watching him say he wants to go stand in the sun and he’s been trying to break free for a while — to know why he wanted to break free is a really interesting thing.
Jake has ended up as Mellie’s running mate. Does he realize that even if he gets into the White House, he’s basically still tied to Rowan?
I don’t know if he does right now, but I think he will. I don’t know how he doesn’t realize that. Look, you basically have Cyrus on an island with Frankie Vargas. On Mellie’s side, you’ve got Jake, Olivia, Abby, the Gladiators, Fitz — you’ve got everybody behind Mellie. Once Jake realizes [that Rowan] is on the same team, that’s going to cause some concern. As much as we all think that Olivia and Jake are on the same team and they’re against Rowan, Rowan still controls Olivia. She can come into his house, take Jake, and Jake can walk away, but Rowan has a grasp on all of them. It’s going to be so terrifyingly interesting to see what happens.
How do you think Mellie and Jake will work together? You guys haven’t really had scenes together before.
No, we haven’t. I love Bellamy, and we see each other all the time and cross paths, but I don’t remember us saying anything to each other ever. If Jake believes that Olivia believes this is the only way to save him, I think he’s going to be on board. He fits the suit, to [borrow] a Brady Bunch term. He’s male, he’s military, he’s married, he’s everything that Mellie wants in a vice president. He’s a great choice for her. I can’t see them not working well together until the subculture of B613 gets a hold of him again. With Rowan at the helm still, I have a hard time seeing any way out for Jake and Olivia.
Olivia has basically become the new Rowan in a lot of ways. How does Jake feel about that? Does he still have feelings for her?
I think there will always be feelings for her. That’s why he was so — even though he fought it a bit — quick to put his tie on and head out on that stage with Mellie Grant and be the vice president. He would do whatever she wants, and not even to a point; he would do whatever she wants as long as there’s still hope for them. As long as Jake’s breathing, he believes there’s hope for them.
With Rowan pulling the strings, do you think Jake is one heartbeat away from the presidency? Should we be worried about Mellie at this point?
That’s terrifying, right? Rowan doesn’t just want a vice president in the Oval Office, he wants a president. Any candidate that stands in that way is in great danger — be it Mellie, be it Vargas, be it whomever. I was much more afraid, honestly, for Frankie Vargas with Jake as his running mate than I am for Mellie, but that doesn’t discount the fact that should Mellie and Jake get elected, Jake is one death away from being the President of the United States. That is a legitimate concern that both you and I share for Bellamy Young’s Mellie Grant.
When Rowan was holding that gun to Jake’s head, did you think there was a chance that Jake would not survive?
Absolutely. At the table read, we read the script cold, and my hands were shaking as I turned the page after Rowan puts the gun up. You never know what the hell he’s going to do. There’s always a fear, ever since they killed off Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, that it’s a great way to get some ratings. You just never know these days. And we’re all so happy to be a part of this show. We’re all hopeful to stick around, because we love the work environment. We understand, however, that storylines are what they are. I was nervous.
Jake also killed his father-in-law in the finale, which is really just one more in a long list that Jake has committed. But do you fear this may be the one to come back to haunt him now that he’s the VP candidate?
I don’t think he’s worried about that one, particularly. If there’s anything to be worried about, I think it’s the background and the history as a whole. With one call, with one folder delivered to Washington Post or to the right outlet, everything could be over. You could see in Jake’s eyes when he did this to Vanessa’s father that he doesn’t believe in it like he used to. He doesn’t believe that doing that is good for the Republic. He knows that it’s Rowan pulling these power strings. There are a lot of things that could come back to haunt him, that being just one of many.
Who do you think will win in the election? Vote in the poll below, and sound off in the comments: