Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Scandal. Read at your own risk.
The true mastermind behind the assassination of Frankie Vargas was revealed during the finale — and for now, the culprit will go unpunished.
At first, it seemed as though Olivia’s (Kerry Washington) mother Maya (Khandi Alexander) was at fault, but it was revealed she was actually hired to assassinate Mellie (Bellamy Young) at the inauguration. However, Maya planned to kill who she believed was the real mastermind, Luna Vargas (Tessie Santiago), but was thwarted.
Olivia uncovered the truth about Luna, who revealed she didn’t want her husband to compromise once he took office — his death would galvanize his ideals. And who better to push that agenda along than the Jackie O-like widow? Olivia — who effectively turned to the dark side in the finale, reinstating B613 and becoming the new Command — basically blackmails Luna into killing herself in order to die a hero, not a villain, in the public’s eye.
But Olivia soon discovered the real mastermind was none other than Cyrus (Jeff Perry), who planted the idea in Luna’s head. Sure, she hired Peus and Ruland, but Cyrus knew Olivia wouldn’t let Luna live to see the Oval, thus she’d look to Cyrus as a potential VP in the wake of Luna’s demise — and she does! Shocking as it may be, Olivia still plans to nominate Cyrus. Why? EW turned to Bellamy Young to get the scoop.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you started off the season seeing that Mellie wouldn’t win, did you ever think you’d be here getting sworn in?
BELLAMY YOUNG: No, no, no, no. I didn’t. I certainly had hoped almost as deeply as Mellie did. I try to stay very laissez-faire about what our writers decide to do, but as Mellie has lived with this dream, it’s certainly gotten into my marrow too. But I didn’t ever dare imagine that she’d get it. That’s where we diverge, because I think Mellie had to hold steely resolve and really hold it clear in her mind to make it happen. I wasn’t sure until my hand was on that bible, and I’m still not sure where we’ll come back when we start season 7, but I’ll tell you what, sitting in that beautiful lady oval at the end of season 6 was some of the most delicious moments of my year.
That is, of course, followed by the twisted reveal that it was Cyrus who masterminded Frankie Vargas’ death. This was the one person she reached out to in the finale, offering him an olive branch. How do you think Mellie would feel about learning he’s responsible?
Not surprised. I’m not going to say surprised, because in as much as Mellie may remain naïve to Olivia’s potential for finding her power in the dark instead of the light, I don’t think she, for a moment, allows herself to drop her guard around Cyrus. But I think she’s still trying to think of Cyrus as an ally because, in Washington, there’s no one better. He’s a paragon, he’s brilliant, but he’s also absolutely able. You know you’re making a deal with the devil when you shake hands with Cyrus Beene, so I don’t think she’d be at all surprised. She’d be surprised that Olivia had any hand in it.
Do you think Olivia wants to nominate Cyrus to keep B613 a secret or because she knows Cyrus will get stuff done?
I just think that — and I know nothing, so this is just me thinking — our story has always been a meditation on power, right? For our final season, for Olivia truly to be finding out who she is and us finding out with her, having the opportunity of having all the power for the good in the White House and all the power for the evil with B613, I just think that last scene with Cyrus is setting season 7 up brilliantly for the war to be inside Olivia Pope, for good or evil. The rest of us will be soldiers on the battlefield, and some will fall and some will rise, but it will certainly be a maelstrom inside of her that we will all be swept up in.
Mellie and Olivia have come so far in their relationship, so how do you think Mellie will feel about Olivia going so dark next season and maybe manipulating her?
I love it. I love the opportunity for friction, for great diabolical, cataclysmic confrontation, because definitely, Mellie has always believed that if you had a hard question, you turn to Olivia to give you not the easy answer, but the honest answer. Whenever Mellie has lost her way and forgotten who she is, she’s turned to Olivia to remind her. Even when they’ve been at odds, Olivia has always been respectful of Mellie. I cannot say the same for Mellie. Mellie has said some terrible things to Olivia and some very disgraceful, degrading things. But that even factors more into the fact that Mellie holds Olivia in such esteem. So for the audience to know that Olivia is really on this precipice of finding out who she is, like a real existential moment, and for Mellie to be interacting with her in what we know is a naïve belief that she is the same Olivia that she’s always known her to be, there’s opportunity for great betrayal, great drama, great TV. It hurts my heart, because I have loved the triumph of heart that they’ve had in the last couple of seasons. After coming to know each other as a wife and mistress, their relationship began in betrayal, but out of mutual respect healed itself into an incredible partnership. So, as a romantic, I am sad to think about what’s ahead in the next chapter, but as a fan, I think it’s going to be really juicy.
How would Mellie feel about something like B613 existing during her presidency and Olivia being the head of it?
I think she believes in a much more normative paradigm of democracy, so I think she’ll be utterly seminally shaken. I think she wants to believe [in good], even after all her years in Washington. It’s not that she’s naïve to the way the world works, but I don’t think she can imagine that things can be quite so nefarious. She wants to think that situations like Peus and Mystery Woman are aberrant, not the norm and just how the wheel is turned. Finding out at all about B613, much less that Olivia is running it, would be absolutely — even including Fitz’s betrayal — one of the absolute darkest days of her life. It would utterly shake the foundations that she believes in.
What kind of danger is Mellie in now that Cyrus will possibly be a heartbeat away from the oval next season?
I think she’s in constant danger. Anyone in Cyrus’ way is in constant danger. She has, again, a rather naïve notion. Without any uncertainty, with complete clarity, understands that, at any moment, he would betray her, sell her out, stage a coup. Even after all the Peus and Mystery Woman [stuff], I don’t think she understands that literally her life is in danger. Again, in this last chapter with Maya, Peus, and Mystery Woman, Mellie had to surrender herself to a higher goal. This dream is not just hers anymore. She knows that it’s important for the country and she had to make her peace in offering her life. If she were killed during the inauguration, she knew it was still the most important thing she could do in her lifetime, that America see a woman being inaugurated. So I think she’s actually already made her surrender in some ways, she just doesn’t know that the threat might be sitting at her right hand.
How did you feel when you found out season 7 would be the final season?
I was gutted. Gosh, I mean there’s nothing sadder than the thought of not being with this family every moment of every day. You know how much we love each other. It was not a shock, because we all knew that Shonda knows where the show is going to end. And we knew that our days were numbered and that’s why we’ve been so grateful for every second we got, but it was still impossibly hard to hear. The truth of it was gutting, but you know what? They didn’t say, “Thanks a lot, six seasons was great,” they said, “You’ve got another year,” and we’re going to tell this story in the most cataclysmic way and bring these characters home and go out on a high. We’re really grateful for that. It’ll just make us love this more. Hopefully we’ll all live in each other’s hearts always.
Scandal will return to ABC this fall.