8:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Scandal' Case Study: Jeff Perry on the Rift Between Fitz and Cyrus
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's "Whisky Tango Foxtrot" episode of Scandal.]
Ten months have passed since Fitzgerald Grant learned the stunning truth that Mellie, Cyrus, Olivia, Hollis and Verna rigged the presidential election in his favor on ABC's Scandal.
During Thursday's episode, time hasn't healed many wounds for anyone -- especially Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), who has taken to drinking to mask the pain of being betrayed by those he once held nearest and dearest.
While Olivia (Kerry Washington) has figured out that Fitz has connected them to Defiance, Cyrus (Jeff Perry) is unwilling to believe it -- despite the fact that the president is pushing his chief of staff away and blatantly ignores his advice when four American operatives are taken hostage and when the staff discovers that there's a mole in the White House.
Meanwhile, Mellie (Bellamy Young) -- again using her position as first lady to her benefit -- pins the entire election-rigging on Cyrus, driving the wedge between the president and his "bulldog" even further.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Perry to talk about the rift between Cyrus and Fitz, Olivia taking on David (Josh Malina) as a client, what Cyrus' relationship is like with Capt. Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) and whether or not Ballard is the mole.
The Hollywood Reporter: How long will Cyrus allow the president to shut him out?
Jeff Perry: When Fitz screws up, Cyrus puts on his dad hat, and when Cyrus screws up, Fitz is the dad whose love Cyrus must win back. Cyrus is in the doghouse until Fitz says he's not!
THR: What needs to happen before Cyrus comes clean to Fitz about his role in Defiance?
Perry: Right now, Cyrus -- like in the naked scene with James -- will probably fess up, but only if there is no other option.
THR: Olivia warned Cyrus that Fitz was aware of their role in the election-rigging. Will Cyrus turn to Mellie with the problems he's having with the president?
Perry: Like you saw tonight, Cyrus and Mellie's relationship is quite complicated. They're both political animals, and they'll help each other if it helps themselves, but they'll also turn on each other in a second.
THR: When and if Cyrus does come clean to Fitz about Defiance, how will Mellie's lies about his role in the election-rigging be received? Will Fitz believe him or Mellie?
Perry: Fitz doesn't know whom to believe anymore. I don't know if he'll ever believe either of them again -- but when he does receive that news, it will either be with veteran aplomb or infantile aggression or something in between.
THR: Mellie and Cyrus are a lot alike, both new parents who don't particularly seem to like babies, and both bulldogs in their own right. How will their similarities cause trouble for Cyrus?
Perry: Circumstances are everything. Bedfellows or adversaries when it serves the greater good, and again, like you saw in this episode, they will do whatever it takes to get their way. Whether that's working with each other, against each other or some level of both.
THR: There's a mole in the Pentagon. How much worse will we see things get for Fitz as a president as he continues to shut Cyrus out?
Perry: Much worse. Fitz can't do the job on his own, and he needs someone to be the bad guy, someone to help make decisions. No one can take his pressure all on themselves. If he continues to shut out everyone in his circle, he's either going to implode or will have to start relying on someone else. And knowing Cyrus, he won't let that happen.
THR: David recovers Wendy's flash-drive with major classified information on it. Can we expect Olivia and Cyrus to work together to help flush out the mole?
Perry: I hope so -- I adore working with Livvie! (Laughs.) But Olivia is not very welcome in the White House right now, so she may have to use her other relationships to get to the bottom of it.
THR: What's Cyrus' relationship like with Captain Jake Ballard (Scott Foley)? What interaction will Cyrus have with Ballard, who we presume is the mole?
Perry: Honestly, I don't know yet if Cyrus even knows who Ballard is! What I can say is Ballard does have history with someone in the White House, so as the story unfolds, it will be interesting to see how Cyrus reacts to that.
THR: How will Cyrus respond to knowing Olivia is working for David?
Perry: Cyrus will calculate the pros and cons. David is a good guy in the same way that James is a good guy. They both just uncovered a dirty little secret. As long as David doesn't do anything to threaten Cyrus, Fitz or their political careers, he should be fine with it. But you never know what will happen. (Laughs.)
THR: How is Cyrus and James' relationship different now that they're parents?
Perry: To be discovered, but Cyrus loves James like crazy and loves their baby more than he lets on.
THR: Can we expect James to get antsy as a stay-at-home dad and return to reporting?
Perry: I bet that's right, but we'll have to see. We've seen what happens when James tries to walk away from something that piques his interest.
THR: Might we see David confide in James about the Wendy case?
Perry: If he needs James' expertise, maybe. Cyrus' husband is a hell of a journalist and he's relentless! But he also sold David out on trial, so I don't know if David would ever really trust him again.
What did you think of the Scandal time-jump? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.