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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Scandal‘s “Beltway Unbuckled” episode.]
Mellie has gone off the deep end.
During Thursday’s Scandal, the first lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) asked for and seemed to receive a seat at the “adult’s table” when she takes it upon herself to get in the middle of the latest political battle between Olivia and President Fitzgerald Grant.
During the episode, she shockingly sides with Olivia (Kerry Washington) and forces the president (Tony Goldwyn) to do something he was previously opposed to — sending a foreign diplomat with immunity out of the country and bringing justice to an American family whose daughter he killed.
But Mellie’s secrets don’t end there. In the closing moments, after David (Joshua Malina) and Abby (Darby Stanchfield) were revealed to form a deeper connection as she discovered his secret investigation into the Quinn Perkins case, Mellie was revealed to be part of a secret circle of sorts consisting of Fitz’s chief of staff Cyrus (Jeff Perry), Olivia, Sen. Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) and Supreme Court Justice Verna Thornton (Debra Mooney).
So how is Mellie connected to everything? Will she use her political power for good (read: Fitz) or evil (read: to further her own agenda)? The Hollywood Reporter turned to co-star Young to weigh in on Mellie’s secrets and what’s next for the Shonda Rhimes political soap.
The Hollywood Reporter: Mellie is involved in the secret circle connected to the Quinn Perkins case. Is this a new development? Is this the first time they’ve worked together?
Bellamy Young: I think you’ll see that Mellie’s had her fingers in more pies than you imagined; she tends to find a way to the center of things. This secret circle came together for a very specific reason, which will soon be revealed, but Mellie has deep ties to everyone at that table. She knows where all the skeletons are buried.
Is this Mellie’s seat at the adult’s table or was she there before?
Absolutely she was there before. She’s quick to remind Cyrus that she wants things back to the way they were during the campaign, but believe me, in many ways Mellie built the table. I’m not sure this is the life Fitz would have chosen for himself. These are Mellie’s dreams and she has a very clear idea about how to achieve them.
How will they work to diffuse the David Rosen problem?
Tenaciously and ingeniously. More than that, I cannot say. (Laughs)
Might Olivia flag that Abby is starting to be more of a problem?
Olivia has a lot on her plate at the moment, but never underestimate the power of her perception, or the loyalty of her allies. In many ways this episode is about allegiance. Abby is finding her path, but don’t doubt that Olivia is one step ahead of all of us. Or most of us.
Mellie is working to protect Quinn’s secrets from being exposed and she tends to stick with things that benefit her in the end these days. What does she stand to benefit from this? Or is this still working to protect Fitz’s presidency?
Mellie’s best interest is protecting Fitz’s presidency. Beyond that, you will have to wait and see just how right you are.
What kind of ties does president have to Quinn? Is he aware of this secret circle?
Sometimes things need to be done and sometimes those who need them done need not to know about them. (Laughs.)
How will Mellie continue to use her position as first lady against the president?
(Laughs) What?! Mellie would never use her position against the president. Mellie simply seizes on any opportunity at hand to make sure Fitz stays on course — her idea of the course. As for using things against Fitz — the man who is breaking her heart — in that case, she’s willing and ready to unload her arsenal. And that arsenal is mighty and merciless.
She’s treading on unstable ground with Fitz already at the end of his rope with her. How much farther can she push him?
Fitz and Mellie are in a very complex dance: We’re meeting them in a very dark moment but there are decades of love, life and experiences together that can’t be discounted. There is so much history. There’s also the element of his guilt because at the end of the day he is a good man and that alone buys Mellie’s misbehavior a little latitude. But when you’re hurting, you can be more cruel to the one you love than you would be to anyone else. It’s just an ugly truth of life. And their marriage has been slowly going off course for a while. There is so much pain on both their parts that the pain and the pushback has almost become their norm. It’s so sad. I hold great hope for Fitz and Mellie. I know I’m alone in this, but I do! (Laughs.)
How else will Olivia and Mellie work together?
When they are on the same page, there’s really no stopping them. To be so completely different, we have an amazing amount in common and we each are masters at getting things done. I mourn the amazing friendship that Mellie and Olivia would have had if, you know, she wasn’t sleeping with her husband! (Laughs.)
Will Mellie continue to push against Cyrus to get a “seat at the adult’s table”?
Believe me: Cyrus won’t know what hit him!
What can you say about Mellie’s pregnancy? Fitz doesn’t seem to be emotionally connected to the baby. Is it his?
Did you just call the first lady of the United States a tramp??? (Laughs.)
What are your theories about the “secret circle” and Mellie’s role in it? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
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The Fien Print
William Jackson Harper