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[This story contains spoilers from Thursday’s Scandal.]
Scandal has always played with time and perception, but in season six, the timeline is as tangled as the drama on its Shondaland TGIT counterpart How to Get Away With Murder. Each week has revealed another snippet of information about what was actually happening on Election Night, slowly but surely unraveling the conspiracy surrounding the murder of President-elect Frankie Vargas.
In Thursday’s “They All Bow Down,” it was Jake’s (Scott Foley) turn in the hot seat as Scandal revealed what he was up to on Election Day. Probably. Jake’s true motivation has always been a mystery, and just because the show revealed he’d been working with Rowan (Joe Morton) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s clear what side he’s on.
“When do you believe anything on Scandal? It’s tough,” Foley told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think Jake serves a few different masters, Rowan being one. Another being Olivia Pope [Kerry Washington]. His relationship and his devotion to her is almost second to none. He would do almost anything she asks, as we can see with the marriage to Vanessa [Jessalyn Gilsig] and him joining this presidential ticket as vice president. I think the third master is himself. I think his conscience is always there. Going back as far as I can remember, everything Jake has done — whether you consider it an evil thing or malicious — I believe that Jake believes he’s done it for the greater good. Whether it be for the benefit of B613 and power, the greater good of the republic, or to help Olivia.”
And Jake didn’t necessarily listen to Rowan this time. “Rowan, especially in this episode, had asked Jake to get rid of Jennifer Fields, to cover this up. Jake, maybe for the first time, took it upon himself and disobeyed an order from Rowan. Instead of taking her out, faked her death and delivered her person to Olivia Pope to help with this investigation. That’s pretty interesting. In this case, what he did was for the greater good, I think, of both the republic and Olivia in helping her get to the bottom of who killed Frankie Vargas.”
In other words, Jake is always doing what he feels is the right thing, but it’s up for debate whether most people would consider Jake’s version of the right thing the actual right thing. “I believe that Jake thinks he has a moral compass,” said Foley. “Everything he does is for the greater good. Whether his true north is true north, that’s up for debate. I think that he could make an argument for everything he’s done.”
Plus, his faking Jennifer Fields’ death for Olivia means he’s trying to stay in her good graces, which means there’s always hope for Jake and Olivia to get back together. “Yes, yes! There’s always hope,” Foley said reassuringly. “I believe that Jake is in this relationship because he believes that there is hope with him and Olivia. This is what Olivia wants. This is what Olivia thinks is important for the campaign, for Mellie, for the republic. She believes that Jake being married to Vanessa is good all around. That’s why he’s there.”
Of course, even though he agreed to marry Vanessa doesn’t mean he was prepared for what it would really entail. “It’s tough for Jake. I don’t believe he thought it would be this hard, being in this sham of a marriage,” said Foley. “He thought he would just waltz in and waltz out and it wouldn’t require that much energy. Unfortunately — or fortunately — he found a woman who actually loves him — or who thinks she loves him — who married him and has no idea that he killed her father, that he is the person who he is. She is struggling with the silence and the cold shoulder that he gives her.”
While it has taken several weeks to unspool the thread of the Election Night narrative, Foley promises things will start coming together soon. “I think the writers are doing a really interesting thing this season that I didn’t necessarily see coming. They’re focusing on this, not just the election, but the assassination of Frankie. We’re seeing where everybody was and what everybody was doing during the assassination and what role they played in it. As each episode plays out, we learn more about where Mellie was and what she was doing, where Abby was and how she was involved, what Olivia’s doing behind the scenes. Now, what Jake is doing.”
He continued, “I think it’s all going to slowly unravel. At a certain point, there will definitely be that aha moment. Like, ‘Oh my god. This piece fits that. That’s where Jake was. This is why Jennifer Fields is alive. That’s what Olivia wants with Jennifer Fields.’ It will all play together. When that’s going to happen? Give it a few episodes. We’ve still got some digging to do. Each episode we’ll un-fog the mirror a little bit more.”
Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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