Holy mother of a reveal, Scandal! Shonda Rhimes' political thriller peeled back a major layer of its story Thursday in an episode that offered a glimpse at President Fitzgerald Grant's potential re-election opponents as well as a major part of the cover-up behind Operation Remington.
During “More Cattle, Less Bull,” Jake (Scott Foley) and Huck (Guillermo Diaz), now working together to bring down Rowan (Joe Morton) and B613, discover that Fitz’s (Tony Goldwyn) missing flight was a U.S. government-sponsored mission in Iceland to shoot down a commercial airliner carrying 300 civilians, including Maya Lewis — otherwise known as Olivia’s mother.
Of course the reveal comes after Olivia (Kerry Washington) turns down working as the campaign manager for Fitz’s Democratic challenger, Sen. Josie Marcus (Lisa Kudrow), in favor of returning to the White House. Olivia sports a “Grant for President” shirt, signaling her intent to go back to working for the man she still loves, following a gut-wrenching speech from Mellie (Bellamy Young), who went behind the president’s back to bring in his former mistress.
The Hollywood Reporter turned to Goldwyn to get the scoop on what’s ahead as part of our weekly Scandal Case Study postmortem series.
Fitz shot down a plane with Olivia’s mother on board! What was your reaction when you found out?
I was absolutely stunned. I had made out an entire scenario in my head for what Operation Remington was, and I was partly right. I figured out the whole Iran end of it, but beyond that, when I heard it was with her mother and that it was somewhere else, I was completely freaked out by it!
We presume Huck and Jake tell Olivia about it in the next episode, what can you tease about how she’ll respond to the news?
You can only imagine what that would be like to find out that your mother did not die in the way that you thought she died, in terms of it being a willful act. It’s surreal for Olivia, but it’s very bad! (Laughs.) It’s not good for Liv and Fitz!
How will this reveal change Olivia’s already strained relationship with her father?
The audience can imagine what that must be like to find out that your mother was murdered along with hundreds of other people. So the fact that her father was behind it is incomprehensible. It’s going to really complicate it because Rowan remains a very dangerous person. It’s not like everyone can just expose him or take him out. It becomes a very volatile and dangerous situation. You can imagine how devastating it is for Olivia.
Was Fitz aware that Olivia’s mother was onboard the plane he shot down? Is he finding out for the first time that she was on board?
He didn’t know; he is completely in the dark. I can’t tell you how Fitz finds out, but he had no idea about it. In that same way, he has no idea that Rowan is Olivia’s father. As far as Fitz knew, he was a young special forces pilot and doing black ops operation and he had no clue. Operation Remington was a dark chapter in Fitz’s career, but for anybody in the military who’s in active duty, dark chapters are not unusual. Whatever ugliness happened, Fitz had to compartmentalize it and deal with it the way all soldiers do.