Scandal is going back in time!
On Thursday's episode, the ABC drama will flash back to the presidential primary race where future President Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia (Kerry Washington) first met. For those who think Oliva and Fitz's stolen glances and forbidden romance stem from a heated affair, the flashback will prove that the hardened duo once had heart.
TVGuide.com turned to Jenna Bans, the Off the Map creator who penned Thursday's episode, to get the scoop on the couple's origin story.
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What was the catalyst for this flashback?
Jenna Bans: By this point in the series, the mystery is coming to a head, so it's perfect timing. They're trying to figure out where the sex tape came from and who sent it — and now that Amanda's (Liza Weil) gone —who's behind it? It provides the perfect window to go back and figure all of that out. We always knew we wanted to do a flashback episode, not only to show how the mystery and the conspiracy all began, but also to show how Olivia and Fitz got together and how their romance started. What I love about this episode is that it gives you a lot of answers to a lot of the questions the series poses, and usually you do that in the series finale.
What will we learn about Olivia and Fitz through the flashback?
Bans: Starting in the beginning of the series, people would look at it as more of a seedy affair and a man abusing his power. What you see in the flashback is that it's really a love story. They instantly had chemistry from the very beginning when they meet on the campaign trail. You see him going through a ton of marital problems, and his relationship with Mellie (Bellamy Young) is just in total disarray. It's just the timing of meeting the person you're supposed to be with while you're married to someone else. It's so tragic, but juicy and romantic at the same time. I hope people see that it's a legitimate love story we're telling, not just a juicy scandalous affair.
We've seen some of Mellie's motivations throughout the season. What can you tease about what we'll learn about her in the flashback?
Bans: What you see in this episode with Mellie is that she will go to any lengths to make sure Fitz wins the nomination and ultimately the presidency. We always talked about her in the writer's room as a Lady Macbeth. She'll really do whatever it takes to make sure he's in the position she wants him to be in. I think viewers will be pretty shocked and probably a little appalled, but hopefully in a good way.
How is Olivia different now versus what we see in the flashback?
Bans: You see a little bit more of a vulnerable side to Olivia. This is almost a softer Olivia. She was just starting out as a fixer and she hadn't really put together her team, which is what we see happen in this episode, too. Olivia can let her guard down and actually fall in love with someone and be vulnerable.
We only saw Kate Burton as the Vice President so briefly. What can you tell us of what we'll see in the flashback?
Bans: She's definitely is the dominant position. In the writer's room, we always talked about the parallel between Hillary [Clinton] and Obama a little bit. Sally definitely seems like she's the queen waiting to be anointed by the Republican Party, and Fitz is definitely coming from behind. It's really fun to see Sally in this power position, because she has to play second fiddle to him as the vice president. She is such a fun character to write for. The things that come out of her mouth are just so insane and over the top. Kate Burton just rises to the occasion and really manages to make her not a caricature or stereotype, but a real person who firmly believes that God is the driving force behind her campaign. So, to watch that all come apart in this episode will be really fun for people.
What kind of Chief of Staff was Billy (Matt Letscher) for Sally?
Bans: By the time we meet Billy in the current episodes, he's a team player. But back in the primaries, he is Sally's bulldog. If Cyrus (Jeff Perry) is Fitz's bulldog, Billy's definitely Sally's bulldog. You really see what lengths he'll go to in this episode to make sure that Sally's the nominee.
While the flashback is going on, we'll also see both Gideon's and David's investigations into the White House come to a head. What can you tell us?
Bans: We're showing the audience what the answers are two years prior and whether Gideon (Brendan Hines) and David (Joshua Malina) end up figuring out those answers or not. The stakes are raised because Amanda's dead and people know that. For Gideon, this is a story that's going to make him as a reporter if he can get the scoop, so he is willing to do anything to find out. David's basically investigating a homicide, but knows there's something more to the story. David's always had this sneaking suspicion that Olivia is up to more than she'll admit to him, and it's a matter of pride for him that he figures it out.
Are you excited to see the Scandal flashback?
Scandal airs Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC.