(Warning: This post contains spoilers from episode 15 of Scandal, "The Noise." Read at your own risk.)
Thursday's packed hour ended on a shocker when the president found herself framed for orchestrating the hijacking of Air Force Two, a credit that actually belongs to Cyrus (Jeff Perry). Backed into a corner, Mellie re-teamed with Olivia (Kerry Washington) to carry out a brilliant new plan: Take him out, once and for all.
But now that Olivia's on the path toward redemption, will she be able to go through with the dark deed and actually kill her former friend? Plus, Cyrus has Jake (Scott Foley) in his corner and a signed --albiet fake — confession from Charlie (George Newbern) implicating Mellie, meaning the odds are truly stacked against her.
TV Guide hit up Darby Stanchfield, who directed the thrilling episode, to dish on Mellie's next move, Charlie's predicament and whether or not Olivia she thinks there's still hope for Olivia to be redeemed.
Mellie took a huge step towards the dark side when she ordered Olivia to kill Cyrus. How do you think that's going to affect her moving forward?
Darby Stanchdfield: It is the first time we've seen Mellie backed into a corner in such a way where she could absolutely lose everything. And so it feels like, yes, Mellie makes a real dark choice in terms of how she reacts to that. It's not a clear-cut path for the rest of the season.
This episode was also a reckoning for Olivia in terms of finally confronting her past mistakes.
Stanchdfield: We see a lot of moments of her sitting, contemplating, being torn and that inner struggle. Her behavior is very different. We see some humility from Olivia. It's a great chess piece for the end. It's definitely like a move in terms of what happens with her character as she comes to the end of the series.
In the episode, Olivia she tells Quinn, "I was wrong. I no longer trust my gut. I trust you now." Do you think her admitting that is a step in the right direction?
Stanchdfield: Huge! It's a very big shift for these characters because they've been at odds for a while. We also treated the white hat like it's its own character, in a way. When [Olivia] sees the hat in the beginning [of the episode], we see the hat's point of view and there's almost like a face-off before she picks it up. It took a lot of time to get that hat from the floor into Quinn's hands.
Now that Olivia and Quinn have had this special moment, should we remain hopeful about a reconciliation between them?
Stanchdfield: Yes, let's hope. You get some kernel of hope that the love between these two, the love between Olivia and her gladiators, that's not totally lost. There's maybe a spark of hope still there.
Olivia joins QPA in a special briefing to figure out a way to save Charlie. Did that scene feel like old times?
Stanchdfield: Yeah, and Olivia's in the room with them. Although she's not leading them and Quinn's very much like, "I'm the boss here, I'm in charge." Olivia hasn't turned her back [on them]. She's there. It's part of that self-examination of like, I might not be able to be trusted but I'm trying. She hasn't lost her sense of humanity by any stretch of the imagination.
It feels like she's on the path to redemption.
Stanchdfield: Absolutely. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. That's not to say that it ends up like I think it's gonna end up. It's incredibly shocking the way that this whole series wraps up. But that hope and that history that she's had with being a gladiator, it's very much in play towards the end of the series.
How badly do you feel for Charlie in this episode?
Stanchdfield: So bad. I also felt bad for Jake. Jake is saying, "Look, you're the one making me do this." But Jake is alone and he is the second choice and he has nobody. It's almost like he's threatening Charlie against his own will. He's just a broken spirit who's decided to work with Cyrus. And Charlie, even though he's a trained killer...We really really get to the heart of that his everything is Quinn and that baby Robin and it's so heartbreaking to see both of them in their own struggles. [on Jake] He's both threatening and he's trying to keep...He has a whole speech on control and as he says it to Charlie, he's losing control of his emotions. And then he has to button it all back up as he threatens him at the end.
Speaking of hope for redemption, Cyrus' speech during the hijacking almost made us forget the terrible things he's done in the past until he showed his true colors. Is he finally going to get what's coming to him?
Stanchdfield: I'm not sure that [question] is fully answered at the end. You're gonna be satisfied. You just get a sense of what happens to him. No one gets through unscathed by the end of the series. Everybody pays the price in one way or another for what they've done. Everybody.
Scandal airs Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC.