‘Scandal’: Can Fitz Save Olivia From Disappearing Into B613?

ABC/Mitch Haaseth
Tony Goldwyn in the 'Day 101' episode of Scandal.

[Spoiler Alert: Do not read ahead unless you’ve watched Thursday’s episode of Scandal. Major plot points discussed ahead.]

Welcome back, Fitz!

True, we got a glimpse of former President Fitzgerald Grant III (Tony Goldwyn) at the end of last week’s Scandal when he unexpectedly turned up on Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington) doorstep, but Thursday’s episode shed much light on what he has been up to since we last saw him at the end of season six.

After leaving office for the quiet of Vermont,—and the house he dreamed of making a home with Liv—Fitz is facing challenges he probably wasn’t expecting. And besides throwing down with Marcus (Cornelius Smith, Jr.), he also got a surprise visit from Papa Pope (Joe Morton) that leads him back to Olivia, who is going down a dangerous path.

To clue us in on what it all means and what we’ll see next, Goldwyn hopped on the phone with TV Insider and gave us some intel.

We get to see what Fitz has been up to since leaving office, but I don’t think it’s what he was expecting, right?
I was in the White House a couple of years ago, in the West Wing, and as I started playing the president, I was asking a lot of questions about what the routine is and one of the things that really struck me that I had never considered before is the degree to which the president lives in a very, very small bubble. He doesn’t do anything for himself. He has a body man next to him to hold his pen. He just literally has no self-responsibility in that way, other than going to the bathroom. So imagine that for eight years.

So just suddenly being dropped into his life in Vermont and having to deal with things that he’s not used to dealing with, I thought was such a great thing. Also, there’s this terrible pressure that he feels coming to Vermont, having built that house and conceived of that entire world in partnership with Olivia. Vermont meant Olivia to him and now he’s there completely alone and that’s a devastating thing for him to have to face, to walk into that house and hear the voices of the children who were never born.

And what a good time for a memory of his father to come in with the gun in the box. Was this the first time we’ve actually seen it?
It was referred to but we never saw it before. He told Cyrus (Jeff Perry) about it. Gosh, I think it was in season two or something. They had a big fight and Cyrus said, “One day you’re going to take that gun your father gave you and blow your brains out with it,” which Fitz makes reference to that in this episode.

In terms of Olivia, is it safe to say that she’s still on his mind in a big way?
That would be safe to say, yes. He can’t shake her. As he says to Marcus, “Is Olivia Pope everyone’s world or just mine?” I love that line. It comes from the second he walks in the door. He’s rocked. There’s this thing when he comes in and looks around this house, has this big empty house, and I think it rocks him to his core that this was all supposed to be his home with Olivia. So it’s very painful for him, and that’s why he can’t really get off his ass and do anything at first.

With Marcus, there’s a line about the fact that they’re really different but I was watching it going, “I think these guys are more similar than they realize.” What do you think?
I hadn’t thought of it exactly that way, but I think that that’s very true. They’re both guys who have these outsized ideals and slightly delusional visions, images, views of themselves in the world. Marcus is this tremendous idealist who wants to have a genuine impact on his community and change the world, but at the same time, he’s very attracted to power and wants to be at the red-hot center of things. There are compromises to be made when you do that and Fitz nails him on it. Marcus, similarly, calls Fitz a narcissist because Fitz views himself as this sort of woke guy and this progressive leader who’s really going to change the world and Fitz has been coddled and only wants to do things on his own terms and in many ways is spoiled. He likes to think of himself in a certain way that he’s not really stepping up to.

Scott Foley (r, who plays Jake) directs Tony Goldwyn (l) in this week’s episode.

When Papa Pope shows up, he gives Fitz the excuse to go find Olivia, which maybe he’s been wanting to do, or maybe he hasn’t. What do you think?
I think that the assumption that Fitz had, in the deal that Fitz and Olivia made, was that she could only be who she is without him. As much as they love each other, she needs to have her time living out her potential as, in a sense, the most powerful person in the world in the center of the ring of power with the President of the United States. So for Fitz, in a certain sense, it’s an act of love to her that he’s not going there.

But when Rowan tells him that she’s running B613, that she killed Luna Vargas and that Olivia succumbed to the darkness and to the desire for power, suddenly it galvanizes Fitz that he feels he needs to get in there and remind her who she is. So it shifts his mission.

Rowan says, “She’s disappearing into it,” and we, as viewers, surely know what that means.
We do, and Fitz knows what that is. Fitz almost fell into that hole himself when he made himself head of B613, and Olivia was like, “What the hell are you doing?” And he comes, in the season finale, and he said, “You were right. I’m not doing it. Down that path lies ruin.”

Safe to say in the next episode we’re going to get right into it as far as what happens next?
We pick up right at the same spot with the scene in the lobby at the elevator and, as I said, I wouldn’t expect Olivia to be throwing her arms open for Fitz.

Scandal, Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC