In this week’s episode of Scandal, the Grant campaign has brought on Andrew Nichols, the man who served under Fitz as Lieutenant Governor when Fitz was Governor of California, to be his running mate. Fitz and Andrew have a lot of history, and so do, as it turns out, Andrew and Mellie.
Our episode kicks off with news that reporter Carla Steele has a source alleging Andrew used drugs during his time at the California Governor’s mansion. Olivia already has ideas about how to spin this story, but Andrew interrupts, telling her they’re not going to be able to spin this one – because it’s true. He says he got a prescription for pain meds for a back injury, and that he’ll fall on his sword to make sure this revelation won’t take down the Grant campaign.
But flashbacks may tell a different story. As we jump back to the California Governor’s mansion, we see a close bond forming between Andrew and Mellie in the midst of her troubles with Fitz. After a particularly bad blow-up with Fitz, Andrew finds Mellie on the floor, in what appears to be an intentional overdose on pills. He sticks his finger down her throat and we later learn that he stayed up with her all night and avoided calling an ambulance at her request, to keep the matter private.
In the present, Mellie is aghast that Andrew is going to take the blame for her issue. She tries to persuade Fitz to keep Andrew on the ticket – after all, Andrew is family – but Fitz sides with Olivia that they should let Andrew go down for this one.
OPA has different ideas. Abby tracks down the doctor who is set to do an interview with Carla Steele to reveal Andrew’s supposed drug use. The doctor seems like he won’t budge – he’s giving this interview no matter what the Gladiators say. But he does mention that the person he was writing prescriptions for was a woman.
In the end, Liv is able to shut down the doctor’s interview by telling Carla Steele that her source is getting paid off. The bigger a-ha moment comes when Olivia puts it together that Mellie was the one using drugs. She confronts the first lady over it, accusing her of having an affair with Andrew. But, as we see confirmed in a flashback, Mellie says she kept her legs closed when presented with the opportunity to cheat. Mellie, 1, Olivia 0 – at least in regards to this confrontation!
As we crafted this story, we looked at previous examples of drug use in the highest houses in the nation. In the White House itself, recently released medical records of John F. Kennedy revealing that the U.S.’s biggest decision-maker may have needed the help of various medications to combat his ailments. Medical records reveal that Kennedy variously took prescriptions including codeine, Demerol, methadone, Ritalin, meprobamate, Librium, barbiturates, gamma globulin injections and more. These medications helped with conditions spanning sleep and anxiety to combating infections.
Although these medications were reportedly necessary, JFK fought hard to keep knowledge of his health problems and various prescriptions from the public. Certainly, if the public got word of the president having health problems or other vulnerabilities, it might tank the public’s faith in its leader.
But according to other accounts, JFK wasn’t the only former president to keep quiet medication or drug use during his time in the White House. Franklin Pierce was said to have smoked marijuana with soldiers during the Mexican-American War, Ulysses S. Grant allegedly took cocaine lozenges (before cocaine was a controlled substance) to soothe his oral cancer, and even George Washington is thought to have done more with his hemp than farm it into fiber.
For now, it seems that our White House won’t have to worry about any word of drugs leaking out. But what the future of the Grant/Nichols campaign holds, only time can tell…
From episode 312 "We Do Not Touch the First Ladies," here is the revealing flashback scene when Andrew saves Mellie: