Warning: major spoilers ahead for Episode 11 of Scandal Season 6, "Trojan Horse." If you haven't caught the episode yet, beware!
Scandal viewers who have stuck around for six seasons already know to expect the unexpected when it comes to plot twists and character turns, and the latest episode involved some of both. "Trojan Horse" featured a huge death that could change the game forever for everybody still alive and in the thick of the action. Elizabeth North was brutally beaten to death with a golf club by Zoe Perry's Mystery Woman. A big question on many minds now has to be why Lizzie was so abruptly and violently killed, and actress Portia de Rossi has an answer. When asked if the producers killed Lizzie off, de Rossi said this:
No, actually it was my decision. Toward the end of last year, I started an [art curation and publishing] business and I realized that the business was going to be very time-consuming if I was going to make a success of it. I had emailed Shonda [Rhimes] and told her that I had reconnected with my original passion of incorporating business and fine art. I asked her if it would be okay if I could do less shows and perhaps even leave the show. She was incredibly gracious and so lovely, really supported my decision to start a new career. Quite honestly, I just thought, I'm 44 years old and I thought that I have a chance to start something completely new that could be a 20-25 year career or more that didn't involve -- I won't say acting at all -- but quite as much acting as I have been doing this past 20 years. I just wanted to try something different and Shonda and Betsy [Beers] were completely supportive of it.
As it turns out, Lizzie wasn't killed off because the writers ran out of stories for her or because the producers wanted to cut ties with Portia de Rossi or even because Shonda Rhimes wanted a big death for the shock factor; Lizzie was killed because Portia de Rossi wanted to go in a new direction in her career, and Shonda Rhimes was kind enough to accommodate her wish to move on. Judging from her comments in a chat with EW in the wake of the episode that ended Lizzie, there certainly doesn't seem to be any bad blood between de Rossi and the folks behind the scenes at Scandal.
Of course, Shonda Rhimes and Co. didn't need to kill off Lizzie to accommodate Portia de Rossi's desire to focus her energies elsewhere; Lizzie could have simply accepted a job somewhere off-screen or been sent away or kidnapped. Scandal could have gone halfway on her exit and left the door open for a return; instead, Scandal crafted a shocking end that will undoubtedly go down as one of the pivotal moments of the series. As upsetting as it was to see Lizzie beaten to death with a golf club, it certainly guarantees that she won't be forgotten any time soon. The death will undoubtedly be upsetting to any Scandal fans who counted Lizzie as their favorite character, but I'm interested to see how the story will move on from this.
Lizzie isn't the first character to die an ugly death on Scandal. In fact, she's not even the first to be murdered via blunt object beating. Still, Scandal very rarely kills off its series regulars, and Portia de Rossi has been on board as a regular ever since Season 5. Her decision to leave Scandal and Lizzie's subsequent death have raised the stakes for the story in a big way, as the Mystery Woman is more sinister than ever.
Tune in to Scandal on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC to see what's next for the surviving characters now that Lizzie has been murdered. Check out our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule to see all your other viewing options, and be sure to take a look at our cable/streaming and broadcast TV rundowns of cancellations and renewals.