8:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Scandal' Case Study: The Cast on Quinn's Reveal and What's Ahead
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's season two premiere of ABC's Scandal.]
Olivia Pope and Associates have been busy. Working tirelessly to exonerate one of their own, their back was against the wall when Quinn's fate was all but sealed and she faced the death penalty with David's case considered a legal slam dunk.
During Thursday's second season premiere, Quinn's mysterious identity was revealed and it turns out that she's a former client at OPA -- whom Huck drugged, kidnapped and set her up with a new life in Washington. And like Scandal does so well, the reveal sets the stage for a larger mystery: Why did Olivia taken an interest in her Lindsay Dwyer, aka the Molotov Mistress? Who hired Olivia to help her if Ms. Dwyer didn't? Who did she call to get Quinn off the hook and how high up does that go?
"It's higher up than you would ever begin to imagine," showrunner Shonda Rhimes says. "This story is something that once you understand who Quinn is, the why of who she is, what she is, gets bigger and bigger."
So do all roads -- including why Quinn is so important -- lead to President Fitzgerald Grant? Rhimes teases that will be explored in a fittingly titled episode, "All Roads Lead to Fitz." "It's going to be an interesting discovery for the audience to see where it's all connected," she says.
The Hollywood Reporter hit the Hollywood set of the ABC political fixer drama to get the scoop from the cast -- more Mellie drama! Unlikely alliances! More awesomeness from Huck! -- on what's next for the expanded second season of the series.
Quinn (Katie Lowes)
Lowes, who held the secret all summer long -- keeping it from family and friends -- says she spoke with Rhimes about the stakes at hand and asked how high up the mystery goes. "I asked if it was a little secret or if it would bring down the entire government and Western civilization -- and she said yes," Lowes says. Before coming back to OPA, Quinn will have to regain the trust of everyone around her -- and get over working for a woman who has no desire to reveal the answers Quinn (as well as Abby, Harrison and David) wants to know. "She has a million questions and is getting frustrated that she's not getting any answers to them; it's going to be a huge source of contention for the whole season."
Bonus tidbit: Look for an unlikely alliance to come within OPA.
Olivia (Kerry Washington)
"It's obviously a really powerful person and you will not have to wait long to find out more about that person," Washington says of who Olivia called. "It's a person who is important to Olivia in many ways." With so much of the first season establishing that nobody was who you thought they were, season two will explore how one person's secrets impacts everyone around them. "Which characters are telling the truth and to whom, those things begin to affect relationships in the office and in the White House in really intense ways."
Fitz (Tony Goldwyn)
Because being kept from your "person" isn't enough, Fitz not only has to contend with a first lady with an agenda of her own and a potential war in East Sudan. "It's an ongoing problem," Goldwyn says. "It's a brewing problem for Fitz and that's in part what brings Olivia back to the White House. Nothing has changed in terms of how he feels about Olivia but there are political and topical events that occur that involve Olivia and Fitz and it becomes necessary that they make contact."
Mellie (Bellamy Young)
Mellie's pregnant and "America's Baby" is a boy. And oh boy, does the first lady use her platform with the press for her own political agenda. But is the baby really Fitz's? "I don't know if it's Fitz's or not! We like to joke that it's Harrison's baby," Young says with a laugh. Taking advantage of a high-profile interview, Mellie turns a personal story into a political one when she makes a plea for the president to take action on the war in East Sudan. "There's nothing she won't do, she's very willing to get her point across because she's usually right, and when you're on the side of right … elbow elbow, wrist wrist!" says Young, exhibiting the classic presidential wave.
Harrison (Columbus Short)
If you caught the sparks that flew between Harrison and Quinn when he visits her ahead of the trial verdict, you're not alone. While Short says he didn't play the scene to ignite 'shippers, he's definitely open to something more than a Harrison-Quinn friendship. "The Harriquinn? The Quinston? The Quinston! Coined it!" he says with a laugh. "Whether it's romance, friendship, platonic, whatever, I wouldn't be opposed to it." As for the mysterious person Olivia called to get Quinn off the hook, Short says Harrison will challenge Olivia for the first time. "Abby is always questioning, stabbing and poking at the beehive and it finally got to Harrison," he says. "He's thinking that Abby may be on to something. He knows a lot more than people think he knows."
Bonus tidbit: Look for Harrison have to deal with something from his past -- which lest you forget, also includes a three-day stay in prison.
Abby (Darby Stanchfield)
"Something is just not sitting quite right with Abby," Stanchfield says of Abby's feelings about Quinn's exoneration. "It’s a fine line of really not being happy with her co-worker and what’s going on there but at the same time she’s loyal to Olivia, so she’s really in an uncomfortable situation." The second episode of the season will redefine "office politics" within OPA. "The edge of the rug is just lifted, you get a little peek in one episode and more will get ripped off," she says of Abby's probe into just who Olivia called to spring Quinn. "It goes way deep down, beyond anything you can imagine." She'll team with Harrison and form a bond as the duo are thrown more together this season as Abby's relationship with Quinn will remain "uncomfortable" and beyond "strained" with Olivia, the woman who helped rescue Abby from an abusive relationship. "Abby's got a pair of brass knuckles in her purse and a gun, so she's ready to fight if she has to," Stanchfield says of how far she'll go to get to the bottom of just who Olivia called. "She'll play dirty if she needs to."
Bonus tidbit: You'll definitely get to know more about the workaholic Abby this season, which could be a boon to her love life. "If she were to meet somebody, my guest would be the workplace," she says.
Huck (Guillermo Diaz)
When Huck tells Quinn that he knows she's broken, too, he really knew just how broken
Lindsay Dwyer the newest OPA staffer really was, having had a hand in kidnapping and creating her new identity while under orders from Olivia. That older brother bond will continue to develop in season two, Diaz says. "He wants to take her under his wing and protect her and let her use him as somebody she can vent to or just talk to; a safe person." As the second season progresses, Olivia will confide in Huck more. "She has certain things that she only talks to Huck about without the rest of OPA; their relationship is like an onion with layers slowly being revealed." So how much does Huck really know about why Olivia helped the woman previously known as the Molotov Mistress? "Huck is such a quiet and introverted guy that they're all used to him not talking much, so he easily gets away with knowing all this stuff and it's easy to forget that he probably knows everything," Diaz says. "That's good for Huck."
David (Joshua Molina)
Abby won't be Olivia's biggest problem now that David had a "slam dunk" conviction swiped out from under him. "David's smart enough to know there's something more to the situation and that the odds are heavily favored of Olivia being behind it," Malina says. "In subsequent episodes, he definitely gets more, rather than less, obsessed with what she did. He'll turn into a singularly focused person … enemies will be made, friendships will be made, so there's this shifting where even though we're supposedly on different sides, we'll occasionally find ourselves interested in the same information and warily try to share."
What did you think of the Scandal premiere? Were you surprised by Quinn's identity? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.