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2 YEARS

'Scandal' Cast Teases Impossible Love, New Roles and the Mystery of Quinn Perkins

How long can Olivia stay clear of the White House? How big is the reveal of the newest member of Pope and Associates? The cast sounds off ahead of the second season premiere.

Scandal Season 2 Cast - H 2012
ABC/CRAIG SJODIN
"Scandal"

Who Quinn Perkins is will be revealed during the second season premiere of ABC's Scandal, which returns Thursday with the big reveal that sets the stage for an entirely new mystery.

When the seven-episode freshman season of Shonda Rhimes' D.C.-set political fixer drama ended, Olivia (Kerry Washington) turned her back on the White House after the first lady reclaimed her husband in a bold move to safe his political career when she took the heat for the president and Olivia's tryst. Meanwhile, the newest Gladiator's past came back in a big way when David (Joshua Molina) reveals she isn't who she claims to be.

The Hollywood Reporter hit the Hollywood set of Scandal to preview the big mysteries to come for everyone at Olivia Pope and Associates (or "OPA" as the insiders call it) and preview the drama ahead in its expanded second season.

STORY: 'Scandal' Cast (and Shonda Rhimes) Talk Crazy Quinn Theories and Challenges Ahead in Season 2

Quinn (Katie Lowes)
Who the heck is Quinn Perkins? That's been the question on everyone's minds all summer. The good news: the season two premiere will answer that before the opening credits even roll, setting up a larger mystery that impacts everyone at OPA. "How deep is why Olivia wants her, why she's protecting her? It's slowly but surely unraveling," Lowes teases. "The stakes are massive, it's a life-or-death-type thing."

Olivia (Kerry Washington)
Olivia and Fitz redefined the definition of impossible love in the ABC drama's first season. Turns out that being president of the United States is a bigger problem obstacle than marriage when it comes to matters of the heart. "In season one, we lived in the innocent hope that their relationship could maybe easily pan out, that with a simple decision it could be but by the end of season one, we realized that this is not about a simple decision, that life is far more complicated," Washington says of her doomed love affair with the president. "Olivia has the intention of really turning in her badge on a lot of levels, drawing a boundary. That comes with a certain acceptance of the reality of what they're up against. There's definitely a sense of the reality of what they're up against." As for now, Olivia officially off Team Fitz.

Fitz (Tony Goldwyn)
While the lovelorn president lost the love of his life in order to save face politically, the first lady will turn out to be a bigger problem than he expected. "Mellie is a loose cannon and totally unpredictable," Goldwyn says. "Right when you think you've got her pinned down, she's like a jack-in-the-box, she pops out. Fitz has a real problem on his hands." With Mellie (Bellamy Young) telling the press that she was pregnant in the finale, expect to see the first lady use her stature in ways you wouldn't expect.

STORY: 'Scandal' Cast, Shonda Rhimes on Quinn's Reveal, Mellie's Endgame

Mellie (Bellamy Young)
After saving Fitz's career by announcing her pregnancy, Mellie drew a clear line and reclaimed control over the president from Olivia. But will that be enough to keep Olivia from the White House? "It's inextricable, she's part of the family, a part of the drama and a part of everything that goes on," Young warns.

Harrison (Columbus Short)
Harrison's soft spot for Quinn -- remember, he hit on her in the opening scene of the series when he first asked her to be a Gladiator -- will be further explored now that she's in hot water with the D.A. "He's not only helping Olivia, but he's also helping Quinn, his friend," Short previews. "He wants to get her name cleared so that she doesn’t go to jail for the rest of her life and/or get the death penalty. So using every trick in his proverbial bag, he’s going to pull it out, and I think he does, especially in the first episode."

Abby (Darby Stanchfield)
Stephen's (Henry Ian Cusick) departure will be addressed right away in the premiere, creating a lot of interesting new possibilities for the woman who had her eyes on Olivia's charming No. 2. "Everybody is affected by his absence, and every employee at Olivia Pope and Associates takes on a new level of responsibility; their roles becomes larger and the dynamic changes." And with the subject of her affection is gone, there's nothing standing in Abby's way when it comes to exploring a new romance.

STORY: 'Scandal' Case Study: Shonda Rhimes on the Intense Finale, What's Next in Season 2

Huck (Guillermo Diaz)
Expect to see more flashbacks into the complicated tech guru this season, exploring more of his dark past, with the guy with a penchant for violence to potentially seek help for his PTSD. "He seeks help in a very healthy way, but I don't think it necessarily makes the problem go away," Diaz says.

David (Joshua Molina)
In the season finale, the district attorney was proudly sporting his white hat when he came in to arrest Quinn Perkins, creating the show's biggest mystery heading into season two and pitting him squarely against Olivia for what promises to be an epic showdown. "From the beginning of this season, there's a flow of, 'Can we work together?' 'No we can't.' 'Maybe? Do we have a little bit of common ground?' 'No we don't," Molina says of the duo's fluid relationship. "This go-round, there's more head to head than being on the same page." As for viewers interested in seeing a David-Olivia romance, Malina has an answer for David's love life: "My feeling is all the characters -- male and female -- were interested in David in the first season!"

Scandal returns Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC. Hit the comments with your thoughts on Fitz and Olivia and watch the cast chime on their theories as to who Quinn really is.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit