8:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Scandal' Cast, Shonda Rhimes on Quinn's Reveal and Mellie's Endgame
"You learn who Quinn Perkins is in the first episode of the season and the question that emerges from the first episode is not, 'Who is Quinn Perkins' but 'Why is Quinn Perkins who she is and what happened to make her that way."
Showrunner Shonda Rhimes tells The Hollywood Reporter that Scandal will jump right back into the action when the ABC political fixer drama returns in September with its second -- and expanded -- season, answering one of the finale's biggest burning questions right off the bat and opening the door into a bigger mystery.
Quinn (Katie Lowes), the newest member of Pope & Associates, was taken into custody for her role in boyfriend Gideon's (Brendan Hines) murder in the seventh and final episode of Season 1 only to find her boss Olivia (Kerry Washington) reveal to the rest of the team of Gladiators in Suits that "Quinn" didn't really exist.
"It becomes why is all of this occurring in her life, in Olivia Pope's life," Lowes tells The Hollywood Reporter. "You get to see Quinn in a really, really, really terrible situation that is definitely crazy. It's foreign to me as an actress to me, too.
Lowes teases that the series will again use flashbacks to explore Quinn's history, which she warns is both violent and blue-collar -- and likely involves a guy -- while working to regain the trust of everyone at Pope, where she's also now a client.
"She's your normal mid-20s girl making some mistakes with the opposite sex," she says, noting that Quinn's past isn't quite as messed up as Huck's.
Newly promoted series regular Joshua Malina says his character David (the U.S. attorney) will be right in the middle of things with Quinn after doing his part to protect Olivia's newest team member.
"It does put me right into the thick of it and the show definitely hits the ground running," he says, noting that the friction that exists between David and Olivia leaves the door open for romantic potential. "There's a certain level of trust that cyclically she earns then loses. Clearly she is dedicated first and foremost to her clients, so he's always going to be in a position of never quite being sure that what she's saying is entirely to be trusted."
Huck (Guillermo Diaz), meanwhile, was last seen promising Olivia that he wouldn't kill Billy after he went public with President Fitzgerald Grant's (Tony Goldwyn) sex tape and his relationship with Amanda.
The ex-CIA killer's past will also be further explored in flashbacks, Diaz warns, to reveal Huck's past that will "just blow people's minds."
"I say it in Episode 5 when Huck is torturing [Charlie], that he's been sober for a long time from torturing and killing people," Diaz says. "I think he's a drug addict with torturing and killing and being that type of person; you're never really cured from alcoholism, it's a disease that's always there and I think that stuff is always going to be in his blood and keep coming up."
For her part, First lady (and new series regular) Bellamy Young says Mellie has incredibly lofty goals that motivate her to fall on the sword and protect Fitz -- and by extension Olivia -- when she confesses to being the woman with Fitz on the tape.
"Mellie wants to be president down the road, she wants eight years with Fitz, four years off then she wants to run, no joke," Young says, noting the season premiere contains a "huge reveal" for her character. "She's smart enough, she knows what it all entails, she definitely has a point of view and she wants to be in charge. She's not good at interpersonal relations, but she's great at the game."
After telling the press that she was pregnant, Young says Mellie will continue on her mission by any means necessary. "It's fine if he loves Olivia but Mellie just wants to be president, that's the bottom line. Mellie is the woman who didn't think it was possible, so she put law career on hold and put all her ducks behind Fitz."
While all the dangling story lines will pick up full steam with the Scandal pace, Rhimes says the second-year drama will start out with a season-long arc and potentially two should the series expand from its initial order for 13 episodes.
"We want to keep telling stories in that manner and because we're doing 13 episodes and if we get more than that, we'll be telling two different season-long arcs," Rhimes tells THR. We came back nervous -- can we top what we did last season -- and now we're all really excited because we figured out how we can."
What are your theories about Quinn? Hit the comments with your thoughts on Scandal's big mysteries. Scandal returns Thursday, Sept. 27 at 10 p.m. on ABC.