'Scandal': Where Are the Gladiators in Suits?

Could Jake join OPA? Plus scoop on the midseason return.
ABC/Tony Rivetti

The so-called Gladiators in Suits on ABC's Scandal are looking, well, a little suit-less.

The Shonda Rhimes political thriller quickly established the branding for Olivia Pope & Associates in its series premiere, when the late Harrison (Columbus Short) declared that the firm wasn't composed of attorneys/lawyers, but rather Gladiators in Suits.

Now in its fourth season, OPA's ranks have dwindled to become "OQH" — Olivia (Kerry Washington), Quinn (Katie Lowes) and Huck (Guillermo Diaz) — as the fixers have seemingly abandoned their trademark suits in favor of B6-13 gear including combat boots and leather jackets after Abby's (Darby Stanchfield) defection to the White House, Stephen's (Henry Ian Cusick) departure and Harrison's death.

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"Do you realize there actually are no Gladiators in Suits? It's a couple of B6-13 freaks helping out Olivia, that's what's happening in that conference room!" Stanchfield tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I was on the show the other day and people, no one is in a suit! There's no straight skirts or heels! You guys are B6-13 in your combat boots and leather jackets, throwing 'tude around and Olivia is the only one in her white suit."

The actress, who has spent the bulk of season four serving as White House press secretary, is confident that the suits may eventually return to OPA after Abby finds out that Olivia was kidnapped.

"In the next four episodes, Abby has a couple of Gladiator moments that are a throwback to her OPA days," Stanchfield says. "It was fantastic to do and I think the fans will get a kick out of it. There was one scene I was shooting where I had to go into someone's residence and I turned to the writer and director and asked, 'Am I picking the lock or do I have a key?!' That says it all."

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Season four will return from its midseason hiatus and pick up immediately after Olivia's kidnapping with a story that Stanchfield calls "quite elaborate" and not an "easy fix." "[The second half of season four] feels like we're starting a new wave," she notes, declining to say if the story would bring Abby — and her suits! — back to OPA. "I have a theory that eventually there will be Gladiators in Suits again!"

Lowes, meanwhile, is happy to have traded the suits for leather jackets and thinks OPA is running just fine under Quinn's watch.

"Maybe we have dress-up Friday!" she jokes. "OPA is literally Olivia, Huck and Quinn — OQH! — and I think we've done a pretty good job of holding down the fort. But yes, we could use help. Quinn is a Gladiator in a leather jacket, as is Huck. Is Jake a Gladiator? No. We've lost Abby to the White House. Harrison is dead. Olivia is missing, but she normally holds down the whole suit thing."

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As for what to expect from the second half of the season, Lowes notes that Olivia's kidnapping "sets a huge stage" and "shakes up everything" in the Scandal universe, leaving Quinn in charge.

"When Olivia is kidnapped Quinn is the person who is really holding down OPA," she says. "It's interesting because I really feel like Quinn has the tools and the know-how to try to get it done."

Scott Foley, meanwhile, expressed doubt that reformed B613 baddie Jake could eventually bring his fancy suits to OPA.

"My initial answer would be no just because there's another B613 agent there in Huck — and obviously now Quinn," he says. "If I think about it a bit more, I think it could work because they all have different skill sets. Huck is more the tech guy. Jake brings a different element to that equation. So it's possible. I know they talked about having Jake in the White House as well. I don't know if I see that right now but I'm not Shonda Rhimes!"

Scandal — and the rest of the TGIT lineup — returns Jan. 29 on ABC. Stay tuned to THR's The Live Feed for more TGIT scoops.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit