'Scandal's' Shonda Rhimes on Olivia's Daddy Issues, Harrison's History, David's Allegiance

The showrunner also previews Quinn's new skillset and Huck's "interesting" response in season three of ABC's breakout drama.
"Scandal's" Kerry Washington

To say things will get more scandalous during the third season of ABC's Kerry Washington drama would be an understatement.

During the sophomore season finale of breakout hit Scandal, the Shonda Rhimes drama opened the floodgates for D.C.'s top fixer when Olivia was outed as President Fitzgerald Grant's (Tony Goldwyn) mistress. As if her day couldn't get worse, it was her father -- Rowan, the mysterious head of B613 -- who seemingly came to her rescue.

So how will his arrival impact her? What's Mellie's agenda? Could Fitz look to rekindle his relationship with Olivia now that their affair is public knowledge? The Hollywood Reporter turned to Rhimes to get the scoop on what to expect in season three.

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The Hollywood Reporter: If season two was about Defiance, what is season three about? 
Shonda Rhimes:
When season two started, I wouldn't have been able to tell you it was about Defiance so I can't possibly tell you what season three is going to be about (laughs).

THR: How will the ramifications of Olivia's father impact her and the way she "handles" her life and career? 
It has a huge impact for him to be back in her life. I love that we left the end of last season with a billion questions to be answered about her father. All you know is that man is her dad; you don't know what the relationship is or what's going on with them and we get to explore that. It's going to be great.

THR: The season two premiere answered the who of Quinn Perkins and set up the why --how will the season three premiere do the same about who outed Olivia as Fitz's mistress?
You have to watch and see! (Laughs)

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THR: Darby said there will be a lot of flashbacks moving back and forth between time this season. How regular will they be? Does the season start in flashback then jump forward? 
Rhimes: We had a lot of flashbacks last season -- we had several episodes that were just flashbacks -- and we did them in season one. I don't know that we'll be doing a lot of flashbacks this season. At this point, we do have some flashbacks planned.

THR: You've described Harrison as the smoking gun on the wall -- what can we expect this season? Will those flashbacks offer a glimpse into who he is?
We'll get to know as much as is relevant and necessary for the way we're telling stories at this point. I look forward to unpacking Harrison's backstory but we tell backstory as it's relevant to how our story is unfolding.

THR: Will Fitz look to go back to Olivia now that their affair is public? 
I Can't answer this question only because the way this show works, buy time you get through the first episode, that question will possibly feel irrelevant. 

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THR: Mellie continues to have political aspirations of her own, what's her big mission this season? Is her goal to land in office or support Fitz more? Who's her top priority?
Rhimes: Mellie's No. 1 priority is always Mellie -- under all circumstances.

THR: How will she handle everyone suspecting it was her who outed Olivia?
You're going to have to watch and see.

THR: Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and Quinn (Katie Lowes) are really great together with their brother-sister-like relationship. Could we see romance between the two? Will he try to save her from the dark path she's been so quick to embrace?
I don't know that Quinn has discovered that she's down a dark path; she has discovered that she has a skill that is useful to her. Does she see it as a dark path? Perhaps not. Is it going to get dangerous? You have to watch and see. How Huck reacts to it down the line is going to be very interesting.

THR: David (Josh Malina) has his job back but is still an OPA ally. Which side of OPA will he be on this season?
David doesn't just have his job back -- David has his boss' job now. David is now not just an assistant U.S. attorney, he's now the U.S. attorney. David brought himself back in a much bigger way. We have to remember that he is beholden to the White House for that position. He has that going for him but he also does still have some allegiance and care for the people at OPA as evidenced by the hat that he gave Olivia. I think he's going to find himself tugged in many directions.

THR: Will Abby be one of the people pulling at him?
I'm sure Abby is going to be one of the people tugging him. But for his own conscience, he's been introduced to a darker way of being. He used to be the guy who said, "I wear the white hat" and he meant it. But he did some dark things to get where he is now and he opened a door that perhaps he can't close.

What are you looking forward to seeing this season on Scandal? Hit the comments below with your thoughts. Scandal returns Thursday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m. on ABC.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit