Scandal has a lot to live up to in season 4.
The third season capped off with Olivia (Kerry Washington) inadvertently fulfilling her father’s wishes of leaving Washington D.C. with Jake (Scott Foley) in a bid to fix everything, but she did anything but. Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) won the election, but it came at a steep price: Rowan (Joe Morton) had First Son Jerry Jr. (Dylan Minnette) killed to ensure Fitz would score the sympathy vote and pinned it on Olivia’s terrorist mommy Maya Pope (Khandi Alexander). Harrison was the only one to figure out the truth, so Rowan promptly made sure there were no witnesses. This all came after Fitz finally learned that his father Big Jerry (Barry Bostwick) had raped First Lady Mellie (Bellamy Young) years prior, which caused the initial divide in their marriage.
Elsewhere, while Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and Quinn (Katie Lowes) were getting busy, B613 lackey Charlie (George Newbern) dropped a bombshell: Huck’s family, including his wife Kim (Jasika Nicole), are still alive. Naturally, Quinn did the right thing and told Huck the truth, but he was super pissed about it—though he did show up at Kim’s doorstep in the closing moments of the finale.
We repeat: Scandal has a lot to live up to in season 4, which executive producer Shonda Rhimes has managed to keep top secret by basically training B613 snipers on anyone who seeks to leak intel. However, EW has a handful of very cryptic teases about the new season, which executive producer Betsy Beers says is all about “extreme choices and extreme circumstances.” Read on to get more scoop:
1. Harrison is really dead: The last we saw of Olivia’s right hand man, he was on the wrong end of a gun after deducing that Rowan was the mastermind behind Jerry Jr’s death. “You’re going to see the characters dealing with Harrison’s death, which, out of all the things we can and cannot say, how crazy is it that I can say that Harrison is dead? I’m so confused!” Diaz says. “But he’s dead. Dead as a doornail.” Adds Beers: “It’s safe to say that there’s no way that you can lose a child or one of the closest members of your work family and not have there be a rippling affect throughout everyone’s life. You can expect that both of those deaths have had a profound effect on the people involved.”
2. Olivia and Jake will return to D.C.: Right now, we know that Olivia is chilling on some exotic beach sipping wine, ‘natch. But an event will bring the political fixer back Stateside, setting her and Jake on somewhat different paths. “There will be a clear understanding about Jake’s intentions and feelings towards B613 and Olivia Pope,” Foley teases.
3. Gladiators no more: “Without Olivia, is there an OPA?” Lowes ponders. We’ll find out exactly what that means in the premiere as we see the surviving trio scattered to the wind. “Huck is sad about Olivia being gone,” Diaz says, though Abby doesn’t have quite the same reaction. “She’s profoundly changed [by Olivia’s absence],” Stanchfield says. “I was unprepared for where Abby starts off.” However, Abby is not one to cry over spilt milk. “She comes from an abused marriage and we’ve seen that she picks herself up by her boot straps and she moves forward and gets better,” Stanchfield adds.
4. Fitz is trying really hard in his second term: In the wake of losing his son, Fitz plans to turn his administration around. “Cyrus and Fitz roll up their sleeves, and Fitz proposes a strikingly radical, shocking-to-both-sides-of-the-aisle political agenda,” Jeff Perry says. Both guys politically feel like, ‘What do we have left to lose? We’ve had horrible personal loss, we’re in the second term, let’s do something we’re proud of.” That will put them in contention with Portia de Rossi’s character, a D.C. power player from the Republican party. “She may stir things up a little,” de Rossi says. “I skulk around the White House.”
5. Not everyone is happy about Fitz’s new ‘tude: VP Andrew Nichols (Jon Tenney) will return this season and he may not necessarily be pleased with the way Fitz is running his administration. “Like any vice president, this is Fitz’s second term, so he probably has his eyes on the term after that,” Tenney says, noting that Andrew and Mellie’s dalliance may be on hold for the moment. “I think romance is probably not the first thing on Mellie’s mind at the moment.” So, who could be his competition in the next presidential race? Kate Burton says she’s been told she’ll return in the second half of the season.
6. We’ll see Mellie in a whole new light: Jerry Jr.’s death has really impacted the First Lady. “She reacts in a very surprising way,” Young says. “Facing death, your own or someone else you love, makes you ask even larger questions. I think her questions right now are more existential than political.” However, “There is only so much truth that politicians can weather,” which means that Mellie may need to get her act together sooner rather than later to support her husband. “They’ve never been closer and never been further apart,” she adds. “It’s like they’ve been through a war with all that’s gone on. They’re forced together for at least another four years because they’re still in the public eye.”
7. Olivia’s dad is still a jerk: Though Harrison figured out that Rowan was the mastermind behind Jerry Jr.’s death, the head of B613 isn’t too worried about his big secret being exposed. “The great thing about Rowan is he’s a great chess player,” Morton explains. “If you play really good chess, you not only set up what it is you’re after, but you set up all of the things that give you an escape and give you another avenue to attack.” Sounds like daddy dearest has a backup plan! Also, the door is closed to see Maya again… for now.
8. Quinn still really cares about Huck: After Quinn attempted to reunite Huck with his family, OPA’s go-to hacker told Quinn never to speak to him again in the finale. “We’ll see how she’s dealing with Huck basically cutting her out of his life again,” Lowes says. “He was her mentor. He’s the only person who understands her and she may be one of the only people who understands him because they have a lot of the same addiction problems, tendencies and needs, they really speak a language that’s not verbal.” However, while she’s dealing with that, George Newbern tells EW that he will be back and may have his eye on Quinn. “Charlie is an interesting guy because his work is a sideline for him,” Newbern says. “I think he wants to have a life. He’s looking for a moment of normalcy.”
9. But Huck cares about his family: Though it may be a while before we find out the result of Huck reuniting with his family, Diaz stresses it’ll be an uphill battle. “What’s he going to say? Super spies were going to kill you and me and our kid?” Diaz says. “I think he’s probably going to think that she’s going to believe him and hug him and kiss him and take him back, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be that easy.”
10. And Cyrus will start to move on: After inadvertently being responsible for the death of his husband, James (Dan Bucatinsky), Cyrus may find some happiness in the new season. “We start to get a feeling that Cyrus might actually date again,” Perry says, echoing Rhimes’ tease to EW in the Fall TV Issue that POTUS’ Chief of Staff would get a love interest. “But is this person worthy of Cyrus?” Rhimes teased.
Scandal returns Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
Watch a one-minute refresher on last season to get caught up before Scandal returns: