ABC debuted its all-Shonda Rhimes prime time lineup on Thursday evening, headlined by the return of Scandal. The hit drama that went from a midseason replacement on April 5, 2012, to one of the most popular shows on national television premiered its fourth season last night. Scandal aired in the 9|8c hour slot, sandwiched in between Rhime’s hit, Grey’s Anatomy, and the pilot for How to Get Away With Murder. Viewers instantly became addicted to the show’s main character, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), her “white hat” political ethics, team of “gladiators in suits” and her tragically conflicted love affair with President Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (Tony Goldwyn). The Season 3 finale of the show left many of fans’ questions unanswered. However, the Scandal Season 4 premiere helped to unearth answers to at least some of those burning questions. Here are the top 10 shocking facts thus far:
10. Olivia attempted to stand in the sun with Jake: ABC used the tagline “Where On Earth is Olivia Pope?” in the video for their vaguely modest season 4 teaser. Season 3 left viewers in complete suspense when they saw Liv finally boarding a plane to a mystery destination. When the show opens, we find Olivia sipping wine and reading on a beach far away from the stresses of Washington D.C. Olivia is not alone either – Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) is cuddled up with her as well. She even has a curly, full-volume hairstyle.
9. Harrison has been officially killed off: Every devoted Scandal lover was aware that Harrison Wright (Columbus Short) would not be returning for this season. Nonetheless, that did not stop Short from throwing a Scandal premiere party in an Atlanta lounge. Season 3 ends with the character shot and on his apparent deathbed, so this is not an abrupt shift in story development. Harrison was the most minimally used of Liv’s gladiators in recent memory, but his loss is still noteworthy.
8. Olivia returns for Harrison’s funeral and quickly finds herself back to fixing: Liv receives a letter addressed to her new alias, Julia Baker. The letter reveals Harrison’s fate and she returns to plan his funeral. After returning to her apartment along with Jake, she is immediately thrown in a mess to cover up a near-death attack on Senator Sterling. Olivia is called by Senator Vaughn, who says she believes she killed Senator Sterling. It is later revealed that she and O.P.A. were the only family he has ever known, because he was an orphan. The gladiators are the only people to attend his funeral.
7. O.P.A. is in disarray and all of the remaining gladiators are upset at Liv for abandoning them: While many people may have expected Olivia’s team of gladiators to anxiously welcome her back with open arms, she is actually shunned. Quinn (Katie Lowes), who is the only remaining gladiator at Olivia Pope and Associates, sent the letter. She tracked Olivia down through her wine shipments, because she has very rare and expensive tastes. Quinn explains that O.P.A offices are empty because everyone fell apart between her absence and Harrison’s death. She brings Olivia to the new job venues of her former staff, but they are not interested in small talk or catching up. Near the end of the show, Olivia and the gladiators eventually bond at Harrison’s funeral briefly.
6. Huck is now working in IT repair: Unable to cope with the absence of Olivia, Huck, played by Guillermo Diaz, has assumed the identity of “Randy” and is seen repairing hardware at an electronic store for a living. He refuses to entertain Olivia on two occasions because she does not want to give into the notion that she is back in town for good. He does explain that pretending he is just Randy is the only way he is able to cope with the reality of her loss and the downward spiral that has ensued in his life.
5. Move over Olivia, Abby is working for the White House now: Abby (Darby Stanchfield), was promised by Rhimes to have a much more prominent role this season. After filling in briefly for Olivia, on Season 3 she is now a full-time member of the presidential cabinet and appears to be taking orders directly for Cyrus (Jeff Perry). Abby meets with Olivia and unleashes her rage; she is angry at Liv for leaving O.P.A. high and dry as well as blaming her for Harrison’s death. However, Olivia makes quick work of Abby and deflects her judgments by attempting to question her character before storming off. Meanwhile, Cyrus is upset when he finds out Abby does not notify him that Olivia is back and he subsequently informs Fitz.
4. Mellie has gone nuts: After the death of her and Fitz’s son, Jerry, in the Season 3 finale, it appears Mellie (Bellamy Young), is not able to cope and is attempting to self-medicate with alcohol. She is seen throughout the show walking around the White House in pajamas and Uggz. Proper hygiene is now rare for her and she looks completely strung out. Mellie is lucid enough to let Fitz know that when he sees Olivia to tell her, because she will not be interested in having sex. Her textbook cynicism is still alive and well.
3. Welcome Portia de Rossi: Portia De Rossi will be playing the character of Lizzie Bear. She is the head of the RNC and she looks like she means business. Liz has no concern for Mellie’s coping mechanisms and she wants her to straighten up and dress the part. She questions Cyrus and makes it clear she can only be so patient with the status quo of the White House.
2. Olivia saves the day once again: In typical Scandal fashion, Olivia is at the center of the Senator Sterling vs. Senator Vaughn controversy when she realizes the key to the case. Senator Vaughn is unable to remember details of the incident but alleges that she acted in self-defense because Senator Sterling tried to rape her. However, Olivia reluctantly calls her bluff and accuses the Senator of lying. Liv eventually figures out that Senator Vaughn was covering for her secretary, Kate. Senator Vaughn felt guilty because she set up Kate to help pass an equal-pay gender bill, knowing that she is the physical type of woman Senator Sterling has been inclined to sexually assault in the past. However, after her plan to sabotage Sterling fails, Olivia makes a strong sexual assault statement that is sure to win the equal-pay bill.
1.Olivia and Fitz snub one another: After Olivia triumphs on the White House steps, she walks the halls and runs into Fitz, but both parties walk right by each other without any acknowledgment. Their hands are just inches away from one another when the scene takes place. Fitz downplayed Olivia’s arrival throughout the show to both Mellie and Cyrus, but viewers were probably not expecting a complete standoff between the two.
If these 10 facts were not shocking enough for viewers on the Season 4 premiere of Scandal, there is more. David Rosen is nominated by Fitz as the U.S. Attorney General. This is a stark contrast from his original mission of taking down B613. Abby convinces him that he should look to gain power and take the position. This comes after a visit from Jake reveals Rosen’s fear and hesitance to “pull the trigger” on the files that were stolen for him. Scandal returns for its second episode of the season next Thursday on ABC.
By Brandon Wright