A Handy Primer to Get You Ready for “Scandal” Season Two

The Washington-set ABC drama returns tonight.

By: Tanya Pai

ABC’s Scandal, the Shonda Rhimes-created drama about a high-powered crisis management team in Washington, returns for its second season tonight at 10. To get you ready, we’ve put together a handy primer on the major characters and plot points you should know. For more detail, check out our WashingTelevision recaps. Will you be tuning in tonight? Let us know in the comments, and check back tomorrow for our full rundown of the season premiere.


Full name Olivia Pope, commonly referred to* as Il Papa. Based on the life of this woman. Head of a crisis management firm in Washington that gets high-powered rich folks out of hot water. Heart full of gold, closet full of pantsuits. Used to work for (and sleep with) the President of the United States. Also used to have bangs. Has a legendary “gut” that’s never wrong, even though she does things like sleep with a married man who also happens to be the leader of the free world. Her staff (see: the Dream Team) is fiercely loyal to her and will always eventually do what she asks, be it propose to their girlfriend or scrub an entire apartment to hide evidence of a murder.

El Prez

The majority of the characters on this show seem to have an unshakeable belief that the President is a saint among men, despite the fact that he’s a liar and a chronic adulterer. He’s in love with Olivia, who has teamed up with his cold, cold wife to keep him in office after the Vice President’s chief of staff splashes his inadvertent sex tape all over the airwaves. Hilariously enough, the tape is not of the affair he’s being accused of but his other affair, with Olivia—but FLOTUS saves the day by publicly claiming that the tape is of her husband and her. Also trying desperately to keep this horny schoolboy in office is Cyrus Bean, confidante and adviser to the President, frenemy to Olivia, and secret cold-blooded killer of pregnant mistresses.

The Dream Team

The quick and dirty details: Abby’s the redhead with the abusive ex-husband and a thing for Stephen. Stephen has an accent and a penchant for sleeping with people in walk-in morgue freezers. Harrison once went to jail for white-collar crime. Secret weapons? Slick charm and well-cut suits. Huck is ex-CIA and would do anything for Olivia, including opening up a seriously PTSD-inducing can of worms by torturing a former colleague to get information. And then there’s the newest member:


Things Quinn is bad at:

Things Quinn is good at:

Love Children

Real: Amanda Tanner’s. Although she was sleeping with El Prez, her secret baby was actually the spawn of Killer Billy, who tried to make El Prez take the fall. But before anyone found out it wasn’t El Prez’s baby, Cyrus had Amanda killed.

Fake: FLOTUS steps in with a fake pregnancy to cover up El Prez’s other affair (with Olivia from years ago), which was caught on tape. And this ain’t her first rodeo, either: Back when El Prez was taking his first shot at the White House, she fabricated a miscarriage to explain their frosty marriage to the public.

Body Count

Amanda (plus her secret love child): courtesy of Cyrus Bean ordering a hit on her

Gideon: courtesy of Killer Billy and a pair of scissors to the neck

Billy (probably): This one’s unclear, since the last we see of him, he’s headed up in the elevator with Huck’s hitman acquaintance. My money’s on him coming back to cause more trouble in season two.

*Only by me, I’m pretty sure.