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

The Washington-set ABC drama returns tonight.

Kerry Washington returns as Olivia Pope in Scandal tonight. Photograph by Danny Feld.

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
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:

  • Her job
  • Picking a boyfriend that’s not the exact last person she should be dating, a.k.a.
    Poor Dead Cub Reporter Gideon, née Gideon, Boy Wonder
  • Not accidentally hastening said boyfriend’s untimely death at the hands of the psychotic
    VP chief of staff

Things Quinn is good at:

  • Not being who she says she is. This is the big cliffhanger from season one, and all
    we know is that Quinn Perkins didn’t exist before 2008 and Olivia for some reason
    feels it’s vital to protect her identity.

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.