Scandal

The bulldog of the White House is about to be set loose on Scandal.

While Olivia (Kerry Washington) is dealing with the implications of Amanda's pregnancy — apparently with the president's baby — Chief of Staff Cyrus (Jeff Perry) is preparing for war, and not against an enemy of the state. Amanda Tanner (Liza Weil), Olivia Pope and her associates are actually the folks in his crosshairs.

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"He feels deeply unhinged and betrayed that Olivia would take Amanda's case and that she would press this," Perry tells TVGuide.com, teasing that Olivia and Cyrus have a past that will be uncovered in a future episode. (Hint: He got her the job on the campaign.)

Because he had brought her in, it was quite the shock for him to discover Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia's past relationship in the pilot. "From that point on, he is in deeply protective mode," Perry says. "Protective of himself, protective of the office, protective of the years of work that it took to get them there. He just feels like he has a million reasons to not let things go south."

The discovery of Amanda's pregnancy is the first domino that sets Cyrus over the edge. Feeling as though all hope is lost if the news gets leaked to the press, Cyrus will try to rally the president to fight back. (Watch for Perry's powerful and emotional monologue. Think "I could see the leaves" or "A good man in a storm.")

"He has almost given up on one level," Perry says. "He's preparing himself for jumping over the cliff because he doesn't see any way out of this. He wants to fight it. He wants to go to the mattresses because if this comes out, it will be on every news cycle and in every newspaper. If it comes out, he wants to bury it the way Olivia suggested she would have to try to bury Amanda on that park bench in the first episode. But he's not being allowed to do that because the Commander in Chief has to give the go ahead."

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Cyrus will get to take the fight to Pope & Associates when he tries to dig up dirt on them in order to level the playing field. But how far will the Chief of Staff go to ensure the safety of the president? "I don't know if Cyrus knows how far he will go," he says. "I assume pretty damn far. We've already got some indication that Cyrus will break rules to do what he thinks is working for a greater good. If you think, 'What is Cyrus' endgame?' It's survival."

Still, Cyrus will be humanized when we finally get to see his life outside the White House in this week's episode — which offers up a surprise reveal that, Perry says, will make viewers empathize with his character. "We find it out in a way I think actually nobody will feel manipulated," he says of how the audience will react to the news. "You just go, 'Oh, wow. Okay. I didn't know that, but nothing I've seen so far doesn't jive with that. I just didn't know that.' It's a deepening for Cyrus' character."

How far do you think Cyrus will go?

Scandal airs Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC.