Who is Quinn Perkins? It's the question that has plagued fans all summer long and it will finally be answered during Scandal's Season 2 premiere (Thursday, Sept. 27 at 10/9c on ABC.)
Scandal's Shonda Rhimes on Season 2's big mystery: Who is Quinn Perkins?
But on Tuesday night, lucky fans in attendance of ABC's PaleyFest fall TV preview panel, moderated by TV Guide Magazine's Debra Birnbaum, got a chance to watch the season premiere — and knowing how tight-lipped executive producer Shonda Rhimes can be, each of them is now being watched by Scandal's secret service.
Below, Rhimes and the cast whet your appetites for the second season, which will bring the Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) — if we should even really call her that! — mystery to a head, leaving Pope & Associates in disarray. Plus: Find out what's in store for Olivia (Kerry Washington) and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn)... and Mellie (Bellamy Young).
1. Who is Quinn Perkins? The premiere offers answers about who she is, but it's the why that will become this season's big mystery. One of the more crazy theories the cast has heard? She's the love child of Cyrus (Jeff Perry). (Spoiler alert: She's not.) Regardless, Rhimes went back and forth on the question while mapping out the season. "Sometimes I knew and sometimes I didn't," she said. "It changed over time; it evolved. The writers and I really worked hard to find something that we felt was compelling." Added Lowes: "I was so happy to get that script. I didn't leave the location I was in for 24 hours re-reading it over and over and over again."
2. Pope & Associates divided: Just because Quinn's identity will be revealed does not mean she's welcome at Pope & Associates. In fact, her presence could be what actually causes the tension. "Olivia Pope tells everyone what to do and everyone at Pope & Associates does it," Rhimes notes. "I think that's no longer true now. There's a hole left by Stephen [Henry Ian Cusick], [who was] a translator for Olivia to everybody else, and while there are some people who have blind loyalty, some people are not going to take it so well." Darby Stanchfield quickly chimed in: "Two words for you: office politics."
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3. Olivia and Fitz... reunited? Olivia will be attempting to stick to her word by staying away from the president, but that won't be easy. "I think it's a very fraught relationship," Rhimes said, noting that the pair shares a scene in the premiere. "They love each other, but they can't be together!" she said. "I feel like that couple, they clearly have this relationship that is very permanent, that's not going to go anywhere, and yet the obstacles that keep them apart are huge and fairly insurmountable. Mellie is pregnant and there's a lot going on."
4. David (Joshua Malina) vs. Olivia: The two white hats will go toe-to-toe in the premiere (which happens to be called "White Hat's Off"), but a line will be crossed. Still, Rhimes promised their banter will continue. "I think that adversarial relationship will always be there between them; this might heighten it a bit," she said.
5. Mellie has feelings too! Olivia may have handed the reins back to Mellie, but POTUS and FLOTUS are not suddenly on the same page. "She's every man's dream bride," Goldwyn jokingly said of the strong-willed, manipulative First Lady. On the other hand, Rhimes noted that deep down, Mellie isn't necessarily the enemy. "I have a lot of compassion for Mellie, because I feel like she's in a terrible position and she might seem like a villain, but when you look at the story from her side... you fully get how she feels," she said. Young added: "It's always written with a pain underneath. It's hard when you love someone and you're married to them and they meet the love of their life subsequently." When you look at it that way, ouch!
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6. Scandal's fate: As of now, the second season will consist of 13 episodes. Rhimes has noted previously — and echoed during the panel — that the show "works best in high-burst doses," rather than trying to stretch things out. However, they're still hoping to get a full 22-episode season, which would see one bigger (and several smaller) scandals in the first half and some new ones during the second half should the show be granted more episodes. What you can definitely look forward to in the first 13 episodes is another flashback episode, similar to last year's election-centric outing. (Though look for some mini-flashbacks as well in the premiere.)
Stay tuned for much more Scandal scoop as the countdown to Quinngate continues!
Who do you think Quinn Perkins is? Hit the comments with your thoughts and check out a sneak peek at the new season: