Tony Goldwyn, Kerry Washington

With Mistress-gate picking up steam when Scandal returns, Cyrus Beane (Jeff Perry) could be in store for another heart attack. That's because the White House will be on full damage control mode after someone outed Olivia (Kerry Washington) as Fitz's (Tony Goldwyn) mistress. (Get more scoop on that here.) How will this new scandal affect Fitz's chances of staying in the White House? TVGuide.com turned to executive producer Shonda Rhimes to get scoop on what's in store for OPA in Season 3:

Scandal Scoop: Who outed Olivia as Fitz's mistress?

What can you tell us about the overarching mystery of this season, and will we get back to case-of-the-week?
Shonda Rhimes:
We're doing what we always do, which is we start with cases of the week and then things start to heat up and the story grows. So the answers to that is both of those things will happen. Can I tell you what it's going to be this season? No. I couldn't have told you at the beginning of last season that it was going to be Defiance.

What kind of relationship does Olivia have with her father Rowan (Joe Morton)?
Rhimes:
You will see what the father-daughter relationship is like and you will discover many things [about Olivia's past].

Will we see flashbacks in that regard?
Rhimes:
We will be seeing some flashbacks.

Turning to Mistress-gate, how will Cyrus be dealing with the immediate aftermath of Olivia's name being leaked at the White House?
Rhimes:
They have some big challenges on their hands right there. I think Cyrus is busy trying not to have a heart attack, which I also fully understand. It's going to be difficult for him to deal with. It's going to be difficult for all of them. We're going to see some stuff that I hope will be surprising.

Scandal's Shonda Rhimes teases Season 3, alternate ending, tiny time jump

How will this affect Fitz's chances in the election?
Rhimes:
The election is coming eventually. In Season 3A, the democrats will be having their primary election at some point, so in Season 3B, we will face the election at some point, but I don't know if that's a relevant question at this point.

Will we see competition for Fitz in the first half of the season?
Rhimes:
A Republican challenger? No comment.

What's the state of Fitz and Mellie's (Bellamy Young) relationship when we return?
Rhimes:
When we first see them, Mellie is in caretaking mode. As always, their relationship is much more complex than simply they're doing well or they're not doing well. Where they are is going to be interesting to see.

With this news being public, is there ever a chance that Olivia and Fitz might decide that they can just finally go public with their relationship?
Rhimes:
No comment.

Will we get more backstory on Abby (Darby Stanchfield) and Harrison (Columbus Short) this year?
Rhimes:
Possibly. We tell backstory as it pertains to the main story, so if there's something in the backstory that relates to the bigger story that we're telling, then that's when it rolls out. If it dovetails with our larger story this season then we will tell it. 

What's going on with Abby and David (Josh Malina) this season?
Rhimes:
We start to see where they are and what's happening to them as we get into the episodes. David sold his soul a little bit last season to become a U.S. Attorney, which is a huge power move for him. I think he's going to be struggling with that. He opened a little bit of a door to the dark side. He learned his bad ways from Olivia Pope & Associates. He's used to being on the side of good and he's not necessarily there anymore.

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How far down the rabbit hole will we see Quinn (Katie Lowes) go and will Huck (Guillermo Diaz) try to keep her contained?
Rhimes:
That's one of those questions that I love because if you look at it from Quinn's perspective, she got a chance to torture the man who killed her boyfriend Gideon (Brendan Hines). She discovered that she's far more capable than she ever thought she was and she's rocking some new skills as far as she's concerned, so she's enjoying herself. Whether or not the rest of her colleagues at OPA are going to enjoy her in this way is a little bit different. Whether or not Huck is going to be in an emotional position to deal with where she is is also a question.

I won't ask when Jake (Scott Foley) will get out of the hole because you'll say no comment.
Rhimes:
I won't say "No comment," I will say, "That's an interesting question." Jake definitely has a role to play this season that I think is going to be very interesting. At the end of last season, we found out that he's not necessarily a bad guy, although on this show, bad is very relative. We're going to get to see different sides of him as well this season and get to know a little bit more about him.

Scandal returns Thursday, Oct. 3 at 10/9c on ABC.