When Scandal returns, the ABC political fixer drama will waste no time resolving many of the jaw-dropping cliff-hangers that fans have been discussing all summer.
In the Season 3 finale, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) inadvertently fulfilled her father Rowan's (Joe Morton) wishes by boarding a plane with Jake (Scott Foley), leaving behind Washington D.C. and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn). Little did she know, daddy dearest murdered Fitz and Mellie's (Bellamy Young) son in a bid to become Command of B613 again and insure that POTUS would stay in office.
The only person who figured it out was the one man who had a gun pointed at his head in the closing moments of the finale. And Harrison's fate is certainly up in the air now that Columbus Short will not be returning to the show. So, what does this mean for the Gladiators in Season 4? TVGuide.com sat down with showrunner Shonda Rhimes to get the scoop:
Is there a time jump going into Season 4?
Shonda Rhimes: When we leave, she's on a plane headed to God knows where. When we come back into the season, we find ourselves is a surprising place both time-wise and location-wise.
Papa Pope all but tricked her into getting on the plane. How will she feel once she finds out she was duped and played right into her father's hands?
Rhimes: Do you think that she finds out? I hope that she finds out, but perhaps she does not.
Will we see more of Maya and Papa Pope this season even though Maya is locked away?
Rhimes: Definitely more Papa Pope. How can you live without Papa Pope?
What does it mean if Olivia and Jake are together and she likely still carries a torch for Fitz?
Rhimes: I always think about the finale when she says to him very clearly, "I am in love with another man." And he says, "Let's go anyway." He goes off with her knowing full well that she's very clear about her feelings for somebody else. So, whatever that relationship is, as fun or romantic or happy as that will be, she's very clearly in love with another man. I don't know what that holds for them. They have to face whatever that's going to mean.
Now that Fitz knows that his father raped Mellie, are they actively trying to at least find a friendship if not something romantic?
Rhimes: It's interesting because we're not just dealing with what happened to Mellie. You have to remember that everything that happens now takes place [after] the death of their child. [Fitz has] the knowledge that, as far as he knows, Olivia's mother was responsible for the death of their child, and that basically, in a weird way, he is at fault for the death of their child. If he had not been involved with Olivia, none of that would've happened. Post the death of the child, he has some care-taking to do. He feels a responsibility to take care of [Mellie]. Whether or not he loves her, whether or not that relationship is viable isn't really a factor right now. He's got responsibilities to take care of.
Quinn brought Huck to his family. Will he try to make amends with them? And what does that mean for his burgeoning relationship with Quinn?
Rhimes: Our first thought about Huck knocking [on his wife's] door and what became of Huck knocking on that door when we really played it out in our minds is very, very different. It's very heartbreaking. When we come back at the beginning of the season, everybody is in a place that you don't expect. Nothing is what you think it could possibly have turned out to be. There's a real sense of, "How did everybody get here?!"
OPA is scattered to the wind right now. If it does come back together, does Olivia need to earn back her Gladiators? And will we finally get a backstory for Abby?
Rhimes: One of the things that we did specifically when we created the show is slowly deploy people's stories. It was purposeful. Season 4 is Abby's season. That was by design. A lot of what we know about Abby happens this season. A lot of what we discover about her and see about her back story will happen as we tell Abby's story.
Is it safe to assume that Harrison is dead or will fans be in for a shock when it comes to his fate?
Rhimes: It's safe to assume that Harrison has met his end.
Scandal returns Thursday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c on ABC.