[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the Season 7 premiere of Scandal! Read at your own risk!]
There's a new threat on Scandal, and her name is Olivia Pope.
This entire series has been about Olivia's (Kerry Washington) rollercoaster ride to the top. Now she seemingly has it all. She's Chief of Staff to the first female President of the United States — meaning she's calling all of the shots without half the pressure. She's the head of B613, manipulating the country into sleeping soundly at night. No one in the history of this show has ever had that much power, and that's a problem for everyone but Olivia.
"It's a dangerous thing," Scott Foley explained to TV Guide and a small group of journalists at a Scandal press event. "I think both Jake and Rowan, having been in B613 in the position of a certain amount of power — not the amount that she has now — are very aware of the pitfalls that can come with that and I want to say the blindness that can come with that with having that much power."
Even Rowan (Joe Morton) has his concerns that Olivia has taken on more than any person should have. If anyone knows about the dark side of power, it would be him.
"There's the adage that 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely,' and I think that's what Rowan's big worry is — is that when you get that much power morality goes out the door," Morton added. "You think that everything you've done is for all the right reasons and he's gone through that. He keeps telling her, 'You can't have it all.' ...That's what his worry is — when you have that much power you lose a sense of morality."
Olivia proved in the season premiere that she's not willing to listen to anyone else, which only makes them even more worried.
It's a little bit late to be worried about Olivia keeping her white hat. She's already killed two vice presidents, so there is definitely some redeeming to be done before Olivia can be called a hero again. The question is how much of her soul will she lose before she finds it again?
"In many ways, at the moment, she is the threat. It is what we sort of established at the end of last season where Rowan actually said to Fitz, 'She is the disease. She is the problem,' which is why he tried to give B613 to Fitz, because that would have been the check and the balance," Morton explained. "We've all sort of shifted and understand the difference between good and bad and Olivia is just doing whatever the hell she wants with no sense of morality whatsoever."
So who will challenge Olivia to see the light? Both Jake and Rowan tried and failed in the premiere. Everyone else is clueless to how much danger Olivia is really in, but there's always one person that can get under her skin more than anyone else. The problem is that person is busy in Vermont. Plus, who says Olivia wants her soul to be saved?
"She won't make it easy for him," Tony Goldwyn weighed in at the same event. "Olivia does not like to be saved, especially by Fitz. If that's what happens, that's going to be a challenge for him."
What seems to be clear is that this battle won't be something that only lasts an episode or two. The fate of Olivia Pope and her morality is the through line of the final season.
"Olivia is really the fulcrum of the whole thing," Goldywn said. "That dark vs light kind of epic battle seems to be...the really interesting push-pull in the season as we get into it."
However, Kerry Washington seems to be the only one not worried about Olivia's ability to handle the situation she's currently in, which seems very fitting.
"She is going into this time and into this position having been able to watch a lot of people make a lot of mistakes. So hopefully she takes all of that wisdom with her and doesn't walk down those same paths," she said. "When you play a character who's already killed the vice president — between Andrew and Luna — I don't know what her line is. I think what's most important is the republic."
So, can Olivia "handle" having it all?
"If she had it figured out, there would be no show," Washington said.
Scandal continues Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.