Where in the world is Olivia Pope lounging on the beach? Last we saw our favorite fixer on Scandal, she had extricated herself and Jake (Scott Foley) from Shondaland's messy D.C. world following the death of Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Mellie's (Bellamy Young) son Jerry. Little does anyone know, it was Rowan (Joe Morton) — not Mama Pope (Khandi Alexander) — who was behind Jerry's death, so that Fitz could win re-election and re-appoint Rowan to the B613 Command post. Harrison (Columbus Short) discovered the truth, but paid with his life.
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So when is Olivia (Kerry Washington) coming back? Will she return at all? What happened to the Gladiators? And how long will they all be pawns in Rowan's game before someone realizes what's going on?
Here are seven teases for Season 4:
1. Where's Liv?
Season 4 picks up two months after the Season 3 finale, and the premiere will reveal to viewers exactly where she and Jake are working on their tans — but will anyone else know where she is? Though Liv's had more than her share of secrets with Cyrus (Jeff Perry) in the past, no one will be privy to her exact locale. "Olivia has pulled away from everyone, in a more complete way that she ever has before. We have no clue where she is," Perry tells TVGuide.com. "It's a bigger, different thing than what we've seen." She does, however, return... eventually. "I can't say when, how or why," Perry says, though he teases, "Our first [interaction] is deeply bruised."
2. Olitz on hold
With Jerry dead and Liv ditching him for Jake, Fitz will not be pining for his OTP for once. But that does not mean they won't eventually be drawn back to each other. "As much as Fitz would like to or think he can, it's not a possibility [for him to] fully, completely give up on her," Goldwyn says. "No matter what they think they're supposed to do, there's this gravitational pull between them. Maybe that's why she comes back. I'm not saying it is, but we know they're the central tension of the show."
3. A new Mellitz?
Yes, but not so fast. In the wake of Jerry's death and Fitz learning that Big Jerry raped Mellie, the pair will have made minor inroads in repairing their relationship, but "they're still in trauma," Goldwyn says. "How can you not be after losing a child?" Plus, the fact that Mellie's lovah-turned-Fitz-running-mate Andrew (Jon Tenney) is not going anywhere makes this an even bumpier road to navigate. "It's going to be a very slow process with them, but I love the places we're going with their story," Goldwyn says. "There was deep grieving and care-giving on both sides ... but they don't have the luxury of sitting down and having a chat, so you'll see how emotionally, mentally exhausted they are."
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4. In Fitz we trust?
Fitz and Cyrus are both feeling guilty over their self-inflicted wounds (read: Jerry's and James' deaths), and they'll channel their grief into work and focus on making their second term better than the first, which will play out in a lengthy story line that involves Portia de Rossi's top-secret new character. "There is a pretty fierce agenda that the White House is working on and proposing that's going to be a regular part of Season 4. It comes up against very understandable and even predictable opposition," Perry says. "It's a varied and aggressive and radical thing. It's not an outside thing they have to take care of; it's actually them trying to get sh-- done in politics! Like almost everything that happens the show ... we make a bloody mess of almost everything, but the intent is strangely idealistic for Fitz and Cyrus."
5. Does anyone suspect Rowan?
Nope! But Papa Pope's dirty little secret will slowly start to unravel early in the season, especially with Harrison dead and David (Joshua Malina) having those classified B613 files. As if Fitz needs another reason to feel guilt-ridden, right? "I can't say how he would react because it hasn't happened yet, but I think he would become homicidal," Goldwyn says. "Fitz would hold himself accountable. He would make it his business at all costs to destroy Rowan. I really think that would take over everything. It would consume him completely."
What is Olivia Pope and Associates without Olivia Pope? Nada. Abby (Darby Stanchfield), Quinn (Katie Lowes) and Huck (Guillermo Diaz) are all scattered about doing their own thing, with Abby in particular feeling the most betrayed by Liv's disappearance. "What they're all doing is very interesting and unexpected," Perry says. As Shonda Rhimes previously teased, Season 4 will be 'the season of Abby,' and it'll all start in the premiere, which is titled "Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia" — "Red" is Abby.
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7. No jam — for now
And we're guessing no Vermont, either. "It's too dark for jam. Fitz has had to adjust to this new reality without Olivia [so] he's probably off jam at the moment. It's a very painful association," Goldwyn says with a laugh. "It's the five stages of grief. ... 'Where we left Fitz: on the floor of the Oval Office eating jam.' Season 4 begins with Fitz crying and stuffing himself with Vermont jam! There's your spoiler!"
Scandal returns Thursday at 9/8c on ABC. Watch a deleted scene from Season 3 below.