After an excruciatingly long wait, the third season of Scandal reaches the UK this Thursday.
For the new season, Scandal has found a new home on Sky Living, who picked up the Kerry Washington fronted drama after it was rather unceremoniously dumped by the original UK broadcaster More4.
Given that, and the slightly anaemic ratings for the show on More4, there a more than even chance than you’ve not heard of (please?!) or watched the first two seasons of this US gem. Both seasons are available to watch now on Sky On-Demand. But for those of you who don’t have the time to get caught up before season three premiere, TVWise is on hand to help with this quick guide to Scandal.
So What’s This Scandal?
The show, which has now cemented itself as the number one scripted drama (in the 18-49 demo) on network television in the United States, has a fairly straight-forward premise: it follows Olivia Pope and her team of “fixers”, who solve the problems of the elite in Washington D.C. The only problem is that Olivia is the on-again/off-again mistress of the President and she, with disturbing regularity, finds herself drawn into the murky world of politics at the White House.
The series was created by Shonda Rhimes, who is also behind Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and the upcoming How To Get Away With Murder, and like House of Cards has become a favourite of real DC insiders. From West Wing-esque walk and talks to flawless monologues and the occasional epic rant, Scandal is a must see drama, not like anything else currently on television.
So who are the players in Scandal?
Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is the ultimate DC fixer. A former White House Communications Director, she also happens to be the President’s mistress and a key confidante who has a self-assured confidence in what’s right and what’s wrong.
Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (Tony Goldwyn) is the serving republican President of the United States. Can you say complicated man? From presidential affairs to murder, it’s fair to say this guy’s internal compass is a little off. But even so, it’s hard not to root for the man.
Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) is President Grant’s wife and the First Lady of the United States. She is a “political animal” like her husband who has been both aware of and, until recently, tolerant of his affair with Olivia.
Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) is the White House Chief of Staff who firmly believes that the ends justify the means. A brilliant strategist, he will go to any lengths to serve his president. Not to mention the fact that his occasional rants are pure gold.
Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) is an old friend of President Grant’s from their days in the Navy. At Grant’s request, Ballard has been spying on Olivia and has started up a relationship with the DC fixer.
Harrison Wright (Columbus Short) is one of Olivia’s fixers, a “gladiator in a suit”. He has a long history with Olivia, who saved him from what would have been a very length prison sentence for insider trading.
Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield) is another of Olivia’s gladiators and her primary investigator. With Olivia’s help, she escaped her abusive marriage to the son of the Governor of Virginia.
Huck (Guillermo Diaz) is Olivia’s security and technology expert. A broken soldier, he was once a member of B613 – a top secret division of the Central Intelligence Agency that handles black ops.
David Rosen (Joshua Malina) is a close friend and former client of Olivia’s who has long claimed to “wear the white hat”. After reaching a deal with Cyrus Beene to supress evidence, he was recently appointed as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.
Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) is the most recent addition to Olivia’s team. Her life was almost ruined by the actions of Hollis Doyle, which led Olivia to go to extraordinary lengths to try to save her. She has become an apprentice of sorts of former B613 agent Huck.
Sally Langston (Kate Burton) is the Vice-President of the United States. A deeply religious woman, she initially ran against Grant for the Republican nomination. Her strong religious convictions find her in frequent confrontation with Cyrus.
The Story So Far
So what have you missed? Things began with Amanda Tanner, a White House intern who slept with the President and then wound up dead. The dirty secret? Vice President Langston’s Chief of Staff Billy Chambers was using the affair to attempt to force Grant from office and elevate Sally Langston to the Presidency. It is only when Langston, forced by the President, disavows her former number two that the plan falls apart.
The show’s second season was equally scandalous, with Quinn on trial for the bombing of the Cytron offices which killed her ex-boyfriend and numerous others. Olivia pulls strings and gets the case thrown out. Then there’s the attempted assassination of the President and VP Langston’s power grab. But after the attempted assassination of President Grant, the truth about the explosion begins to emerge. The bombing was ordered by Hollis Doyle to cover up the fact that the recent presidential election was rigged by Mellie, Cyrus, Hollis, Olivia and Verna Thornton.
Olivia had gone to such lengths to save Lindsay Dwyer/Quinn, from kidnapping and giving her a new identity through to having a judge throw out the case, because her own actions had caused the explosion and nearly sent Quinn to prison. Easy running from there then? Not quite. Unfortunately, Cyrus’ husband James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky) is a Pulitzer nominated journalist who has just returned to work and he’s teamed with David Rosen from the US Attorney’s Office to uncover the truth.
James takes a trip to the town of Defiance, Ohio, and finds a memory card which proves that the election was rigged in favour of the Grant/Langston ticket. But before long, James, reluctant to send his husband to prison, backs out of the investigation and it’s left to David Rosen to get to the truth with no more than the Cytron Memory Card to prove the case.
What follows is James perjuring himself in a grand jury, David losing his position with the US attorney’s Office and Billy Campbell once again rearing his ugly head in an attempt to take down President Grant. But at the 11th hour, David Rosen, makes a deal to hand over the Cytron card to Cyrus in exchange for being appointed as the US Attorney for the District of Columbia. But as one scandal is handled another emerges: Mellie reveals in a national interview that the President is having an affair and before long the press identifies Olivia as the President’s mistress.
Season three, which runs 18 episodes, promises even higher stakes as Olivia an co have to deal with the fall out from the revelation that she is the President’s mistress, not to mention the fact that the super-secretive head of B613 is her dad. Other key storylines this season include a bruising re-election campaign and a strong storyline featuring B613. Friends alum Lisa Kudrow also guest stars this season as a female Congresswoman who is going after the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency.
Scandal season three premieres on Thursday July 31st at 9pm on Sky Living. The first two seasons are now available via Sky’s On-Demand services.