A high-ranking government official plans an assassination attempt. A young lawyer with a secret identity is accused of blowing up an office building. And the president of the United States entangles his affair with his family and professional life. These are just a few of the slightly improbable but strangely addicting stories that the ABC drama Scandal—created by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy)—tackles, all at breakneck speed.
Part procedural political thriller and part primetime soap, Scandal mixes the worlds of politics and public relations with secrets and sex. Partway through its second season, the Kerry Washington–led show has seen a rise in ratings as well as a rise in social-media chatter.
With the season’s final batch of episodes about to kick off, watch the moments that make Scandal crazy, but crazy good.
Olivia and Fitz’s Relationship
The first episode of Scandal ends with the revelation that the president and Olivia have an ongoing and illicit romantic relationship. Hiding from the security cameras, Fitz pushes Olivia up against the wall of Oval Office and kisses her before being caught by the president’s chief of staff, Cyrus. Olivia uses this intense encounter to confront Fitz about his relationship with his “sweet baby,” White House intern Amanda Tanner.
The Life of Amanda Tanner
Poor Amanda Tanner. In a mere five episodes, she has an affair with the president, attempts suicide, uses her pregnancy for blackmail, and is kidnapped by an ex-CIA agent. Sadly, Amanda’s kidnapping leads to her murder, but nobody can know about it at first, not even her father. And if that’s not crazy enough, it is revealed that she was pregnant with the child of Billy Chambers, the vice president’s chief of staff, who later exposes the salacious love triangle.
Presidential Sex Tape
If you’re going to have an affair with the president, make sure nobody is recording your intimate encounters. Luckily for Olivia, it’s Amanda who is thought to have been heard on the tape, when she was the one who actually created it. Not so luckily for Olivia, she has to confront Fitz for “cheating on your mistress with your girlfriend.”
Quinn Discovers a Murder
The Season 1 finale of Scandal focuses on Billy’s murder of Gideon, a reporter ready to expose the president and Amanda’s illicit relationship. Billy uses a rather unconventional murder weapon, a pair of scissors, causing Gideon to bleed out from his neck. Quinn frantically asks for Olivia’s help, and the team secretly scrubs the crime scene. A crucial mistake is made by the team, however, as they forget to deactivate Gideon’s phone, making District Attorney David Rosen aware of their illegal activity and that Quinn isn’t exactly who she says she is.
Rigging the Election
One of the greatest coincidences of convenience on Scandal is that Chief of Staff Cyrus’s husband, James, happens to be a White House reporter ... who happens to uncover the voting fraud scandal that got Fitz elected. And, of course, Cyrus offers to adopt a child with James as a method of preventing him from further investigating the story.
No presidential television show is complete without an attempt on the life of the fictional commander in chief. In the Season 2 episode, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” Fitz is brutally shot multiple times, including once in the head. Much to Olivia’s relief, he survives the attack but the event left audiences tweeting, “Who shot Fitz?”
First lady Mellie Grant has done many ethically questionable things, including lying about a miscarriage and intentionally inducing labor to prevent her husband from divorcing her. Her most scandalous act though was forging the president’s signature, reinstating him to office after the assassination attempt while he was still in a coma. Mellie justifies this by telling Olivia and Cyrus that they have to protect their secrets, because “we all got into bed with the devil, and nobody wants to go to federal prison.”
Supreme Court Murder
“Your legacy will remain untarnished, and so will mine,” Fitz sweetly tells Supreme Court Justice Verna Thornton, before holding her down and removing her oxygen mask, effectively killing her. By dying—literally at the hands of the president of the United States—Justice Thornton is prevented from confessing that she was the one behind the plot to assassinate the president.
David’s Morbid Morning
One way not to wake up—next to a bloody dead girl named Wendy with no recollection of how she got there or how she died. That is how David Rosen started his morning in “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” and he ends up lying to the police about the reported disturbance. Luckily for David, he has Olivia and the Gladiators help to move the body and stage it to look like a murder. But is it a coincidence that the man who keeps calling Wendy’s cellphone is the same man who has been flirting with Olivia?
Baptisms may symbolize new life, but Olivia and Fitz use the opportunity to rekindle their forbidden romance. The pair awkwardly eye one another while holding Cyrus and James’s baby during the baptism. They then sneak into a utility closet, where Olivia first slaps Fitz, then succumbs to the hookup.
When she’s not conspiring with or against the president, Olivia Pope helps her clients with their public-relations problems, including finding a spouse for a young and handsome political candidate who hasn’t been on a date in years. She shockingly learns that the candidate doesn’t date because he is in love with his sister-in-law. Olivia uses this revelation to hypocritically lecture about waiting for stolen moments and mistaking secrets and lies for love.