Warning, Gladiators: This article spoils the many twists and turns of Thursday’s Scandal. Proceed at your own risk…
Following last week’s revelation that Abby is the OPA mole, fans all but condemned her as a villain — only to discover that her strings are being pulled by a bigger, badder, more pony-tailed puppet master. As we learned Thursday night, the Shadowy Organization™ approached Abby during the election about her own political aspirations (#Whelan2020!), offering access to a $300 million fund to advance her position.
Of course, things took a pretty dark turn when the Shadowy Organization™ started making demands of Abby, including swapping out the bullets from Frankie Vargas’ corpse with three fakes provided by Meg. (Ugh, Meg!) We also know now why Abby was so determined to keep Fitz and David from sending Cyrus to the electric chair — and why she remains determined to free him from captivity.
“I was relieved in that it makes sense for the character and the arc,” Stanchfield tells TVLine of Abby being the mole. “For me, it’s more plausible than if we find out five-and-a-half seasons in that she’s been the axis of evil this whole time. It also makes sense how [Marjorie Ruland] and [Mr. Payas] manipulate everybody. They get under everybody‘s skin.”
Below, Stanchfield answers a few of TVLine’s burning questions from the episode, including the fate of Huck, which Stanchfield says will be revealed soon:
TVLINE | Abby seemed surprised when she was told how powerful she is. Did she really not know that?
It’s kind of like when someone says, “You don’t know how beautiful you are right now,” and it’s not for another 20 years that you realize how beautiful you were in that moment. I feel a little bit of that for Abby. Fitz tells her, “You have every option in the world after I’m done with my presidency,” but she doesn’t trust that. She doesn’t trust herself. Or maybe she’s just seduced by that large, shiny object that says, “You can have instant power! Here’s $300 million!” [Laughs]
TVLINE | Do you think “President Abby Whelan” is really a possibility?
I wrestle with that, and I love that Abby wrestles with it. There’s nothing easy about where Abby’s at in this place. She makes a lot of difficult decisions, and not in her traditional moral compass kind of way. It’s also the first time we’re seeing blood on Abby’s hands. Ever.
TVLINE | Literal blood on her hands! Was that fake Frankie corpse as gross as it looked?
[Laughs] Oh my goodness. Let me tell you, the people who make these organs and this body do such a good job. I really, truly was gagging. It was pretty intense. We shot that scene at the end of a 17-and-a-half hour day. I was so tired and shaky. It was so easy to act because I really was grossed out.
TVLINE | Speaking of corpses, though I hope that’s not the case, can you offer any insight on Huck’s condition?
He’s in trouble. He’s a mess. I’m really looking forward to that eventually coming out. It’s pretty serious.
TVLINE | Switching gears a little, there’s been a ton of time jumping this season. Like, more than usual. Are you having trouble keeping up?
The producers and writers have been great about giving us the tools we need, and I personally love the way they’re playing with time. They keep going back to this one night, this key moment in time, and drilling down on different characters’ points of view. And a unique thing happened to me this season: Shonda [Rhimes] told the head writer to give me this week’s script, even an early draft, before I shot the scene where you find out Abby’s the mole. She wanted me to be informed about what happened in the past — and that never happens! We never get to look at scripts until the table read.
TVLINE | I know how rare that is. You must have been so excited.
I was like, “Wow, I’m an insider now! What’s going on?!”
TVLINE | I’d like to know “what’s going on” with Cyrus and Abby. Will freeing him remain a priority for her?
Oh yeah, the storyline with Cyrus isn’t over by a long shot. It’s all she has left, really. I mean, she literally had someone killed to get Cyrus out. Jeff Perry and I always talk about this relationship. It’s such a dark, twisted one, but there’s also a subtle mentor/mentee vibe. They have each other’s back in a weird way.
TVLINE | I also have to ask you about Abby telling Fitz that Olivia will never go to Vermont for him. Does she believe that?
Abby’s trying to get what she wants out of the president in that moment, and she’s taking it personally that he wants to move to Vermont and do his own thing because it’s not what she wants him to do. She’s definitely gotten caught up in the power and the fast lane that she’s in. It’s lashing out with a purpose. She’s trying to get him to wake up.
TVLINE | And do you believe that?
I always think there’s hope for Olivia and Fitz. It might be the optimist or the idealist in me, but this was set up as a true love story from the beginning. To me, it’s still one of those relationships where they can never say goodbye.
Are you relieved to learn that Abby isn’t acting of her own accord? And do you forgive her for trying to sink the show’s eternal ‘ship? Whatever’s on your mind, drop it in a comment below.