Where can I even begin when it comes to the second season premiere of Scandal, “White Hat’s Off,” bowing Thursday, September 27? The cast – who has been teasing the premiere over their various Twitter accounts for months now – has been telling you the truth. I’ve seen the episode, and it’s going to knock your socks off (probably literally).
Now, I know what you all want to know: Who the hell is Quinn Perkins? I’m not going to tell you, but I will tell you that you don’t have to worry: you’ll find out within the first ten minutes who Quinn Perkins really is and what she did, as the series picks up six months following the first season finale. And let me just say this: whatever you’re thinking about Quinn right now, just drop it. Because you’re wrong. The story that the writers at Scandal have built for Quinn and her backstory serves as a perfect through-line for this second season. We get to learn who Quinn is, yes, but don’t think that there will be satisfaction in finding out. In fact, you’ll only be left clamoring for more, and most likely often left asking “But why?”
But there is so much more at play than the story of Quinn Perkins in the opening hour of Scandal‘s second season, as Olivia Pope & Associates seems to experiencing some tough times due to Stephen (Henry Ian Cusick’s character) leaving the firm. We find out where he went and why, and though for many other shows, that would simply be the end of it, we actually see the characters dealing with the loss of one of their own, as Abby is quick to point out that Olivia has been off her game ever since Stephen left. You know who’s not off their game? Abby, who continues to deliver some of the episode’s most humorous moments, and looks like she’ll be carving out an even larger role for herself in the series this season, something I personally am excited to see.
Olivia’s decision to leave the White House – for good – at the end of the first season most certainly does stick, at least throughout the duration of the premiere episode. But don’t think that means we won’t be seeing the White House, Fitz, Mellie, or Cyrus. It’s quite the contrary, in fact, as Fitz finds himself having to make one of the biggest decisions of his presidency, and it’s a decision he’s not taking lightly. Unfortunately for him, his poll numbers are dropping and Cyrus and the First Lady have already made up their minds as to what they think the President should do. We continue to see the darker, more malicious side to Mellie, in a role that grew increasingly juicer over the course of the first season, and I couldn’t be excited that her character is a series regular this season. But the power play at works between Fitz and Mellie led to a climactic scene that left me reeling, wondering if I need to re-examine how I feel about those two.
And then, of course, there’s Olivia. It’s true, we get to see a more emotional angle to her character in this episode, after dealing with the loss of Stephen, her right-hand man, from the firm and the ability to see, and love, Fitz. But she stills remains one of the most fascinating characters on television, and as I watched the episode, I found myself thinking “This is my favorite character of all time.” Olivia may be more emotional, but that hasn’t made her lose her edge, as she weaves throughout the course of the entire episode, dealing not only with Quinn’s case – a case the Associates are growing so ever suspicious of – but another scandal involving a sex tape, as well as indirectly helping with the problem at the White House.
But it becomes very clear very early on in the episode – as it’s reiterated by Abby multiple times – that Olivia is hiding something. There’s something she’s not only not telling the Associates, but not telling us, the viewers, either. And the subtle hints (and growing aggravation of Abby) continue and continue to build to a final scene that is sure to leave everyone reeling, begging for the next episode immediately. The writers continue to prove their exceptional talent at pulling off twists and turns in the stories, and this may perhaps be the biggest one yet… but where will it lead to?
There’s so much thrown at you in the second season premiere of Scandal that I didn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg in this review, but there’s so much I just simply can’t tell you. So here’s what I will tell you: it’s an absolutely fantastic episode that keeps you on the edge of your seat for a solid 43 minutes. You’re going to learn a lot, you’re going to be very shocked, and you’re down-right going to love it. Scandal comes back full-force and we can only pray to God that this is only the beginning of a very long run for a show that I don’t want to see disappear for a very long time to come.