“Scandal” Spark Notes

Just in case now’s not a good time to take a week off from work for faux mononucleosis.


Written by Carlye Wisel

You know when you want to catch up with a friend but dread the actual required phone call because it’s been at least a year and there’s too much to catch up on? Unless you’ve been a dedicated watcher since season one, you might also feel that way about the incessantly-talked-about Scandal. 

Good news! With this guide, you’ll get caught up all the way to tonight’s episode (we’re currently neck-deep into season three) in less than five minutes.

ALSO: spoiler alerts below. ALL OF THE SPOILER ALERTS. But that’s the point, right?

There’s nothing Olivia Pope can’t do. Or survive.

Olivia is a “Fixer,” which means she’s the main character, a police chief, PR maven, White House Press Secretary and Clinton-rivaling pantsuit diva all wrapped into one. There’s no problem she cannot fix, from bloody apartments to kidnapped babies to a big-time Congressman accidentally murdering his contractor. She has a long-running affair with President Fitzgerald Grant that some (but not all) people know about, but they’re in love so it’s, like, okay or something.

Her dad is an evil, powerful CIA guy who’s not as evil as she once thought (Scandal!), and her mom is an evil terrorist who’s not as dead-at-sea from a plane crash as Olivia once thought (Scandal!!).

It’s essentially a never-ending battle of good vs. evil.

Olivia and her team, a rag-tag bunch of wounded birds she’s saved personally from individual tragedy, are good.

B-613, the secret CIA program that trains off-the-grid secret agents — previously run by Olivia’s dad! — is evil.

President Grant, despite sticking his free world-leading rod in Olivia while holding office, is good.

Religious nutbag Sally Langston, current Vice President and secret husband-murderer, is evil. (See how this works?)

The only two that exist in the middle of the venn diagram are President Grant’s overly ambitious Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene, whose scandalous ways are to blame for his husband’s recent murder, and Quinn Perkins, doe-eyed B-613 agent and former employee of Olivia’s, who could still go either way.

There are lots of scandals, but only a few are huge.

Practically everybody in the show fixed the election to help Fitz win the presidency, which he was pissed about. He’s over it now, but if it pops back up, it’ll be referred to as Defiance, Ohio.

Season Two revolved around Fitz’s involvement in the plane Olivia’s mom “died” on, but it was all a hoax because she’s a crazy biotch.

Season 3 is full of nutzo plotlines, but Cyrus Beene’s husband getting murdered for trying to expose Vice President Sally Langston for murdering her own husband seems to be the strongest. (Whew.) Besides the terrorist attack Olivia’s mom appears to planning on US soil, of course.

Everyone’s slept with everyone.

Trust us, just assuming that no one is sexually off limits makes things a whole lot easier. Important relationships to note: Olivia and B-613’s current head Jake Ballard — aka Scott Foley from ye olde Felicity — banged a bunch, which made for a love triangle with his old Navy bro, President Grant.

Millie Grant and Andrew Nichols, President Grant’s VP candidate for the next election, have a secret fling, but less because of his lush hairline and more because he sees “the real her.”

Quinn and Olivia’s employee-BFF Huck have a weirdly sexual mentor-student relationship, and while it hasn’t been consummated beyond a kiss, he got real aroused by the idea of murdering her. Yeah, it’s pretty gross.

Kerry Washington is so beautiful it hurts your eyes to stare directly at her.

Like the sun! Or a spotlight! Nothing to do with the show, but it’s scientifically proven.

You see, Scandal is SO beautiful and insane that President Fitzgerald Grant narrowly survived an assassination attempt and it’s not even on the radar of important shit that’s gone down in Washington. The president! But still, we just saved you fifty hours of life you would have otherwise wasted on Netflix.

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  • This ain’t even chipping the iceberg. I have to pack for Atlanta tonight but you better believe!!! Scandal is being watched tonight! Love love love that show, but I’m so over Fitz and Liv…at one point it was “these two are meant for each other” and ppl were routing for this affair…now it’s just messy. Like Mustard on a white cashmere messy! I’m glad Mellies story is finally being told.

  • BYJ

    I’m curious as to why you would place Cyrus as middle ground? I may have forgotten something (this show has seen a lot of drama). What have I forgotten about Cy? I too, am tired of the Fitz-Olivia love affair. I feel like her new job at the White House ensued that we would be getting our fill of their little love story for the rest of the season, but I really wish she would go back to being a gladiator. Surely there is a scandal they could all be fixing! Poor Harrison and Abby seem so bored.

    • I put him in the middle because there is some goodness to him, but it’s ultimately overshadowed by the decisions he makes to keep Fitz in office. But he is inherently a good person, I think, and I think in the rest of the season he’ll be showing that more and more.

  • HEY GUYS, remember when that new white house press secretary got shot and died before the attempted assassination? Nope, neither do I, because it’s been overshadowed by everything. (SCANDAL!)

    Damn, it feels good to talk about spoilers. (and to be a gangsta.)

  • Charlotte Fassler

    CAN WE TALK ABOUT OUR FEELINGS TOWARD HUCK & QUINN? They are both straddling some serious crazy right now….

    • I like, *KIND OF GET IT*, but he went about it all wrong. You do not lick someone’s face as the first move, EVEN if you’re about to kill ’em. I’m pretty sure that was in The Secret.

    • Also: Huck is way better than Charlie. You always gotta go for the wounded bird and rehabilitate him! Has she learned nothing from Katy Perry’s attempts at dating?! JESUS!

      • Charlotte Fassler

        Yeah Charlie is all sorts of mad. SO many complex things happening, but in all seriousness what ever happened to the character from Season 1 played by Desmond from LOST? Is he stuck in some purgatory hatch somewhere again?

  • Thank you for sharing these tips! 😉


  • Serene

    I really LOATHE Olivia and she and Fitz together make me want to claw at the televsion! The woman (who is a fixer and the most powerful woman in Washington) CRIES every. single. episode. And when she’s not crying she looks like she’s about to start crying! On top of that, she is SO not a white hat any more than any of the rest of them. She helped rig an election. She is sleeping with another woman’s husband. She has threatened to ruin people who get into Fitz’s way.
    Frankly, I’m a big fan of her father and I also think Jake is way too good for her! At least her father is honest about what he is and seems to have a “bigger picture” in mind (maybe he is totally rationalizing, but he’s convinced that he’s helping to save the republic). Olivia, on the other hand, is ONLY interested in Fitz getting what he wants. Which seems to change every other episode. And how gross that she’s knocking boots with the man anywhere and everywhere with the secret service right outside the door? Yeah, that’s classy…..
    But you bet I’ll be watching!!!! 🙂

    • Woaaah B-613 fan in hurr! I think Jake is complicated because he’s doing the work no one wants to do, but I think Olivia’s dad is poiiison. He’s never done anything good for anyone. Made her dump her other boyfriend because of his position in government, threw Huck in a hole, threw jake in a hole! And his voice is terrifying. mostly that.

  • I am beyond obsessed! I literally cannot take it all in at once that I have to watch it twice in order to piece everything together. It really makes more sense and I connect dots I missed the first time around.


  • the love hate relationship between Olitz (Olivia and Fitz) and the viewers…


  • Sarah Jo

    Too bad I actually wasted 50 hours of my life… where were you a week ago, Man Repeller? Ahhhh!

  • Marlowe and Mint

    Scandal is the one show that I recommend to almost everyone – I’m on a mission to convert as many people as possible. Love the Spark Notes, but anyone new to Scandal should do themselves a favour and watch the first three and a half seasons. Olivia’s collection of Prada bags – a dream…

  • Alyssa

    You’re all awesome. Thank you.

  • Omara

    I like Olivia’s wardrobe. I dislike the old TV trick of having the characters speak super fast ALL THE TIME so that the viewer pays attention. It’s annoying when done with such frequency.
    I was glad to see Mellie is still sexually alive – good for her and Andrew.
    It’s about time a new character gets introduced as Olivia’s love interest. Fitz is so boring and arrogant. Jake is someone I wouldn’t trust.
    As far as all the crazy plots – it’s becoming too soapy for me, in a weird telenovela style – so and so killed so and so when it could have been dealt with in other ways; and i just laugh at all the fake drama. I admit I watch Scandal mainly for Kerry Washington (and her wardrobe).

  • l.

    I used to love this show – the first and second seasons were entertaining, well executed and intellectually/morally thought provoking. The latest season however, has devolved into never-ending screaming matches between EVERYONE. There is hardly a scene in the whole show anymore where people aren’t being rude/cruel/and have an ear-splitting decibel level voice. Disappointing. I think they tried to go the same way House of Cards did, and up the ante with the crazy plot lines – but scandal just ends up looking straight up crazy.

  • Denise Haber

    I love this show!!
    Olivia Pope is such a strong character and it’s a breath of fresh air from
    the other shows where the women somehow become the frail ones http://www.iamj.es