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Shonda Rhimes on What’s Left for Olivia Pope in ‘Scandal’ Finale

Over the last seven seasons, “Scandal’s” Olivia Pope has “been to hell and back,” says creator Shonda Rhimes.

The Washington, D.C-fixer, played by Kerry Washington since the show premiered in 2012, has controlled elections, plotted murders, and become the leader of secret organization B613, all while balancing romances with a president and a secret agent. With one episode left in the series, what’s left for her?

“She started out as the character that we knew who very much believed in this power and how important this particular kind of power was, and molding it and being a part of it,” Rhimes said ahead of the finale. “We watched her, like everybody else, become completely corrupted by it and make all the same mistakes that everybody else makes to get what she wants from it. Then we watched her hopefully fight her way back from it.” 

After giving up her signature “white hat” earlier in the series, it was important to the creator that “Olivia figure out who she is and what she wants as a person” by the end of the show — but not necessarily that she reclaim that hat and lead gladiator role she once held.

Similarly, Rhimes also mentioned that in writing an end for Cyrus (Jeff Perry), the goal was to showcase just how far he could take things.

To me, Cyrus was the person to whom the Oval [Office] was the most special, and he is the person that’s been the architect of the most amount of what’s gone on, and his goal of getting into the Oval — this place that he was never going to get to — he wanted it more than anybody else and he never made it there. To me, it felt like it’s always been a contention in our show that the Oval Office was something that corrupted anyone who came near it, and the closer you came the more corrupt it made you, the more it damaged you,” she said. “To watch Cyrus, who had circled this world and put people in the office and had his nose pressed to the glass, finally make his leap was the ultimate corruption — [that] was very interesting to me.” 

With a show based in the White House and D.C.’s political spheres, Rhimes said that her original plans for season 7 were scrapped after Donald Trump’s election, and instead packed her ideas into the season 6 finale last year. As for the series finale, which airs on Thursday, she said it is very different than a traditional season finale.

Whether or not everybody pays for what they have done… [the finale is] about seeing what happens once that choice has been made,” Rhimes said. “Thee story is wrapped up [but also] the audience gets to imagine some of what happens next for the characters.”

Despite the fact that Rhimes said she has known exactly how the show would come to a close for the last year, she still found new and exciting moments in actually executing the end of her series.

We were doing a table read for the penultimate episode where I realized it works — the story we wanted to tell and the ending we wanted to get to — [it] is actually going to work,” she said. “[It] might’ve been the first time I actually cried about the fact that we were finishing because it meant that we were actually doing it correctly. I find it exciting, I wasn’t worried, I’m very pleased to see that it worked the way we wanted it to work.” 

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