Gladiators united at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday afternoon for the Scandal PaleyFest panel. Representing the hit Shonda Rhimes drama were stars Kerry Washington, Guillermo Diaz, Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Perry, Bellamy Young, Joshua Malina, Scott Foley, George Newbern, Cornelius Smith Jr. and Joe Morton.
Before the panel began, the audience was treated with a screening of the pilot episode, reliving the first time they were introduced to the almighty Olivia Pope and her trusty Gladiators.
Scandal, which was recently renewed for a seventh season, opened its sixth season with its biggest audience and best 18-49 rating in a year. Now, celebrating its upcoming 100th episode, titled “The Decision” and airing April 13, fans were told that it will be a “what if”-themed episode.
“The 100th episode is insane. It’s a ‘what if?’ episode,” Goldwyn told moderator Jesse Palmer. “It informs in an interesting way. You’re seeing an alternate reality if things had not gone the way they went…It’s not a standalone. It actually informs your understanding of all of us when we get back to our normal Scandal reality.”
Malina added that the episode has “some fantasy fulfillment, there’s some dread fulfillment.” Meanwhile, Lowes described it as “the OG Gladiator inside track. It’s such a gift the Scandal writers gave to us, in turn, to the fans.”
Stanchfield also added that because of where the episode is placed in the season, “with the Huck storyline getting really heavy, it’s oxygen to this fire and you laugh because you need to.” Adding, “The audience will feel that too, this sort of respite 100th episode in the midst of [everything].”
The panel was an emotional one as Washington broke down in tears after Goldwyn praised her for being the best team captain. “One of the reasons we’ve been able to maintain this sense of family…is the woman sitting to my right (Kerry),” Goldwyn chimed as the crowd went wild. “She’s the greatest team captain you could ever want and she takes the role so seriously and with so much humility, enthusiasm and energy.” Other tear-worthy moments included the cast sharing their favorite moments, almost all included scenes with Washington.
As for where fans will see their favorite characters in the upcoming episodes, Young was asked if she will finally become the first female president. “It hurts, I can taste it,” she replied. “Nothing would make me happier. Shonda can wring you dry like a sponge!”
Smith Jr. also commented on Mellie (Young) and Marcus’ future saying, “I always believe in a happy ending. I think in the next couple episodes, I think we’ll see more crumbs of the beautiful pie that could be or could not be Mellie and Marcus.”
Going over to Newbern and Lowes, when asked if it’s easy for assassins to be engaged, Newbern replied that his character Charlie and Quinn (Lowes) are looking for some sort of “normalcy” in their lives. “They’re looking for some sort of a life. We’ll see what happens,” he said.
As the panel wound down, and the actors shared their favorite moments, Washington mentioned that she would never forget when the Scandal ladies visited her after the birth of her daughter. She also recalled an episode that was very special to her: Harrison’s (Columbus Short) funeral. “We were all so moved. Our love for Columbus made that episode important. [Watching the first episode and seeing], in this episode how extraordinarily talented he is and how special he is as a person. That episode, for us to do that together, and say goodbye to him in such a dignified, and graceful, beautiful, elegant way.”
Scandal airs Thursdays on ABC.