Forget the power struggle in Washington. When Scandal returns for its seventh and final season, that fight will give way to something much bigger: The fight for Olivia Pope's soul.
Liv may be back in the White House, running Mellie Grant's presidency and B613 in tandem, but if you think that absolute power absolutely corrupts, Kerry Washington wants you to look at it from a different perspective.
"Where we meet Olivia this season, she's 100 days into Mellie's presidency and she's kind of in the place she always dreamed of being. It's beyond her wildest dreams," the star told E! News during a visit to the set of the ABC drama. "She's Chief of Staff to the President and she's the head of B613. So we get to see how well she navigates all that power because, you know, power doesn't change you, but it does reveal who you really are."
"I think it's a real existential year for Olivia Pope, trying to figure out if her soul is for the good or if it is for the evil," Bellamy Young added. "We'll see how that battle goes.
And just because Liv has amassed essentially all the power available to her or anyone in the dark and twisty world of Scandal, don't go framing her as a "powerful woman." Allow Washington to explain why: "I don't know that anybody would ask that question of a male character who's in these exact same situations. I think I'm just playing a woman who is living her life fully. I don't know that we need to think about it especially as her being a powerful woman. She's just a woman with a lot of power. There are a lot of women with a lot of power, so she reminds me of a lot of people I know."
While the configuration of Mellie as POTUS, Cyrus as VP and Liv as the head of everything might seem ripe for the power struggle to end all power struggles, the stars insist that things are pretty copacetic—for the time being. "We'll get to see how these very powerful, strong, bad ass, sophisticated, smart, brilliant, sexy women are able to work side by side. Or not," Washington teased.
"Well, I think Mellie couldn't be happier to have Olivia by her side. I think she feels like there is nothing they can't accomplish together. But wht Mellie doesn't know is that running the White House is only Olivia's day job, she also has a whole other job of being Command and being in charge of B613," Young elaborated. "And how she got there is an enormous secret as well, so I think there is much room for absolute betrayal and devastation. They're as united as they ever have been when she start this season, but there has never been more potential for absolute decimation of their relationship. So it'll be a real trust exercise."
As for Cyrus, well, Jeff Perry teased that the Machiavellian VP just might surprise you. "Cyrus has been, in a way, an unelected staff member of rarified air, but still...and so, to be in this particular kind of political position is interesting for him. And it's interesting to navigate with Mellie as his boss, with Liv as his boss," he explained. "Early on, you see him really chafe at that. And then at times, you see him go, 'Hey, I knew these women were powerful, and I really like working with them. And I'm going to work for them.' You know? So both things start to happen."
For more from the trio, including an update on Liv and Fitz's relationship after that very public kiss in the season six finale, be sure to check out the videos above!
Scandal returns for its seventh and final season on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. on ABC.