Get ready to say goodbye to Olivia Pope for good.
There only remains a few hours between us and the last episode of Scandal ever, and creator Shonda Rhimes is making it clear that when Thursday’s episode of the long-running political thriller ends, it’ll be the last you see of the Gladiators.
“Scandal is done,” she told reporters during a conference call ahead of the finale, point blank, when asked if she might be considering a spinoff of the series that made Kerry Washington a household name. “I felt we were coming to our end is because we’ve told the stories I wanted to tell. We’ve told the canon of Olivia Pope in the way that I wanted to tell it,” she added. “So I don’t feel like we have stories that we didn’t get to tell that I wanted to tell.”
And as for whether any characters might pop up, or even earn a mention, on How to Get Away With Murder, which crossed over with Scandal earlier this year, Rhimes said that wasn’t really up to her. “Whether or not it’s mentioned is up to [creator] Pete [Nowalk]. That’s his show and his storytelling. So I don’t know if he’s ever going to mention it. It’s not a plan that either one of us have,” she admitted. “We don’t have any—Neither one of us have that in our heads as part of a plan. So thus far, no.”
While Rhimes admitted that she’d only just finished editing Thursday’s finale a few days prior and hadn’t really had much time to begin considering the show’s place in TV history just yet, she did mention that she’s proud of the way with which Scandal delivered its story over the last eight seasons.
“I think I’m most proud of the way we told story on Scandal which felt different as when we started doing it which was sort of a high speed breakneck pace,” she said. “But mostly because we were telling the story as it felt like it needed to be told to convey what we felt like what was the level of sort of corruption and mania and insanity that our characters were swirling in. So I think I’m most proud of our style of storytelling.”
For the final hour, which will see Olivia (Washington) and the rest of the Gladiators deal with the fallout from B613 going public in effort to keep Cyrus (Jeff Perry) and Jake (Scott Foley) from stealing the Oval, Rhimes admitted that she didn’t see the episode as everyone paying for their sins.
“I think that one of the things that Olivia says in the penultimate episode is, this idea that, standing up and being somebody who puts everything out in the open is important,” she said. “Whether or not everybody pays for what they’ve done, I don’t necessarily know that that’s what the finale is about, as much as it’s about seeing what happens once that choice has been made.”
While did remained characteristically tight-lipped on the details, Rhimes spoke to the broader themes of the finale. “I think we’re finishing the evolution of the character, of Olivia Pope. The story is being completed and you’re going to find out what happens basically,” she said. “We’ve sort of put them in a fairly impossible position and you get to find out what happens and how that gets solved and where our characters go from there.”
As for whether the last episode will wrap up neatly or leave us wondering, Rhimes admitted it might just be a little bit of both. “I mean, yes, the story is wrapped up and yes, the audience gets to imagine some of what happens next for the characters,” she teased.
For Rhimes, though filming has wrapped and production on Scandal is indeed over, she’s still not fully said goodbye yet—despite having several “final” moments to commemorate along the way this season. “I’m fully in denial still. I’m trying really hard to stay in denial, but we’ve had a lot of – we’ve had a lot of our moments already together, ” she said. “We’ve had more goodbye dinners than anybody I know. We had our last night on set together, we were all together until about four in the morning filming. We are going to all be together on the night that it airs.
“We’ve become very close as a group of people. So I’m not necessarily sure that it’s going to feel the same as saying goodbye to some other show or another story,” she continued. “It’s just—it doesn’t quite feel real that it’s going to be over. And I think yes—I think we’re all in denial about that.”
Scandal‘s series finale airs Thursday, April 19 at 10 p.m. on ABC.