‘Scandal’ Postmortem: Darby Stanchfield Talks Abby’s Difficult Choice

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Darby Stanchfield and Tony Goldwyn in <em>Scandal</em>. (Credit: John Fleenor/ABC)
Darby Stanchfield and Tony Goldwyn in Scandal. (Credit: John Fleenor/ABC)

On Scandal, nobody’s all good and nobody’s all bad — even Papa Pope has the redeeming quality of loving his daughter. But last week, it seemed that Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield) had tapped into a very dark side of herself and had become a traitor to Olivia Pope and the gladiators.

This week’s episode, “A Stomach for Blood,” cleared up Abby’s relationship with the Mystery Power People and her role in former colleague Huck’s shooting. Long story short: Abby isn’t evil (huge sigh of relief). Like others, she was caught between a rock and a hard place, but she’s not going down without a fight.

Here’s what Stanchfield had to say about the big Abby reveal…

What was your reaction to discovering why Abby was involved in Huck’s shooting? Were you relieved?
It made sense to me that Abby wasn’t in cahoots with these guys. She hadn’t known Peus and Mystery Woman from, like, years and years ago and was like, “This is my plan all along, mwuhahahahaha.” It made sense that she, very much like Rowan and others this season, is being played and being manipulated by them.

The thing that surprised me the most was that lunch — the scene with Peus and the Mystery Woman where they say, “Look, we’ll give you $300 million. We think you have potential.” Abby has never fallen for that nonsense. That is ego. That is being hungry for power.

Yeah, it’s clear that she’s gotten used to having power and doesn’t want to let go of it.
Totally. They said the key things she needed to hear. Also, what was surprising was when they said, “You can run for president.” Because I’m thinking, as the person who plays Abby, “No, Abby, you can’t! No, Abby! You are not presidential material!” Maybe someday, but not right now. So that was very telling. When people get their ears tickled, they’ll believe anything. It’s that seduction of power and the weakness of ego and ambition.

What’s her motivation to save Cyrus? Is it just her conscience, or does she see him as a warning sign of what could happen to her?
It’s a really fascinating relationship. Jeff Perry and I talk about Abby and Cyrus a lot. There’s definitely this mentor/mentee kind of relationship. Cyrus is a rascal to everybody, and he’s certainly done his share of bullying Abby and keeping her out of the bubble, but in his dysfunctional way, he sort of gave her that chief of staff job. He tickled her ears and said, “Go get it. Get that job.” Even though Abby is, on one side of things, power-hungry, and she’s enjoying being in the president’s ear, Abby has not lost her sense of justice. She hasn’t thrown away her moral compass altogether.

So, the episode didn’t address what happens to Huck — if he’s dead or alive. When will we find out his status?
We do come back to him in the next episode. Now that we know what Abby’s done and how far she’s gone and her role in it, it does pick back up right away.

At the show’s recent PaleyFest panel, you and the rest of the cast teased the big 100th episode, which explores what would’ve happened if Olivia had never fixed the election for Fitz. What else can you say about it?
One thing we talked about is that it’s very funny and light in many ways. It’s a tribute to the longtime, loyal fans of Scandal. There are a lot of references to past things. It’s an alternate reality, so it’s like, “What if this were to happen?” Scandal fans have talked about these situations at the water cooler, so it’s really satisfying to see that play out.

Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. Watch clips and full episodes of Scandal on Yahoo View.

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