Session 3 of the weekly S&A Talkback, now that the penultimate episode has aired (last night), and I’m sure most of you have seen it. Scandal I watched it this morning.

If you haven’t seen that episode yet, then you may NOT want to read any of this.

So, as expected, we learned about how Olivia Pope’s relationship with the Prez got started on the campaign trail, when she was brought on-board to do what she does best – fix his campaign. We also see how she begun to assemble her team, and the contentious primary race between Fitz and Sally Langston, who’s now vice president, in an episode that contained mostly flashbacks.

Some questions were answered, maybe most importantly, we learned who the mastermind is that has been behind the entire Amanda Tanner fiasco; AND even more significant, who the woman is with Fitz on that audio sex tape – a mystery to everyone aware of the tape, except Fitz and the woman – Olivia Pope.

I initially suspected Prez Fitz’s wife was somehow involved, but even though she’s certainly proven to be capable – given the really sly and even unconscionable thing she did to help keep Fitz in the presidential race (recall the scene in last week’s episode in which she told Fitz "there’s no one in this building [the White House] who won’t go to extremes for you"), and the fact that she had an extramarital affair before Fitz and Olivia hooked up – she’s innocent here… at least, thus far. Who knows what Shonda Rhimes has in store for her in upcoming episodes.

Their marriage is reminiscent of what people said about Bill And Hillary Clinton’s – that it’s essentially a business partnership. Both have their political ambitions, and are simply working together like business partners to see those objectives through – even in light of Bill’s 3 or 4 affairs, including the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which likely inspired the Amanda Tanner fiasco in Scandal.

But it turns out that Billy Chambers has been our man all along. I actually never suspected him at all. Did you?

And with the way this episode ended (Chambers stabbing Gideon in the neck with a pair of scissors) and next week’s season finale’s synopsis (when Quinn finds herself in a fix that’s both tragic and compromising), episode 7 should be an explosive one, likely ending the season with a major cliffhanger.

What could this tragic and compromising fix be that Quinn finds herself in? In her last scene in episode 6, she’s in Gideon’s bed, post-coital. And now Gideon’s been stabbed in the neck. I’m guessing the predicament she finds herself in will involve her relationship with Gideon. 

And what could this core-shattering announcement from Billy Chambers be? Maybe he breaks his silence and reveals all he suspects of the Prez’s affair with Olivia? 

Gideon is left bleeding profusely – will he die?

What will Olivia and Fitz do to prevent the audio sex tape from being made public, assuming that’s a turn the show takes? 

Of course, my Twitter feed was all abuzz about the *steamy* scene between Olivia and Fitz in one of the flashbacks. If you thought that was steamy, you should know that it could have been even steamier, because, as Shonda told THR yesterday, she had to "fight" for those scenes: "The sex scene, I wrote it really, really specifically. The actors really went for it and tried to make it real. I had to take it by Broadcast Standards and Practices more times than I can count. There were shots that I had to pull out; they sent it to lawyers. It was crazy what went on with this scene. It’s not a scene in which you watch two characters have sex; they never have sex, the scene ends when any sex could possibly begin. Yet there was something about it that was really steamy for broadcast standards and practices. They were so worried about it that we had to fight those battles."

And in response to the question of what she had to cut out, she replied: "Frames and shots; there were just little, tiny images that had to come out to make it not "too hot" for network television. In the end, I was still really pleased with it because I wasn’t willing to compromise."

Interesting. I didn’t think it was particularly risque; I feel like we’ve seen even riskier love scenes on network TV – especially in primetime. Maybe we’ll get a "Showrunner’s cut" for the DVD/Blu-ray release, with all the frames and shots she had to remove, included.

And let’s not forget David’s investigation into Amanda Tanner’s death. How will that affect the other plot-lines? I can see both he and Olivia pairing up (not romantically) to eventually get the story behind Tanner’s baby, kidnapping and murder.

I like how the show keeps the audience a bit off-balance; just when you think you’ve maybe snuffed something out, it takes you off in a direction you didn’t quite expect, which helps keep it interesting. Although I’m hoping it’s not all just to keep the viewer off-balance, and that there IS a method to the madness: Amanda Tanner’s kidnapping, the president showing up at Olivia’s door, and now Gideon being stabbed – all happening successively in each of the endings of the last 3 episodes.

So what can we expect for the season finale?

According to Rhimes: "I think a lot of it ties in, a lot of questions get answered. I liked the idea that whether we were doing seven episodes or 17 episodes that when we got to the end of this run there was going to be some definitive questions answered. The Amanda Tanner aspect of the story would be put to bed in some way for the audience. I didn’t like the idea that we would leave that hanging. That said, there are other pieces of the puzzle that leap off into a new direction for the audience."

And finally, as we wait to find out whether ABC will renew it for a second season (and quite frankly, at this point, I don’t see how they couldn’t), allow me to highlight a sentence from Shonda’s chat with THR in which I’d say she all but outright states that there will indeed be a season 2. 

THR asks Rhimes about backstory for the other members of Olivia’s team, and she replied with this: "One of the things that we’re excited about doing for Season 2 is to really delve into who these characters were. We will see what happens with Stephen. You’ve heard all this time that Quinn didn’t exist before 2008. Who is Quinn? That’s going to really start to resonate as we move on."

So, there ya have it. Sounds like Shonda MIGHT already know something we don’t know, when she starts off with, "one of the things that we’re excited about doing for season 2;" or am I just reading too much into that?