In December, ABC cut its season 3 order of its hit Shonda Rhimes series Scandal from 22 episodes down to 18.

No official reason was given by the network, but word on the street was that it may be due to star Kerry Washington’s pregnancy, which will likely interfere with the show’s shooting schedule (she’s due in the spring). Although, again, no official confirmation of that from ABC that I’m aware of.

But if correct, writing Olivia Pope out of those 4 cut episodes certainly would not have been an option.

ABC’s other choice would’ve been to work Washington’s pregnancy into Olivia Pope’s storyline somehow – again, assuming that the reason for the order trim is due to her pregnancy.

So after last month’s mid-season finale, there are 8 episodes left, instead of 12, which will begin when the show returns on February 27 – still a full month away. How will Scandal Gladiators cope?

Ahead of the series’ return, ABC has revealed 2 new clips from the next episode (#11, titled Ride Sally Ride) to hold you over until then; both embedded below: