Of all the things that make Scandal’s legacy so rich and unforgettable — changing Thursday nights on TV, changing the game for social media engagement, and of course, showing a Black woman in the utmost position of power — the shadowy agency known as the B613 has to be one of the show’s most gripping, explosive elements. Scandal was already a magnifying glass for the nasty work that goes on behind the scenes in Washington, D.C., but the emergence of B613 really took Scandal’s OMG factor to the next level, fueling many of the series’ most shocking storylines.
In the Scandal canon, B613 played a massive role in how fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and all her associates navigated their world: The covert, top-secret government spy agency kept Pope’s power players, including presidents, in line. Nothing was off limits — waterboarding, kidnapping, and murder were all in a day’s work — and everybody in the Scandal-verse eventually found themselves ensnared in its dangerous, deadly grip until the very end. The name "B613" is especially unique, according to creator and showrunner Shonda Rhimes, who shares that naming the secret organization was "a little personal."
The series arrived just as Twitter was becoming a cultural force in its own right, and Scandal fans practically took over the platform to share their disbelief and surprise as episodes aired, with no small amount of these tweets devoted to the mayhem caused by B613. Rhimes has several favorite B613 moments, including Huck's introduction to the series and diving into Jake's backstory.
So, in honor of Scandal B613 Day here at Shondaland, here are six of Scandal’s most jaw-dropping B613 moments of all time and some of the Twitter storms that followed.
When we found out Huck wasn’t just a tech whiz but also an undercover killer (“Crash and Burn,” season one, episode five)
Up until this point in the series, we’d only known Huck — played by Guillermo Diaz, who, along with Katie Lowes, hosts Shondaland Audio’s Scandal rewatch podcast Unpacking the Toolbox — as a computer whisperer, able to code and hack his way into the gates of heaven if Olivia needed him to. Yet when Olivia asked him to find out what happened to Amanda Tanner (Liza Weil) by “doing what he does best,” it’s not long before we see him hovering over Charlie (George Newbern) — wrapped in plastic and bound with duct tape — with a drill at his chest. Fans were stunned, and left gagging.
When we find out what B613 is and how it has D.C. in a chokehold (“Spies Like Us,” season two, episode six)
Setting up a whole structure for lots of conflama to come, Liv gets an anonymous letter from Huck’s former case officer threatening to expose Huck and his past, laying bare that there’s a whole network of government goons running things around the Potomac. It’s the first time we hear B613, leaving us all screaming at the screen, “Liv, you in danger, girl!”
That time we find out Olivia’s daddy, Rowan (Joe Morton), is her main op (“White Hat’s Back On,” season two, episode 22)
The Scandal team was really in its bag with this one! We’d already been introduced to Rowan as a mysterious man of undisclosed origin and relation to Liv in prior episodes. But in the season two finale, after Olivia has been outed as Fitz’s (Tony Goldwyn) sidepiece, she cries, “Dad?!” at Rowan, making their connection clear in an earth-shaking twist for the ages. Rhimes names this scene as her all-time favorite B613 moment and we can see why!
When Huck almost unalives Olivia (“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” season three, episode two)
Whew! Scandal went from messy to messier in this breath-stealing installment. This is when Huck realizes that Command (Rowan) is Olivia’s dad. He stops himself before giving her a one-way pass to the great white pantsuit sale in the sky, but we knew from here on out that every time we saw these two, we’d be chewing our nails to the nub.
Quinn messes around and finds out when Huck tortures her (“YOLO,” season three, episode nine)
Poor Quinn (Katie Lowes) got herself tangled up with B613 and soon found out that was not a cute look for her because Huck was like, “Not today, Satan!” and tortured her back to the light. It was super-cringey too because he delivered one of the most unsettling monologues in TV history, saying, “Normally, I’d start with a drill or a scalpel. Peeling off the skin can be beautiful. Or removing fingers, toes — I like the feeling of a toe being separated from a foot — but with you, because we’re friends, because we’re family, I won’t do any of that. Consider it the friends and family discount.”
Olivia becomes what she has always despised (“Tick, Tock,” season six, episode 15)
Now fully in her villain era, Olivia tricks President Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) into reinstating and refunding B613. Though it was sad and surprising to see her go low, it was all part of a bigger plan to have her go high: Later, in the series finale, Olivia burned it all down and let go and let God in a closed-door Senate committee hearing where she spilled all the tea. “We are not the heroes of this story; we are the villains,” Olivia says, before ultimately standing in the sun with her boo Fitz. We loved to see it!
To keep the B613 Day love going, Shondaland recently brought the Scandal crew back together on Tuesday, June 13, for B613 LIVE: Scandal Uncovered with Katie Lowes and some of her fellow B613 alums. Joe Morton, George Newbern, Brian Letscher, and Scott Foley all popped for some fun reminiscing about their B613 days. Watch below for the can't-miss convo!
And, for even more of a deep dive into the world of Scandal, be sure to check out the Unpacking the Toolbox podcast hosted by Katie Lowes and Guillermo Diaz, available at Apple, iHeart, or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.
Malcolm Venable is a Senior Staff Writer at Shondaland. Follow him on Twitter @malcolmvenable.
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