Shonda Rhimes does not give up secrets easily. When we caught up with the Scandal showrunner earlier this month at ABC's TV Critics Association press tour party, she was characteristically vague about what's in store for Olivia Pope and the Gladiators as the series begins its third season this fall (October 3, if you haven't updated your calendar yet).

So after squeezing out just a little bit of of information about upcoming story lines, we moved on to other topics: The show's staccato-like pacing, the possibility of a spinoff, her disdain for the idea that Scandal is anybody's "guilty pleasure." If you're all up to date on the show, read on. And if you've yet to get addicted? Season one of Scandal is on Netflix now, while season two is on Hulu Plus (and heads to Netflix later this month).

So last season ended with Olivia being confronted by reporters who'd found out she'd been having an affair with Fitz. How will you kick off season three? 

When season three begins, I feel like we have some business to take care of. People are saying to Liv, "Are you the president's mistress?" The first episode sort of leads to some very interesting negotiations between the president and the first lady and Olivia in a way.

What can you reveal about the overriding themes for some of the characters next season. Let's start with Olivia.

There's a moment in the second scene of the first episode where you sort of discover that the Olivia you know now is a very different person than she used to be. I feel like we're discovering that Olivia's in this very interesting state of evolution, and we have no idea where she's going to be at the end of this season.

And the president?

I can't say anything about him that's not a spoiler!

How about the first lady?

Everyone should remember that Mellie is smarter than anybody gives her credit for.