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Scandal delivered quite a few shocks and surprises to viewers during Season 5, and one of the more head-scratching moments came in the form of Jake marrying the woman that he clearly has no investment in spending his life with and has zero problems setting up for disaster, Vanessa. Though the character was played by Justified vet Joelle Carter for the characters' episodes during Season 5, Carter had to exit the ABC drama, which has brought in Glee star Jessalyn Gilsig to take her place. Jake just can't stop finding new hearts to stomp on.
No bad blood occurred between Scandal's creative team and Joelle Carter, thankfully, and it all comes down to scheduling issues. The actress has commitments with the upcoming NBC spinoff Chicago Justice, and the production will clash with that of Scandal's. Kerri Washington's pregnancy pushed back the production start of Scandal - giving The Catch more time to build an audience - and the ABC drama will join Chicago Justice as a midseason entry.
So yes, according to TVLine, Canadian actress Jessalyn Gilsig will step into the role of Vanessa when Scandal returns to its usual drama-bomb drops, and it wouldn't be wild speculation to guess she'll be at the center of something huge in the first chunk of Season 6. After all, if Carter is only being replaced now, it's conceivable that she could have filmed the entirety of Vanessa's on-screen footage had Scandal debuted in the fall as originally planned, since only the midseason return would have created the schedule conflict.
And then it's just a quick hop and a step to the assumption that Jake and Olivia are going to hardcore scheme this woman in a way that gets her out of the picture completely by the midseason finale. Unless, in light of the casting change, Shonda Rhimes and her writers decide to go in a different direction. Okay, so most of this is just conjecture, but would it not be silly to think that Vanessa was brought into this show in order to take her down in a big way?
This is big news for Jessalyn Gilsig fans, as 2016 has been a drought for everyone used to seeing her on a regular basis. She's had a solid run for almost a decade, going from Friday Night Lights to Heroes to Glee to Vikings, but she only had a pair of Glee episodes last year, and she was...well, she's not going to be on Vikings anymore. There's still hope for another guest spot on something airing this fall, but at least the new year will give Gilsig a (possibly) permanent place in primetime again.
Scandal isn't set to return to ABC for Season 6 until the midseason point, putting its debut in early 2017. To see everything else coming up before then, check out our fall TV schedule.