If it wasn’t clear enough already: Shonda Rhimes knows all. Scandal’s newest season almost had a Russian election-meddling subplot, but Rhimes decided to kill it. “We literally had a story line where the Russian government was trying to destabilize the United States government by messing with the election. We were building that into the story line,” Rhimes told Entertainment Weekly. But not even Olivia Pope’s election-rigging skills could face off against rumors of Russia’s influence in real life. “We try to stay up with everything both conservative and liberal and then try to extrapolate it to its most crazy degree. Unfortunately, reality is extrapolating itself to its most crazy degree right now,” Rhimes said. Ultimately, Scandal’s writers room cut the subplot because it was too eerie. “It’s not just that we didn’t want to be bold and big in a show like this. That wasn’t necessarily our problem as much as, how dark do you want to be at a time when people aren’t feeling so happy?” Rhimes said. “There are definitely a lot of things that hit very close to home that we hadn’t anticipated, things that I thought would be so far from what was gonna happen that felt like fantasy or felt like I could revel in them because they weren’t gonna be true. And they turned out to be a little bit too true.” Scandal returns January 19.