Previously on Scandal, ‘Flesh and Blood’
“Were we ever really people? Or did serving at the pleasure of the president allow us to shed our pesky skins and unmask us as the monsters we really are?” – Cyrus Beene
If you’ve listened to our Scandal podcast, you know that I’ve been wondering for weeks how the season would go considering they shortened the run from 22 to 18 episodes. That’s a lot of story to either do away with or cram into the remaining episodes. Just look at all that happened in the first four episodes of the latter half of the season: Sally announced she was running for president, Mellie began an affair with Andrew, Jake murdered three people, and Mama Pope began her terrorist plot with Adnan. And those are just the major events. That’s not to mention the near assassination of Sally and Quinn’s spiral into B613 territory and relationship with Charlie. So what happened in last night’s finale and how might it have been better served with four more episodes to set it up?
The bombing of the church didn’t exactly go as planned, no thanks to Cyrus. Jake rushes in and informs the president of Maya Pope’s true plot in just enough time to stop anyone from being killed in the blast. In all fairness, as I said on Twitter last night, Cyrus WAS going to say something. Maybe.
Leo Bergen was politically savvy enough to convince Sally to turn the near-tragedy into an opportunity, and as Fitz and the rest of the country watched Sally tend to the wounded, he watched his chance at reelection all but disappear. Finally accepting that he was on his way to being a regular civilian, Fitz tells Olivia that he is going to divorce Mellie and marry her. They will move to Vermont and eat lots of homemade jam. Olivia knows she can’t let him make such a decision without knowing the truth, so she tells him Mellie was raped by his father. Fitz finally behaves as a human being as he comforts his wife after telling her he knows. Mellie tells him about the paternity test and that Jerry is his son. It’s a beautiful moment between a couple who very rarely had any.
Quinn dumps Charlie to be with Huck and since he’s pissed off, he presents her with an envelope that holds something “Huck wants very much.” Of course Quinn opens it and then takes Huck to the house where his wife and son live. Instead of being happy, Huck is furious and tells Quinn to never speak to him again. This is great because if they’re not talking then we won’t need any more awkward sex scenes between the two.
After a heart-to-heart with Olivia, Huck knocks on his wife’s door and comes face-to-face with the woman who thought he was dead.
Jake is finally free of B613 and decides he wants a normal life and that means turning down David’s plea to help bring down Cyrus (a.k.a. Voldemort) for not reporting the bombing, the administration, and B613. Meanwhile, Papa Pope proves to be the luckiest sonofabitch as Maya’s knife came thisclose to piercing his heart. From his hospital bed he listens as Olivia admits that Fitz is not going to win the election and she feels like a failure.
Fitz and family are onstage as Fitz delivers his last rally speech before the election. Jerry sneezes, coughs up blood, and then collapses on the stage. He dies in the hospital from a rare strain of meningitis, a vial of which Secret Service Tom reports went missing from a military facility a week ago. Fitz blames Maya and accepts Eli’s help in bringing her to justice. That means he reinstates Eli as Command. Eli’s first order of business is to get Harrison to tell him all he discovered on Adnan’s and Maya’s financial dealings in an effort to track Maya via the money trail. Showing Harrison a picture of Adnan with a bullet in her head seals the deal and Harrison gives up what he knows, which results in Maya being arrested while trying to make a bank withdrawal.
Satisfied that the woman who killed his son has been disposed of (not really; Papa Pope said he killed her, but she’s really in the B613 hole at episode’s end), Fitz goes about the business of repairing his family. He comforts Mellie as she admits to keeping her distance from their son because she thought he was Big Jerry’s. It turns out he was Fitz’s, but that shouldn’t have mattered because he was always hers. Can someone give Bellamy Young an Emmy already?
When Olivia realizes that her mother was responsible for Jerry’s death, she decides that she needs to handle herself because she’s the scandal. She takes up Papa Pope on his hell or high-water flight to a new life and brings Jake along. This leaves Abby devastated. Jake has a parting gift for David: a shitton of B613 files with a note to “get the bad guys.”
Harrison pieces together that Eli had the most to gain from this outcome: a president in his pocket, Olivia out of the country, Maya neutralized, and his job as Command back. He confronts Eli, who admits to everything (including having Tom inject Jerry with the disease) shortly before Tom puts a bullet in Harrison. Fitz wins the election, but it’s an empty victory as he thinks about all the people who have died or been damaged serving at the pleasure of the president. He breaks down in the Oval Office and asks Mellie to call Olivia, who’s not answering her phone as her private jet takes off.
1. Why did Adnan want to kill the president to begin with and how did she hook up with Maya? Maya made it clear that Adnan hired her and she, in turn, would hire a team to secure a bomb and carry out the plan. Why did Adnan offer to give Fitz’s campaign funds? Who was this team Maya needed all the additional passports for? We only saw Dominic (bomb provider/boyfriend) and Ivan, who had very vague issues with America. Last night, as Jerry collapses on stage, Maya visits Eli’s hospital room and tells Olivia that she only wanted to get rid of Fitz for her so that he wouldn’t use her up and discard her. Okay. So even if Maya did just jump on the opportunity to make a little cash while doing what she thought was best for her daughter, that still doesn’t explain Adnan’s purpose.
2. Who the hell runs B613? No. For real. The whole purpose of the organization being above and separate from the executive office is to make sure the current president, whoever he or she may be, doesn’t have a say in whatever B613 needs to do to preserve the republic. And that includes taking out the president if need be. So how did Fitz have the authority to remove Eli, replace him with Jake, and then reinstate Eli?
3. What’s up with Big Brother? Did we ever learn how or why the NSA was using that software to listen in on the phone conversations of … who, exactly? Sally Langston? Cyrus Beene? And what about this new facial recognition software conveniently available just in time for Jake to instruct David to use it last week?
One of the best-handled story lines this season was the revelation of how Fitz’s and Mellie’s marriage became so damaged. I can’t help but think that with a few more episodes between the reveal of Jerry’s parentage and his death, the story would have had more time to breathe. Maybe his death would have felt more like a tragedy and less like a shocking plot point.
So, yeah, this season has been uneven, with a few plot holes. And no one liked seeing Olivia drinking all the time, crying, making questionable decisions, and digging through a trashcan for a cell phone. But I’ve long suspected that this season was about knocking down these characters as low as they can get. For at its best, Scandal is truly show about how imperfect humans are. Here’s to hoping that next season is about building them back up.
For a scene-by-scene recap of the Scandal season 3 finale, make sure you listen to our podcast tomorrow.