Talk about a clash of the chatty titans.
Scandal isn’t short on unsavory characters. In this universe, torture set against a bouncy Motown tune is de rigueur; each episode features at least two or three or nine betrayals. At this point in the show’s run, practically everyone but baby Teddy Grant has killed somebody, either directly or indirectly. Still, there’s no denying that the show’s two most ruthless, dastardly, outright evil characters are White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene and CIA bigwig Rowan Pope.
Thursday night’s season finale confirmed that neither of these men is to be trifled with, unless you want to be blown up and/or stuck with a rare strain of meningitis on live television. But which is actually the least redeemable presence on Scandal? For that, we’ll have to consider each villain’s history in a series of categories.
Cyrus ordered the deaths of Amanda Tanner and, at one point, his own husband — though he eventually called off the latter. He also nearly got away with letting hundreds of innocent people perish as a result of Mama Pope’s funeral bomb, all so he could take out Sally Langston. But Rowan claims responsibility for killing 183 people while in B613, which doesn’t even account for the 329 people who died when he ordered Young Fitz to shoot down a plane that Maya led him to believe was carrying a bomb. Oh, and Rowan also orchestrated the murder of Fitz’s poor teenage son Jerry, all so that the president would win re-election (and stay away from his darling daughter).
Who’s more evil? Cold-blooded child murder is hard to top — so this round goes to Rowan.
Rowan hired Jake to sleep with Olivia — and, uh, make a sex tape with her; ew, dude, she is your daughter. Cyrus practically handed his husband to Daniel Douglas on a silver platter in order to bring the vice president down — an act that caused a chain of events ending in Daniel’s murder.
Who’s more evil? Thanks to both the consequences and the act itself, I have to give it to Cyrus.
We’ve been through Cy’s stuff: He both pimped out and almost murdered James. He also adopted a baby just to get his husband to stop investigating Defiance, which is a profoundly terrible thing to do both to James and to that poor kid. Still, it’s got to pale in comparison to Rowan imprisoning Maya for 22 years, then, at the end of season 3’s finale, capturing her and throwing her in B613’s horrific “hole.”
Who’s more evil? Given that Maya’s an unrepentant terrorist and James was just a hapless, ethically questionable journalist, one could argue that Rowan’s treatment of her was justified. One could. But I won’t. Rowan.
Rowan lied to his own daughter for over two decades, never letting on that her mother hadn’t died in the plane crash. Cy, however, was instrumental in the election-rigging scandal that formed the backbone of season 2 — and inadvertently led to all kinds of horrible things, including the Cytron bombing that killed seven and essentially ruined Quinn’s life.
Who’s more evil? Based purely on scale, Cyrus takes this one.
At this, the guys are fairly evenly matched. Neither one believes that a single word will suffice when he could speak 500 of them instead — preferably in a musical, rolling manner that builds and builds and builds until there’s a CRESCENDO OF YELLIIIIING and Olivia is left stunned, lip aquiver, gorgeous white coat trembling in awe and terror and maybe a tinge of admiration too. Ahem.
Who’s more evil? Let’s call it a tie. Which means we should perhaps have a tie-breaker:
MONOLOGUERY, SPECIAL FITZ-SHAMING EDITION
Who’s more evil? So hard to choose — and honestly, neither of these rings particularly evil, mostly because Fitz is The Worst and pretty much deserves every harsh word directed at him. (Yeah, I said it.) If we’re ranking on sheer jerky awesomeness, perhaps Cyrus should get the edge. (Rowan’s speech is more of a righteous scorn sort of deal.) That scorn, however, is incredibly righteous, and his final burn to Fitz is the stuff of legend — so it’s Rowan here as well.
POSSIBLE PRESENCE OF A SINGLE REMAINING SHRED OF HUMANITY
This, really, is what it comes down to. Cyrus has a shred, however tiny; Rowan doesn’t. Rowan FTW!