For a show that can feel sometimes like it’s slipping past its prime, Scandal‘s season 4 finale restored my faith a bit. It did precisely what a finale should: Brought some things together (well, for now), and blew almost everything else to smithereens. Let’s just say, the world we’ll meet in Season 5, Episode 1 will look quite different than it did at the beginning of this episode—the kaleidoscope pieces have shifted into a totally different formation.
First, to wrap up all that Foxtail business: We start back in Springfield, where Rowan is meeting with Mellie. He hands her a folder about “a cause” that’s important to him, which holds not only a stack of photos of Mellie getting it on with Andrew (that feels like years ago), but also a file on Operation Remington—which I sort of forgot Mellie never learned about. In return, he asks her for a “list,” and Mellie, thinking she’s saving her husband (as well as herself), complies.
After a session of the B613 grand jury trial, Huck frantically races to Olivia. “Something happened,” he says, in his creepy wide-eyed Huck way. We cut to a crime scene, where David Rosen steps, puking, off of a parked charter bus. (Gut reaction told me Rosen was poisoned and was dying, but thank heavens that wasn’t the case.) In a scene stolen straight from a gory episode of CSI, it turns out the bus is full of freshly murdered American citizens, also known as the grand jurors on the B613 trial. Remember the list Rowan (alias: Damascus) asked Mellie to get? Well, in what will become Mellie’s own personal Operation Remington, that list held the jurors names. Mellie and Cyrus talk about what happened, and when Mellie mentions Remington, Cyrus clams up. “I’ll take care of it,” he says. “Don’t tell Fitz.”
Back at OPA, this grand jury murder is the last straw for David Rosen. “Everyone who was in that courtroom is dead now, except for me and you,” he says to Jake, as the rest of the gang looks on. “While I live for justice, I don’t want to die for it.” He quits the case.
Her take-down-daddy plans foiled again, Olivia is having a bit of a breakdown. She’s “sick of fighting and losing,” and she doesn’t want to be Rowan’s prisoner any longer. Once and for all, she must beat him, so she goes to see the one person who came the closest: Mama.
She was never going to win Mother of the Year, but Maya Pope isn’t at her most maternal during Olivia’s visit. “You’re so vain,” she tells Olivia. Liv, Maya says, creates problems just so she can get the satisfaction of solving them, of feeling powerful and important. “This uppity fantasy world you decided to be a part of is not real, boo,” she says. “You need to come on back down to this planet where the world doesn’t revolve around you.” It was a sort of harsh (though sort of true) takedown, but just as Olivia is about to leave, Mama throws her a bone. “Nobody even knows there’s an enemy to be taken down,” she says. And then everything makes sense: Of course Rowan’s would-be enemies all over the world (and in the country) aren’t going after him: His identity has been just as concealed, if not more, than the existence of B613 itself.
So what does the brilliant Olivia Pope do with this information? She goes straight to the head of the CIA—who plays dumb, but clearly knows about B613. Olivia is smarter than this: If shutting down B613 were as easy as tattling on Rowan to the CIA Director, wouldn’t someone have done it already? Olivia’s powers of intimidation have been running on empty lately, and this was no exception. After a consultation with Cyrus, who convinces her it’s pointless to try to shut down the 30-year-old, agency-spanning B613, CIA lady has Olivia and Jake arrested. But don’t worry, Kerry Washington looks flawless in a low bun and olive-gray prison garb.
In a happier place, Mellie and Fitz are having a celebratory party in the White House, toasting to her campaign’s success. Fitz makes a sweet, loving speech to his wife: “As a team, we’ve never been stronger.” He calls her his best friend, calls her inspiring, says this past year has been “a revelation.” Earlier, he and Liv seemed to have a goodbye phone call, as Liv wished Fitz luck with Mellie’s campaign, and for a minute, it looked like things were going to go back to normal. Of course, that didn’t last long.
David Rosen asks Cyrus to fire him. How many times has this happened? How many times will it take for Rosen to realize he can never walk free after all the messes he’s seen? Cyrus tells Rosen he knows his pressure point: It’s Abby, who Cyrus can easily have killed, because he is literally evil incarnate. If he and Papa Pope ever did a Captain Planet, “By the power of our rings combined,” type thing, the earth just might explode from pure demonry. As Cyrus tells Abby: “I can’t have a soul. If I had one, I’d never accomplish a thing.” Yep, that about sums it up.
His hand forced, Rosen visits Liv and Jake in their respective jail cells and forces them to sign an affidavit withdrawing their statements against B613. We learn that Olivia’s middle name is Carolyn, unless we already knew that, and we learn Jake has a mom he loves, whose safety he can be threatened with. Oh, and one more thing? Maya Pope’s getting out of jail.
NEXT: Rowan Pope meets his end
Liv and Rowan have a phone call, where she tries to be threatening. “I didn’t get you this time, but someone will,” she growls. Ah, but they won’t! Because he’s had all traces of Command, and B613, wiped off the planet. Every agent who knew his identity was swiftly killed, we see in flashback, by the little JAG impostor from last week, who then burned a truckload of B613’s files. Once the incineration was complete, Rowan killed the fake-JAG himself, and thus was transformed back into his Dr. Jekyll alter-ego, Eli Pope, the dowdy, old Smithsonian paleontologist.
It was a chilling thought, the idea that Rowan could just slip into the role of Eli and live out his days scot-free, but it didn’t last long. Quinn (wow, Quinn!) remembered that measly $2 billion they still had from the Olivia Auction, and the gang realized that they could get normal old Eli on a normal old crime: embezzlement. Without his B613 connections or power, Eli goes to normal old jail. “You were right,” Liv tells him on her visit to rub her victory in his face. “We couldn’t take Command. But we can take Eli Pope.”
But all is not well with the rest of OPA: Quinn confronts Huck. Being in the murda bizness for so long together, she recognizes his handiwork anywhere. It was Huck who killed that bus full of people, at Command’s beckoning. “I didn’t want to do it,” he pleads.
“You’re lying,” Quinn says. “The best thing I can do for you is shoot you right here, right now.” She puts a pistol to his head. “Do it,” he weeps—but of course, we don’t find out the answer. I had a hunch (and I think some of you did, too) that Huck would be the next person to die. He’s too unstable, too bloodthirsty. There’s nothing more the writers can really do for him. He’s like Marissa Cooper on The O.C. at this point—what could possibly be left? I’d say just have some sort of fiery car wreck and be done with it.
In the quickest campaign ever, Mellie wins the Virginia Senate seat. But while she’s at the podium, Fitz is backstage talking to Liz, who accidentally lets slip news of the Damascus/Rowan meeting. She shows Fitz a picture of the guy, and of course, he knows exactly what it means to see that face. He puts on his politician’s smile for the cameras, but back at home, things are not so perky. Mellie and Cyrus joke about when Mellie can start prepping her presidential run, and a grim Fitz butts in: “You think I’d let you be President after what you did?” Okay, Fitz, you wouldn’t be the boss of the country anymore, as you so love to remind us, but go on. “You don’t even know what you did wrong,” he says. “Pack your bags and get out of my house… or I’ll throw you out.” Ouch. Look, Mellie clearly shouldn’t have given Rowan the list, and she clearly should feel a lot worse than she does about killing so many people by accident. But Fitz shot down a plane of civilians and smothered a dying old lady, so can he really pull the holier-than-thou card? Really?
As if kicking Mellie out weren’t enough of a power trip for the most powerful man on the face of this green planet, Fitz does something he should have done two terms ago: He fires Cyrus. This is going to be nuts—Cyrus just reminded us he doesn’t have a soul, and we already know the only thing he lives for is power (definitely not his toddler daughter, who he must have given up for adoption or something, because he sure as hell could not care less about that child). I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of Cyrus’ revenge plan.
Jake and Olivia are at Liv’s door, and she invites him in for some wine. Like a well-trained puppy, he won’t step over the threshold. “My mission is complete,” he says. “Command is in jail. I have delivered you home, safe and sound… Bye, Liv.” She starts to protest, but then he twists the knife (which is in my chest, but clearly not Liv’s): “I’m in love with you, but you are in love with him.”
By the end of the episode, we’ve done a complete 180 from CSI territory, and we’re in full-on rom-com mode. Fitz shows up at Liv’s place with his Secret Service bros, but alas, she’s not there. Bummed, he returns home, only to find a certain someone waiting on his balcony, as a cover of “Here Comes The Sun” starts to play. It’s a sweet reunion, mostly because neither of them says the word “Vermont.” Just a lot of bewildered parroting: “You’re here.” “I’m here.” And then an opening: “What happens now?”
“Whatever we want.”
That last bit may be a call to us, dear viewers. What happens now, on this show we’ve stuck with for four years? What do we want? At this point I’m really not sure, but I do appreciate Shonda and co. shaking things up a bit tonight, even if my fantasy boyfriend Jake’s future in Olivia’s life is uncertain.