Scandal season finale recap: 'The Price of Free and Fair Election'
Season 3 comes to an explosive end with murder, betrayal, and an unlikely couple flying into the sunset
So the looming bomb did go off — in the first three minutes of the show! While Cyrus was content to let everyone at Senator Hightower’s funeral get blown up just to erase Fitz’s presidential rivals (truly his most evil decision yet), Jake storms into the Oval Office to inform the president just in time. And just as Fitz is doubting the decision to evacuate the funeral, the bomb detonates.
We immediately find out that VP Sally Langston and her campaign manager, Leo Bergen, are OK (so my prediction is already wrong), and Leo sees this as Sally’s “Pearl Harbor or 9/11” moment. He dirties her up, rips her sleeve, and sends her off to give a come-to-Jesus speech of survival. Olivia also sees this as a campaign opportunity (as long as we’re all on the same despicable page), and sends Fitz in front of the cameras to address the nation. But in this head-to-head battle of who sunk the lowest, Sally emerges the winner, getting full-screen coverage on the news networks as she tends to the wounded.
At this point, Liv and Cyrus are ready to throw in the towel. There’s no way they can win, they say. Is this really it? Is Fitz a one-termer? And an illegitimate one-termer at that? An election isn’t Olivia’s only concern: She heads to the hospital to visit her dad after her mom’s stabbing attack, and he’s alive! And doesn’t look too worse for wear. The topic of conversation immediately turns to politics, as Liv says of the probably failed election, “I thought I could repair what we did. I thought we could win clean.” She also confesses to her dad that she was scared when she found him bloodied in the office. Man, the evil Eli days seem long gone. But, as we’ll soon learn, they SO aren’t.
Over in the dysfunctional world of Adnan and Harrison, she’s got her onetime lover at gunpoint, and he’s ready to make a deal with the devil. He promises to keep her secrets quiet to keep them both alive. And as he walks back into the OPA offices, we see he was convincing. But he might be wishing that Adnan had just killed him, because he and Abby walk in to Huck banging Quinn over the pool of blood where Eli was found. Just when you thought these two couldn’t get any grosser…
David Rosen wins nickname of the night when he calls Cyrus “Voldemort.” SO appropriate. He comes storming into Jake’s apartment demanding that they bring down Cy after the chief of staff was ready to let hundreds of innocent people die just to win an election. But Jake just wants to watch the Redskins and drink beer.
NEXT: The Charlie and Quinn love story ends
Apparently word has traveled to Charlie that Huck and Quinn are licking each other all over D.C., so he’s moving out. He leaves a parting gift of a manila envelope that contains something Huck really wants. Is it a postage stamp? Or a Tootsie Roll Pop? Or something else he can lick besides Quinn?
Back in the Oval Office, Fitz is writing his concession speech and dreaming of his post-presidential days as a small-town mayor in Vermont, with Olivia as his jam-making wife. All that comes to a screeching halt when Olivia decides it’s her place to tell Fitz about his dad raping Mellie. Wow. Mellie has kept this secret for almost two decades, and when one single person gets wind of it, the word is out in a matter of days. Gladiators: Was this Liv’s news to tell? Fitz initially is in denial over the news, but then he realizes it’s true. He immediately goes to Mellie, and she knows he knows. “Olivia Pope can’t do anything right,” she says. But it turns into a wonderfully sweet moment, and we learn once and for all that Jerry IV is Fitz’s son. What does this mean for Fitz and Mellie? (Any #TeamMellitz members out there?)
Back to the fairytale romance of Huckleberry Quinn. Ha! Actually, it’s my waking nightmare. Quinn, of course, opens Charlie’s mysterious envelope, and it’s proof that Huck’s pre-B613 wife and son are still alive. So she takes him there and tells him that she loves him. In return, he shoves her and tells her to never speak to him again. I’m with him.
Olitz are in the midst of a reality check after Liv divulges Mellie’s secret. “Vermont’s not happening, I understand,” Liv tells Fitz on the phone. She acknowledges that they can’t be together now that he knows the truth about what happened to Mellie, and then they just stay on the phone for a minute in silence. These two are super romantic, I’ll give you that. When Olivia returns to her dad’s hospital room, her mom is waiting there. And back at the speech, Jerry sneezes up blood and then collapses onstage. Who killed the president’s son?
And what is Olivia’s first thought after Jerry’s death? Now, they’re going to win the election, because the first family lost their son. “When did we get like this?” she asks Cyrus. Jerry died of meningitis — the same strain that went missing from a lab a week ago. Maya has to be behind this, right? The president sure thinks so. “She killed my son,” Fitz tells Eli in the hospital. “So now I’m going to kill her.”
NEXT: Olivia comforts Huck
When Olivia heads out of her apartment, Huck is just standing there. “I was going to knock…” He tells her that Quinn found his family, and he’s thinking they’re better off. But one thing he’s wrong about is that they’re safer, because if Charlie knows their identities, they’re never safe.
Eli checks himself out of the hospital and sets out to track down his terrorist ex-wife. Olivia calls him up and wonders: That private jet Eli promised in the season 3 premiere that will sweep her off to a new life — does that offer still stand? I remember at the time thinking about the How Olivia Got Her Groove Back spin-off possibilities, but now I’m with Abby: I’m totally against this idea. Liv tells OPA that she’s leaving and that Eli will take care of everything. Somehow, this seems unlikely. Eli, meanwhile, tracks down Harrison to get to Maya. At first, H won’t talk. But then Eli presents photos of Adnan with a bullet through her head. Another dysfunctional love story ends here.
Jake heads to Liv’s place to find her packing up her whole life. And while he thinks she’s having a pity party, because she realizes that she’s at the center of all the various crises in D.C., she insists it’s anything but. “This is not a pity party. This is me doing what I do best. I’m handling this. I’m fixing this.” And then she says the glorious line that will hopefully be used in promos for seasons to come: “I’m the scandal.” Such a trailer line! And Jake wants to hitch a ride to Olivia’s new life, repeating my favorite line he’s had all season: “Save me.” Shonda is truly killing it with the callbacks to the show’s most epic moments. “Stand in the sun” gets a shout-out too. So will Olivia bring her fake boyfriend along on the trip?
Harrison’s intel leads armed guards straight to Maya’s location, and Eli is making sure she won’t cause any more trouble. “She was taken off site and disposed of. … Maya Pope is dead,” Eli says matter-of-factly. Harrison returns to OPA to find that Olivia is making her escape. He heads to Eli’s office to try to get Olivia to stay — and that’s when he begins to put all the pieces together.
Everything was tied up in a nice bow for Eli: B613 is reinstated, Olivia is leaving town, Fitz became president just like she wanted, and he kept all his promises. ELI IS STILL EVIL, of course. (At least I got one part of my prediction right.) “He took my child, so I took his,” Eli says of murdering Jerry. Ice. Cold. Oh, and he also killed Adnan just to get Harrison to talk. Well, technically, undercover B613 and Secret Service agent Tom did all the dirty work, of course.
NEXT: We won the presidential election…yay?
Fitz finds out he gets a second term in office, but for some reason he’s not so psyched to celebrate with his staff. His dad’s a rapist, his son was murdered, and his true love just got on a plane with his best frenemy (well, he doesn’t know this part just yet). Oh yeah, Olivia takes Jake with her on the love jet. But Jake didn’t leave town without tying up some loose ends: He sends David Rosen copies of all the classified B613 files with a note to “go get the bad guys.” I’d say Fitz’s imminent breakdown and David’s latest white-hat mission will be pretty big season 4 storylines.
But we’re far from over here: Huck comes face-to-face with his old family, Eli may or may not have murdered Harrison (it probably depends on Columbus Short’s legal issues, if we’re being honest), and Maya Pope is in the infamous B613 hole. And when Fitz and Mellie try to get Olivia on the line, she ignores the call and flies off into the sunset with Jake. (No matter what you think of Olake, they both deserve a vacation after the last year, don’t you think?)
Wow, Shonda totally played us by making us think the funeral bomb would be the biggest bang of the finale. In reality, the real fireworks were spread all over the show, from Little Jerry’s murder to Eli’s evil comeback to Huck’s found family to Olivia leaving D.C. Where will this show possibly go in season 4? Obviously, this can’t be the end of OPA, but just how long will Olivia stay away?
Share all your thoughts about the finale and your theories about where season 4 will pick up in the comments below. And on a personal note: Thanks for joining me on this epic roller coaster of a season, Gladiators! Stay in touch in the summer, and we’ll reunite in September for more Scandalousness.
Follow Katie on Twitter: @ktatkinson.