Scandal season finale recap: The Scarlet 'O'
Olivia is visited by a figure from her past; David Rosen makes a choice that changes history
ROWAN IS OLIVIA POPE’S DAD?! And you all were on to it from the beginning!
Scandalites, the white hat may be back on, but the game has changed, and no one came out of this finale unaltered. Was there ever any doubt that this episode wouldn’t deliver? It was at turns tense, scary, off-the-wall nuts, funny, and sentimental. Shonda, we are but your humble servants sitting here waiting with bated breath for what your crazy, brilliant brain cooks up next for Scandal.
Scandal Season 2 has chronicled everyone’s fall from grace. Well, every character who presumably could have a fall from grace (sorry, Charlie). The finale’s title calls back to this season’s premiere, “White Hat’s Off,” when Olivia had to betray the law and her moral code to help protect Quinn. And throughout the season we’ve gone deeper and deeper into the original sin of Scandal — Defiance. Tonight’s episode was all about who could still be saved, and who is lost forever. And in some ways it all comes down to Olivia. She holds the key to everyone’s salvation and must selflessly give herself over to The Greater Good so that everyone else can be saved. She’s a martyr, choosing her Gladiators over her love. It’s tempting to say that Olivia chose the Gladiators over her happiness, but that doesn’t sound particularly true. She had two paths, and the fact that she didn’t choose the man this time doesn’t mean that she’s put happiness aside. But her choice is the safer, more controlled path.
So, though it’s bittersweet to begin the final recap of Season 2, let’s dig in.
Last week we left our Gladiators after they’d just discovered that Billy Chambers was the mole. We pick up with them in what seems like the same moment. They’re still reeling from the revelation and trying to piece things together. Quinn reminded us that she hasn’t forgotten that he stabbed her intrepid reporter boyfriend in the neck with a pair of scissors. And Huck reminded Olivia that he hired out to have Billy taken care of. But clearly Charlie didn’t go through with it. In a flashback we find out that Billy promised access to the VP’s passwords and secrets and basically used everything in his arsenal to have his life spared. (“I know where a hell of a lot of bodies are buried.”) There are a lot of last-minute “saves” by these clandestine mercenaries. I hope people wait to pay after they have proof of death, as gross as I feel for saying that. Of course Huck reappropriates a folksy cliché for this kind of moment: “It’s true what they say. If you want someone killed right, you’ve got to kill them yourself.”
So, it’s code red. The remaining members of Defiance (may Verna rest in peace) all gather for a pow-wow in the White House kitchen to figure out WTF they’re going to do about this missing Cytron card. It’s less of a discussion and more of a shouting match while they wait for…someone. Turns out, it’s motherf—ing President Fitzgerald Grant. He is in so deep.
NEXT: It’s Cyrus’s turn to go to the hospital…
Mellie is understandably at her wit’s end, and Cyrus tries to reassure her that Fitz will choose her in the end, not Olivia. But while this is happening, Olivia and Fitz are discussing their future together in pretty concrete terms. Apparently Fitz wants to marry Olivia immediately and get her into the White House, and he charges her with coming up with a plan. This of course is coming from the man who last week said he wanted to keep her out of it…but I guess things have changed since he decided to run again? Also, nice superpower, President Grant. Once again, this show earns its 10 p.m. spot.
Rowan asks Jake to bring Olivia in for a conversation, while that girl from the pastry store sting operation last week looks on. Jake wants to know his intentions before blindly accepting, and he’s warned that this is a job and if he declines, Rowan will know where they stand. Good thing Jake is sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial gazing out over the reflecting pool. He’s got some thinking to do.
Olivia and the Gladiators try to figure out what Billy’s next move is, figuring he can’t out-Defiance himself. He’d need a respectable proxy. All signs point to Samuel Reston, the Governor of Maryland who “lost” the Presidency to Fitz to 4,359 votes. He’s the original man scorned by the election rigging and we already know that he’s essentially lost his soul (he killed that contractor and let his wife take the blame for it). He’d be perfect. But even though Olivia is sure that they’re all already working together, her Gladiators doubt her. They want proof. “You’ve been wrong before,” they remind her. They are right, but it’s not necessarily like them to question their boss with such fervor.
In a moment that will come back to haunt him later, Huck pulls Olivia aside to tell her that he’s worried about her and Quinn…but mainly Quinn (aka “Baby Huck”). She’s getting too good at this kind of work. But Olivia’s too distracted with her own stuff to really give it much attention.
Cyrus, meanwhile, is having a tough go of it. He’s been trying to keep everything together for so long that it’s been visibly wearing on him. He runs from crisis to crisis and seems less concerned lately about saving his shouts. Everything is a shouting matter now. After a stressful meeting with Rowan, Olivia clues him in about Reston. Too bad the President is already in the middle of a meeting with the Governor where he’s telling Fitz he knows about Defiance. He says he wants a place on Fitz’s re-election ticket. Fitz denies everything. While all this is happening, Cyrus, running to stop this dangerous meeting, grasps his arm and falls to the ground. He has a damn heart attack. DON’T DIE, CYRUS!
NEXT: Guess who has the Cytron card now…
Of course Cyrus stays on the phone to try to manage the Reston crisis in the ambulance. Loved Fitz and Olivia shouting “Cyrus” when they realize what’s happening and Cyrus trying to get the medics to shoot the one who took away his phone. Anyway, in the hospital, he and James get to have a sweet moment. Nothing like a death scare to make you forget about that horrible, horrible fight. Maybe these two will be okay after all. But what was that hospital visit from Rowan? Real? An apparition?
Meanwhile, nothing is happening with the Cytron card yet because David Rosen still has it. Apparently him showing up in Billy’s car last week wasn’t the end. He still recognizes that he has a choice in the matter and goes to far as to refer to Olivia and the Gladiators as his friends. Billy does his best to convince him otherwise, and David slides the Cytron card across the table. Also, apparently Billy killed Osboune (?!), Wendy, and Molly! Does that mean Jake was working with Billy?
Mellie, fresh off some news that her public approval rating is down (because she “aired her dirty laundry on live television”), comes to “visit” Cyrus in the hospital, but really just wants a public moment with Fitz. He’s having none of it though, and tells her the elaborate plan to seamlessly weave Olivia into his life without seeming tawdry. It’ll involve him dating age-appropriate women for a while and then “reconnecting” with one of his oldest and most trusted friends and falling in love with her. As with many things on Scandal, they could just as easily be talking about a couple of movie stars.
And in one of the scarier moments of the season, Olivia sees her doorknob start to jiggle urgently and then feels a hand come over her mouth. It’s Jake! As the fake pastry store/B6-13 woman bursts through the door, gun locked and loaded (I don’t know how guns work), Jake shoots her in the head. He takes Olivia back to her office and leaves. He offers one piece of advice: As long as she’s in a relationship with POTUS, she’s going to be in danger. He also tells her that he’s B6-13 which she repeats as though she’s heard it before. Jake does that whole “go away, leave, sleeping with you was my mission, I’m not a good guy” thing, but Olivia’s not buying it and gives him a kiss goodbye. Jake has risked everything for her, and Olivia at least seems to realize that he’s probably a goner. As Harrison says: “Ish just got real.”
When Olivia tells Cyrus about the attempt on her life, she says “I know who it was and I know why and I don’t care. Fitz and I are going to be together.” I assume this means that as soon as Jake said B6-13, she knew her father was involved somehow. Is this for real? Could she know this? What was her childhood like! Anyway, Cyrus tells Olivia and Fitz (separately) that they’re both acting like teenagers. He tells her that Fitz killed Verna. And he shows Fitz the tape of her and Jake. Rowan should give Cyrus a gold star.
NEXT: Baby Huck is cutting her teeth and it’s messy…
Huck and Quinn are waiting for Billy back at his beautiful apartment. When he enters and sees them sitting at his table, he tries to run. It’s his Count Rugen moment. Silly boy. You can’t run from Huck. The only thing that can stop Huck is…Huck. And in the middle of torturing, Huck starts to break down. So…Quinn takes over and drills a goddamn hole into Billy as blood splatters on her face and she screams at him to tell her where the Cytron card is. It is bats–t crazy. Quinn started out as such an innocent and we were happy to see her learning a trade with Huck. But is she turning evil? Or is this a Huck situation where she’ll be able to compartmentalize? She REALLY seemed to enjoy using that drill and Huck is clearly guilt-ridden about the monster he’s created. FrankenQuinn?
Of course the Gladiators don’t yet know about David Rosen. But Abby does some math and figures out that whoever broke into the safe would have needed days to do so (20,736 is a lot of combinations to try). And he’s the only one it could be. But David chooses to do the “right” thing. He gave Billy a blank card and used the real evidence to bargain with Cyrus for a job — the DC District Attorney. David was saved and has been returned to his seat of power and prestige. Now he can quit that high school and get his grownup apartment back. And he left Olivia a recording so that she knew all about Billy’s involvement (and his own loyalty).
So what’s left? Olivia and Fitz still have to deal with their revelations about each other…namely, the murder. For some reason that’s not a deal breaker, but she sees it as her mission to save Fitz, admitting that she took her people too far and that he has the opportunity to “hit the reset button.” I don’t necessarily understand the logic of Fitz being an easier save, but we’ll go with it. She tells him that her gladiators need her. And to think, she probably doesn’t even know about FrankenQuinn yet.
And in a jaunty montage we see everyone trying to “reset.” Cyrus comedically struggles to break the Cytron card. Fitz uses his superpower on Mellie. David yells at his assistant for coffee. Jake gets tossed into the torture pit (same one that Huck had a breakdown in) by B6-13 thugs and a smiling Rowan hovering over him. And Olivia’s gets ready for a run, mind free and happy as ever…that is ’til she opens her apartment door to find a bunch of reporters asking her about her affair with the President. WHO TOLD, GUYS?
Anyway, some dudes push her towards a town car where she sees Rowan, or, as we all already know by now, Dad. She looks surprised and horrified. Cut to black.
“This is not a romance novel. Life is not a romance novel.” -Cyrus Beene, MVP of the season, redefining the future of Scandal. Maybe.
And that, Scandalities, is all we get to know till Season 3. Damn these cliffhangers!
NEXT: Burning questions…
A lot of stuff went down tonight, so we have a lot of burning questions to discuss. Did Olivia make the right choice? Is she being a martyr? Some of you saw the Rowan reveal coming, but what about the rest of you? Surprised? Shocked? Does Jake know Rowan is Olivia’s father? Does Cyrus know? Why does he want to kill his daughter? And how about David Rosen? He’s still sort of obstructing justice, but were you happy to know he’s still basically a good guy?
And Jake! Why did Jake save her her? And what will happen to him? And who leaked about the affair?
Talk to us!