Two years ago, everything changed. Two years ago, a governor ran for President, fell in love with a woman who wasn’t his wife, and history was irreparably changed. Forever.
This week, Scandal‘s second season reaches its thirteenth episode – the original second season finale before ABC ordered an additional nine episodes for the end of the season after seeing substantial ratings growth. As a result, the writers at Scandal, instead of stretching season two’s through-line mystery for an additional nine episodes, have decided to stick with their original plan and end the current mystery arc in the thirteenth episode before introducing a new arc to stretch through the final nine episodes of the season. And after spending twelve episodes spread over six months (and even bleeding into the end of the first season), it can be hard to keep up with everything that’s taken place. So before Scandal ends its current arc in an episode that is said to “change everything” and be a “game changer,” let’s take a walk down memory lane and see what this current arc has taught us…
Fitzgerald Grant III is a brilliant man. He’s a brilliant man, but he has no drive. He’s constantly beaten down by his father, who can’t ever be pleased be anything Fitz does, despite the fact that he continues to climb the ranks in politics to impress him. Fitz meets a charming and intelligent woman, Mellie, and marries her, and has two children, Jerry and Karen. He becomes governor and then is driven to run for President by a desire to impress his father, but also at Mellie’s insistence, as she continues to push him and drive him to be better and more successful. The problem is that Fitz’s presidential campaign is in trouble. He’s not floundering, but his campaign isn’t picking up as much steam as it needs to in order for him to win the bid for president over Sally Langston, a wildly conservative Christian that continues to challenge everything Fitz does in effort to win the bid.
Fitz’s right-hand-man, and head of his campaign, Cyrus, hires Olivia Pope, a burgeoning lawyer who specializes in “fixing” problems that arise – whether it be scandals, homicides, or campaigns that just aren’t doing well. She immediately diagnoses the problem as being related to the lack of intimacy and chemistry in Fitz and Mellie’s marriage, as the two continue to grow further and further apart and don’t so much as touch or speak to each other unless absolutely necessary. Olivia coaches the couple on how to appear intimate and loving, and the results are immediately positive, as Fitz’s approval numbers begin to rise. But Fitz himself begins to get more and more of a rise the longer he spends around this Olivia Pope, and as the two continue to spend an increasing amount of time together side-by-side on his campaign trail, the two begin to develop a remarkable and unmistakeable bond that finally boils over one night on the trail. After sleeping together for the first time (not that there was much sleeping going on), there’s no going back. The sudden affair now taking place between Olivia and Fitz seems to only be helping Fitz’s campaign, as the chemistry between Mellie and Fitz grows stronger as a result of Olivia’s coaching and Mellie plays a few dastardly cards of her own – including faking a miscarriage to win sympathy among voters.
Sally Langston concedes to being Fitz’s Vice President candidate, and he officially wins the bid for the presidency, running against a Senator. The team of Fitz, Olivia, Mellie, and Cyrus are hot on the campaign trail, consistently battling anything that comes against them and coming out the other side stronger than before. But Fitz can’t quite seem to break the barrier to be assured a win on election night, and his campaign begins to lose steam as election day approaches. Mellie, Olivia, and Cyrus convince Fitz to allow his father, “Big Jerry,” onto the campaign trail to help win over undecided voters, as Big Jerry is a well-respected and charismatic politician. Animosity remains between Big Jerry and Fitz, however, and so Fitz is hesitant to allow his father on his campaign, but eventually lets him come aboard. Tension soars within the entire group as Big Jerry disagrees with nearly every decision Fitz has made about how to run his campaign. As a result, the campaign is forced to do things they had been trying to avoid, including taking the campaign down a dirty path and finding any skeletons hidden in Fitz’s opposition’s closet in order to launch an attack against him. Olivia forms a team of lawyers, made up of Abby, a woman who had been abused by her husband; Harrison, who had spent time in prison for insider trading; and Huck, an ex-CIA black ops agent who has essentially been dumped by the government and Olivia has taken under her wing. The makeshift team is able to dig up the dirt they need on Fitz’s opposition in order to destroy his campaign, but Fitz at the last moment decides not to use it, instead choosing to appeal to voters through a different method. Fitz is able to win back the respect of his peers on the campaign – but not his father, who dismisses his son once and for all, but it is of no bother to Fitz, who finally realizes he wants this for himself, and not for anybody else. He wants to be President of the United States, and with this revelation and realization comes a whole new slew of confidence for him.
Problem is, Fitz still isn’t going to win the election. It’s going to be an incredibly tight race, one that could ultimately go either way, but the edge is given to his opponent, and it’s looking more and more likely that Fitz will lose the election. This doesn’t sit well with anyone on the campaign – most especially Hollis Doyle, an oil tycoon that is Fitz’s top campaign contributor. He wants Fitz in the White House, and he’ll do anything to get him there – including rigging the election itself. He proposes this idea to Cyrus and Olivia in jest, and the two quickly dismiss it, but as the election looms closer and closer, Cyrus starts to wonder if this could indeed be the way to go. Along with Hollis comes Verna, who is vying for a seat on the Supreme Court, and Mellie also catches wind of the idea to rig the election. Everyone is on board except for Olivia, who remains on the fence, leading Cyrus to declare that until the decision is unanimous, there will be no election rigging at all.
Fitz’s dad dies. And his campaign is hanging by a thread, as he looks to lose the election by just a few counties in Ohio, namely a county named Defiance. Everyone has their reasons for wanting to rig the election and assure a win for Fitz: Hollis presumably has some kind of personal and/or financial gain to benefit, Verna will get to be a Supreme Court Justice, Mellie gets to be First Lady, and Cyrus gets to be Chief of Staff at the White House. For, Olivia, however, things are different. She has nothing to gain from Fitz winning the election and suffers from a huge internal struggle as to whether she can allow such a heinous crime to take place. But after talking with Cyrus, who assures her that not only is this the only way Fitz will win the election but that this is the only way Fitz will win and he has to win, and realizing that winning the election is going to mean the world to Fitz and make him happy, she agrees to the plan just hours before election day. Hollis makes one simple phone call, and that’s it. The election is rigged, and thanks to one county in Ohio, Fitzgerald Grant III becomes the new President of the United States.
But there are loose ends to tie up. In order to rig the election, Hollis Doyle bought software developed by an employee at Cytron, Jesse, who then subsequently switched the software out at the polling places in Defiance. After realizing that he was rigging a presidential election and who he was doing it for, Jesse demanded more money from Hollis. Jesse had become a problem, and Hollis needed to fix that.
A package is sent to the Cytron software company, addressed to Jesse specifically, and with a return address label belonging to Jesse’s girlfriend, Lindsay Dwyer. Jesse opens the package excitedly, and it immediately explodes, killing Jesse and six of his coworkers instantly, framing Lindsay Dwyer for their murder and effectively tying up Hollis Doyle’s loose ends. Or so he thought. Lindsay had been set up by the woman hired by Hollis to end the Jesse problem, Becky, when Becky sent a suggestive text to Jesse’s phone that Lindsay saw. Lindsay immediately jumped to conclusions and accused Jesse of cheating on her, and threatening to kill him. After the explosion at Cytron, Lindsay Dwyer became the most-wanted woman in America. Too bad she disappeared.
On the other side of the country, Olivia Pope is very aware of the situation taking place at Cytron as a result of her agreement to the election rigging scheme. And she feels absolutely awful for not only leading to the death of seven Cytron employees, but for leading to the framing of poor, innocent Lindsay Dwyer, who had just become a lawyer herself in the days leading up to the election. Olivia, hoping for some kind of redemption, has Huck abduct Lindsay and bring her to Washington, DC, where Lindsay awakes the next morning with a completely new identity laid out for her: Quinn Perkins. Olivia and Huck are able to pull this off effortlessly, and nobody notices… except Becky.
Two years later, it seems like everyone has moved on from the events that transpired in the weeks leading up to the election. Defiance is a word to never be spoken, everyone has attained what they were looking for when they agreed to rig the election, and Quinn Perkins has settled into this new, mysterious life of hers in Washington, DC. And then she’s recruited to come work for Olivia Pope at her new firm, Olivia Pope & Associates, as they work to solve the problems of the rich, the famous, and the scandalous after Olivia leaves her job at the White House.
Quinn becomes romantically involved with Gideon Wallace, a reporter for a DC-based newspaper who is hot on the trail of a new scandal erupting at the White House: a former intern who claims that President Grant had sex with her… and got her pregnant. However, when Gideon uncovers the truth behind the story and who the actual father of the baby is, Gideon is murdered and Quinn, once again, finds herself framed for murder. Olivia and her team do everything in their power to prevent Quinn from being apprehended and taken into custody, including destroying any and all evidence from the crime scene, but it proves to come to no avail, as Quinn is officially taken into custody and her true identity is learned by everyone.
It is the case of the century, finally having Lindsay Dwyer in custody and on trial, but to the surprise of the entire world, Quinn is acquitted of all charges and set free after Olivia calls in a favor from Verna, as both of them know Quinn is innocent of the crime she is accused of committing. But David Rosen, the Assistant District Attorney, has his career shattered by Quinn’s acquittal and begins to investigate what could have led to such a surprise result taking place. Olivia’s associate, Abby, also has a tough time accepting Quinn’s acquittal, and when she winds up in bed with David, things get messy. Abby and David quickly connect the dots leading to election rigging before Olivia sends Harrison on a mission to end the relationship that is developing between David and Abby, for fear that they may discover too much. Harrison is successful at breaking them up, but David continues to discreetly investigate with the help of Cyrus’s husband, James, who used to work as a journalist at the White House before giving up his career in order to maintain his relationship with Cyrus. James takes the information from David and makes what he can out of it, eventually connecting it to election rigging on a national scale, realizing that the election rigged was none other than the presidential election itself. James, discovering that Defiance, Ohio, was the main county in question, tracks down the voting machines used in that county and is able to recover proof that the election rigged. Cyrus, aware that James has been investigating the election rigging plot, does absolutely anything he can to get James to stop, including fulfilling his promise to adopt a child – on the condition that James drop his work and investigation. James agrees, but continues to investigate anyways.
Everything, however, comes to a standstill when Fitz is shot. On the way to a gala for his birthday celebration, he is shot by none other than Becky, the same woman who framed Lindsay Dwyer for the explosion at Cytron. This time, however, she finds herself framing Huck for Fitz’s assassination attempt as revenge for Huck rescuing Lindsay two years ago. It seems to work, as Verna betrays Huck (and Olivia) by giving his name to Acting President Sally Langston in return for letting her keep her seat on the Supreme Court, as Sally never wanted Verna in the seat that Sally was promised to have choice over during the campaign. Huck is brought to the Pentagon, where he is tortured and water-boarded as the government tries to extract information about why Huck tried to kill the President. However, as Huck is ex-CIA, he is able to resist all of their efforts and tells them nothing until Olivia and David are able to get him released when Olivia shows Sally information that convinces her that he should be let free.
Verna, feeling awful for betraying everyone, gathers everyone up, Hollis excluded, to report that she’s noticed Hollis has a secret phone that he keeps locked up in his desk. Though no one sees any reason to be alarmed at this, Verna has a suspicious feeling about this phone, and wants the others to look in on it. Olivia and Huck craft a plan to trap the real assassin, Becky, by leaking to the press details about Fitz’s move from the hospital to Camp David. Becky resurfaces, ready to finish the job, but Huck meets her, effectively trapping her, as Fitz was never to be moved in the first place, and Becky is taken into custody. Her phone is linked to the phone Verna talked about being hidden in Hollis’s desk, and Olivia has proof that Hollis is the one who tried to assassinate the President, especially given that he wastes no time in cozying up to Sally Langston in the Oval Office.
Olivia, however, sits on this information and does nothing with it, afraid that giving David information linking Hollis to the President’s assassination attempt will lead to the entire election rigging plot being spilled out into the open, changing the face of the nation forever and implicating people she cares about – including Fitz himself, who has no knowledge of what has been going on this entire time.
After spending several days in a coma after gunshot wounds to the head, Fitz awakes and must immediately return to office to spare Mellie from prosecution for forging his signature to retain his control of the nation. But Fitz, having just about lost everything, is seeing things more clearly since waking up and he doesn’t want to waste anymore time with anything. When Mellie asks him what he wants, detailing with how high his approval ratings are he could have anything he wanted, Fitz declares that he wants a divorce. The problem? Mellie is nine months pregnant with “America’s Baby” after announcing her pregnancy to improve Fitz’s (and her’s) approval rating. Not only that, but a divorce will crush Fitz’s approval rating, and Mellie will do absolutely anything to keep a hold on her husband and the White House – including persuading her doctor to induce labor, so that Fitz’s – as well as America’s – attention is diverted towards the birth of America’s Baby.
At the same time, Olivia has been trying to move on from her relationship with Fitz. Though they remain undeniably connected and intensely in love, Olivia refuses to be with Fitz any longer, and it remains a struggle for the two of them to stay apart. But Olivia is in a new relationship with a senator, Edison Davis. He’s an old boyfriend of hers that things got very serious with before she broke things off, including ending their engagement, but he continues to vie for her, and she finally caves in, going on a few dates with him… and then letting him move in to her apartment as well. As time goes on, however, and things in Olivia’s life fall more and more out of control, Edison begins to grow increasingly suspicious of Olivia and her motives, and despite accusing her of several things – of being a criminal, a whore, an idiot, and a liar – he proposes to her. Again.
Olivia’s world is crumbling around her, and she doesn’t know how to stop it. The guilt is beginning to catch up with her after building up for more than two years, starting from the day she said “Yes” to the election rigging scheme. She doesn’t know how to fix this, which she confesses to Cyrus when she informs him that Hollis is the one who tried to assassinate Fitz. Cyrus decides to handle the problem for Olivia, but when Huck makes Olivia realize that Cyrus is going to kill Hollis, Olivia takes a drastic measure and informs David of Hollis’s role in the assassination attempt, ignoring the consequences that she may be facing herself. Hollis is brought in for questioning and David tries to hold him as long as he possibly can, but has immense pressure put on him by his boss and Cyrus to let him go, as Cyrus doesn’t want to be implicated in the election rigging and still has a guy ready to take out Hollis Doyle.
Meanwhile, the Associates discover the election rigging plot by piecing together all of the secrets Olivia has divulged to them. As a result, they are able to connect the dots between Jesse, Hollis, and Becky and figure out how to get airtight evidence against Hollis for the assassination attempt: bank accounts. Quinn logs into Jesse’s bank account to find a large sum deposited the day after the election, and the plan is to match that depositing bank account to whatever bank account made a deposit into Becky’s account the day after the assassination attempt. Huck is able to convince Becky to get him her account number through an emotional appeal, as they were romantically involved before Huck realized Becky’s true identity, and Huck quickly goes to work to match the bank accounts.
They don’t match, and Hollis Doyle is set free, as there is no way he was the one behind the President’s assassination attempt. But just as Hollis enters the elevator to leave, Cyrus’s guy meets him, and Hollis’s fate is left hanging in the air…
As we reach the end to the election rigging storyline, there are several questions that have yet to be answered:
- Who did try to kill the President?
- Will Hollis survive the elevator ride with the guy Cyrus sent to kill him?
- Why did Hollis want Fitz in office so bad?
- Will Fitz find out that he’s only in office because the election was rigged? And how will he react if/when he does?
- Will Quinn finally stop asking so many damn questions and just place her faith in Olivia?
- Will Mellie and Fitz actually divorce?
- Will Olivia accept or reject Edison’s proposal?
- Will Abby finally find out that Harrison and Olivia broke up her relationship with David, and under false pretenses at that?
- Will James and Cyrus learn of each others’ actions and motives – and actually stay married after that?
- Will America’s Baby just simply be born with an enormous amount of emotional trauma and baggage, or will that simply develop at a later point in his life?
- What is the big “Game Changer” ABC is touting ends the episode and the storyline, effectively setting the final nine episodes into motion?
It all comes down to this final episode in this Scandalous cycle. It’s now time to place your final bets and make your final predictions on how the entire election rigging story is going to end, and be sure not to miss the game-changing “Nobody Likes Babies,” airing Thursday, February 7 at 10|9c on ABC – and the start of the next cycle the week after that!