As of today, it has officially been one week since Scandal ended its second season. Seven days. And the storm, the outrage? It hasn’t quieted one bit. I’m still seeing tweets flood my timeline and my mentions about the finale. My dear friend 411 is still making posts trying to calm people down. And why? Because of the final five minutes of the season finale. That’s it. Just the final five minutes. The outrage? It kind of surprised me, actually. I don’t know why – I think I forgot, even after seven years of doing this, just how worked up and upset people get about a Shonda Rhimes finale. Because Shonda Rhimes likes to burn the house down. She likes to work herself into a corner. She likes to do exactly what everybody doesn’t want to see happen. And why? Because it’s good television, people. It’s television that makes you feel, television that you are passionate about. And, hopefully, it is television you want to come back to – because you want to see exactly how they get out of this mess. Because lest we all forget, this was not the Scandal series finale. There’s at least twenty-two more episodes to come. Twenty-two more episodes that provide hope for explanations, character development, scheming, plotting, revenge, and perhaps even some reconciliation. This is not the end of the story, and to act like it is would simply be silly.
There’s been a lot of questions raised regarding Billy Chambers as the mole and David Rosen’s role in the plot, as well as Senator Reston’s role. The questions I’ve seen are all valid, and they’re all good. But I don’t think that the finale was simply meant to serve to explain everything that had taken place over the course of the final nine episodes of the season – we got our answer as to who the mole was, why they were doing it, and a simplified explanation into the mechanics of it all. But the story of the mole? It’s not quite over yet. Billy Chambers may be in custody, yes, but Jake is also now in the hole – the same hole that Huck was thrust into by B6-13 to forget about his family. There’s still a lot of questions out there, questions that the writers have not forgotten about. This is a story that is very much going to spill over into the third season, much like the first season did into the second. Because that’s the thing: just because season one came to an end, it did not mean that that story did. In fact, it launched the “Who is Quinn?” phenomenon that led to the discovery of Defiance, which circled all the way back around to Billy Chambers. This story is not over yet, and there is still plenty of time for the questions that have been asked to be answered.
Cyrus was a dastardly man in this episode. Not that he hasn’t been for the past twenty-eight episodes either, but he took it to a new level in this finale by not only exposing the details of Olivia’s relationship with Jake to Fitz but by informing Olivia that Fitz murdered Verna in order to keep her quiet about Defiance. Because Cyrus? He loves Fitz, and he loves Olivia. He does. The amount of concern he showed for Olivia during the finale when he thought she might be dead was very telling. But he does not love them together. He might, he might could love them together, except that it threatens his chance at being in the White House. Ultimately, I think Cyrus’s motivations go back to the declaration he made to James in “Nobody Likes Babies,” the scene in which he detailed that he was born to be the President of the United States, he needs to be the President of the United States, but he can’t be the President of the United States because he’s not tall enough or handsome enough and he likes having sex with men. Thanks to Fitz, Cyrus has a stronghold on the White House. At least for four years, eight best-case scenario, he’s got an in at running the country. He’s Fitz’s right-hand man. Chief of Staff is as good as it gets for him, and I think Cyrus will do anything he can to keep hold of that. So when he finds that Olivia has not been killed, he is relieved. But when he realizes that she still plans on pursuing the plan she created to get herself into the White House as First Lady, he is infuriated. Olivia’s plan was absolutely brilliant and it would be a thrill to watch it actually play out, but it threatens his chances at a second term in the White House. It threatens Olivia’s life. It threatens Fitz’s life. It threatens his life. So Cyrus has had enough. “Life is not a romance novel,” Cyrus declares to Olivia before filling her in on Fitz’s extracurricular activities. From there, he goes and fills Fitz in on Olivia‘s extracurricular activities as a result of the threat from B6-13, but also I think because he’s finally had enough. He’s fed up with all he’s gone through to protect these two and he knows that showing Fitz the sex tape will destroy him.
Which it does, but only temporarily. I really did think Fitz would actually hold the whole thing against Olivia, even though he had no right to, so I was both surprised and very pleased to find that he didn’t when Olivia came to see him. I think he realized what awful things he had said to her and done to her and that they had spent so much time apart. The thing that probably hurt the most wasn’t that Olivia was sleeping with somebody (after all, Fitz did have sex with Amanda Tanner), but that it was Jake whom she slept with. But he had no real reasons to hold that against her, so he was willing to let all of that go and move on. Except for one little thing: Fitz murdered Verna Thornton.
Now, Fitz has done a lot of things that Olivia has had to forgive him for and overlook. I mean, just off the bat, he was cheating on his wife. Granted, it was with her, but still. Then there was the whole Amanda Tanner debacle and then all of the terrible, terrible things he said and did to her following the Defiance reveal. She’s had to forgive him for a lot, but she has always done so, because she loves him. Despite what Cyrus may think or feel, Olivia and Fitz really are “MFEO” – made for each other. Even with all of his flaws, I don’t think Olivia ever imagined that Fitz could actually kill someone. There are people she expects it from because that’s who those people are and so, in her mind, she’s willing to overlook it. Because, like I said, that’s just who they are. The best example? Cyrus. He’s a bad, bad man. He hired out to kill Amanda Tanner. He almost killed his own husband. And, at least for a moment there, Olivia believed Cyrus was trying to kill her too. They even make jokes about it – she expects that to come from Cyrus. But Fitz? No. Not Fitz. Fitz can’t kill anyone. Cyrus may be her best friend, but Fitz is her lover. The man she loves. And Olivia Pope, wearer of the White Hat, can’t love a man who’s killed somebody in cold blood. Who’s killed somebody for power. It’s a horrific reveal for her to digest and it changes everything. And Olivia’s not stupid. She realizes that she herself had made her fair share of mistakes and is far from perfect, but she’s never resorted that far and would never resort that far. If I remember correctly, she didn’t even know that Huck had hired Charlie to kill Billy Chambers at the end of the first season – Huck did that on his own after Olivia instructed Huck not to kill Billy Chambers. (Side note: What is it about Billy Chambers that makes it so that I have to call him by his full name every time? I can’t just say “Billy.” It’s got to be “Billy Chambers.”)
But I think Olivia’s daddy issues come into play here as well – and this is what will figure into the next season. Even though we may not know much about Olivia’s backstory (though that is about to change), we’ve been able to gather enough so far to surmise that the poor woman is suffering from some terrible daddy issues. She has the worst taste in men (see: Edison; the fact that Fitz is married and the President of the United States makes him a bad pick even if they are MFEO). And though we can’t be certain until the curtain rises on season three, I think it’s fairly safe to assume that Olivia knows her father is the head of B6-13. The moment Jake names the organization, Olivia is shocked and horrified, and just a few minutes later when she’s talking with Cyrus, she reveals that she knows exactly who has been after her. The scene is telling, because I think Olivia is talking about her father. It would also certainly help explain how Huck was able to escape the grasp of the organization. And, by all accounts, B6-13 is kind of a nasty, dark part of the government. Granted, they are doing what they are doing to obtain information in order to keep people safe, but it’s a nasty organization. They throw people in holes in the floor and brainwash them. They threaten the President. Apparently, they send people to have sex with (and perhaps even kill?) their own daughters. They may not be the bad guys, but they aren’t exactly the good ones either. So I think that the revelation that Fitz has killed Verna hits a little too close to home for Olivia. She may be able to handle a lot of things, but she can’t quite handle this. She can’t fix the fact that Fitz killed Verna and she can’t fix the fact that it cuts her so deeply.
From what I’ve been reading, a lot of people didn’t seem to understand why, after so much time and so much hard work, Olivia would simply give up on her future with Fitz so easily. I can understand that. And I think that it can be hard to see, especially with as fast as this show moves, because I will say I think this episode moved a little bit too fast, which is part of what has led to so much frustration. But after a repeat viewing and a week of reflection, I can understand it. I can see why Olivia would put an end to things with Fitz. And I don’t think it’s really just as easy as pointing to one simple thing or one big moment and saying “YES! That’s why!” It’s more complicated than that; decisions like this generally are, and they are generally a result of many different things going on in someone’s life. In Olivia’s case, I think Cyrus’s words really did have an effect on her. Life is not a romance novel. Your life, his life, my life – they’re all in danger if you try to continue this. And I know you love him, but it shouldn’t be this much of a struggle. She can’t quite look the same at Fitz after finding out he’s killed Verna. He’s a darker man in her eyes now. I think Fitz says it best when he tells her, “I was going to tell you that I don’t care about Jake, that I forgive you, that we can start over, start fresh, no big deal. I’m guessing you don’t feel the same way about murder.” Because it’s true: she doesn’t feel the same way about murder. And why should she? Why would anyone?
You can almost see it in Fitz’s eyes the minute Olivia tells him Cyrus told her about Verna: he knows that’s it. He doesn’t quite give up just yet, but he knows that was the final straw and everything with Olivia has been ruined. Olivia doesn’t even need to say anything, because Fitz already knows, and he doesn’t even try to cover it up. He admits that it wasn’t a mistake and wishes he could say anything to fix it, and all Olivia can do is watch in silence. Hearing Fitz say those words, actually admit to her that he did kill Verna and that it wasn’t an accident, she’s come to a resolve: that they’ve gone too far. That everyone has gone too far: Fitz is killing people, Cyrus is having heart attacks (…and also killing people), Mellie is airing dirty laundry on the evening news (among other activities, like forging signatures), Abby’s constantly getting her heart broken, Huck is slipping back into PTSD “Seven Fifty-Two” mode, Quinn is turning into a (kind of creepy, kind of awesome) Little Huck, Harrison is… well, God knows what Harrison’s up to… Everybody’s gone too far. And Olivia just can’t do it anymore. She can’t be with a man who killed someone else, especially considering that Olivia probably blames herself for that. Most likely, she thinks she has done this to Fitz: turned him into a murderer. Because if she had never signed off on Defiance, if the election rigging had never happened, Fitz never would have killed Verna. In Olivia’s mind, she did this to him, and she is not alright with that.
So Olivia does what she does best: she turns to fixing things, starting with Fitz. Realizing that Fitz is a changed man, a darker man, and that she took him down that path, she decides it is best to let him go. But not before giving him one last piece of priceless fixer advice: Let it all go. She details a plan for him to run in the next election for a second term with Mellie at his side, because she knows he can win with Mellie at his side. Start fresh, start over, run and win. And do it cleanly. No killing, no election rigging. Win the White House, and let the rest of it go. Most importantly, let his father go. “The reset button has been pushed,” she tells him, and it’s true: for Fitz, it has been. For Olivia? Not so much, not just yet. Defiance may be dead, but her Gladiators are in a whole new world of trouble that she needs to fix. She’s taken them to the brink and it’s time to reel them back in. Exactly when she came to this realization, I’m not sure of, but she did, and she realizes that she needs to be there for them because she’s hurt them all pretty badly too. So she leaves Fitz in an effort to set him on the right path and so that she can be there to support her Gladiators.
For what it’s worth, Fitz isn’t exactly thrilled at Olivia’s suggestion of returning to Mellie. “That is not the plan,” he tells her. But it leads to Fitz’s final scene of the season, a scene that seems to have more people up in arms than anything else that took place in the final episode of the season: Fitz slinks back to Mellie, resting his head in her lap, almost like a puppy or young child asking its owner for forgiveness. And that’s how I see it: there was absolutely nothing romantic about Fitz’s return to Mellie. Mellie herself may see it that way or want it to be that way, but it wasn’t. I think Fitz took Olivia’s words to heart because, despite everything, she is good at her job and knows what she’s talking about, and Fitz isn’t stupid. He knows that Olivia is right: running with Mellie by his side will be his best shot at re-election. And he’s just been dumped by the love of his life. He’s hurting. And the love of his life told him to go back to his wife. His best friend and Chief of Staff is telling him to go back to his wife. The country is telling him to go back to his wife. It’s an enormous amount of pressure. So he returns to his wife, sullen from his heartbreak, but also asking for forgiveness. What kind of forgiveness? That I can’t be sure of yet – I need to see what happens next. Because I don’t see Fitz reconciling his marriage with Mellie, but he does need to reconcile his political alliance with her. Because, honestly, what would be the point of going through the mess of a divorce in the White House while trying to run for re-election if he still won’t be with Olivia? All Mellie seems to want is Fitz back in her life, which is something Fitz was made aware of by Cyrus, and so he returns to her. For the politics. For the power. Because Olivia told him to.
It wasn’t a scene that upset me or enraged me – it was a scene that intrigued me, because I want to see where these two head next. Fitz was dead-set on getting rid of Mellie, and has been for the better part of the season it feels like. So while I can admit it is surprising that he is seemingly not sticking to that plan and is, in fact, returning to her, it doesn’t bother me. Because this is going to bring a whole new dynamic to their relationship, one that is going to be very interesting to watch play out, especially as Fitz has said some truly awful things to Mellie and was so intent on exiling her from the White House. That’s certain to be something that doesn’t get tossed aside too quickly. After all, this is Mellie we’re talking about.
Olivia awakes the next morning… happy. There’s a smile on her face as she wakes up in her bed alone, and there’s a smile on her face as she gets ready to go for a run. But why should she be so happy if she just gave up the love of her life? If someone just tried killing her the night before? If she just found out the man she loves killed someone in cold blood?
The answer, and I don’t know how satisfying it will be to anyone, is this: It’s a new day. She took her own advice that she gave to Fitz and she let it all go. Or at least that’s how I see it. She came to a decision regarding Fitz and regarding her Gladiators, and she’s happy with the decisions that she’s made. Likely, they are the first decisions she’s made in a while that she doesn’t feel bad about. She feels like she is heading on the right path once again. The white hat is back on. She’s going to work on fixing her Gladiators. Defiance is dead. It’s a brand-new day. And even though she may have had a rough day yesterday, even though she may have lost the man she loves, she’s happy with the choices she’s made. She’s not going to wallow about it because it was her choice and she’s sticking to it. She’s going to make the best of it. Sometimes that kind of feeling can have you feeling really great about life, even if a whole bunch of crappy stuff is happening all around you.
Of course, the happiness doesn’t last long, because Olivia quickly finds that her name has been leaked to the press as Fitz’s mistress. But by who? Who could have leaked it? There are several different theories, all of which I’m sure will be explored at the beginning of next season. Olivia doesn’t even have time to process or think about it, however, because she’s quickly pulled into a car that contains the head of B6-13. The guy I’ve been calling “Mysterious Man” for weeks now. The guy that Olivia calls “Dad.”
And just like that, within the last five seconds of the season, Scandal gets me to scream at my TV before going off the airwaves for a sure-to-be too-long summer hiatus.
I totally see why people are upset over the events that took place over the course of the final five minutes of the Scandal season finale. I think that this episode perhaps moved a little too quickly, glossed over a bit too much, and maybe even left a little bit too much to subtext and that made it hard to understand a lot of the things that went on. But I was surprised to see just how many people were upset and how much they were upset over the episode. I, personally, wasn’t upset at all. I loved the finale. The way I see it, I already knew there was no way Fitz and Olivia were going to end the season together and happy, so I just wanted to see what it was that tore them apart, and I liked how it was handled. I know the views and opinions I’ve represented here are unpopular and I’m sure there will be an ocean of disagreements that come out of this, but I wanted to share how I viewed the episode. How I interpreted it for myself, because it has been very different from what I’ve seen others saying.
A lot of the things people are questioning and upset about? I think you’ll get your answers and your explanations next season. 42 minutes isn’t exactly a lot of time, even in Scandal land, and it wasn’t enough time to get through absolutely everything. Some stuff had to be held until next season. And I think that it is entirely possible that many of the things that have upset people about this episode will make more sense or be able to be viewed in a different light after we’ve seen the next season, as we dive into Olivia’s past, her relationship with her father, and see just exactly what’s up with Fitz and Mellie. Again, it all just comes back to this: this is not the end of the story. There’s an entire ‘nother season of Scandal right around the corner – 22 more episodes to further explain, divulge, and dissect. And if this second season of Scandal has taught us anything, it’s this: that just because it seems like a story has come to its end, that doesn’t mean it has. Who knew so much of season one would come back into play during the course of the second season? I certainly never would have expected that to happen. So one can only imagine how much of this season – of just this last episode, even – will come back into play during the course of the third season.
The story’s not over. I just hope you’ll all still be there with me to see it continue.