Scandal Season 2 season finale Episode 21 recap
Well, that was a curious season finale of this curious season. Yeah, by the way, if you didn’t know it, this was the season finale – considering the relative lack of body count and sexual combinations you’d hardly know it.
On some level, that’s ok with me. Scandal knows it is at its best when it’s taking on the seedy underside of DC, as opposed to the seedy underside of, say, West Angola. If this is all about power, and wanting, taking, having, and not leaving PRINTOUTS ON YOUR DESK like a rookie who is only not being fired because, as we know, there’s only five months left. But the idea that the grasping and gulping for power that epitomized this week’s search for Vice Presidents is all a puppet show…well, it’s a little disheartening.
I love everything about Cyrus, and I buy that he would be double-crossing Tom AND making blithe Of Mice And Men references (seriously, I loved all those lines. I started laughing as soon as Tom said “I held a baby on a train” and didn’t stop). Cyrus not only is evil, but has always been evil, and has said as much. He’s basically presented himself as utterly without scruples, and everyone who interacts with him knows it. There’s no use in Fitz or Mellie or, more recently, Olivia or Abby pretending otherwise. They have always known who he is.
This makes me wonder when he’s going to show Vargas who he is. Because even though Cyrus is capable of keeping secrets, and even though he did keep the getting-Fitz-elected secret for a while, he doesn’t like to. He can do his job much more easily if he just says, “Let me take care of it, sir”, and nobody has to wonder about what ‘take care of it’ means. There’s plausible deniability, sure, but everyone knows, and it works better that way…so when is Vargas going to find out? I know how, and that is, his sketchball brother is going to play in somehow. But when?
It’s also worth noting that Cyrus made references to having raised Liv, that they were teacher and student. Because everyone wants to claim Olivia, don’t they? To say she’s theirs, and to say that they are the reason she got to the heights she did. When Cyrus says, “One of us is getting back into the White House”, he says it as though it’s a victory either way, the way you would if you and your best friend were guaranteed to be valedictorian and salutatorian, but you weren’t sure who would be which. If he wins, great. If she wins, well, that’s a win for him anyway.
I’ve mentioned that as the story in the last half of this year has gotten back to strong, solid footing, the drama has been so compelling that the feminist messages that ring through and through are getting less attention than they might otherwise. But after everyone gasping about Fitz finding out about Olivia’s abortion, he smiles and says that she never needed his blessing or permission, not that she asked for it. Which…obviously. I have had lots of problems trying to figure out exactly what the attraction is between Olivia and Fitz, but she would never, never have been with someone who didn’t believe a woman was an autonomous being who could do what she liked in all things, including reproduction, Republican or not.
In fact, the lack of ownership is really what the Mellie story has always been about. Despite wearing the Grant name, she’s her own person. Not Fitz’s, not Olivia’s. She’s not a gladiator. She’s not a puppet. She’s not owned or beholden to anyone, which is an incredible feat thus far. I mean, there is the part where her running-mate is a puppet of Rowan’s, and she’s going to pay dearly for that…but you know, at least she hasn’t knowingly capitulated. She still thinks she’s her own woman. Like Olivia. Patterned after Olivia, a woman we’ve loved and fought for but who has always, always, had principles and plans that might not have been lily-white, but that were always her own.
That’s why the whole Rowan thing is so endlessly frustrating, and why the show has painted themselves into the weirdest, most problematic corner. “You can’t take command. You must become command.” They can’t get rid of Rowan, not least because of Olivia’s family ties and Jake’s weird transference. She steals him out from under his nose…awesome. Power move.
But the idea that all of Olivia’s moves are plotted and engineered by Rowan is years and years and years old now, and it’s run itself dry. I mean, I can buy a certain amount of tough love and ‘I did this because I knew you would rise to the occasion’. I can even buy that him gritting his teeth when she came to take Jake out from under his nose was a piece of acting.
But the idea that this – all of this – has been planned by him is too much to bear. Is Rowan the star of the show now? Is he the fixer we’ve always wanted to watch? No, he isn’t—and having a constant spy-vs-spy match between them where they never catch the other ceased being fun a long time ago.
So. Let’s see Olivia take the White House, as we know she will – unless she decides she doesn’t want it. But if, after dealing with all of that power and access, she still can’t think of a way to dispatch her father forever…well, then she’s not the person I thought I was dealing with. And not the one I want to watch, either. So here’s hoping.