Scandal Season 4 Episode 22 season finale recap

So I learned about trade-offs recently. Not in the colloquial sense, but in the actual, scientific sense. Whenever you’re trying to make a product or satisfy some criteria, you acknowledge that there will be places where you can’t satisfy as much of the criteria as you would like in one category, in order to satisfy other categories.

So apparently this episode of Scandal, acknowledging that trade-offs happen, decided to go all one way, which is the ‘maximum amount of carnage’ way, and not worry about actual believability or satisfying storytelling.

Because really, what’s happening here? Olivia blows a bunch of whistles and then undoes everything five minutes later. She’s in jail for not even an hour when she’s agreeing to recant everything because Jake’s mother would otherwise be destitute.  Which…all right, if you say so. Her attempts to bring down B613 actually never work. Nothing she does has any real impact on anything. Instead, Rowan blows up his own world, and is very conveniently framed by a couple of billion dollars that Huck happens to have lying around waiting for just this kind of an occasion.

…sure. Olivia’s terrorist mother is back out on the loose. “Eli” is in jail for stealing from the Smithsonian. The only people who know anything about the fact that B613 ever existed are either dead, or are leads on this show, so they’re gonna stay alive for a bit.

To what end? What Motown song will play as Olivia figures out what gang of White House Interns is rigging the Presidential toilet with SnapChat? I’m joking, but how do we go back to Olivia Pope as a powerful woman when she was never really able to outwit either of her parents, is emotionally scarred, and surrounds herself with people who are, to say the least, compromised?

I hold out hope only for Mellie Grant. What a job this show and this actress have done to make this unattractive character so compelling. While she sometimes does bad things, and she sometimes knows she’s doing them, she is constantly trying to do them for the right reasons, while simultaneously balancing what she wants.  Mellie is actually the modern woman. Mellie, actually, is the star of this show now.   Remember, last week she said she disagreed with Fitz on policy and she got away with it. 

Because everything that happened in the last five minutes works in her favour. If Fitz kicked her out, and is bringing his girlfriend into the White House? Something that was warned against as absolutely impossible just a few seasons ago? Then of course, Mellie can lean hard into being a woman scorned, and having made mistakes but bouncing back up again, and Fitz can lean into the disapproval of the American people, and in a way, everyone’s happy. Fitz has cut out all the people around him who are constantly chiding him about appearances, and can do what he wants, so it all works out for everyone.

Except for Olivia, the ostensible star of this show, because she is so far from powerful and so governed by sleeping with people to make her feel safe, and not because she’s feeling sexual or romantic. I don’t believe for a minute that running to Fitz in the White House is somehow now okay because her convictions have changed. She’s tired of running and tired of Daddy and knows that Fitz and his temper tantrums that he throws whenever she gets too far out of his reach are at least predictable and surface. He has no poker face. That must be comforting.

Because David Rosen has said he values his life more than the truth. Quinn and Huck are on a moral Tilt-A-Whirl that never stays in the same place at the same time.  They can’t be trusted or relied upon. Abby is now being paid to stride down hallways holding papers. Jake is, as far as I’m concerned, a dead man walking.  Remember Russell and that other guy who pretended to be a lawyer last episode?  They’re still around. They’re still a threat. Aren’t you tired of threats?

This show is maddening now. Nothing in it is about covering up political scandals, because even the political scandals are all traced back to Rowan. Nothing in it is about how Olivia is powerful and ruthless because she has become neither. If we turn this into a show about the way Mellie and Portia De Rossi have to deal with the scandal of the President and his mistress being embarrassing all over town, I guess that could be understood? But I feel cold about Olivia and Fitz.  I know we all do.  There’s no joy there. And since there was no joy, either, in any professional accomplishments on the part of Olivia Pope and Associates, what exactly is there left to root for on this show?

Mellie Grant 2016. I guess.

Attached - the cast of Scandal at a Paley Center event last night.