By Arturo R. García
As Scandal heads into its winter break, we saw just about everybody snatch defeat from the jaws of victory — and sure enough, one apparent fatality, just an unforeseen one.
SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT
In an episode where plans were blowing up like balloons, Sally’s reversal of fortune seems to be the most severe. In less than 24 hours, she went from staring down the president in the very Oval Office to having to turn away from her husband’s bloody corpse.
There’s still a chance Sally isn’t the killer, despite her admission to Cyrus that she has “committed a sin;” Daniel Douglas’ panicked conversation with James opens up the possibility of the prospective “First Gentleman” taking his own life in an attempt to protect his wife’s bid to secede (pardon the term) from the Grant administration. So it’s possible that Sally means her sin was to betray her ideals by agreeing to support reproductive health once she entered the campaign trail.
But beyond her grief, it must gall Sally no end to have to come to Cyrus for help, so soon after dealing the ultimate wheeler-dealer a final slap to his reputation. It will also be all too easy for her to blame him for engineering this entire chain of events by practically shoving James into her husband’s arms. What is surprising is that they actually went through with it, rather than fake their indiscretions and allow James to taunt Cyrus. But then, we never did see all the pictures, either.
While Sally is left holding the smoking gun, Quinn — as we predicted a few weeks ago — has been turned into a weapon. A Trojan horse, to be exact, against Rowan and B613. But her story this episode deserves some examination on its own.
TRIGGER WARNING for the next two paragraphs.
Give writer Chris Van Dussen credit, in a sense, for not allowing Huck to be portrayed as a “badass” for his actions; the fact that he explicitly takes pleasure in his overtly sexualized torture of Quinn is played out without music or many flourishes. When he brings up “YOLO,” a lesser show might have played that for laughs. Here it’s part of how unhinged having a captive, even one “in the family,” makes him. And while his actions are understood as being for Olivia’s benefit, that Huck allowed her to live will no doubt come back to haunt him.
Assuming, of course, that she makes it out of her ambush on Rowan alive and that Charlie spares her life, as well. And this is where the script slips up, even while it allows her some semblance of agency. For Charlie to care about Quinn isn’t beyond the realm of possibility; but for the two of them to tumble into bed right after he sets her free was problematic enough in the James Bond series. Here it diminishes the very-palpable tension Guillermo Díaz and Katie Lowes created in the opening scene.
Oddly enough, the finale kept Olivia on the sidelines for the most part; even her interactions with her mother seemed to be cut short in favor of her weekly Phone-A-Fitz scene. The end result was, even as Abby exhorted her not to treat Maya like just another client, that’s how their scenes came across, no matter how well Yara Shahidi and Khandi Alexander did in their flashback scenes together.
The lack of attention on Olivia and her mother also undercut what was supposed to be the first of the episode’s big twists: that it was Maya, and not Eli, who was the Big Bad. Not only is it rather simplistic, given the events of the season so far, but, assuming Alexander is out of the active cast for now, it also undermines … whatever it is Maya actually did to not have her explain it.
- Another interesting aspect of the Cyrus/James/Langstons subplot was watching Mellie attempt to console Cyrus by recalling her assault at the hand of Fitz’s father. Your thoughts on this as a callback?
- Give Columbus Short credit: The chill that ran through Harrison’s spine at the mention of Adnan Salif was identifiable. Wonder when that story will begin to play out.
- Is it just me, or does the latter half of this part of the season play out like a response to Homeland?
- Bet on a Fitz/Jake fistfight before the season’s out.
- What does everybody think about the season getting cut to 18 episodes?