Scandal‘s season four finale hit the reset button in a very necessary way: B613 has been dismantled, Rowan has been locked up (for now), and Olivia chose Fitz. But there is a shiny, new x-factor here that makes season five look like a new frontier: Mellie Grant has left the building. With a finale like “You Can’t Take Command,” why even bother with a cliffhanger?
At the end of the episode, when Olivia shows up on the Truman Balcony with a glass of red and one of her classy loungewear outfits (she wears at home what other people wear at work), it’s clear that not only did she choose Fitz over Jake, she’s about to get cozy in the White House. Nina Simone’s lovely “Here Comes the Sun” cover plays on as Olivia and Fitz share an intimate moment for the first time in what feels like forever. Like Fitz, Olivia’s journey to the White House required extreme measures, particularly this week after being jailed, asked by the Attorney General to recant her statements in the B613 trial, and set free.
Finally, Olivia sees her father jailed over — of all things — embezzlement from the Smithsonian, while her terrorist mother is set free. The cliffhangers, you see, are more like longterm questions that loom over Olivia’s life, even after B613’s (thankful) demise. (Seriously, that whole thing dominated Scandal long enough. I’m a bit disappointed that justice was not served in a direct manner, but whatever gets the job done at this point.) Will Mama Pope replace Papa Pope as the parental terror in her life? Now that Mellie has a political career of her own (i.e. a reason to remain on the show after Fitz divorces her), is Scandal going to let Fitz and Olivia be together for real?
As suspected, blackmail is what Rowan had in mind for Mellie. In return for keeping the Grant family’s secrets safe, he needs a list of names. At the time, it’s not clear why. Then a bus carrying the jurors in the B613 trial is massacred — by Huck! — and Mellie’s guilt kicks in. (Also, that’s another reason to hate jury duty.) Still, Mellie chalks it up to a necessary evil, just like Jerry’s death and Fitz’s election-fixing. With things going so right — she won her Senate seat, Fitz called her his BFF — it’s seemingly easy for Mellie to let Cyrus worry about the consequences of her providing this list.
With Fitz and Mellie being such a “team,” Lizzie Bear assumes the President knows what’s what. He does not, in fact, know what’s what. For once he draws a moral line in the sand. Mellie’s action led to the death of innocent people. He tells her to get out, which is certainly a little awkward; what’s she going to do, check into a hotel only to be immediately spotted by the press? (Oh shit, did I just predict the plotline of the season five premiere? Sometimes Scandal is just way too predictable in its so-called crazy twists.)
Cyrus, too, is out — and for good reason. He’s always teetered on the edge of evil, but he’s got venom in his eyes now. He was willing to threaten Abby’s life in order to blackmail David Rosen and keep Remington a secret. The way people in Fitz’s life are willing to show total disregard for the law in order to protect him is a bit of a head-scratcher sometimes, seeing as he’s not even very good at being the leader of the free world. Alas, that matters little in Scandal land, even to a White Hat like Olivia.
I’ve always been #TeamJake, because he’s the best bad dude around and because Olivia deserves better than side-chick status. It was heartbreaking, the way Jake forced himself to be callous by saying things like, “mission complete” in place of, “I’m breaking up with you because you will always want to make jam with the President in Vermont.” With Fitz’s second term starting to wind down and Mellie on the rocks, though, the promise of Olivia’s simple bliss has never been closer. If Shonda Rhimes’ other (long-running) shows indicated any sort of track record, however, it will still be many seasons until it becomes a reality.