Scandal’s season 5 finale kicks off with Jake Ballard calmly poisoning his new father-in-law. Now, if you watch enough Scandal, you’ll start to become numb to murder. In fact, murder will start to seem like an obvious option. I can’t count the number of times I’ve yelled at the screen, “Just kill him already!” Especially as it relates to Papa Pope. Seriously, why hasn’t anyone pushed him off a tall building yet? I digress. What I can’t understand, however, is why, as his father-in-law is dying, Jake feels the need to explain to him that his death is part of a long con to rob his daughter of her inheritance. Just let the man die!
Well, that’s how the finale started, but this episode was really about Mellie Grant and Frankie Vargas selecting their vice presidential candidates. More accurately, it was about Cyrus Beene and Olivia Pope selecting Mellie’s and Frankie’s vice presidential candidates. Cyrus asks David Rosen and Olivia selects Gov. Bill Wagner, a married white man with a military background … who used to sell cocaine with his buddy back in college. No worries. Huck and Quinn present his buddy with a new identity and address and send him on his way.
Meanwhile, Papa Pope visits Frankie Vargas with promises of $35 million (of Jake’s wife’s ill-gotten inheritance) if he puts Jake on his ticket. Cyrus is foaming at the mouth as he barges into Olivia’s apartment to vent about Papa Pope hijacking his campaign. Cy says that this election shouldn’t be about whatever Papa Pope has in mind. This election should be about Cyrus and Olivia fighting for the Oval Office. Put a pin in that one.
Somewhere in here, Sen. Edison Davis visits Olivia to deliver Jake’s message that he needs a good rescuing, so Olivia meets up with Jake to tell him she’s going to help him. She also tries to apologize for all the nasty things she said before his wedding, but he’s like, yadda yadda, blah blah, are you going to save me? She says yes, but she doesn’t have a plan just yet. Huck advises her to go in through the front door with the lights on like a gangster.
Also, somewhere in here, Fitz Grant has been counting down the days until he can leave the White House and move to London, Paris … or maybe Vermont? I thought Olivia already told him, “There is no Vermont!” At any rate, Fitz is strolling aimlessly about the White House when he stumbles upon Olivia’s medical records, which reference her abortion, which just happen to be lying, wide open, on Abby Whelan’s desk. Sigh.
Fitz also has time to write an 8,000-word love letter to himself instead of a stump speech to introduce Mellie at the Republican National Convention, and Mellie shows up and dresses him all the way down. She tells him that she’s not a white man whose dad got her the presidency. The stage is hers because she earned it. “Matter fak” (she does not say that), the presidency is about to be hers, too, and unlike Fitz, she says, she won’t squander it.
Then Olivia drops by to let Fitz know that she’s choosing Jake as Mellie’s running mate and Fitz says, “I support your choice.” Listen, I get that we can’t really have a season finale without Fitz, but did we really need him for this episode?
Back to the real story: Olivia has now announced publicly that Jake is going to be Mellie’s running mate, which ties Papa Pope’s hands. Bye, Gov. Wagner! Then she swings by Papa Pope’s house to rescue Jake, but Papa Pope puts a gun to Jake’s head. It’s a tense moment, but Olivia calls his bluff and leads Jake out of the house. Once they’re outside, Jake and Olivia both exhale and say, “Damn.” Ditto.
Finally, it’s the night of the Republican and Democratic conventions, and Jake doesn’t want to get onstage. He wants to retreat to the suburbs and live a normal life, and he wants to take Olivia with him. When will you knuckleheads learn? Olivia doesn’t want to be normal! Olivia tells him to suck it up, get onstage and dance like she taught him, and Jake suddenly realizes that Olivia only saved him to save Mellie’s campaign. Yep. That sounds about right.
After Mellie and Jake take to the Republican National Convention stage to offer up robotic politician smiles and wave at the roaring crowd, Frankie and his vice presidential candidate take to the Democratic National Convention stage: It’s Cyrus! And his gay husband and black daughter have returned from their escape to Virginia to join him onstage to round out the photo op. Bye, Tom!
Remember earlier when Cyrus told Olivia that this presidential campaign should be about the two of them fighting for the Oval Office? Well, it’s not really a fight if Cyrus is on the ticket and Olivia is on the sidelines. Olivia has been bested by Cyrus. As she angrily stomp-struts through some hallway, a montage of her father’s monologues about how she was born to win plays through her head. By the time she gets to the convention floor, it’s clear that she doesn’t want to be Mellie’s campaign manager anymore. She wants to be in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, Papa Pope is at home on his couch smugly watching everything play out—the implication being that this was his plan all along.
The end. No, literally. That’s how it ended. What did you think of the Scandal season finale?
Akilah Green is a recovering Washington, D.C., lawyer-lobbyist-politico turned TV and film writer and producer living in Los Angeles. She currently works for Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show, Chelsea. She has also worked as a staff writer for Kevin Hart’s production company, HartBeat Productions, and as a consultant for Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO. In addition, she co-wrote and is producing Scratch, an indie horror-comedy feature film, and is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow Green’s adventures in La La Land on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.