Scandal Season Finale Recap: Pope in Power

Scandal. Photo: Nicole Wilder/ABC
Episode Title
You Can’t Take Command
Editor’s Rating

On Scandal, power is what is sought, what is cherished, and what is protected. In this season-four finale, power is what everyone loses. Well, all but one.

Mellie is unknowingly sitting with the devil (Rowan Pope), disguised as some billionaire campaign contributor named Damascus Bainbridge. What the hell is that name? He promises to infuse her campaign with all the money it needs if she pays attention to an issue that is important to him, and he slides her a folder. In it are pictures of her and the ex-vice-president (and now vegetable) Andrew Nichols making out and making the sex, as well as a file on Fitz’s role in Operation Remington. Papa Pope tells her that her job now is to get him whatever he needs, and that is a list of names. Later in the White House, she asks Liz to get her this list.

As Jake is about to testify about B613 in front of the Grand Jury, Olivia tells him to go in and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. She is fully aware that it means the president of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant, will be implicated. She calls her ex-boo and congratulates him on getting his wife to the Senate finish line, because it’s election day and she’s clearly going to win. It seems to be a farewell call. When the day in court ends after Jake’s testimony and they’re all about to leave, Huck tells Olivia that something happened.

In the minibus are the shot, slashed, and slayed bodies of all 16 grand jurors. That list that Rowan asked for was for their names, and even if he had it before, he had to incriminate someone else in it, so if he goes down, they do, too. When Papa Pope tells you to stand down, YOU STAND DOWN. That man will burn everything down if you get in his way. Even the court stenographer, who wasn’t on the bus, got killed that day from a “hit and run.” So the only person who heard Jake’s testimony and didn’t die is David Rosen.

Enraged and embittered, Olivia pays a visit to the only person who has ever had any control over her father: Maya Pope. She does not have anything comforting for her daughter, and tells her that she’s so vain and probably thinks this song is about her. She does, however, impart the wisdom that nobody even knows her father exists. If a Command no one knows exists falls in the woods, does he make a sound? So tell key people!

Meanwhile, Mellie tells Cyrus that she was an accessory to the jurors dying, and she mentions Remington. As soon as she does that, he says he’ll handle it, because now he knows Rowan is behind it. He goes to see Command, who tells him that he’s lucky David is still alive. That’s a favor to Beene. Oh, and Liz wants to know the whole truth from Mellie, because she did fetch her that list, after all.

Liv and Jake go to the head of the CIA because she figures that if the folks he is undermining know he exists, they will act. Director Lowry looks at them like they said the Loch Ness monster works in Congress, but they drop B613 files as evidence. She tells them to sit tight so she can handle this, but Cyrus meets her in the CIA hallway. It turns out that she (and others) knew about B613’s existence, except they thought it was a small operation with a tiny team. Cy gives her a warning about poking lions: They will eat your face. Officers return in the room where Liv and Jake are waiting, and they’re taken away and thrown in cells. WELP.

In the White House, it is the night of the election. At a reception for Mellie, Fitz gives her a rousing speech and toasts to his “best friend.” It’s touching, and Lizzie looks on, slightly displeased.

Cyrus summons David, who thinks he’s getting fired. Instead, he is being told to shut down this mission to take down B613. Otherwise, his Achilles heel, Abby, might end up poisoned, in a random car accident, or any other dire situation. If he wasn't ready to quit pursuing it, now he is. David goes to see Liv and Jake separately in jail, and slides them an affidavit that says they were lying about the existence of B613. Their choices are: don’t sign, and be charged with treason. OR sign and be free. Well, not much of a choice, huh? They both sign it with the understanding that the other did.

Free and in black pajamas, Olivia gets a call from Rowan giving her a petty high-five. She won. B613 has been disbanded, and Command is no more. The files that prove anything have been destroyed. The agents that worked on that mission have been killed (the final one by Rowan himself) to ensure that no one can talk. Oh, AND Maya Pope signed an affidavit denying the existence of B613, too, in exchange for her freedom. He is now just Eli Pope, employee of the Smithsonian. Sooo … win?

Senator Melody Grant is official, and she’s making her winning speech. Fitz is standing on the side, and Lizzie joins him. She tells the POTUS about jurors, spilling the tea about Mellie giving Rowan the list. GAHTDAMBIT, LIZ! WTF??? I knew she couldn’t be trusted. I was wondering what she was playing at. This is her revenge! The Grants are finally a supportive team, and she just throws that grenade in their midst.

At the OPA offices, Liv tells the Gladiators it’s a wrap. B613 is wiped out, and her father walks. Quinn points out that Huck has $2 billion siphoned away from the org, but it cannot be traced back to anyone. OH, REALLY? Papa Pope is sitting in his office when police show up. Elijah Pope, you are under arrest for embezzling money from the Smithsonian for decades. AW SHIT. Jake and Liv go to the jail and see Eli sitting among commoners behind bars. They surely could not take Rowan, but they can come for Eli Pope because he ain’t got no power.

The person who knows Huck the most at this point is probably Quinn, and she pieces together that he killed the jurors for Rowan. She could tell by the wounds on their bodies in the morgue. WHY was he working for Rowan? He says he did it to protect his family, but she says he doesn’t really have one because he can’t be with them. She puts her gun to his head, and he tells her to shoot.

All falls down, starting with Fitz. With him, Cyrus, and Mellie in the Oval Office, he tells his wife that they are not a team. He found out about her role in getting those jurors killed, and he wants her to pack up all her shit and move. In his eyes is pure disdain for the woman he had just cheered on the night before. She leaves, stunned. Now Cyrus. He tells his right-hand man that he knows that Mellie came to him first, and he knowingly worked with the man who killed his son. He fires Beene immediately, and I know it is ultra-real now. AND Lizzie is the new chief of staff. Abby looks on as North brings her things into Beene’s office, wondering what the hell happened.

Liv and Jake get to her place, but he stops in the hallway by the elevator. He refuses to come inside because she is home safe, and that was his mission from both her father and Fitz. Also, he’s all in love with her and she’s totally friend-zoned him, so he cannot deal.

Free of his wife and longing for Liv, Fitz goes to her apartment, but there’s no response. He returns to the White House and goes on the balcony. Liv is waiting for him there. As Nina Simone’s “Here Comes the Sun” plays, the two reunite in a passionate kiss as the camera draws back.

In the end, no one but Lizzie North has gained power. Rowan is now behind bars for stealing money. Cyrus is no longer chief of staff. Mellie has lost her partner and been exiled from the White House. Quinn has called out Huck. There are no teams left. Everyone’s power was in alliances, and all of them are broken. What happens now, though? Mama Pope is free. Surely she isn’t just going to go quietly into the night. I’m sure Quinn didn’t shoot Huck. Does that mean the Gladiators are going to disband?

Why would Fitz install Liz as his chief of staff? Even if he fires Cyrus, wouldn’t it make sense to put Abby there? He is perpetually the pot calling the kettle traitorous, and he really overreacted with Mellie. Ultimately, he just wanted Liv back, but I wasn’t cheering for them to get back together.

After the show ended, Shonda Rhimes tweeted that they had a verbal, drag-out fight in the writing room when they were deciding on the finale, and I see why. This felt hollow somehow. I was not happy with this ending, and I want a redo. Most of it was fantastic, but of all their season finales, this ending was certainly the weakest. There isn’t a real cliff-hanger here, and I didn’t realize how little I wanted to see Liv and Fitz together again until it happened.

Favorite quotes:

“You do not ask me who I am, Mrs. Grant. You ask me what I need.” —Rowan Pope

“While I live for justice, I don't want to die for it." —David Rosen

“Did your father and I not say you were special enough when you were little? Did we not give you enough hugs? This uppity fantasy world that you decided to be a part of — it's not real, boo." —Mama Pope

"I can't have a soul. If I had one, I would never accomplish a thing." —Cyrus

“We couldn’t take Command. But we can take Eli Pope.” —Olivia

“They asked me to look out for you. Both of them. Your father, the bad guy and the president, the good guy. They both asked me to keep you safe. They both made you my mission. And I went over the line on both accounts.” - Jake