Here’s the thing about “Scandal”: It’s so well-made, and the actors so clearly relish every fast-talking line of dialogue they get to deliver, and the plot whipsaws so quickly that it’s almost pointless to try to track it, that it’s really easy to get swept along and enjoy the ride.
Until, that is, the ride jumps the track and gives you whiplash like it did in the final scene of Thursday’s (May 16) Season 2 finale. With Defiance now seemingly forever put to rest*, David Rosen has his career back, Fitz is making peace with Mellie, Cyrus is back in the seat of power and Olivia is once again trying to move on. It’s not a perfect ending for any of them — they all gave up something to get there — but it’s one they can all live with.
(*Although you have to believe that David made a copy of the Cytron card, just in case.)
And then as Liv heads out to go for a run while listening to “Higher Ground” — a nicely ironic song choice — she’s bombarded by press asking if she’s sleeping with the president and whisked into a waiting car, where sitting opposite from her is the mysterious guy played by Joe Morton who’s been circling this story arc, guarding interests that frankly have never been entirely clearly defined.
Olivia’s response: “Dad?” My response: “Come on!”
That Rowan — Cyrus finally says his name in the episode, just before his heart attack* — is Olivia’s father is potentially interesting, in that you have to wonder why he would be so anxious that what his daughter is doing will hurt his agenda (whatever that may be) that he leaks word about Olivia and Fitz. But in terms of what it means to Olivia, it’s kind of a shrug.
(*Jeff Perry’s performance as Cyrus has always been among the top two or three reasons to watch “Scandal,” but his ambulance ravings were a cut above, even for him.)
The scene immediately calls to mind the moment at the end of Season 1 of “Alias” when Sydney finally comes face to face with The Man and utters a confused “Mom?” Except that a lot of Season 1 of “Alias” concerned Sydney wondering about her mom, who she believed had died years earlier. For all we know about Olivia Pope’s background, she might as well have just sprung from the ground, wearing a structured suit and Punctuating. Her. Words when she really needs to drive a point home.
Beyond the (admittedly high) “whoa” value, though, it’s hard to see what Rowan as Olivia’s dad brings to the show right now. We can see that Olivia’s skills at manipulating people may be inherited, and infer that her relationship with her father was probably pretty fractured even before Thursday’s final scene. But that’s about it so far.
And in the meantime, everything that happens with Defiance causes David to lose a little bit of his soul to get his life back on track; Cyrus to reveal Olivia sleeping with Jake to Fitz and that Fitz killed Verna to Olivia; Quinn to give into her dark urges and torture Billy Chambers for information; and Jake to end up in the hole that broke Huck. Olivia can talk about being their gladiator all she wants, but her decisions here actively put her people in harm’s way. That’s not exactly a white-hat moment for her.
Season 3 of “Scandal” could very well end up answering a lot of those questions about Olivia and Rowan and just what the heck B613 is and does. But as a cliffhanger to end a season, it felt a little bit unnecessary.
What did you think of the “Scandal” finale?