So what does Rowan want from Mellie? A list of names – and if he doesn’t get it, he’s going to release a (surprisingly slim) file with details of all the bad things Fitz and Mellie have been up to over the past few seasons. Mellie instructs Elizabeth to hand over the names, and as soon as the grand jury hearing evidence from Jake about B-613 takes “a break”, you know that something bad will happen; sure enough, the list contained jury members, and everyone on the jury is B-613-ed. (Although why did Rowan need their names, given that the jurors were all sitting on the same bus when they were slaughtered? Never mind. There’s plenty about this week’s episode that doesn’t make sense.) A shaken Mellie confides in Cyrus – because she thinks he can fix it – and Elizabeth, because she trusts her. She’ll regret that.
Meantime Olivia is exploring other ways of getting to her father, including asking Maya for help, and going to the CIA, which presumably she could have done, like, at any point ever. But nothing works until she applies the Al Capone solution, and Rowan – no longer with the protection than comes with being Command – is brought down by financial malfeasance rather than mass murder. And Mellie, meantime, wins election as the junior Senator from Virginia.
All good, then? Well, no; Elizabeth faux-disingenuously mentions to Fitz her relief that we need no longer worry about the file held by Rowan, whereupon Fitz realises that both Cyrus and Mellie have been conspiring – whether willingly or otherwise – with Rowan. Cyrus is sacked, allowing Elizabeth to slither into the Chief of Staff’s office. And Senator Mellie is kicked out of the White House, allowing Olivia to make out with Fitz on the White House balcony.
It’s an unsatisfactory end to a not wholly satisfactory season. The writers are now in a position, should they wish, to put the B-613 era behind them, and try to steer the show back to where it was in the second and third seasons. On the other hand, though, no-one’s actually dead, or even in a lot of jeopardy. I can’t imagine Cyrus and Mellie will take this humiliation lying down, and I don’t want a show without them anyway. Quinn’s not going to shoot Huck. Jake and/or Maya might leave, I suppose, but I’m not sure they’d be missed. And, most significantly of all, Rowan is very much alive, and I’d guess that Papa Pope will regard allegations of financial chicanery as nothing more than an inconvenience, which would mean that he’ll still be sitting on the bench, ready to get suited up any time Shonda thinks that monologues and daddy issues are called for.
On the bright side Portia de Rossi is moving from guest star to the regular cast, and there’s going to be a new Gladiator (unnamed, but presumably Marcus), which suggests that OPA might actually get some proper work to do in season 5. I don’t think this season has been anything like as bad as some of Scandal’s detractors have claimed; at the same time, though, compared to the near-perfect season 2, for example, it has been patchy at best.