I was in a bad mood when I sat down to watch this – personal shizzle, largely inconsequential. Sometimes, when a show lifts my spirits, that can work in its favour. Not this time, though; ‘That’s My Girl’ annoyed me more or less from the first scene, in which Jake kills his father-in-law so that his wife can claim her inheritance, and the money can be funnelled towards some B-613 purpose or other. I mean, I know that Jake’s always been a stone-cold killer, but there used to be a grander purpose: the protection of the Republic. Killing your wife’s father for… some money? Come on, Jake.
Jake is integral to the main plots of the week too, in which the Presidential candidates, Mellie Grant and Frankie Vargas, choose their running-mates. Olivia and her Gladiators – who, let’s face it, have barely had a proper job to do all season – screen some potential candidates for Mellie, ending up with Governor Bill Wagner, entirely perfect apart from the minor inconvenience of some college-age coke dealing. Despite Huck and Quinn’s best efforts the media get hold of that, so back to square one. Fitz, meantime, accommodates Mellie’s every whim with amused, out-of-here-soon tolerance. I’m still OK with Fitz/ Olivia/Vermont as endgame, and he clearly is too.
Over on the Dem side, Cyrus offers the position to David Rosen – which leads to an even-more-grotesque-than-normal makeout session between him and Elizabeth. But Cyrus – under threat of being unmasked as the creator of the Harrisburg shooting which propelled Frankie onto the national stage – is told by Rowan that Jake is going to be on the ticket, and Cyrus complies. Except, of course, as we saw last week, Jake wants to get away from Rowan. (I say again: you’re prepared to kill an old man for some cash, Jake. Why not kill Rowan?) Olivia engineers this, in what is quite a powerful scene: Rowan has a gun to Jake’s head, but she knows Rowan won’t pull the trigger, and he doesn’t.
So Jake gets away. Happily, there’s a vacancy for Mellie’s VP candidate, and Jake can just slot right in there. Yeah, whatever. Meaning that Frankie suddenly has a vacancy. One marital reconciliation later, and Cyrus is the Democratic candidate for Vice-President. Yeah, whatever, and I wouldn’t go making Tom an enemy quite so readily. (Although it’s worth noting that Scandal’s commitment to progressive politics hasn’t been entirely forgotten: I’m reasonably sure I remember Cyrus, years ago, observing that as his sexuality meant he could never run for elected office he’d done the next best thing and become the power behind Fitz’s throne. Now, though, he’s a viable candidate.)
Jake’s final misstep of the season is to suggest to Olivia, seconds before going on stage with Mellie, that the two of them could run away together, become lovers again rather than brother and sister, and “dare to be normal”. Of course, whatever else you can say for Papa Pope, that’s the very, very last thing he’s brought Olivia up to be. So she brutally shuts that idea down, makes it clear through inference that Jake is now her bitch rather than Rowan’s, and gets him the hell out on that stage. Which Rowan is able to watch, approvingly, on TV; he kind of knows what’s happened, and he also knows that his daughter is pursuing her route to power again. Hence the episode title.
So another season finishes. The infuriating thing about this show, of course, is that every now and again it soars, and it entertains, and it provokes, and it makes its points about power, gender, race, and sexuality; and that’s what keeps me watching, as much of a prisoner of Scandal as Jake is of the Pope family. For the first time, though, I’ve really started to wonder whether I’m in until the end; and, judging by the viewing figures, I’m not alone. The next season is going to be a truncated one, due to Kerry Washington’s pregnancy, and it might be worth considering whether it should be the last. Either way, it’s possible it’ll be my last.