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I admit to being late to the show but I ever since I binged it two seasons ago, I’ve been a fan ever since. On paper, it didn’t seem like a show I would go for but I’ve enjoyed the many twists and turns. It was an escape because nothing in this show could ever happen in real life, however this is becoming the case more and more with every passing day.
Last season ended with a cliffhanger surrounding the election and didn’t leave it for the first few episodes because it is Scandal after all. Vargas won the election but also lost soon after once he was assassinated while giving his victory speech. The season stayed there for a good portion of the season with episodes focusing heavily on singular character as they dealt with the leadup to the assassination and also the aftermath.
The election meant a lot to Olivia so she wasn’t exactly over losing so with Vargas assassinated, suspicion automatically shifted to Cyrus as Olivia was adamant in her belief that he was responsible in some form. OPA found circumstantial evidence that proved Cyrus was responsible but it was too late so Cyrus, Vargas’ Vice President, assumed the presidency. He thought it was his duty so he took the job, despite being a wreck.
Just because Cyrus assumed the duty of President, the investigation was still ongoing . Of course they found more evidence but proving Cyrus’ guilt was easier said than done. With the public catching wind of the investigation, they became suspicious of him as well and began to turn on him. Now that Cyrus was shrouded in controversy which included a brief stint in prison, it would be assumed that Mellie would become President but nothing ever comes easy on this show.
Things finally got exciting when it was revealed that a conspiracy was responsible for everything that had happened. The first hint of this came in the first episode when we got a glimpse of Quinn and Huck investigating a cabin that exploded as they approached. It was later revealed that they were tracking a woman named Jennifer Fields (Chelsea Kurtz) who had left a message on the FBI tipline at the time of Vargas’ assassination that implicated Cyrus.
We later met a mysterious woman named Samantha (Zoe Perry) and a man named Theodore (David Warshofsky) who actually managed to get to Eli which admittedly does not happen often. She managed to find a woman from his past and threatened to kill her and then Olivia if Mellie didn’t make it to the White House so suffice it to say that he killed Vargas. He did so for different reasons but Olivia did not see it that way, refusing to believe that he had changed. He warned Olivia about a conspiracy and she did not want any of it.
With Olivia joining Mellie in the White House, there was still OPA to deal with. Charlie proposed to Quinn but all she seemed to be interested in was work. Their relationship was challenged when Quinn started to show feelings for Huck after his near death experience with the conspiracy. OPA lacked a leader so Olivia tested her by giving her a case to find someone for Fitz to pardon before the end of his presidency and she passed. Abby’s job as Fitz’ Chief of Staff was winding down so she was looking for something more. She was tempted by Theodore and Samantha’s offer to join them, however, she immediately regretted it and everyone else held it against her with everyone forgiving her except for Quinn. It took her a little longer than the others but she felt overwhelmed by the position so she offered it to Abby who refused but offered to be her Chief of Staff.
The season also featured the 100th episode of the series and it was a special one. It still fit within the context of the season and dealt with an alternate timeline. It dramatized how the lives of these characters could have gone if Olivia hadn’t rigged the election that allowed Fitz to enter the White House. We saw different characters in different places, including some that were originally dead but was ultimately not that different from reality.
It was unclear why this conspiracy wanted Mellie as President or even who they were working for but either way, Olivia and the gang were not willing to give in to them, preparing Cyrus to become President. Eli was genuinely afraid of them and he sort of knew what he was talking about when it came to super shady people. He warned her against supporting Cyrus as it meant that they may kill him and maybe her. Samantha and Theodore were definitely a force to be reckoned with as they had both money and power so they weren’t going away easily. Because of this, Mellie eventually became President anyway but that of course wasn’t the end of it.
Since Eli was the de facto expert on shadiness, Eli was put in protective custody by Fitz which created some obvious awkwardness and tension between the two of them. Under the guise of a bomb threat, the gang plotted what to do. With everyone in one room, everything was out in the open which made for an entertaining scene. They finally decided to fight back, first by arresting Samantha and then with Mellie picking Vargas’ widow Luna (Tessie Santiago) as her Vice President instead of Theodore like they wanted.
Seeming defeated, Theodore and Samantha were not going to give up without a fight. Eli was hesitant most of the season to help, again because he was afraid of Theodore, Samantha, and the conspiracy and what they would do to Olivia if he didn’t cooperate with them, sending him boxes that may or may not have had her head inside. Once he and Fitz got over their differences, he finally agreed to help and they finally took down Theodore and Samantha but there was still some unanswered questions. It appeared that they may have been working for someone higher up and then came Maya, much to Olivia and Eli’s delight. It seemed like she was the higher up but the culprit was even higher. Maya was supposedly there to assassinate Mellie at her inauguration but she helped Olivia figure out that Luna Vargas was the person responsible for the conspiracy until the cliffhanger ending revealing that Cyrus may have been behind Luna Vargas.
They could have shortened the election arc as it ran slightly too long, taking 6 of the 16 episodes this season. These episodes were compelling to watch because of the great main and supporting casts but should have devoted more time to the conspiracy. The season as a whole was exciting to watch, full of twists and turns and had plenty of great moments elevated by the excellent performances from the cast. Each cast member had their chance to shine with Kerry Washington, Joe Morton, and Tony Goldwyn perhaps standing out slightly above the others. This type of show could not last forever, however, it did come as a surprise when it was announced that the upcoming season would be its last. It will surely be interesting to see Mellie and Olivia in the White House and the inevitable OMG moments that will make up the last season.