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Scandal 3×18 “The Price of Free and Fair Election” Recap

The arrival of Election Day means the candidates will do just about anything for votes. Meanwhile, Olivia tries to make sense of Maya’s motives; and Charlie makes a shocking move.

After last week’s cliffhanger, Cyrus is saved from being a mass murderer when Jake rushes in to let Fitz know about the bomb, and the church where Hightower’s funeral was being held is evacuated. The bomb still goes off, though, and it’s unclear how many (if any) casualties there are – but like that’s gonna stop Leo and Sally Langston from jumping on this opportunity to further their campaign. After Leo dirties her up enough, she flits around giving people first aid and playing the gracious angel figure, naturally all in front of a handy news crew.

Olivia pushes Fitz to make a statement to the public as well, but when the news organizations pick up on Sally’s on-site guardian angelness, they all drop reporting on Fitz’s speech to give Sally the spotlight. It’s pretty much game over for the Grant administration at this point.

Olivia visits her father at the hospital, where he looks absolutely terrible, but alive. They bond here more than they ever did during their Sunday dinners, telling each other they love each other without any of the usual “but also I’ll kill your friends/destroy your livelihood if I have to” lines to cover up the sappiness.

Adnan brings Harrison to an undisclosed location where she plans to tie up loose ends by murdering him. With her gun pointed at his head, Harrison asks her to save his life, and he’ll save hers – and sure enough she lets him go.

Harrison heads to OPA, where he runs into Abby and they both walk right in on a Harrison/Quinn sex scene. Next to a giant pool of blood. Ick, you guys.

Actual White Knight David Rosen storms into Actual Scary Murder Dude Jake Ballard’s apartment to yell at him about keeping Cyrus’ role in the church bombing quiet. There are Harry Potter references. It is awesome. What’s less awesome is Scary Murder Dude refusing to help Rosen track down the baddies, because he’d rather “do what regular guys do” now that he’s not under the thumb of the government anymore. C’mon, bro, you killed so many people, you could at least try and be helpful now.

Charlie is (finally) moving out of Quinn’s apartment, but of course he can’t help but take one last suckerpunch before he skedaddles, handing Quinn an envelope containing information on Huck’s real family. Quinn tells Huck about it because she loves him (when the hell did that happen?!) but he’s actually angry about it and doesn’t want anything to do with them.

And here comes the obligatory Olitz scene of the episode: Fitz tells Olivia that once he loses the election they can run away to Vermont together, where he can become mayor of some podunk town and she can throw away all her life’s ambitions to make jam for him in a shiny new kitchen. Ugh. Fitz even starts bagging on Mellie, calling her a “vindictive, grasping, power-hungry monster” who never cared for him.

Olivia breaks her silent promise to Mellie to tell Fitz that Big Jerry raped Mellie while Fitz was running for governor. Fitz goes to talk to Mellie, and the instant she sees his face she knows he knows. Mellie reveals the results of the paternity test: Jerry is Fitz’s son, not his father’s.

Meanwhile, the polling numbers for Fitz continue to tank. Leo goes to gloat over Cyrus, who resignedly gives him some depressing advice on his upcoming job position.

Fitz prepares to give his last speech as President, but calls Olivia beforehand. She tells him she knows Vermont can’t happen now – that she wouldn’t even want him if, knowing what he knows, he’d still leave Mellie – but that it’s okay.

Olivia hangs up and returns to her father’s hospital bedside, only to find Mama Maya Pope hanging out next to him. Interspersed between bits of Maya’s speech about doing all of this to protect Olivia, is the scene of Fitz’s speech to America… which is abruptly ends when Little Jerry starts coughing up blood and collapses on the ground.

At a press conference outside the hospital where Jerry was taken, Olivia announces that Jerry has died, of bacterial meningitis. Well there goes my theory that this was all staged so Fitz could gain votes.

In the waiting room, Olivia bleakly tells Cyrus that her first thought after hearing of Jerry’s death was “we’re going to win the election now.” Cyrus confesses that he was ready to let the church blow up and kill hundreds of people so he could get rid of Sally. Man, everyone on this show is terrible. Where is the humanity?!

Information is brought to a grieving Fitz that Jerry’s death may not have been natural – that a vial containing the strain that killed Jerry went missing from its lab, and that Jerry could very well have been murdered.

Papa Pope comes by to pay his respects to Fitz. Fitz tells him that he knows Maya was the one to murder Jerry, because she missed her shot at him the other day, and now Fitz wants Maya dead. Eli offers his services, just as Olivia walks in the room to see them talking.

Fitz apologizes to her privately for what’s about to happen to her mother, and that he doesn’t blame her, but he’s definitely still going to go through with it (which I’m actually totally okay with, but I don’t see this revenge thing going well for anyone involved.)

As Cyrus and Olivia predict, the polls for Fitz are rising in the wake of Jerry’s untimely death. Cyrus tries to get Fitz to get the jump on his Presidential duties, but Fitz doesn’t want to hear it. As Cyrus watches, Fitz and Mellie grieve together.

Huck comes to Olivia afraid that he’s going to hurt his family. “My family has a good life now, no one is lying to them, no one is torturing people all day and then coming home and pretending to be normal. No one is hunting them, trying to get at me. No one is trying to kill them. They are safe.”  But it’s clear what he really wants is to go to them.

Later, Olivia talks to her father on the phone. He’s checked himself out of the hospital, and is looking for leads on Maya Pope. Olivia asks her father about the plane he got for her before and the offer of a new life still stands. He agrees.

When Olivia lets her team know, Huck understands (or at the very least is resigned to) Olivia’s motivations, but Abby is disappointed and angry. Harrison is conspicuously absent – probably because he’s been accosted by Papa Pope asking him what he knows of Maya Pope, and showing him pictures of Adnan dead. Harrison tells Eli where Maya’s next location will be.

Elsewhere, Jake comes to Olivia to ask her why she’s leaving. “It’s me,” says Olivia. “Everything that’s happened… the only common denominator is me.” Jake tells her to take him with her, and shockingly enough she does. What… what? WHAT. Is “I want to stand in the sun with you” going to be the next “Vermont” because I do not want.

At least Maya Pope is finally apprehended, traipsing out of a bank in broad daylight like she’s not wanted for a million and one crimes. Eli calls Fitz to let him know that Maya has been “taken offsite and disposed of.” Well, I didn’t see a body, and we all know there’s no death unless there’s a body (and sometimes even then.)

B613 is reinstated, with Papa Pope at the head of it again. Harrison stops by Eli’s office trying to convince him to stop Olivia from leaving. When he’s unsuccessful at that, he, like an idiot, puts the pieces of the Jerry puzzle together right in front of Eli. See, Maya wasn’t the one who killed Jerry, because she didn’t stand to gain anything from it. Eli totally murdered Jerry, with the help of Tom the Secret Agent.

Fitz wins the election and collapses in the middle of his office in tears. Olivia leaves on the plane with Jake. David Rosen opens up a bunch of file boxes on B613 sent to him by Jake with the message “Go get the bad guys” attached. Huck knocks on his family’s front door. Harrison is almost certainly dead at the hands of Eli and Tom, but you know who isn’t? MAYA POPE. Called it, yo.

Memorable Quotes

Leo: Be Jesus. You go in there and you be Jesus.

Olivia: I’m looking at a split screen. Why the hell am I looking at a split screen? Split screen makes him look like some talking head on a Sunday morning news show
Abby: Ohh, we got a full screen.
Olivia: THAT DID NOT JUST HAPPEN. Full screen on the Veep, really? I WILL SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE MAKING SURE YOU PAY FOR THIS.

Eli Pope: I do not like him. But Olivia, I do love you. And I want you to have everything, everything you deserve. So when I say I wish I could help, I do wish I could help. I wish I could help you.

Harrison: Okay, okay, never mind… all that. What’s this?
Abby: That’s Liv’s dad’s blood, he got stabbed by Liv’s mom when he lured her here, which turns you two on?!

David Rosen: Homeland Security? They’ll bury this whole thing under eight tons of paperwork and Voldemort gets away scot-free again.
Jake: Seems to me you did pretty well by Voldemort. Voldemort gave you your job.

Cyrus: Try and protect your soul, if you still have one. It’s futile, but you should still try.

Cyrus: We’re going to win. I hadn’t really thought about it.
Olivia: I did. A child is dead, and that’s the first thing that popped into my head.

Olivia: How did we get like this? When did we stop being people?
Cyrus: Were we ever people? Or did serving at the pleasure of the President just help us to shed our pesky skins, and unmask us as the monsters we really are?

Eli: You’re not looking for justice, Mr. President, you’re looking for a head served on a platter.
Fitz: Are you saying you can get that for me?
Eli: I may not be your friend, Mr. President, but I am a father. I know what I would do if someone hurt my child. Yes, I will get that for you.

Mellie: I wasn’t there for him. I kept my distance from him because I was terrified of what he might… be. Turns out he was yours, the whole time. But he was always mine. I should’ve been… but I was afraid… and now he’s gone…

Olivia: It’s me. I’m the thing that needs to be fixed, I’m the thing that needs to be handled, I’m the scandal. [was it just me or did anyone else expect her to break into a musical number right then? Those are some amazing show tune lyrics, right there]

Eli: There is a price. He took my child, so I took his. [HOLY SHIT]

Eli: You think you can take me because I’m old and injured? You can’t take Command, son. No one can take Command.

Rating + Verdict

For a season finale, this episode had a surprising amount of drag. I wasn’t all that invested in the ~shocking twist~ of Jerry’s death, even in relation to how it affected his family. The Eli Pope Is Behind It All twist was slightly more interesting, and I’m glad it happened if only because it proves my “just because he’s playing nice to you now doesn’t mean he’s not an evil murderer, Olivia, what are you doing” beliefs to be true, but I got over that pretty quickly. What little the Gladiators got to do was equal parts boring and frustrating – seriously, when did Quinn fall in love with Huck? Was it before or after he broke into her apartment, ripped her teeth out, and tried to kill her? And why do Scandal‘s characters keep making that fatal mistake of figuring shit out right in front of the bad guy? First Gideon, now Harrison, you’d think they’d know better by now.

For the most part, I was just waiting for this episode to be over – which is never a good thing for any show, let alone a show that thrives on shock, drama, and awe like Scandal.

Rating: C