It’s time for let’s find a VP!
That’s basically the plot of this week’s Scandal, which is the S5 finale. Not a lot of fireworks to be seen here, just lots of good old-fashioned backroom DC hijinks.
Ever-creepy Jake. But first, this episode opens with an entirely unpleasant scene that’s not fun to watch and should make any Jake devotees left out there seriously question if the guy really deserves their devotion.
Jake and his new father-in-law are chatting as Jake fixes them drinks. The FIL seems totally taken with Jake and thrilled to have him as part of the family. Jake accepts the compliments and hands him a glass. When the FIL takes a sip, he immediately starts convulsing, so it’s obvious Jake has poisoned him, for some reason. He doesn’t make us wonder why for long. After ignoring his FIL’s pleas to call 911, he tells him that he needs his wife Vanessa’s inheritance, so basically, tough luck, but this is how it has to be. The FIL, unfortunately for him, is in the way and is collateral damage. Then Jake heartlessly stands and watches as the guy struggles and gasps his last breath.
It’s all thoroughly unpleasant and nasty, which is how Jake looks right now.
VP Rosen? Cyrus visits David in his office. David still has an office, so Fitz apparently hasn’t fired him. Cy gets to the point and asks if David would be interested in being Frankie Vargas’s running mate. David asks what terrible thing he’d have to do for Cy in order for that to happen. Davey’s well aware of Cy’s track record. But Cy says Frankie has changed him. Working for such a great guy has drawn him away from the dark side, and he’s making a sincere offer. He thinks David’s idealism would match up well with Frankie’s. David knows that his idealistic veneer has been greatly tarnished in recent days but tries not to let that show to Cy. He looks like he feels a little trapped that Cy made the offer at all.
Later, David runs into Liz in a White House hallway. Of course, Liz never really “runs into” anyone, because her entire life is calculated. She tells him she knows he met with Cy, and she wants to know what’s going on. He decides to be straight with her, pulls her into his office, and tells her about the VP offer. She immediately starts thinking about what this could mean for her and says she wants in on the campaign. David says he hasn’t accepted the offer yet, but it’s obviously already way too late for that kind of talk, in Liz’s opinion. She sees an opportunity to get back in the presidential race, and she’s latching onto it.
You have to give Liz points for honesty. She’s always shallow and ambitious and never shy about expressing herself. She tells David he’d be a fool if he passes this by, and as she settles down on his lap and straddles him, says that if they’re debasing themselves, they might as well go all the way. Then she devours him. All of this after she was so disgusted with him just last week she could barely bring herself to look at him. Shamelessly shallow and ambitious. Don’t ever change, Liz.
VP cokehead? Mellie is also searching for a veep. She keeps running into a complication in that all of the prospective candidates she likes have something damaging in their past, which she finds out once the Gladiators do a little digging. One after another, they’re all eliminated from consideration.
Both Olivia and Mel think Missouri Governor Bill Wagner would make a good VP and meet with him. They really like him, but as they’re interviewing him, he tells them he sold cocaine in college. He was young and stupid and needed the money. There’s only one other person who knows about it but wants to be honest with them from the start, so he’s telling them upfront.
Liv and Mel are impressed that Wagner came clean concerning something obscure they might have never found out about. They like everything about him except the coke thing, and since he seems to have been of fine character for many years, they think that the blow factor can be dealt with.
Saving Jake? Later on, Edison drops by OPA to convey Jake’s message to Liv. You remember, the one about Jake wanting to stand in the sun. So the cruel, remorseless killer wants to bask in the sun now? How nice for him. Ed says that Jake is a puppet and a prisoner of Papa Pope, just like Ed himself was, and he needs Liv’s help to get free. But Liv doesn’t seem all that sympathetic toward Jake right now. She thanks Edison for delivering the message and gets up to show him out. He wants to know what she’s going to do about the situation, and she says she’s not going to do anything.
After Ed leaves, Huck tells Liv about the death of Jake’s father-in-law. He says it was no accident and that Pa is building a war chest. He’s using Jake to do it. Liv says if she steps in and tries to help Jake, Pa will kill him.
Moving on to another candidate. Cy walks into Vargas headquarters as Frankie is chatting with a new potential campaign donor. When Cy steps up to introduce himself, who turns around to greet him but Pa! Yes, now that his first purchased candidate has dropped out, The Evil One has moved on to try to corrupt and ruin someone else. And he’s waving $30 million around, which certainly has Frankie’s attention. But Cy warns that kind of dough spells SuperPac, which means it’s a no-no for the candidate to be listening, so Frankie coyly leaves.
Alone with Pa, Cy tells him he’s not wanted. Pa responds by threatening to tell Frankie that Cy was behind the Harrisburg courthouse shooting. Of course Pa knows about that, why wouldn’t he? Whether Cy likes it or not, Pa is buying his way into a lead role in the Vargas campaign. Then he tells Cy that Jake is going to be Frankie’s VP.
Frankie isn’t familiar with Jake, so after Pa leaves he asks Cy what opinion he has of him. Cy certainly does have an opinion of Jake, the man who killed his husband James, the guy he now refers to as the love of his life, even though he once saw fit to put out a contract to have him killed he only rescinded at the last second. He has a definite opinion of Jake, but he’s also afraid of Pa’s threats, so he says Jake would be a great choice.
The whole mess drives Cy to show up at Liv’s door. He tells her that Pa has hijacked Frankie’s campaign. She says the only way she can help him with Pa is to know what dirt Pa has on him. So he tells her he engineered the Harrisburg shooting. She acts all disgusted he did something that got people killed, which is a little odd from someone who mashed a guy to death with a chair a couple of weeks ago. Also, someone who’s known Cy for years shouldn’t be the least bit surprised he did something selfish and violent. That kind of behavior pretty much defines him, so whence the surprise, Liv? Cy tries to justify what he did and deflects by telling her that if she doesn’t fight back against Pa, he’s already won.
Beans, spilled. Abby walks into her office to find Fitz there. He’s looking at a file, which turns out to be Liv’s medical file, and asks about it. He apparently just picked it up off her desk, where she left it. So Abby left the file Pa gave her with the info about Liv’s abortion. The file she felt was so sacredly confidential that she couldn’t bring herself to reveal its contents, even when under the political slime gun, she left lying on her desk? Right out in the open, where any lame duck president can wander in and examine it, while she leaves for a Starbucks run? Good work, Red. Let’s trust you with the nuclear codes. We’d all be vaporized within five minutes.
Fitz has read the file and wants to know where she got it. Abby tells him Pa gave it to her, to use against Mellie’s campaign. Fitz’s reaction to what he’s just learned is a non-reaction at this point.
Sometimes there’s no side to take. The Republican convention is setting up. Mellie is going to be the candidate, but she’s read Fitz’s speech, the one in which he’ll present her as the nominee, and she’s not happy. She seeks him out and finds him standing onstage at the convention hall. She gets onstage to confront him. This is a dramatic setting, but would a conversation these two have in such a public venue really be private when there are cameras and mics everywhere? They’re not officially live yet, but still. An expectation of privacy? Not really. But this is Scandalverse, so disregard all of that.
Mel complains that his speech doesn’t even mention her, and it’s all about him. He says that if he talked about her, his ex-wife, every word would be scrutinized to death and the focus would definitely all be on him. She says as far as he’s concerned, everything is always all about him, but he got where he is by being privileged and spoiled. He’s just a poor little rich boy who made good, but she had to fight for everything she has. She had to fight her way to being senator, and she’ll fight her way to the presidency.
Ok, Mel? You’re mostly right about all the Fitz privilege, but casting yourself as a scrappy underdog is kind of ridiculous. “Fighting” your way to the Senate would have been a whole lot rougher had you not been a former first lady and a Washington insider. You have that spoiled brat of an ex to thank for the leg-up on that. If Mel really thinks Fitz is so deeply privileged and she not at all, she’s being willfully delusional.
Why does no one just take Pa out? Liv meets up with Jake in a parking garage. She says it’s the only way to see him without Pa knowing and tells him of the threat Pa made to kill him if she tries to see him. She also attempts to tell him that’s why she blew him off at his wedding, but he doesn’t care about that. All he wants to know is, does she have a plan to get him out? When she does, he says he’ll do whatever it takes to escape from Pa. Back at OPA, Huck tells Liv she doesn’t need a furtive plan and she should just do whatever has to be done out in the open. She’s doubtful about that.
Meanwhile, more behind-the-scenes political machinations are falling apart. The Gladiators had tracked down this one other person who knew about Wagner’s drug past and arranged a new identity and life for him. How could there possibly be only ONE person who knows Wagner once sold drugs? Intensely implausible. Just one more instance of Scandalogic. The intent was to clear a path for Wagner to be a squeaky clean VP pick, but somehow the story of his college antics still gets out. The result is that one more boring-ass, old, repressive Republican white guy is crossed off Mellie’s possible veep list. Don’t despair, Mel, I’m sure there are one or two more of those left out there.
But Mel is despairing, anyway. The convention is about to start, and she has no VP. She frets to Liv, who says she knows just the person who can step in seamlessly at the last minute.
POTUS gets real. Liv goes to the White House and tells Fitz that Mel has picked Jake as a running mate. Wow, quite a scheme Liv seems to be cooking up to get her slimy, cold-hearted killer of an ex-BF out of the clutches of her murderous, controlling father, if, indeed, he really wants to be out.
Fitz says it’s a good choice and asks Liv to sit. Then he says he misses her. He tells her what Mel said about him thinking he’s privileged and special, and he tells Liv he’s sorry he didn’t listen to her more when they were together. There’s a silence, and it’s probably obvious to Liv by this time that he knows her secret. Then he brings up the speech and says he’ll change it, because Mel asked him to. Liv gets up to leave, and Fitz says, “I support your choice, Liv.” He could be talking about the VP, but the way he uses the word choice seems to resonate with Liv. She smiles and thanks him before leaving.
Monster bonding. Tom, who works tirelessly for Cy in and out of bed, has tracked down Michael and Ella. They’re living in Virginia. Tom wants to know what Cy wants him to do and is more than willing to get Mike out of the way permanently. Of course he is. That’s what Tom does, the robotic, murdering old love-struck fool.
Then Tom offers to take Mike’s place in Cy’s life. He knows that involves caring for Ella, so to prove how paternal he is, he tells Cy of the time he found a baby on a train in Prague and cared for it all the way to Vienna. That’s only about a four-hour trip. The average wolf could probably keep a baby alive for that long, but Cy is touched by the story. He vetoes killing Mike off, for now, but he lets Tom know how much he appreciates the offer and how much Tom means to him. He’s the only one who understands what kind of a monster Cy is and loves him anyway. Then they hug and marvel over how great it is that two such morally bereft ogres found each other in this big, crazy world.
Stand-off at Pa’s. Pa is at home, gushing to Jake about how happy he is that he’s going to be Frankie Vargas’s VP, when Liv walks in. She’s not supposed to be in the same room as Jake or that throat-slitting threat Pa made supposedly kicks in, so this is big. But it gets even bigger. She says she’s come to get Jake. Mellie is going to announce him as her running mate at the convention tonight. Pa just laughs. Liv says they’re going. When Jake gets up to go, Pa suddenly isn’t laughing anymore and puts a gun to Jake’s head. He tells Liv Jake’s life is in her hands and to advise him.
So Liv finally calls Pa’s bluff. Her advice to Jake is to come with her. Pa will never hurt his son, she says, so he’s in no danger. She takes his hand, and it turns out she’s right. Pa can’t bring himself to kill Jake, and they walk out of the house before visibly exhaling as they close the door behind them.
News of Mel’s VP pick has leaked out. At Vargas campaign headquarters, Frankie sees a TV report and is annoyed to find that he has no VP. Cy tells him not to worry.
Pick your enemies wisely, Cy… It’s Republican convention night, but the Democratic side is also getting ready to announce its ticket. Cy is waiting backstage before the big announcement. Tom comes up to him and tells him that Michael is there, but it might be tricky with so many people around. However, he’s pretty sure he can take Mikey out cleanly if Cy wants him to. But Cy coldly tells Tom that he and Mike are getting back together, and Tom’s services will no longer be required. After dumping his BF, Cy walks over and happily greets Michael and Ella. Tom watches, the expression on his face a mixture of shock and contempt.
Yikes, Cy. Way to piss off a guy with no morals, no ethics and no conscience. And no paternal instinct, despite touching stories of caring for wayward babies on trains. Presumably, someone as shady as Cy knows how to protect himself against such people, but he just put his husband and daughter unwittingly in the crosshairs of a psycho. How nice of him. No one ever said Cy had any paternal instinct, either.
The unwilling veep. At the convention, Jake is just about to be announced as Mellie’s VP, but he gets cold feet. He’s in a room offstage, and Liv walks in and tells him to put on his tie. He says he doesn’t want to be VP. He didn’t want to just get away from Pa and is apparently still hung up on that sun thing. He’s tired of the DC grind and wants to go away with Liv to live a normal life somewhere. Yeah, like that would work for either of them at this point. But he’s insistent.
These desires only make Liv angry. Being normal is out of the question, and mediocrity isn’t an option. She rescued him from Pa, and now he’s going onstage as Mel’s running mate. He says he’s gone from being Pa’s bitch to being hers, and she tells him to put on his damn tie and go out onstage.
Jake does. Mellie announces him as her running mate, and they’re all smiles for the crowd.
So, this is how it ends? On TV, Frankie announces his running mate as…Cyrus! Liv has been one-upped by Cy. She phones him and says this was all planned and that David was never even considered as a VP. Cy laughingly agrees. She threatens to derail his plans by telling Frankie about, what else? Harrisburg, of course, an issue that will probably be dragged out every five minutes next season. Cy counters that he has an ace in the hole named Andrew, another subject sure to surface again. The two of them know enough to destroy each other, Cy says, so they’d better play clean.
Papa Pope watches all of this on TV from his armchair at home as he pours some wine and toasts himself. Is the implication being made that seeing both his “son” and daughter vying for power makes Pa happy? After all, Pa always gets what he wants.
Aaaaand….that’s it? That’s it. S5 ends with the dirty people in charge of the campaigns threatening each other into staying clean with the exposure of their respective dirt. With Pa in the background laughing manically and spreading evil, because that’s what he does. There was no mayhem and body count in this finale, just a setup for next season.
Which looks to be lots of politics, with the Grant and Vargas campaigns in full swing. Who will win the presidency? More important, will Mel and Marcus hook up? Will Marcus be the first First Dude? How will Liz punish David, now that he won’t be veep? If Jake is elected VP and leaves the NSA, will anyone there notice? How does Pa get away with constantly messing with a bunch of people who view killing as a casual pursuit, but never get taken out? Will Susan be back to tell us what happened between her and the koala?
Good questions! May TPTB at Scandal take them on properly next fall.
Use your time off wisely, Gladiators!