Catch up on Scandal S6 Ep. 16 Transfer of Power


L.T. Milroy


We’re finally at the end of Season 6. After seeing Frankie Vargas die a thousand deaths, and bad guys who can’t quite keep track of all their phony names, and getting whiplash trying to figure out if Ma and Pa Pope are supposed to be good or bad this week, and hoping Kerry Washington can soon resume her regular schedule, so we can move on from episodes chock full of flashbacks that have been pieced together like Frankenstein’s monster, it’s all ending.

Yes, it’s been a crazy season. And it comes to kind of a crazy end. It does leave things in pretty good shape for S7, though, which is not a bad way to end the season.

WH hijinx. Fitz strides purposefully through the White House hallways to his bedroom. Waiting for him there is Liv, in his bed. But he doesn’t have time for that kind of activity right now. He testily asks her how she could have released Ma. They bicker about it a bit, but then Liv shuts it down. This is their last night together. Tomorrow is the inauguration. Then she’ll be Mellie’s chief of staff and he’ll be on his way to Vermont. They shouldn’t be wasting their last night together fighting. She tells him to get his butt into bed. He tells her she’s very bossy. She tells him he loves it. He gets into bed. Liv is right, as usual.

Who thought she’d get away? Ma is sitting at a diner counter. A man sits on the stool next to her, and she gets out an envelope and pushes it over to him. Then she gets up and goes to the ladies room. He puts the envelope in his pocket, and as he walks toward the door, the feds descend. They find the envelope is stuffed with money and arrest him, as the guy denies he knows anything about it. When the feds check the ladies room, Ma is, of course, gone. She dug out her tracking chip and left it on the sink. Why did someone as savvy as Jake think Ma would be tripped up by the presence of a mere chip? With all she’s been through in her life, she probably eats those things for breakfast at this point. So Ma is in the wind, again.

Discussing security. At the White House, Liv, Fitz and Jake, along with Mellie and Luna, the president and VP-elect, discuss the inauguration. Fitz is still nervous and wants the whole ceremony moved indoors. Mel is adamant that the day proceed the same way it has for all the previous presidents. Jake says there will be a ton of security and nothing will be left to chance. Then Luna says, regardless of that, she doesn’t want to bring her children to the swearing-in; it’s too dangerous. Fitz again pressures Mel to call it off. She thinks it over and relents to no children on the dais. Mel won’t bring her own kids up there, either. But otherwise, the swearing-in will go on as planned.

David comes into the room to give Fitz an executive order to sign. David asks what it’s about, but Fitz just signs it, thanks him, and doesn’t answer.

Inauguration day. The big moment has finally arrived. Amid the usual pomp and circumstance, and it being outdoors, like usual, Fitz, the outgoing president, is first introduced, followed by Luna, then Mel. Where’s Susan, the current VP? It’s a little odd that she’s been MIA for the entire season, but her not being present in this instance is really glaring. However, it’s not explained. Liv stands nearby, looking a bit tense. Jake scans the crowd and checks with the snipers placed around the perimeter; they report nothing suspicious.

The all-clear signal appears to be what Ma is waiting for, as she’s made her way to a rooftop where a sniper is stationed. Yes, even though the entire intelligence community is looking for her, Ma was able to slip her chip and make her way to the site of the inauguration, which Jake swore was locked down tight as a drum. Looks like the entire resources of the U.S. government are no match for Ma on a mission. She overpowers the sniper and gets behind his rifle, which is trained on the dais.

Liv, as Mel’s chief of staff, is sitting near her as she starts to take the oath of office. At that moment, Liv’s phone vibrates. It’s Ma, telling Liv to move out of the way. It should be remembered that Liv has been convinced that Ma isn’t gunning for Mel, which is why she had her released. She thinks Ma is playing another game she just hasn’t figured it out yet. Now it’s urgent that she figure it out, as Ma is aiming a rifle at the inauguration dais and telling Liv to move. Liv begs her not to shoot, but Ma confirms what Liv has been saying and that she isn’t aiming for Mel. Before Ma can say who her target is, Liv hears a silencer shot, and Ma stops talking.

Liv isn’t sure what’s happened and looks around. Mel is finishing her oath, and everything looks fine. Up on the roof, Ma is down. Standing behind her is Pa, who traced her and shot her before she could get off a shot. He sees the phone Ma dropped and hears Liv on the other end. He picks it up and tells Liv that Ma is alive but has been shot. It’s all over. Back on the dais, Mel waves triumphantly to the crowd.

Afterward, Liv goes to see Fitz and Mel in the White House and angrily confronts Fitz. She says Ma is in surgery and might die, and if she does, she’ll never be able to tell them who she was really aiming at. Liv assumes the target was whoever hired her to kill Mel. Fitz doesn’t believe that and says Ma was undoubtedly intending to carry out her mission and shoot Mel. The new president interjects to say she’d love to talk about her assassination some more, but she has a ball gown to pick out, and leaves. She hasn’t yet picked out the gown she’ll be wearing to the inaugural ball? Isn’t that kind of thing usually done way in advance? Doesn’t say much for Mel’s planning skills.

Fitz is told he has a phone call from AG David, which he says he’ll take in the hall, and he, too, leaves. Liv gives him a perplexed look as he walks out with no explanation.

The end of OPA? Or is that QPA? Or AWA? It looks like Quinn has really made up with Abby, with whom she’s discussing the inaugural ball seating chart. It’s all business until they wrap up and Abby turns to leave. At that point, out of nowhere, Quinn asks Abby if she’ll take over running OPA. She tells an obviously shocked Abby that she wants to get away while she still can. There’s still a chance that she can be normal and raise her child to have a normal life, and she’s going for it. Abby asks about Charlie, but Quinn scoffs at that. She says Charlie doesn’t know about any of this. She’s not going to tell him about the baby, because Charlie could never ‘do’ normal. She loves him, Quinn says, but that’s not enough. He could never be normal, and that’s what she wants. Abby, still stunned, says she’ll think about it. Quinn tells her to think quickly.

Extorting the AG; jerking around the POTUS. Liv, her curiosity aroused by the phone call, drops in on David and comes right out and asks him why he called Fitz. He says it was to discuss an executive order, but when Liv presses him for details, he says he can’t give any. That leads Liv to think out loud about how she and Mel were going to keep David on as attorney general, but maybe that’s not such a good idea, after all. It looks like that threat worked like a proverbial charm, as in the next scene, Liv is back at the White House, confronting Fitz. She says the executive order concerns a transfer of funds, and she guesses it’s to reestablish B613. He confirms it. She can’t believe he’s giving that power back to Pa, and he says Pa won’t be running things, he will. Liv says that Pa manipulated him and will work against him. Fitz laughs that off; he’s used to people working against him. All a president does, he says, is deal with constant opposition. Then he says this is his chance to make a real difference.

Just a minute here. I know Fitz was bitching about people opposing him all the time, and I don’t doubt that’s true to a sizeable extent, but he’s been president for eight years. He hasn’t had the opportunity to ‘make a real difference’ at any point during those eight years?? Not even once or twice? He had two terms and didn’t get anything he considers important done during either of them? He needs to revive B613 in order to accomplish something? That’s what I would call a failure of leadership, and I wouldn’t exactly be bragging about it.

Liv reveals that she was going to ask him to stay in Washington and not go to Vermont. He says she doesn’t have to ask now, because he is staying. She says she didn’t want it to happen this way. Then she trashes the legacy of B613, saying how it ruined her father’s life, and hers. Reviving it isn’t how she wanted him to stay.

Later, Liv is watching inauguration coverage on TV when Fitz walks in. He tells her he’s rescinded the executive order. What she said made him change his mind. He says she was right about not reviving B613. Liv responds by saying “I’m always right!” This means, he says, that now he’s leaving DC. He has a foundation to run in Vermont, and she has a country to run. He says it’s time for him to go and says goodbye.

Olitz, attracting attention, as usual. It looks like a very un-dramatic parting for Olitz, but this pair never does anything devoid of drama. The helicopter to take the president away is sitting on the White House lawn, and Fitz walks toward it, with the press all around, taking pictures. He stops walking when he hears someone call out “Mister President!” It’s Liv, of course, who could have given Fitz a big send-off in private a few minutes before, but instead is doing so now, very publicly. He watches as she walks toward him, then starts running. She jumps into his arms, and they kiss, and it’s all as cheesy as it sounds. The cameras click away as Liv and Fitz swallow each other’s faces. What a photo op. When they’re done slobbering, she tells him it’s been an honor. He says the honor has been his. Eye roll from me.

It’s strange to see Fitz departing DC, though. The whole premise of this show was the story of Liv, the fixer, and her relationship with Fitz, the president. Liv hasn’t been a fixer in quite some time and recently handed the business over to Quinn, and now Fitz isn’t president anymore, either. So this is a show in the midst of entirely reinventing itself.

The big reveal. Liv is at OPA, where she and the Gladiators are trying to figure out who Ma was intending to shoot. She looks at the inaugural ball seating chart, and then asks to see footage of Frankie’s assassination. Again??! Haven’t we seen enough of that this season, and from every possible angle? Fortunately, it’s brief. Then Liv has flashbacks to many moments in the campaign, and one person keeps popping up: Luna Vargas, widow of Frankie, the new VP. She realizes Ma had double-crossed Luna and was aiming for her, not Mel. Luna, still thinking Ma intended to shoot Mel, didn’t want her kids on the dais.

Liv takes her suspicions with her when she drops in on Luna, who’s getting ready for the ball, but Liv tells her she’s not going. She knows, and it’s over. She just needs to find out if there’s a plan B, now that plan A was foiled. Luna plays dumb at first, then gets quite smug and tells Liv that yes, there is a plan B, which is Luna herself. She’s the new Veep, and the widow of Frankie Vargas, who has become somewhat of a folk hero to many. She’s very popular. Not only that, but arresting her will taint Mel with scandal. The Grant administration will be crippled before it has a chance to get off the ground. Liv can’t touch her, and Luna tells her to get out.

Liv tells everything to Jake. She says Luna’s right, they can’t do anything to her, and it pisses Liv off.

Hospital visit. Liv goes to see Ma in the hospital. She tells her she knows Ma was planning to shoot Luna. Ma asks Liv what she’s going to do with that information. Liv says there’s nothing she can do. Luna has her over the proverbial barrel, and she’s not happy about it. Ma thinks Liv is just jealous, because Live believes the White House is hers, and she doesn’t want to share it. Liv doesn’t argue with that. She says she earned, it and she deserves it. Ma says to go get it back.

Oh, baby. Back at OPA, Quinn and Abby are all dressed up in their ball gowns. Before they go celebrate, Abby tells her she can’t take over OPA now, because it would be a disaster. She instead tells Quinn to hire her. Quinn asks why she’d come back after working in the White House, but Abby says she wants to. She also says that if Quinn wants to have the baby, she’s there to help. Quinn appreciates the support. Charlie and Huck walk in, decked out in their tuxes. Quinn has so far kept Charlie in the dark about his impending fatherhood but finally speaks up and tells him she’s pregnant. It appears she’s ruled out ‘normal’ as an option. Charlie looks stunned, but only for a moment, then seems genuinely thrilled as he takes her in his arms and kisses her. Huck is the one who looks a little shell-shocked.

Remember him? The newly inaugurated Mel looks around the Oval Office and revels in the feeling a bit. She’s decorated the room with feminist icons like Victoria Woodhull, which seems strange for a Republican. Someone like Woodhull doesn’t exactly fit the mold for Republican heroine. Fitz always acted more like a Democrat, too, another instance of Scandaland differing from RL.

Mel goes from her Oval Office revelry to a drearier scenario. We’re transported to Cyrus’s house, where he’s deep in the throes of a brownie-induced nap. It makes an amusing picture, Cy asleep, chocolate crumbs on his face, a half-empty plate nearby. That’s the scenario that greets Mellie, the new president, as she walks in. She tells him to get up and clean up, because she’s taking him to the ball.

One last thing on the way to the ball… Liv looks radiant in her ball gown and Jake, her escort, shows up,  looking equally impressive. The pair is all ready to go out on the town and rub elbows with the DC fabulous, but there’s some business to attend to first.

They pay a visit to Luna. Liv wastes no time getting to the heart of the matter and tells Luna she’s going to die tonight. Luna scoffs at that and yells for Secret Service. Jake calmly sits down and says the SS agents are his people, they answer to him, not her, and they’re not coming. Luna tells them they can’t kill her, she’s the vice president. Liv glibly answers “Raise your hand if you’ve killed a vice president!”, and raises her hand. She gives Jake a look. He says his was Argentine, but Liv says that still counts, and Jake raises his hand. Hee! Liv says hers was American. Then she says they won’t have to do away with Luna, she’s going to do it for them, and Jake takes out some pills. The inevitability of the situation dawns on Luna, who says that she’d never voluntarily leave her children. You mean the kids whom you’ve deprived of a father? This is a horrible situation for her, but to play the kids card after deliberately having their father murdered is a bit much. Liv is very cold-blooded about the whole thing, telling Luna that if she won’t take the pills, which will painlessly induce a heart attack, then Jake will have to take matters into his hands, and it won’t be painless.

Luna looks desperate. She starts talking about how she didn’t want to be first lady, that’s not the cloistered life she wanted, so she paid someone to make sure Frankie lost the election. But they went too far and killed him, and she had nothing to do with that. Liv says she’s a liar. Luna starts to babble about Frankie and his legacy and how she has public sympathy on her side and will be able to get so much more done than he could have and some stuff about Jackie O. in her bloodstained outfit and pillbox hat, and she goes on and on. Liv lets her rant, then icily says it’s either the pills or Jake, her choice. Luna hesitates a moment, then grabs and gulps the pills. Liv tells Jake to call her when Luna’s dead, and leaves.

Meet the new boss. Liv walks into the Oval. Mellie and Cy are there. Liv hands Mel a paper to sign, an executive order, just some little budget thing. Cy notices and seems to give a furtive smile, but Mel just signs. It looks like B613 lives! But Luna doesn’t. Liv’s phone buzzes; it’s Jake, with the news that the new VP has had a fatal heart attack.

Liv goes to see Pa in his lab. She tells him she’s reviving B613 and will run it herself. He’s retired and is not to get involved. She says she loves him, she wants to have a relationship with him, Sunday dinners and the like, but if he crosses her, she says, she’ll kill him.

Later, Liv is sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, sipping from a bottle. Cy shows up. They remember the agreement they made many months ago, when the campaign first started and they were on opposite sides, to get together and share a drink at the Lincoln Memorial when the whole thing was over. A lot has happened since then. Liv tells him about Luna. He’s shocked that it was her behind Frankie’s assassination. Liv doesn’t tell him that Luna’s been ‘taken care of’, so he says the question now is how to get rid of her. Then Cy says things about Frankie and Luna and Frankie’s legacy, and the words he uses are identical to the ones Luna used in her parting speech. The realization dawns on Liv, who says it was Cy behind the whole thing. She says it’s going exactly the way he wanted. He guesses that the EO she had Mel sign had to do with the revival of B613, so he says it looks like they both got what they wanted.

Liv doesn’t really acknowledge that. She just tells him to stay in town; he’s going to be nominated for VP. He asks her how it feels to be the most powerful person in the world. Liv smiles and says it feels right.

Ok. First of all, if you’re thinking this makes no sense, you’re right. If this was all set in motion by Cy, it was a totally convoluted plan. And an unnecessary one. Mel flat-out offered Cy the vice presidency a few episodes ago. Why risk everything on a shaky plan with no guarantees. Why not just take the offer when it’s on the table? Making Luna the bad guy and ultimate mastermind behind the whole plot seems kind of tacked on.

None of it makes much sense, but it does set up what Scandal is going to be in its seventh, and final, season. One thing that was very consistent through this episode was Liv’s transition over to the dark side. Basically threatening the attorney general’s job to extort information out of him is definitely not a ‘white hat’ thing to do. Nor is forcing a woman into suicide, ultimately for one’s own gain, and appearing not to have any qualms about it whatsoever. Then proclaiming her love for Pa, but letting him know she won’t hesitate to slit his throat if he gets in her way? Essentially, she’s become Pa. Once in power as Mel’s chief of staff, she’ll be a wrecking crew expecting to get her own way, with the support of whatever B613-type operation she starts up behind her.

Season 7 Liv will be a formidable foe, and it looks like it will, in large measure, be up to the new OPA – Quinn, Charlie, Abby and Huck – to keep her in check. And maybe Marcus, though it looked like he was going to Vermont to run Fitz’s foundation. And what of Fitz? Once he gets wind of all this, will that alter his plans? Will he stay in DC, after all? And if so, how much of his time will be spent fighting on the opposite side of someone with whom he has such an extensive personal history? And what of Pa, supposedly retitred? And Ma, currently in the hospital, supposedly headed for prison? And whose side will Jake come down on? Will he choose or try to play both sides? Interesting questions, all. It sets up some interesting possibilities.

No episode count has been announced for S7, nor a premiere date. It looks like at this point, those details are still being decided. All that’s definite right now is next season is Scandal‘s last. A show notorious for doing things in a loud, over-the-top way, has the chance to plot out its own ending. For those of us who have been around since the first episode, it’s a bittersweet prospect. Looking forward to seeing what kind of exit plan the show chooses, and how all these characters end up, but Thursday nights won’t be quite the same.

Thanks to all who take the time to read these recaps. See you back here for the S7 premiere, whenever that turns out to be…


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