Scandal Season Finale Series Finale

Scandal 7×18 – Over a Cliff (Series Finale)

“I’m the bitch of the United States of America.”

Scandal

This review’s going to be a little bit different. It will feature dual takes by Nad (who reviewed the show for six years), and Chris (who took over reviewing duties this season). We hope you enjoy it, and comment with your thoughts below!

Note: be sure to watch Nad’s quick video review of the series finale.

Chris: I have a strange love/hate relationship when it comes to series finales. They’re always packed with mixed emotions and expectations. So is it weird that I felt nothing as I watched Over a Cliff?

Nad: Not weird at all Chris. I hated this finale. It further cemented just how terrible Scandal had become in its final season. Let’s break it down!

The Big Death

Chris: It’s especially disturbing to feel detached from an episode that kills off a main character, but David’s death is extremely rushed, nonsensical and emotionless – three words that also perfectly describe this finale (and maybe the series?) as a whole.

Nad: Amen! I used to love David but I felt nothing here. Maybe it’s because they didn’t even give Abby the space to process his death? (And thus, we as viewers couldn’t process it properly either). I know there had to be a big death in the finale, but come on Shonda, at least give it the weight it deserves. I’d also like to point out that although Shonda apparently prides herself on big deaths, she never REALLY killed any of the core cast members. I would have loved to see her kill off Rowan or Huck or even Fitz (like she killed McDreamy on Grey’s). Scandal was never as game-changing in its narrative as it pretended to be.

Unsatisfying, Frustrating and Disrespectful

Chris: Then there’s Cyrus, Rowan, and Olivia. The only reason I stuck with Scandal until this torturous point was because the optimist in me believed there would be a fair and satisfying conclusion after seven years. It seems that Shonda was too ridiculously obsessed with these terrible characters and B613 to really put a shocking bookend on it all. First, Cyrus gets away completely unscathed (and no, a deleted death scene does not count). And what about Rowan and Olivia? They get to keep wandering the city, giving awfully long speeches and having cringeworthy family dinners? It’s a frustrating and incredibly disrespectful ending for longtime fans. Perhaps a two-hour finale would have helped explain some of the rushed creative decisions the writers had to cram, but only a tragic ending for the Popes and Cyrus would have left me completely fulfilled.

Nad: 100%. Let’s not forget that Cyrus had no more shades of grey this season. He became a PURE villain which was never the case. And if you’re just going to make him a full-baddie, at least give him his comeuppance. Shonda also manages to overlook Liv’s crimes (remember when she MURDERED Andrew?), but Rowan doesn’t suffer any consequences for all the horrifying acts that he’s done? Pathetic.

President Pope?

Chris: A finale is just as memorable as its final shot. While Over a Cliff doesn’t quite leave me with the bitter taste that the How I Met Your Mother finale left me with four years ago (almost to the date), I’m still remarkably underwhelmed by the visual of the girls looking up at a painting of Olivia Pope. Whether or not this is an indication that Liv became President of the United States (literally or figuratively), I’m more disturbed with the writers trying to position this character as a role model despite the despicable things she has done over the years. There’s no denying that Scandal has had a huge positive effect on young, black women all over the world, especially since the show debuted during a time when representation for diverse characters was scarce, but the impact would have been much more powerful if Olivia Pope was a character worth rooting for. I see the point you were going for, writers, but you failed miserably.

Nad: We’ll have to disagree here. Although you make valid points, I actually loved the scene of the two girls (some people are theorizing that they’re Liv and Fitz’s daughters) looking at the portrait. It’s true that Liv was not a great role model, but I still found it empowering, especially with the touch of her wearing her natural hair in the picture (which she barely did because she was never at ease with herself). Also on the bright side, Olitz got one little scene (the “hi”). I guess at this point, even Shonda was sick of this nauseating couple.

Final Thoughts

Chris: Ultimately, I think the show suffered from a huge identity crisis throughout its entire run, even at its best. It started out as a semi-serialized soapy drama before it ditched its standalone cases altogether and replaced them with political thrills. At times, it wanted to become the next Alias with its secret covert organizations and spy hijinks. It wanted to be politically resonant as it ripped stories from headlines and mimicked Washington’s real-life leaders. Scandal was so many things at once, it’s amazing it never even tried to be one simple thing: consistent.

Nad: Hilariously true Chris. There was a time when Scandal was my FAVORITE show on TV. Remember how spectacular season two was? It would consistently produce A+ episodes week after week, and then the show just went too bonkers for its own good. The fact that I stopped reviewing it in season seven spoke volumes; I was that turned off by its storytelling. What a pity.

Scandalous Bits

– Lonnie killing himself in the opening teaser is one of the funniest rushed deaths in television history.

– Mellie did nothing this year. Seriously.

– At least we find out Charlie’s real name is Bernard. Yay, I guess?

– Rowan’s big monologue to the committee was way too heavy-handed and random. Also, it solved everything far too easily. Talk about contrivances.

– Fun callback: Fitz telling Olivia to take her clothes off is a reference to The Trail, the sixth episode of the very first season. Also, yes that’s the Olitz theme playing in the background.

– The Olivia/Jake dynamic never worked, so naturally their very last scene barely registered as the writers desperately tried to redeem Jake. Remember when he killed his wife not even two weeks ago?

Quipyness

Sally: We’ve got rats in our nation’s basements. Fear no more, Liberty lovers. Mama’s calling the exterminator. It’s killing time.

Huck: Do you, Quinn, take Bernard to be your lawfully-wedded husband?
Quinn: I do. And I promise to never hack you without cause, to help you hide the bodies, no questions asked, and to always have your six till the day I die for real.

Conclusion

Chris & Nad: A rushed, messy and deeply unsatisfying series finale on nearly every level. Goodbye, Scandal. We’re sorry to say that you won’t be missed.

Chris & Nad Rating
D

 

16 comments

  1. Glad to see both of you involved in this review. Nad, I commented on your video review on Facebook.

    I will never understand Shonda’s attachment to Rowan, Jake, and B6-13. They ruined the show and turned it into something it wasn’t. It pissed me off to see Rowan and Cyrus walk away after everything they’ve done. At least Jake got taken down. But of course the show tries to make me feel sorry for him during that scene with Olivia. Screw that. Jake isn’t a misunderstood victim. He murdered Cyrus’s husband, his father-in-law, his wife, and so many others with very little or no remorse. I have no sympathy or pity for the creepy bastard. I thought his feelings for Olivia were often twisted and obsessive. Far from the stuff of a genuine love story.

    I didn’t care much about Charlie and Quinn’s wedding though the part when Charlie said Quinn was Batman and not Robin was kind of sweet. I was sad about David’s death. I didn’t have any feelings about the character in the past, largely because he was often used as a plot device. But him standing up to Jake was the only part of the episode I enjoyed. Then he got killed after going to Cyrus’s which was an obvious trap. It was hard to watch him die.

    Olivia’s portrait in the gallery didn’t fill me with hope or admiration but made me groan with “ugh”. The same over her and Fitz. On the bright side, I won’t have to endure any of this trainwreck. It’s over and done with. Let’s hope they don’t bring it back for a movie down the line.

    1. Thanks for reading along this entire time! Always enjoyed complaining about this show with others hahaha

      Agreed about all the points you made (especially evil Cyrus and Jake) and glad you agree about the Liv portrait (sorry Nad, you’re alone on this one). Such a relief to be finally done with this show!!

    2. So true about Shonda’s attachment. I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND IT. So immensely stupid. B613 RUINED the show. Ugh. Good riddance.

  2. Loved your thoughts on this one too! Can we do shared reviews every week or something? Only on terrible episodes because this was so much fun Hahha.

    Say it with me: “it’s finally over!!!!!” I feel like nothing’s missing from my life.

    1. Oh and thanks for giving me the opportunity to write (err, complain) about this show this year! Those reviews were strangely therapeutic as they gave me a space to vent on a weekly basis 😀😀 (maybe I’m gonna miss this show after all? Oh crap)

  3. “Scandal was so many things at once, it’s amazing it never even tried to be one simple thing: consistent.”

    Great analysis/observation about what the show ultimately became. I remember getting hooked into watch this show and season 2 was definitely the peak in terms of quality. Season 3 was a slight step down but not too bad It wasn’t until around season 4 after the kidnapping arc that I feel things got sloppy and I’ll try and briefly touch on points I feel they could have addressed with the hindsight we have now.

    B613
    I didn’t mind B613 at first and the idea of it was exciting at first. As it went on though, I think one of the biggest problems about it ended up being that it took up a lot of screen time and offered little explanation about the organization. Often times felt like never ending revolving door vague shadowy figures that were powerful because the writers told us so. It became such a prominent part in the mythology and the longer it stayed the more questions came up

    Just how big was size and scope of the operation and how much power did they truly have?
    How would it be possible for a secret organization to form within the government (and by a black man at that) and NOBODY knew about it?
    There also seemed to be implications Rowan was just a small part of a bigger infrastructure, were there higher ups or bosses?
    What exactly was “command” and why could it never be taken even if he did die? because Olivia and Jake eventually held this title in the show.
    Additionally, if the organization was such a huge threat why not just kill Rowan and let it fad away?

    I read somewhere there were talks about a potential B613 spin-off and while I’m not sure how that would have turned out in terms of quality it probably would have worked to the benefit of both Scandal and that potential show. If Shonda just had to scratch her Alias-inspired itch, you could have two separate worlds that overlapped from time to time where one that dealt with the world of political scandals and fixing problems and the other focusing on the shady dealings of a secret government agency.

    Characters and Relationships
    I also liked that you outlined that for as off the wall as Scandal got, it never truly took the risk of killing many of its core principal cast. Harrison was probably the only exception but that was due to off screen drama. I don’t have specific names of who I think killing would have made the show better, but in terms of the stakes things felt so low because it never felt like the writers would go there and often times would go super far only to take it back in the end. The two biggest examples off the top of my head include
    1) Quinn this season, who we spent a large chunk of the first half of this season with a suspected fake out of her death
    2) 2) Jake at the end of season 4 who was tortured and on the brink of death by the B613 agent that her father
    Additionally with those characters you had romantic relationships which I either felt didn’t click or just went on way too long, the biggest offender being Olivia in both of her relationships with Fitz and Jake.

    Consequences
    Speaking of Olivia’s relationship with Fitz, whether you loved or hated it, the concept of it was truly an intriguing one. A political fixer with a respected reputation of successfully fixing scandals in the world of DC while simultaneously being involved in possibly one of the biggest scandals in history as the mistress of the sitting president is an interesting idea. There are even more layers and stakes to the parties involved in the context of an interracial relationship and I can see why it would pop out to viewers. I bring all this up because the writers flirted with the idea of having that exposed, but once it became public knowledge it didn’t seem like there was much consequence to it.
    Olivia went on to apparently ascend to higher political power or at the very least be revered if we’re to take that painting into consideration. Even in real time as that information was known Fitz somehow managed to avoid impeachment hearings, Olivia actually moved in the white house and some point, OPA was still able to be in business, Olivia somehow ran the campaign of the woman whose husband she slept with and went on to become a part of her cabinet and this was AFTER she had publicly ran across to lawn to kiss her ex husband in front of the press taking pictures. There are some obvious real life parallels between Monica Lewinsky and it’s hard to believe given how that went down that Olivia would be able to skirt by so much the court of public opinion without any repercussions.
    If you look at all of that IN ADITTION to the horrible things that were done by the cast behind the scenes, it begs the question just what exactly was the point if the characters were never affected.

    Conclusion
    This was a pretty long post, and I apologize but I felt like I had a lot to say. Scandal was pretty revolutionary for the fact that it was the first show in a while to have a black female lead. It’s just unfortunate that the show went so far off the rails and it’s legacy will ultimately be just that and not for writing that had quality or consistency.

    Questions
    After having said all of that I have a few questions for you guys:

    As you were watching over the years how did you foresee the show ending and what do you think would have ultimately been a better ending?

    Do you think a spin-off would have been a good idea?

    And since it was such an important show in terms of representation, could you see yourself doing a small scale retrospective about its seven seasons to just analyzing the rise and decline in quality just to see where exactly it went wrong?

    1. John, thanks for the super long post! I loved reading your thoughts on this and thank you for reading our review!

      Completely agree about B613 being a complete mystery. What in the world is “Command”? Why are these people more powerful than the U.S. government? Why did no one kill Rowan? So many valid questions and concerns here, and I blame it all on Shonda’s fascination with Alias, Scott Foley and Joe Morton. Very sad.

      As for your questions: I don’t mean to sound like a know-it-all, but when I first bingewatched this show (it was just before season 4 was starting, I believe) I could DEFINITELY foresee it crashing down before it ended. A show like that, going through such a high peak like it did in season two, just doesn’t maintain that quality. It couldn’t. And I hate to say it, but I never felt as attached to Kerry Washington as I am to other lead actresses (Jennifer Garner, Viola Davis, Ellen Pompeo, Jessica Alba…) so even though I loved how good the show was back then, I never felt like I would be upset if/when it ended. Somehow, I always felt that her performance left something to be desired (although I admit that Nad’s comment about Olivia never being at ease with herself makes me see her slightly differently).

      As for what would have been a better ending: MORE DEATH. For everyone. Probably even Olivia. I remember thinking “ok, they’re making us hate every single character now so that we’d appreciate their downfall at the end.” Too bad Shonda refused to take risks, even at the very end. It’s strange because Grey’s Anatomy has taken many, many risks over the years (although Rhimes doesn’t seem to be as involved with the creative decisions there as she was on Scandal).

      A B613 spinoff does not sound good, to be honest, if only because I cannot stand hearing that name anymore. BUT it probably would’ve helped not destroy Scandal. If Scandal never switched gears, it really wouldn’t have crashed and burned like it did for the past 2 and a half seasons.

      As for your final point/question, I’ll come up with something once I’ve had another couple more days to reflect on this show 😀😀 again, thanks for commenting!!

    2. Hi John!

      Thank you so much for your in-depth response. I loved reading this and I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading our dual review. Ditto on B613 being so darn vague and useless; it’s a real shame how much that storyline sunk the show whenever it reared its ugly head. I also love what you said about Liv getting exposed. I too never felt like she felt the consequences and kept ascending higher. I hate it when plot twists don’t have actual ramifications!

      As for your questions:

      As you were watching over the years how did you foresee the show ending and what do you think would have ultimately been a better ending?
      I really needed Cyrus in prison, and Rowan to die. The latter in particular was such an irritating presence on the show and he was responsible for so much evil that no other ending would have made sense to me. The fact that both characters didn’t get any punishment boggles my mind.

      I’m so happy Mellie remained President, as far as I’m concerned, she was my favorite and her journey was always handled well (Although I had some issues with the rape which I remember discussing when I reviewed that ep in season 3).

      As for Olivia, I don’t feel like she showed remorse for becoming a murderer and doing so many despicable things. I have no idea how it should have ended for her, but it certainly wasn’t what we got. Heck I would have preferred having her in prison or Vermont than what we got!

      Do you think a spin-off would have been a good idea?

      Definitely not. Shonda was not capable of handing the spy stuff like Alias. Would have been dreadfully boring!

      And since it was such an important show in terms of representation, could you see yourself doing a small scale retrospective about its seven seasons to just analyzing the rise and decline in quality just to see where exactly it went wrong?

      Definitely an idea 🙂 Will certainly consider it.

      Thanks again John for your wonderful. Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on other shows on the site!

  4. Shonda Rhimes went on Jimmy Kimmel after this finale aired and mentioned that up until the night before they’d been working on the finale and I can tell! Seems like they just ripped the Michelle Obama portrait image with the little girl straight from the headlines. I watched this finale despite having fallen off the show in season 6 and was genuinely underwhelmed. Maybe I put too much credit into this show but I was sure that Rowan was gonna get the ax in this finale. The death of David was a throwaway considering how useless his character is (remember that god awful “Lizzie” plot?), I felt nothing. If you notice, the only characters to die on this show otherwise are characters that were required to be written off due to the actors. The show never wanted to go there. It seems that Shonda let her emotional attachments to the actors cloud the narrative because if it weren’t for her fascination with Scott Foley, Jake’s character would have died seasons ago when he was stabbed in that episode cliffhanger only to be shocked back to life the following episode. Shonda also insisted on keeping Liz on the show for such a long time only because of her relationship with Ellen and Portia. Fool was I to think they’d actually kill Rowan. In all honesty there was nothing about this finale that separates it from the other finales. There was nothing definitive about it because these characters will just continue this endless cycle they’ve been in. There is nothing to me that suggests that Jake wont just get it, that Olivia has made a turn around, that her and her father will stay on speaking terms or that the toxic waste that is Olitz will ever work. In my opinion Olitz died with the season 5 midseason finale. A mess. I expect nothing, and I’m still let down.

    1. Why am I not surprised about the Jimmy Kimmel comment? So, so frustrating. Sigh.

      I remember thinking Jake’s stabbing would have been the perfect conclusion to that horrendous character! Such a shame that Shonda Rhimes couldn’t let go of her fascination with Foley that she felt the need to keep the character forever. A part of me still cannot believe that The Three Big Bads (Jake, Cyrus and Rowan) all walked out of that finale alive. I just can’t understand it.

      Thank you so much for commenting! Such a relief to be done with this show for good.

      1. Jade and Chris, you’re right. Jake should have died in Season 4. He was semi-tolerable back then and his death would have given Olivia more drive to bring down her father and B6-13. S4 should have been the end of all of that.

    2. Thank you so much for your comment Jade. Agree with everything you said especially about Shonda never killing anyone. What a shame! Hope to read more of your detailed thoughts on other shows in the future 🙂

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