This Scandal review contains spoilers.
Scandal Season 7 Episode 18
When all was written and done, the Scandal series finale left me with the visual of an ill-fitting bow atop a gift box. I didn’t expect any last-minute revelations that would hint to a spinoff, however, I had hoped the final installment written by the show’s creator would have been more satisfying.
There were two casualties, both men, who at some point this season or over the series’ run experienced moral dilemmas that left them vulnerable. Both deaths were for shock value spaced over the episode. The handling of these two scenes felt manipulative and writerly, not organic and borne out of a crisis. Why then were Jake and Cyrus kept alive, while David and Lonnie axed? The bulk of the show adhered to the last seven years of the show – quick scene transitions and fast dialogue.
I’m well within my rights to have wanted a different final show. I don’t know if I’m disappointed because I needed the bad guys to pay for their crimes and they didn’t. It is more of an emotional impact for viewers when writers sacrifice sheep rather than lions. What fun is there in executing a self-proclaimed villain? Perhaps in the afterlife of the show, it is better Cyrus remains alive to witness what he will never have, and for Jake to waste way in prison while the people he sought to destroy live their best lives.
There was no way that members of Team Olivia and Team Mellie would suffer any consequences for their illegal, murderous activities. It would be applying a realistic lens to a glitzy fictional world and its characters. Scandal wasn’t built on and became popular for its realism, it spoke to its largely female audience in other ways. It was a cocktail of escapism, fantasy, fashion, and steamy sex scenes. It was at its core a nighttime soap opera, not a slice-of-life drama that cut close to home.
It will be remembered for its newsworthiness of having had an African American female lead a primetime show for the first time in over thirty years. I wasn’t drawn to the show for that primary reason, but for the premise of a team of fixers getting the job done. It wasn’t the A-Team, but I was intrigued. I’m not blaming the show for straying for the original hook, nor am I blaming myself for having gone along for the ride. Scandal was a hit for the first three years of the show, and then viewers tapered off when the show went off-course, unable to oil the navigation tools and redirect itself on a sea of equally competitive fare.
When I think about the episode’s title, “Over a Cliff,” the first image that comes to mind is the final scene in Thelma and Louise. All seemed lost, and with nothing to live for in their opinion, they made the ultimate sacrifice. The title didn’t fit because Huck, Olivia, Rowan, Charlie, and Jake have previously crossed the line countless times, so it was largely symbolic. The characters didn’t go over a cliff but took a safe detour.
Scandal rode off into the sunset with its major players headed in opposite directions, and I have to accept it did so without fanfare and fireworks. Everyone was true to themselves and followed their predetermined trajectory. The series ended safely parked at a truck stop on a journey that could’ve been more rewarding and resonant. There’s no contemplating what if had the final season been set up to end with the characters going over a cliff. Viewers know what these characters will most likely be doing in fifteen or twenty years. It’s a testament to the creator, writers, and actors to have created this show. My recurring wish was to have been surprised more than not for a show that was largely predictable.