I’m the eye of the storm . . . I’m the thing that needs to be fixed. I’m the thing that needs to be handled. I am the scandal.
Well, season three started strong, bottomed out, stayed bland, hit a couple of highs and has now ended with an episode that’s really good only by comparison to the rest of the season. It’s a solid enough season finale, but it doesn’t pack the punch of the first two seasons’ finales, which were dead perfect and high impact for sure. This episode at least has a lot to do and it never pauses for breath. We’ve got a building to blow up, three (!) characters to kill off, an election to win (or lose?) and a lot more. There are a few real Scandal moments, you know, real jaw-dropping moments, which have been in short supply this season, not counting the first four episodes and the mean as hell one-two punch of No Sun on the Horizon/Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. When this episode works, it really works. The speech in Defiance scene is a killer as is the big reveal that follows that scene, but the best bit in the episode is the scene with Olivia and Jake. It’s a rare moment of total self-awareness on Olivia’s part; these moments come few and far between. The “stolen moments” speech in season two, the final moments of Nobody Likes Babies, etc. When they come, Washington sticks the landing on them and she kills this moment. And the show has a point to make about Olivia’s presence; she is exactly what she says she is. She is the unstable element; as she finally takes up the offer that opened the season, we see that things have returned to equilibrium. Not a happy equilibrium, but a dark balance has been achieved. It seems that Olivia is an agent of chaos. There can never be balance when she’s around; she throws everything off kilter. But maybe the only thing worse than the chaos that surrounds her is the balance that survives when she’s absent; everything’s settled, but settled in the worst way possible. It’s a fine point, but it doesn’t exactly land like a ton of bricks or anything to have your season finale ended with everything in order. But the episode achieves some things I’d given up on. Tony Goldwyn and the Mellie plotline managed to make me feel real sympathy for Fitz again. And Huck’s last scene in this episode made me actually want to know what happened to that character next. Damn it. They got me again. Season four? No. Not for a while anyway; after having to actively force myself to keep going at moments in this season, I think I’ll take a break from these folks for a while.
tl;dr – season finale lands some moments really well and never stops for breath, but it doesn’t really have the impact it should; but the character moments are probably enough to forgive that. 3 ½ stars.