Scandal, Season 3, Episode 18, “The Price of Free and Fair Elections”
Written by Shonda Rhimes and Mark Wilding
Directed by Tom Verica
Airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on ABC
On this week’s Scandal, Fitz loses a son but wins an election, Olivia and Jake abandon D.C., Mellie’s secret is revealed, and Rowan Pope turns out to be the season’s biggest bad.
Though this season’s had some pretty wild ups (everything involving Rowan Pope) and downs (the Quinn, Huck, and Charlie love triangle), “The Price of Free and Fair Elections” closes season three on a relatively high note–literally, as Olivia Pope, who hasn’t been wholly herself in quite a while, finally takes up her father’s season opening offer and jets out of the city with Jake. Her choosing to flee the city is the final disappointment in a season full of them; it’s time for the Olivia Pope everyone spent two seasons falling in love with to return. However, minor flaws aside, the finale does a lovely job tying up various plotline threads and setting everyone up for the new season.
One of the best installments of the episode is Fitz’s final revelation about the cost and multitude of sacrifices people have made to put him in the Oval Office. Fitz has easily been one of the show’s weakest links this season, which is especially troubling considering his leading man status. Even season three Olivia Pope deserves better, and this presumably new, darker Fitz will be so much more entertaining and dynamic next season (fingers crossed). Too bad the ultimate price of his developmental shift comes in the form of his son–the scene where Jerry Grant is shot and slowly falls to the ground is heart-stoppingly awful and shocking. Scandal‘s never been afraid to kill off characters, but they’ve never gone after children before. And Mellie’s reaction, which travels from confusion to shock to despair in a matter of seconds, is traumatizing and utterly incredible. Props to Bellamy Young, who’s really stunned as Mellie this season.
Speaking of Mellie, she gets a second mesmerizing scene later in the episode, when Fitz finds her after learning about her rape. Her heartbroken “I fought…I fought…” as she accepts a hug from Fitz is subtle and beautiful and sad, all at once. It’s been a while since Scandal introduced this rape plotline, and Shonda Rhimes and Co. sure took their time giving it the attention it deserves. But, they finally did, and they took it as seriously as it needed to be–when Olivia tells Fitz, the music stops completely (you can even hear the clock ticking in the background), and Fitz immediately seeks his wife to comfort her. The whole plotline has been rough from the beginning, and Scandal ultimately did a decent job handling it with care and genuine emotion.
Lastly, in what is probably the biggest twist of the episode, Scandal reveals that the season’s biggest villain was Rowan Pope all along. The sheer cleverness of the shocker (thanks, no doubt, to Shonda Rhimes partially penning the episode) is reminiscent of the first two seasons of the show. Luckily, this means Rowan will be sticking around for a while (unfortunately it also means B613 is again open for business), and Olivia Pope will undoubtedly be home again soon.
“The Price of Free and Fair Elections” delivers exactly what the title promises, and it does so with typical Scandal style, but thankfully this uneven season is over. Season four returns in the fall, and if the various episode enders are any indication, it’ll be much better than this one.
Until then, what was your favorite moment from the season finale? What would you like to see happen next season? Any bets on how long it’ll be before Olivia Pope returns to D.C.?