Kim: After seven seasons of twists, turns, and too many murders to even count, it’s time to send Scandal off to that great television network in the sky and Thursday nights will NEVER be the same. It’s been a WILD ride, hasn’t it? (Seriously, when Sage and I started to compile this list, we were like, we have been THROUGH something.) I think my favorite thing about this show is that it’s always just gone full throttle balls to the wall without any apologies. Listen, Scandal is practically Shakespearean or Greek Tragedy in its scope and that’s what made people pay attention. It demanded that its audience paid attention and it demanded that its audience watch live, lest they be spoiled by the latest twist. It’s bold television programming in the DVR/Streaming/On Demand era and that’s why we loved it so much.
Sage: It also made Kerry Washington a star, and rightfully so. And Scandal surrounded her with a group of actors who were long overdue the spotlight Shonda gave them: Jeff Perry as Cyrus (explosive and cunning), Guillermo Diaz as Huck (obsessive and sweet), Darby Stanchfield as Abby (over it. all of it.), Katie Lowes as Quinn (a true wild card), Tony Goldwyn as Fitz (Tony is handsome delight, regardless of our Fitz feelings), Joshua Malina as David (in over his head at all times), Scott Foley as Jake (dispassionate and scorned at the same time), Bellamy Young as Mellie (a feminist hero for our times), and Joe Morton as Rowan (all hail the king of the monologue.) Even when the plot became too convoluted to follow, it was an honor and a joy to watch these people spar with, protect, and betray one another. The word “gladiator” has lost its original definition on the show, seeing as no one is coming out of this finale a righteous warrior. But in my circles, it still means the same thing: a Scandal stan.
In honor of the series finale tonight, these are the 20 wildest, twistiest, o-m-g-est moments from the show’s seven year run:
20) Cyrus and Michael’s sham marriage becomes real
Remember how Elizabeth North hired an escort to seduce Cyrus and steal top secret information from him so she could ruin Fitz? Remember how the escort actually fell in love with Cyrus and then LizzieBear tried to use leaked pictures of them to ruin the Grant White House so Olivia arranged a sham wedding? And then remember how they ACTUALLY fell in love and had a functional marriage for a little while? US TOO.
(We choose NOT to remember how Cyrus fucked it all up in the most Macbethian style possible.) —Kim
19) Fitz starts an ACTUAL WAR over Olivia
Back in Season 4, Olivia was kidnapped by mystery assailants, and, as a result, Fitz lost all of his shit. Turns out the whole thing was orchestrated by Andrew Nichols, former vice president and pretender to the throne that is the heart of Mellie Grant. (Remember when we actively wanted her to finally bang him? A lifetime ago.) As he is wont to do with anything regarding Olivia, Fitz handled the situation terribly, playing right into Andrew’s plans.
Yep, Fitz started a full-scale WAR to get Olivia back, because apparently even more people had to fall victim to his raging male insecurities. Why does everyone on this show act like he was such a great president? —Sage
18) Billy Chambers is ACTUALLY Amanda Tanner’s Baby Daddy
Let’s throw it back to the OG Scandal, shall we? In true Scandal fashion, the show took a play on the Monica Lewinsky scandal and multiplied it by 1000, with a pregnant (by Fitz, we THOUGHT) Amanda Tanner’s body winding up in a river. Well it turned out the baby Daddy wasn’t Fitz but Sally Langston’s Chief of Staff Billy Chambers AND he set up the whole thing as an attempt to get Fitz impeached so Sally could take over the Oval. Seriously, no wonder Fitz got ZERO done in his Presidency cause everyone was always trying to just GET HIM OUT. Which, relatable.
We later found out that Cyrus was the one behind Amanda’s murder (which lays the groundwork for everything Cyrus has done since) but the idea that Billy, someone we originally thought was harmless, orchestrated the whole scandal proved that no one on this show could be trusted and power could corrupt anyone. Billy disappeared from the show after Charlie spared his life and he crossed universes to terrorize Barry Allen as the Reverse Flash, which tracks honestly. —Kim
17) Sarah Ponytail murders LizzieBear right in front of Mellie
Jeff Perry’s daughter Zoe played one of Scandal‘s most terrifyingly blank villains: Sarah Ponytail aka Samantha aka Ms. Ruland. She was scary enough to shake up Rowan, even. But the bloody pinnacle of her tenure on the show is when she showed Mellie in real, living color exactly how far she was willing to go to fulfill her mission. She beat Elizabeth North aka LizzieBear to death in her office right in front of the candidate. With a golf club. Fitting for a yuppie nightmare like good ol’ Liz. —Sage
16) NONE FOR YOU DAVID
Once upon a time, David Rosen was as pure as the freshly fallen snow and we actually ROOTED for him and Abby to be together. But then he got all caught up and corrupted by OPA AND toyed with the affections of precious unicorn Susan Ross. (Seriously, what happened to her?) SO NONE FOR YOU DAVID ROSEN.
The worst thing about David is that he claims to be all moral and good but he’s ACTUALLY spineless and caves at the slightest bit of pressure. And he can never decide what he wants! Does he want Susan? (Eh, Maybe?) Does he want all the hate sex with LizzieBear? (He just can’t help it.) Does he ACTUALLY want to end up with his one true love Abby? (WHAT HAPPENED TO LEO?) NO ONE REALLY KNOWS.
All we REALLY know is he’s the worst. —Kim
15) Mellie takes office
There are way more OMG memories in the show’s run than genuinely heartwarming ones, but god, was it good for the soul to watch Mellie be sworn in as the first female POTUS. She’s been through SO much (particularly at the hands of the Grant family — rot in hell, dad!) and though she’s done her own fair share of unseemly deeds, Mellie does HONESTLY want to serve her country, be a fair leader, and create real, lasting change. And despite all the blood, guts, and gore in Scandal‘s version of reality, in this case, it’s the one that we deserved. Madame President forever.
Sidebar: Shoutout to the campaign and the beginning of the presidency for giving us all that quality Mellivia content. Nary an episode has gone by in the last few months where I haven’t yelled “KISS” at my screen. —Sage
14) The Return of Stephen
Listen, I totally forgot that Henry Ian Cusick was on the first season of Scandal until Sage brought up his return. HOW COULD I FORGET DESMOND HUME?
Listen, Stephen fell prey to Scandal still trying to figure itself out in its first season. They never really had much of an idea what to do with this roguish womanizer, so they wrote him out. Cusick is doing fine surviving the apocalypse over at The 100 (or he was the last time I watched) but I can’t help but wonder what could have been had Scandal had a little patience with the character. Cause now I kind of ship him with Mellie. (But then again, I ship everyone, save Fitz, with Mellie.) See you in another life, brother. —Kim
13) Sally Langston murders her husband
Sally Langston and her Southern drawl have been serving up steaming hot fake news to the lahvahs of liberty for so long that you may have forgotten how she got to where she is today. Once upon a time, Sally was Fitz’s VP and married to a man named Daniel Douglas Langston. See, Cyrus convinced his husband James to hit on the closeted Daniel during an interview so that Daniel would reciprocate and then Cyrus could blackmail Sally with the threat of James outing Daniel in his article. (She’s Ms. Family Values, after all.) WHELP, Cyrus miscalculated this one by a lot, because James and Daniel full on slept together, for fun and for revenge. And because his betrayal had the ability to humiliate the narcissistic and superior Sally, she stabbed Daniel right in the back. And who did she call to help her cover up the crime? Her fellow cuck, Cyrus. And that’s how you get your own conservative political talk show, kids. —Sage
12) Abby sells out OPA
Listen, I couldn’t explain all the finer details of the Sarah Ponytail/Peus organization plot line of season six, even if I wanted to. All I know is, electoral intrigue is what revitalized Scandal in its home stretch and each episode had me yelling at my TV. Perhaps one of the greatest betrayals of the show is how, in her lust for more power, Abby secretly worked with Peus, which resulted in Huck almost dying. It was the ultimate betrayal of one of the original Gladiators and it took a long time for Abby to earn back the trust of both OPA and the audience. —Kim
11) Maya is alive and is a terrorist
Part of Olivia’s origin story is that her loving, innocent mother died in a plane crash when she herself was just a kid. But come on, did you really think Shonda would let her have ONE normal parent? Newsradio’s Khandi Alexander swanned into the series in Season 3 as Maya Lewis, Olivia’s dear mum and an unrepentant domestic terrorist. (Surprise! She’s also been alive THIS WHOLE TIME.) Maya is a match for Rowan, monologue to monologue, and she’s also holding a grudge against him, seeing as he’s kept her locked up for over two decades. As the show goes on, it makes more and more sense that Olivia is the offspring of this heartless stock. Maya was groomed to do what she does, and she does it without hesitation or feeling. Does she really love her daughter though? Scandal hasn’t answered that question, and probably never will. —Sage
10) Cyrus hijacks Air Force 2
This episode set the events leading to the Scandal series finale in motion. It seemed like a good ole budget saving bottle episode at first. Cyrus and David are shuttled off to a conference, but Air Force 2 is hijacked by a cyber terrorist, forcing Cyrus to muster up as much Vice-Presidential gusto as possible as he comforts his fellow passengers. He gives an incredibly moving speech, which just so happens to be live-streamed by a sneaky reporter illegally hopping onto wi-fi. The hacker is defeated at the last minute and Cyrus is a national hero. Simple, right?
BITCH YOU THOUGHT.
This is CYRUS BEENE. Of COURSE that crafty jackrabbit orchestrated the whole thing to position himself as President of the People. Of COURSE he was about to set in motion a plot of events that would potentially get Mellie impeached. OF COURSE. Cyrus, I may miss you most of all. —Kim
9) Jerry Grant is murdered in front of the entire country
One day Scandal decided that featuring only adult murders was just too chill of a strategy. And with that call, we said goodbye to young Jerry Grant, Jr. Mellie and Fitz’s son was poisoned by Creepy Tom on the orders of Command (still Rowan, at this point), and he died right in front of his parents and the rest of the country at a Grant for President campaign rally. COLD BLOODED.
The wave of sympathy pushed Fitz back to the front of the pack, and if I am remembering this correctly, it was even implied at one point that the whole scheme might have come from him, or his allies. But no, this was payback from Rowan for “stealing” Olivia. Basically, Rowan hates Fitz as much as we do and hated even more seeing his daughter languishing away as the president’s mistress. (Again, same.) Jerry’s death hits Mellie particularly hard (and Fitz is predictably cruel about it); she would spend days just laying on his grave and talking to him. The whole brutal affair came back later when Mellie was required to align with her son’s murderer. And now we’re back to the factory setting where the rest of the Grant children don’t seem to exist or matter. Better invisible than dead, kids. —Sage
8) Papa Pope is Command
Listen, the whole B613 thing definitely overstayed its welcome. It’s the Scandal story that is like a cockroach; it will never fucking die. HOWEVER, we should not forget the early days, when B613 was EXCITING. Those days where a shadowy man named Rowan was outsmarting Olivia at every turn, seemingly pulling all the strings of the government. He was the OG anti-Olitz shipper, and therefore the Head Over Feels patron saint, even if we had no idea who he was. Until he pulled Olivia into a limo in the season two finale, that is. Olivia’s horrified “Dad?” ranks right up there with Luke Skywalker’s agonized “NOOOOOOOOOO” in my humble opinion. —Kim
7) Huckleberry Quinn Torture Porn
When it was on, Huckleberry Quinn was doing THE MOST. Seriously, what kind of ship makes Quinn and Charlie seem quaint by comparison? It still gives me goosebumps. Not the nice kind.
Quinn (aka Lindsay) was a wrong-place-wrong-time kinda girl when we met her, but she really started to find herself when Huck Jedi Mastered her in the ways of being a ghost assassin. Their teacher/student/Natural Born Killers thing erupted into some disturbing sexual tension that I really wish I could forget. Every time Huck and Quinn did it, they looked like they might have been planning to choke each other out on release. (They were into some freaky shit, that is for sure.) But the one Huckleberry Quinn moment that remains burned into my brain is when Huck (because of some Operation Remington thing that is too convoluted to explain) PULLS OUT QUINN’S TEETH with pliers. And that’s not even a dealbreaker for her! —Sage
6) The Frankie Vargas Assassination
Only on a Shonda Rhimes show would we have a Latino man and a white conservative woman running for President. The Santos of Scandal, Francisco Vargas was too good and too pure for this world. So naturally, he would win the election. And naturally, he would be assassinated whilst giving his acceptance speech. I don’t know why we didn’t see it coming, honestly. Who done it? Naturally it was a conspiracy that had more layers than an onion. (Cyrus. It was Cyrus.) —Kim
5) The attempted assassination of Fitz
4) Olivia’s Vice-Presidential blood thirst
Olivia Pope has killed not one, but TWO Vice Presidents, y’all. (And LBR, it’s really 2.5 considering the amount of times she’s tried to have Cyrus offed. And didn’t she try to kill Sally Langston at one point? Girl does NOT like VPs.) In perhaps one of her most BATSHIT moments, Olivia literally bashed Andrew Nichols’ head in with a chair. I repeat: WITH A CHAIR. (He deserved it.) And while she didn’t lay a finger on Luna Vargas, she DID give her poison and tell her to kill herself or she’d expose her role in the whole conspiracy to assassinate her husband. Moral of the Story: if you’re next in the line of succession, don’t get in Olivia Pope’s way or she will literally end you. —Kim
3) Fitz smothers Verna
Oh hello again, Verna. Ineffectual and fucking clueless, Fitz blinded himself to all the machinations happening during the last push of his first campaign. I maintain that had he not purposely put his blinders on, he would have known about Defiance from the jump. He didn’t WANT to know. He wanted plausible deniability. When that information was put in front of his face, however, he couldn’t handle it. And democracy schmemocracy, you KNOW that what made him crazy about the rigging is that it wounded his manly pride and dinged his assessment of himself as the absolute best man for the job. Guess what! America didn’t actually think so! And Fitz will have to live with that forever. So he gets revenge by picking off the weakest of the herd — a terminally ill woman on her deathbed. (“Sage, she tried to kill him first!” I KNOW, let me hate Fitz in peace, thank you.) Anyway, when the President of the United States smothers a 65-year-old woman with a pillow in Season 2, you know you’re in for a wild ride. —Sage
2) Jake shoots James dead in the street
Honestly, this one still hurts me.
(And really, Cyrus Beene has always been a bad person, but I honestly feel that losing James is what pushed him into super villain territory. I don’t think he’s ever gotten over it, which, same.)
Listen, James played with fire for two seasons, it was only a matter of time before he got burned. First, he got WAAAAAAAAY too close to the whole Defiance thing. Second, he perjured himself on the stand in front of a Grand Jury to protect Cyrus. Third, he got all wrapped up in the Daniel Douglas gay scandal that resulted in Sally Langston stabbing him to death. JAMES KNEW TOO FUCKING MUCH. Jake didn’t have a choice except to kill him. But the worst thing was, Jake had to make it look like a carjacking, so it couldn’t even be a mercy killing. It was a slow painful death in the middle of the street with Jake watching over him so he wouldn’t be alone. I CRY. —Kim
1) The Defiance Cabal
It’s the treachery that put this whole series into motion and the deep, dark secret on which this entire house of cards (reference intended) is standing. Fitzgerald Grant was not justly elected president. Our intrepid man-on-the-street James learned that the voting machines in Defiance County, OH were rigged in Fitz’s favor. Olivia was a part of it, obviously, along with Cyrus, Mellie, Hollis Doyle, and Verna — who’d eventually serve as the sacrificial lamb. Defiance was the first step into the underworld for all of these people, and then they figured, why not a few dozen more? This decision was so crucial that the whole 100th episode took place in an alternate reality where Defiance hadn’t happened and everyone was actually happy. You’re who you are, not what you do — except in this case, apparently. Defiance shaped Scandal‘s D.C. and everyone in it, whether they were in on the deception or not. —Sage
Did we miss any of your faves? Hit us up in the comments, and we’ll see you on the Twitter for tonight’s final showdown.
Featured Image: ABC