Let’s cut right to the chase. Last night’s episode of Scandal was not my favorite of all time, but it was necessary, and now it is over and we can all move on to whatever logic-defying, addictively watchable way we’re going to end this season.
Before last night, did you remember that Cyrus was engaged to a guy named Michael with whom he used to pay for sex? Neither did I. Furthest thing from my mind! But we got a whole episode about it, as if Shonda was trying to tell us that, yes, sometimes this show does tie up its weird loose ends.
In fact, the entire show was one big, weird loose end. Not only did we figure out what to do (for now) with Cyrus and Michael, but the episode also heralded the return of former vice president and occasional husband-murderer Sally Langston and her ear-bleedingly bad Georgia accent. (I’m from Georgia, so my opinion on this carries with it the rule of law.)
You see, Cyrus and Michael had delayed their sham wedding several times at this point, and to their credit, they have done that entirely off camera so we didn’t have to think about it. This time, though, they were going to have to get married, because Michael was caught being handsy at a bar and the best excuse anyone could think of was to say that he was at his bachelor party. Not only is that silly, but it seems to massively overestimate the interest the public has in the love life of a lame duck president’s chief of staff.
With the need for a third wedding came Cyrus’ recollections of his previous two, which were bad, as were his wigs in the flashbacks. Cyrus is not the world’s greatest person, and if you have watched the series up until now (and if you haven’t, I bet you’re bewildered), then you could probably guess that most of his interpersonal decisions are not made with the purest of intentions. Not that anyone’s ever are, of course, but not everyone gets their husband murdered, either.
Abby, another paragon of bad interpersonal decisions (although she is generally the aggrieved party, not the perpetrator), mentioned the scandal in passing to her awful, dustbustering boyfriend, and he told Sally Langston about it, because he works for her, remember? This episode required me to recall a lot of unimportant ties in this show that I hadn’t thought about in too long to really understand them.
Sally, for her part, is now plying her trade on cable news as the imperious moralizer she always knew she could be, and when she put out a call for proof that Cyrus’ engagement was a sham, she found a guy who had been dating his fiancé on and off for seven months. Olivia tried to buy her off with a spot in the president’s cabinet, but as it turns out, Sally prefers yapping in front of a camera full time.
Liv eventually shut her down by producing maybe-fabricated evidence that Sally’s own husband had regularly enjoyed Michael’s services before she stabbed him to death with a letter opener, but before that happened, the entire debacle was used to give us a look back at a part of Olivia and Fitz’s relationship that we hadn’t known about previously. Spoiler alert: he’s still the worst!
Before Cyrus’ second wedding, Fitz tracked down Liv, who was covering a bed in rose petals for Cyrus and the dude who eventually got shot. Liv had already quit her job at the White House and given up on him, but he was there to manipulate her by giving her his great grandmother’s ring, which he had denied to his actual wife, and Shonda was there to manipulate us with some very emotional music. The only thing I got out of the scene was that my very sincere hope for Fitz’s assassination would not be realized any time soon.
After much heavy-handed hemming and hawing, the wedding did go on as planned, mostly because Cyrus finally realized that Michael’s sex work and his actual humanity did not cancel each other out when he was forced to meet his homophobic, emotionally stunted father for a photo op. (And also when Michael, like, dropped some shampoo and fell over?) Cy also remembered that he needs someone to watch the kid who he adopted to placate his previous husband and now never sees, although I think there are easier ways to find a nice person to watch your kid than getting married. The whole thing sucks for everyone involved, and it seems unnecessary, on top of it.
The episode was not a memorable or particularly dramatic one, but it probably means that more fireworks are coming soon. Structurally, the show needed some time to tie up loose ends and pivot into the final major story arc of the season before the finale, which should be coming in four or five episodes. Last season, the president’s son got murdered by B-613 and the president’s mistress’s international terrorist mother got framed for the crime, so who knows what we’re in for.