The answer: James. And he dies.
Okay, so maybe we were hoping someone would get killed and remain indefinitely on life support and have a chance, just a chance of living with permanent memory loss …
Alas, our hopes are dashed and James is really, permanently gone.
Jeff Perry, Kerry Washington and Scott Foley shine as Cyrus, Olivia and Jake absorb his loss and we are left in the final seconds of this standout series installment wiping tears as Jake apologizes to James for being sloppy and promises his daughter will be safe and he’ll stay by his side so he doesn’t have to die alone.
Is that a flicker of Jake’s heart shining through? We mourn the good side of Jake as much as we mourn the fact that Cyrus lost the one person he loved, who kept him a tiny shred grounded.
Cyrus Faces Loss
Oh the beautiful, wonderful genius writers of “Scandal!” To weave in the backstory of how Cyrus and James met, how he came out, how they fell in love. It was so beautifully tragic as Cyrus remembered these life-changing moments in the wake of James’ unfortunate death.
Jeff Perry and Dan Bucatinsky are both such consummate actors who breathe such raw, real and honest life into Cyrus and James. They’re both flawed in their quest to maintain powerful professional positions. James always wanted the story. Cyrus wants to maintain his position in the White House. Both men used each other in the course of their marriage. But, they also loved each other in the face of the horrible lies, cover-ups and misdeeds. In some twisted way, the love was the most real and honest part of both men’s lives.
The sad thing for Cyrus is he set James’ demise in motion the day he pimped James out to Daniel Douglas and again in asking Jake to take out Sally Langston (Kate Burton). And, when James found out what Cyrus did he called him a monster and wanted to do anything possible to make him pay. How sad when these men initially loved each other so much!
Cyrus may not have directly ordered the hit on James. But, asking Jake to help him cover Sally’s murderous tracks essentially left Jake no choice but to silence the people most likely to confess Sally’s sins and Cyrus and Mellie’s roles in helping cover them up.
Now, David has to play ball with Jake and send an innocent man to prison in order to stay alive.
Meanwhile, we get the sense that Cyrus understands Olivia’s message when she delivers the carjacking story. More or less, that’s the story and we’re sticking to it.
Who can resist tearing up as Cyrus breaks down in the press room in front of all those reporters? Thank God Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) is there to support him and lead him out! This episode firmly goes down as one of Jeff Perry’s strongest. Cyrus is conniving and power-hungry but he still loved and was loved in return. What a terrible, tragic loss!
Olivia Meets “Her Dad”
So, Olivia is understandably destroyed when she confronts Jake about killing James. Who can blame her for thinking nothing makes sense and there is no point? Everyone she knows and loves has killed someone. On what planet would this be anything less than insane?
Admittedly, Rowan (Joe Morton) surprises us by becoming almost “human” in offering his remorseful remarks about being responsible for 183 people’s deaths. When he ultimately hopes Olivia will drag people out of the darkness into light, we’re almost touched. And, we almost feel sorry for Rowan. Almost.
We cringe when Olivia just spews to her “dad” that Jake killed three people to cover up Sally killing Daniel Douglas. Let’s not forget his sole motivation is to take Fitz down and Jake has his old job. Is he going to use this information to hurt both of the men who have wronged him?
Either way, Kerry Washington shines in this heartbreaking scene because we see Olivia’s vulnerability and it reminds us that we all just start out as someone’s child. We’re innocent until layer after layer of life experiences and choices mold us into an adult. Olivia has endured enough tragedy to fill a few lifetimes and yet, she’s still willing to put the white hat back on and search for the truth.
Fitz Helps a Friend
Fitz is very vocal about the fact that he is the President of the United States. He loves power and authority, though he has also done some terrible things to preserve it.
We see a more vulnerable side of Fitz as he suspends his campaign in respect for Cyrus and then just as quickly puts him back to work when Cyrus tells him he needs work to get through it.
Fitz leads a nation and is a strong leader. But, we see his heart through his interaction with Olivia and in this episode, we know he is genuinely sorry for his friend. It’s another sad but beautiful moment when Fitz “rescues” a broken down Cyrus from the press room. He lets Cyrus sort of fall into him and literally lean on him and it’s so great to see this personal, very human element to both men who are otherwise revered as two of the most powerful men in the White House.
Is Quinn Totally Lost?
We know dramatic shows are sustained on conflict and tension. But can we just go on record to say we can’t stand Quinn joining forces with the dark side?
Huck finds out she broke into Olivia’s safe and stole the file that prompted Jake to go on his killing spree. He goes to her place intending to kill her and instead, they share a passionate kiss. Yes, we’ve waited for these two to acknowledge the attraction. But, they’re both so damaged and seem to feed on each other’s darkness. This doesn't bode well for a relationship.
She pulls back and tells Huck to get out if he’s not going to kill her. Is there any hope for Quinn or is she totally lost? We’d love her to put the white hat back on with the rest of the gladiators. But, Huck is certainly not any less crazy than her current B613 beau Charlie. It’s truly heartbreaking to see her align herself with the wrong man and such a deadly organization.
Jake Apologizes to James
The most excruciating scene comes at the bitter end when we realize James isn’t dead yet, but is laying there suffering and bleeding. Jake squats by his side and tells him he’s sorry for doing a sloppy job with him. He also assures him his little daughter is safe and he won’t leave him alone to die.
The saddest part about the whole thing is that Jake barely shows any emotion. We were prepped for Jake's reaction in last week's gripping opening monologue. He’s performed his duty to protect “The Republic.” But, Jake also endured the hole to protect Olivia. That was a very noble thing to do.
So, when he tries to justify his actions to Olivia and she accuses him of being just like her father, it’s even more heartbreaking when he tells her he’s different because he did the job himself instead of sending soldiers to do it.
Jake was crushed when Olivia refused to run away with him. Will he ever be able to love or be loved again? Or, has he given every best part of himself and his soul to eventually get chipped away by his role at B613?
Is Jake redeemable at all? If Olivia and David succeed in their quest to take down B613, will they save Jake before it’s too late?
Whatever happens from here, the final scene with Jake and James had to be one of the toughest to shoot because it is arguably one of the toughest to watch. What happens from here is anyone’s guess. And once again, we’re so thrilled to be along for the ride.
“Scandal” airs in Flint on Thursdays at 10 pm ET on WJRT ABC12. Click here for a local channel guide..