Welcome back to Scandal, the finest slice of political drama on the TV, now with more fashion accessories, torture and twists and turns! It's the finale of the show's second season, aptly titled 'White Hat's Back On' in a reflection of the season premiere 'White Hat's Off', and with the big revelations that Billy Chambers, disgraced politician and murderer, is the Albatross and that David Rosen has betrayed the team, the team is scattered and scrambling to deal with wave after wave of problems. Let's jump in, shall we?
Olivia and the team are running a handy little recap of the Billy Chambers reveal of last week, particularly the moment when Billy buys back his life from Charlie, the pair forming a friendship. David, meanwhile, is holding onto the Cytron card for security. Later on, the team look for someone who Billy can use to release Defiance - effectively a front now that Billy's career is in tatters - and the team pluck Fitz's former presidential rival Governor Reston. All the while, David stays as part of the team, they unaware of his traitorous status.
Olivia rushes to a meeting with Hollis Doyle, Cyrus and Mellie in order to strategise ahead of how to stop Operation: Defiance from being released. The squabbling is cut short by the arrival of Fitz who wants unity between all the former enemies and frenemies. Hollis is in favour of killing Billy (kill Bill-y!) but Liv wants the situation neutralised without anymore bloodshed, something Olivia agrees with.
Mellie is upset that Fitz is cold towards her but Cyrus rallies her, the pair apparently forming another temporary alliance. Meanwhile Olivia and Fitz are making plans - Olivia is focused on the current situation but Fitz wants Olivia to move into the White House with him as his wife ASAP with Liv running something to make their relationship acceptable in the eyes of the public. And then they have sex. Romantic much?
Huck expresses a worry about Quinn - she's becoming as good as him as a hacker - to Olivia and then worries about Olivia himself. Olivia tells Huck about Fitz's plans but she seems unsure. Quinn hacks into CCTV cameras and finds Billy at the governor's mansion - just as David reports to Billy that the team are onto him.
Ballard and his boss Rowan, the B6-13 chief, plan a meetup with Liv, Ballard being protective towards his on-off lover but agrees to do so as the lesser of two evils. Very threatening but Ballard is still a bit of a lovesick puppy around her. Speaking of love, James and Cyrus are having a spat, but this gets diverted when Cyrus discovers that ultra-religious VP Sally Langston has been leaking stuff to undermine Fitz's presidency. Not a smart move, Sal.
Cyrus and Rowan have a tete-a-tete where Rowan tells Cyrus to handle Fitz while he will handle Liv. Cyrus is worried about Olivia, given the name's dangerous tone and intentions. Olivia and Cyrus talk, Liv revealing the Defiance leak - as Reston meets Fitz in the Oval Office and tells him that he knows about Defiance - just as Cyrus collapses in the courtyards!!
Fitz and Reston fight it out in the Oval Office, Reston wanting in on Fitz's re-election campaign or else he leaks it to the FBI and the press. Cyrus calls from the ambulance - which is SO badass - and Olivia and Fitz realise that Reston just wants revenge, not a new chance at the White House. At Cyrus' bedside, he and James have a tearful and hilarious reconciliation. Yay! Mellie meanwhile is pissed at her approval ratings dropping after spilling the beans on Fitz's infidelity. Nice bit of comeuppance for the First Lady. She meets up with Cyrus at his hospital bedside and Fitz cuts down any chance of a reconcillation although he promises to back her political career. Ouch.
Billy and David meet up about the card - just as Olivia realises that Billy has the card, not Reston - and Billy admits that killing Osborne (the CIA chief) was a necessary evil, as was the deaths of Molly and Wendy. David is worried about his friends - he still counts Olivia and the others as friends which is... sweet, I guess - but Billy convinces him that they destroyed his life and robbed the American people of justice and a rightful election. Smell the justice, Rosen. He hands over the Cytron card. Uh-oh David.
Liv and Reston agree to him being on Fitz's ticket and soon Huck and Quinn are tracking the calls. Reston calls Billy in the evening and finds him somewhere in a hillside masoleum. Huck goes after Billy who escapes the apartment temporarily. Soon Quinn and Huck are torturing Billy for information but Huck can't do it, is shellshocked after his recent trauma. Quinn is forced to do so in a totally badass moment, her face literally spattered with blood and gains the information, allowing Abby to break into the masoleum vault in particular. Unfortunately the card is empty - a fake - and one that Billy is unaware of, giving David's name as the traitor. Huck is later scared of Quinn's joy of doing the torture.
Olivia and Fitz share a nice couples chat before her home is stormed by a B6-13 agent - and she's saved by Ballard, grabbing Liv from behind and putting a bullet in the woman's head! Ballard soon delivers Olivia to the offices, shaken but alive. He doesn't tell her the details but tells her that as long as she's dating Fitz, she's a target. He tells her that their romance was part of the mission and that he should forget her. She kisses him and sends him on his way. A kiss goodbye, which rarely ever happens.
Cyrus and Olivia meet the offices where Cyrus tries to get her to stop her relationship with Fitz. He reveals that he's struggling to save the pair of them from mutually assured destruction as they're his friends and he loves them. He reveals that Fitz murdered Verna Thornton, striking out to stop Olivia from pursuing this relationship. Liv is horrified. Fitz is shown the CCTV of Liv and Ballard having sex and it destroys Fitz. A bit hypocritical seeing as Fitz had numerous affairs but whatever.
Abby discovers his list as he runs through every list of potential safe combinations, night after night until he found the right one. He's also revealed to be forced by Billy and Charlie into the deal, having swapped the cards during their last meeting. David IS a good guy after all! He later returns the tape to Cyrus for a favour and gives Liv the taped conversation between Billy and himself (and a nice white hat). David is now an American hero and is given the role of US District Attorney and Billy is arrested for the murder of Osborne and many other crimes.
Olivia and Fitz meet in the Oval Office where they confront each other over their indiscretions (Verna's death and Liv's tryst with Ballard respectively). Olivia tells him that the reset button has been hit and he should run with Mellie. She and Fitz ran too far, it was too much. And Liv can't leave her team - she's their gladiator. Fitz later shares a tender moment with Mellie, she cradling him on her lap. A reunion seems in the works.
In the denouement, David is happily working in the district attorney's offices, Pope & Associates is running okay on its own, Cyrus destroys the Cytron card, Ballard is thrown into the same hole in the ground that a rebelling Huck was, and Olivia begins bringing her life back around...
...that is until she's shockingly greeted by a mob of press at the door, asking her if she is indeed the President's mistress. She's soon transferred into a limo where she's met by Rowan, the mysterious B6-13 boss: whom she addresses as "Dad?". He's her dad?!?
A thoroughly amazing finale all around from everyone - the episode successfully ties together a lot of the main threads of the first and second seasons and gives a sense of closure for a lot of the stories. From Cyrus bashing in the Cytron card with the bust of an American President, to Olivia using the phrase 'reset' button, the last five minutes are simultaneously a breath of fresh air now that the majority of storylines have been tied up and finalised.
While not everyone gets a huge amount to do this time around - Columbus Short gets ridiculously little screentime here - there is a lot of stuff that actually gets done and resolved and Kerry Washington centres the entire thing in a performance that is definitely one of her strongest and most involving to date. The white hat is a great nod to Olivia absolving her guilt, or most of it, and moving forward in her life to returning to being someone who protects and helps people.
So! That leaves us tantalising ahead of Season Three (which has already been renewed by ABC, obviously) with plenty of open-ended arcs and mysteries, the most prominent is THAT cliffhanger ending. Why did Olivia's dad want her dead? Did he actually want her dead or is he playing a long game with the B6-13 unit? Will Abby and David ever reunite, now that they're back to square one? What will happen to Ballard now? And what will Mellie do next now that she's got Fitz back in her power?
That's it for me, gladiators - I'll see you next autumn (or 'fall' as the Americans say) when Scandal returns for its third season. Be safe, stock up on your red wine and popcorn and remember: always wear your white hat.