‘Scandal’ final season marks character shift, questions purpose

Olivia Popes character comes into question in Scandal finale.

Olivia Pope’s character comes into question in ‘Scandal’ finale.

The season premiere of the seventh and final season of Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal” premiered Oct. 4, 2017. The show jumps to the 100th day of President Mellie Grant’s (Bellamy Young) administration, with Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, as her Chief of Staff (warning: spoilers ahead). Olivia has also overtaken her father and reinstated herself as the head of the secret spy organization B613. Indeed, Olivia Pope has endured and worked her way up to the White House.

The first couple of seasons of “Scandal” showed Olivia Pope and associates as gladiators in a suit, wearing the white hats, using their power for good. Known as one of the most powerful D.C. fixers, Olivia fought for her clients, often referring to blackmail, scheming and cover-ups. The show also surrounded itself on Olivia’s love life, specifically her affair with former President Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) that began as she worked in his presidential campaign. While she struggled with the guilt of sleeping with a married man, she also developed an intimate relationship with Captain Jake Ballard (Scott Foley). On social media, fans of the show shared their preferences over what couple they favored, adding to the idea that if the main character is a woman, the story has to surround itself around a love-triangle of some sorts.

But is “Scandal” really a love story? Obviously not. At least, that concept has certainly been overlooked in the past couple of seasons. Now, we see Olivia as the most powerful person in the world. She thinks of herself as the president, the one calling the shots. She’s resorted to betrayal and murder, all in spite of proving herself as the superior to her father, the former head of B613.

In this final season, I found myself angry at Olivia. I struggled to accept that she was now the anti-hero, even going as far as getting her friend Quinn (Katie Lowes) “killed” to preserve her throne.

But was this Olivia here all along? Was Scandal never meant to be a love story? Perhaps, it was not. This show serves as a reminder of how the real world works. Power can change people like Olivia Pope.

Although I’ve enjoyed the time she spent with Fitz, living in their home in Vermont, or vacationing on a tropical island, standing under the sun with Jake, I understand the relationship she’s had with love and power is the most difficult one. While she may not seem like the hero anymore, she accurately portrays the complexity that encompasses humanity, the balance of power.

When asked about redemption for her character, Washington stated “a lot of what I learned from working on Shondaland is I’ve learned to question our assumptions about what happy endings looks like… I don’t know that the point is to be pulled back into something. I don’t know that the point is to wind up with someone. I think her journey may be about something else.”

Does Olivia Pope need saving?