When last we left our heroes, democracy had been subverted on almost every level, including the level where the writers don't understand how American democracy works. But a shockingly-decent human being was pulled out of left field and appointed Vice President. It sets up the prospect of a happier ending than I would have thought possible.
Will the new VPEOTUS turn out to have been an evil mastermind all along? Let's find out!
Episode 13 opens with a fleet of mystery drones over the US. Our election-rigging not-Russian Someones have borrowed the tactic that the "good guys" used earlier. Awkward.
Villain uses the phrase "your loved ones...as you call them." That's how you know he's a villain, he doesn't believe in foolish things like 'love'.
They have his co-villain in custody in a bunker under the White House, and obviously the prospect of torture comes up, because these people still haven't figured out that it doesn't get accurate intel. Still President Fitz says that if they torture her, "we spit on the Constitution," and they'll be no better than the villains...if they do it on WH grounds. In foreign secret prisons? That, he would've been totally fine with.
Anyway, they decide to bluff her instead, and she cracks in like a minute. Which should've been a hint that she was counter-bluffing, but nope, they go along with it. Even agree to send David Rosen -- the guy she was dating, the guy who found out who she was but had to keep sleeping with her so she wouldn't catch on, the easiest possible person for her to psych out -- to deliver the immunity agreement.
Villain: "Can we start over? You know my real name now...."
Rosen, disbelievingly: "You murdered Elizabeth North!"
Villain, wheedling: "I know...!"
(He ends up punching her in the face. I'm okay with that.)
They get her with a more complicated bluff in the end. Olivia's dad pretends to talk his way into the bunker and bust her out -- with a gun, which, you know, maybe was supposed to be a clue that this was a scheme. But given how terrible these people have been about security before, I was totally willing to believe that nobody frisked him.
(He gets her back to the museum, then stabs her with a dinosaur tooth. I, uh, would've liked her alive to testify, but if you ignore that bit it's a cool scene.)
The bad guys were sending Olivia's dad random packages, which turned out to be full of bricks, but calculated to make up the approximate weight of a human head. Which is apparently terrifying and intimidating, that they can afford to waste that much on postage.
So this episode opens with David Rosen bringing Abby an actual head. (The woman Dad Pope just killed. Abby calls her "ponytail bitch," which is as good a name as any.)
Third-to-last episode and we kinda have a case-of-the-week! Olivia Pope and Associates are trying to convince Fitz to do a last-minute pardon (for a black guy convicted of killing a white guy acquitted of killing a black guy). Huck and Quinn face down a bar full of heavily-armed racists and walk out untouched (and carrying a few extra guns), which is the kind of content I like to see.
David and Abby bond over their mutual angst about being manipulated. It's kinda cute. I would like them to have a happy ending, if only because they were broken up in such an awful way.
I was reeeeally worried the Shocking Twist would be that our victim-of-the-week is guilty after all, but never fear! We're 26 minutes into the episode and Olivia hates the idea: "You want me to take your racially-sensitive tinderbox of a closed case to an outgoing President with a legacy to protect because you have a feeling?"
Five minutes from the end, and some of our heroes have a shocking revelation that the Mystery Villains were working for someone! This is a twist? Y'all thought you were chatting directly with the top brass of the superconspiracy this whole time?
On the plus side, it turns out Olivia was testing Quinn -- "Running this firm will mean going up against the White House sometimes, I needed to know that you could handle it." Would've had more impact if the viewers didn't know from experience she would be wrong, but you take what you can get.
The evil mastermind is Olivia's mom! On Luna Vargas' behalf, I am delighted.
Mellie: "It's official, everyone in your family has wanted me dead at some point or another." She's not wrong.
Mom Pope gets a long monologue about how she's been secretly working in the name of good all along, and this just one more example of black women's work not being appreciated. On Luna Vargas' behalf, I'm worried again.
Olivia tries to bluff out her mom ("I'm totally on your side, but you need to give them something"), and overplays it horribly. So it doesn't work, and she tries strangling instead. Who on this writing team has a thing for choking?
Oh, and Quinn's pregnant. I guess at this point someone had to be.
IT WAS LUNA.
Dammit, show. I didn't want to be right about this. For this narrative, the really shocking twist would be someone turning out to be a genuinely decent human being.
...or at least, it was sort-of Luna. She "paid someone", presumably Mom Pope, to kill Frankie. Mom Pope passed the orders to Team Rocket, who passed them on via blackmail to half the main cast.
That still doesn't answer the question of where Team Rocket came from in the first place. Luna didn't create them, and I don't think Mom Pope did either. Their identities were almost perfectly scrubbed, they had millions to throw around and the financial infrastructure to cover their tracks, they were playing next-level blackmail chess. They had tracking chips in their necks, and were able to pull out a dozen covert drones at a moment's notice.
This only makes sense if they're agents of a serious organization -- and if they have motives other than money. I'm not even sure where Luna was supposed to have whipped up secret presidential-assassination levels of payment in the first place, but the effort these people went to, they would've needed power or ideology or both. Russian agents: makes sense! Random assassins: terrible narrative Plan B.
(It's also implied Cyrus gave her the idea, which, again...nobody's motives line up with the idea of killing Vargas before the EC vote.)
Abby to Quinn: "You wanted to have a baby? Let's have a baby." Uh...you two aren't the canon ship here...are you?
After a successful inauguration where nobody got shot, Olivia and Jake talk Luna into killing herself. Because hey, let's wrap up that loose end before any viewers start asking awkward questions. At least it got us this little gem:
Olivia: "Raise your hand if you've killed a Vice President before." [raises hand, looks meaningfully at Jake]
Jake: "Mine was Argentine."
Olivia: "That counts."
After all that, it's looking like the next season is going to have all the same people in power in Washington, just shuffled around a bit. Like, we might even have Cyrus installed as Mellie's VP after all.
I was going to say "still better than Trump," but, you know what? The last scene we get of President Mellie is her signing an executive order that Olivia puts in front of her, without reading it. (She accepts Olivia's summary, that it's setting aside a bit of cash for the military. It is, in fact, setting aside a bit of cash for Olivia.)
Sorry, America. The votes from the state of Shondaland are in, and it turns out you lost.