For most television shows, a satisfying season finale manages to bring the open storylines to a conclusion that feels surprising, yet inevitable. Scandal is not most television shows.
The pleasure in watching Shonda Rhimes’ campy Washington drama, which wrapped up its third season last night, comes from watching Rhimes defy the laws of logic, physics, and the United States Constitution in the most nonsensical way possible. Where the plot actually ends up—in this case, President Fitzgerald Grant won his re-election campaign, while crisis manager Olivia Pope ran off for an international vacation with her boring paramilitary leader boyfriend—is kind of beside the point.
Below, the most WTF moments of the finale:
* A terrorist tries to blow the vice president to smithereens, and instead of rushing her to safety, her secret service detail allows her to tend to victims’ open wounds right outside the gutted, unsecured bombing site, for photo-op purposes?
* You can inject a 15-year-old boy with a rare strain of meningitis that makes him die almost instantly—his sole symptom an explosive bloody sneeze that shoots out of his nose seconds before he expires?
* Olivia's father gets stabbed in the chest, juuuust shy of his heart, and yet as soon as he wakes up he’s capable of delivering his full-on staccato soliloquies, as usual?
* Somebody tries to kill the vice president (and several hundred other people) on Election Day (during a funeral, in a church), and then the president’s son dies on national television, and then at the very last second before the polls close, everybody across America heads out to vote for the president, instead of, say, sheltering safely with their families?
* When the polls close for the evening in Ohio, it’s still super bright outside in D.C.? In November?
* Olivia decides to quit her job and move outside of the country, and somehow manages to pack up all of her things and secure a private jet in the space of a couple of hours?
* When someone from the White House calls Olivia’s cell, the apparently unblocked number pops up on her phone as “White House”?
* One of the most deadly domestic terrorists in American history is wanted for killing the president’s son, and then said terrorist’s husband (also a paramilitary leader) tells the president than he tracked her down and murdered her, but nobody seems to care that he can’t produce a body? Because he actually just hid her—alive—in a hole in the ground?
In other words, what’s not to love? All of this is what makes Scandal the best. The only over-the-top element that I couldn't enjoy in last night’s finale was the rape storyline involving the first lady. While extreme campiness is the correct lens for most hijinx that occur in this dystopian White House, applying that same theory to family sexual assault comes off as a little gross. But we can talk about that next season.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse
An Unscientific Ranking of Really, Really Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.