As the Scandal series finale approaches, take a look back at how quotes from the series take on new meaning in the end.
Advice, declarations of loyalty, love, and betrayal permeate every episode of Scandal. It’s the Shondaland way. The voiceovers in Grey’s Anatomy could fill a book. How to Get Away With Murder utilizes the court and classroom. But Scandal‘s approach to delivering memorable lines usually takes a more aggressive route.
Entrenched in the seedy underbelly of Washington politics, our favorite Scandal characters rarely take a minute to come up for air. Pep talks in QPA, heated walk-and-talks in the White House halls, and reflective moments on the steps of monuments or park benches are where we get the best and most memorable lines of the series.
But how have those moments changed in light of the final season? Does Olivia’s “It’s handled” still hold the same punch it did in season 1, episode 1? What about the love and loss of Fitz and Liv’s passionate affair? As more and more blood spills, are the Gladiators as dedicated to the cause as they once were?
Change is inevitable. But how does that affect the legacy of a series?
Here are seven quotes that have evolved over the course of Scandal‘s final season.
‘Scandal’ series finale quotes
‘You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.’ -Eli Pope
The father-daughter relationship at the heart of Scandal has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Disappointment and pride intermingle in every analysis of the woman Eli sees before him. Olivia is a product of her father’s teachings for better or worse.
Season 6 saw him at the mercy of two people who wanted to see their version of a future so badly, they put his daughter on the line. In season 7, we see an unhinged Olivia Pope and an arguably more unhinged Eli Pope. The once powerful monarch of B6-13 is in the passenger seat for what appears to be the first time in a long while.
It’s not often we see Eli in a position of inferiority. Just a few months ago he was talking to a plastic dinosaur. Granted, while we are never going to be privy to how much Eli knows about what, we are always watching the consequences of his deliberate actions for or against Olivia.
In season 5 of the series, Eli says, “You should know…I hope you know…I did my best for you, Olivia. I take tremendous pride in who you have become.” And there is no denying that. He sees the best of himself in her. But in season 7, when the ruthless monster arises, his tune changes a bit. That is the worst version of both her mother and himself come to life. The hybrid he never wanted to see.
As the series concludes, can Olivia return to the woman who is better than her father?
‘Moments like this give every woman an opportunity to decide what kind of person she wants to be. Deep down, no matter what face we present to the world, no matter what pain we’re hiding, what struggle we’ve been through, we know our worth. We know what we’re capable of. We know who we are, who we’ll always be, and we have a choice. We can hide in the shadows, or we can stand in the light.’ -Olivia Pope
This moment, as Olivia addresses the press in the season 4 premiere of Scandal holds more meaning in 2018 than ever. A woman sets a man up for sexual assault allegations by hand delivering him a woman she knows he would make a pass at. A twisted plot line then, and even more twisted today.
It’s an episode that does not age as well, but the quote is one that should be heralded in the #MeToo era. By speaking up and stepping out of the shadows, more and more women will feel like they too can step into the light. The series is one notch in the Shondaland belt that empowers women, gives them the control. There is a woman running the Free World! Another as Chief of Staff! And yet so many more running operations, taking control of their lives, making bold choices and celebrating successes.
Scandal brought those women into the light.
‘It hurts until it doesn’t. You think it’s going to break you, but it won’t. You may not sleep as well at night, but you will be fine. Numb, but numb and fine are the same.’ -Mellie Grant
Now in the White House with the power to order unspeakable acts, Mellie still holds onto her morals as much as she can. Cyrus Beene, on the other hand, never had any to begin with. Looking back over the series, especially as Cyrus makes moves to overtake the Oval, anyone who ever showed sympathy for him makes my skin crawl.
This moment arrives right after he pushed his husband to seduce the Vice President’s closeted spouse. It’s hard to pin a moment where it all went wrong. Cyrus is a case where he was likely gone before he realized the path he was marching down.
At the flip of a coin, Cyrus would trade his marriage in for a shot at making a political move. Take his reaction to the events set off by this simple action, “We are the devil. I am actually the devil…you should have seen me handle it. There’s a dead closeted hillbilly on the floor and there I am, ‘Give me your sin, Sally,’ without blinking. The devil is at the top of his game.”
Season 3 set Cyrus and Mellie afloat in the same boat. Bonding over lost husbands, failing marriages, and acknowledging their own flaws in the process a seed was sown. Now, years and many deaths later, the two are circling each other in a standoff for the Oval. They are numb to everything it seems.
Numb and fine are definitely starting to look the same.
‘I want you to know, I need you to know, not choosing me is okay.’ -Jake Ballard
Jake is, perhaps, the most lost character on Scandal. He’s unhappily married, not exactly sure of his position anywhere, and literally put a gun into his mouth and asked Olivia to kill him. I don’t think that Jake Ballard, the man molded by B6-13 is “okay” with anything.
This late in the season it’s hard to connect him to any cause, least of all his own life. If he isn’t fighting for himself, who is he fighting for? Olivia? His wife who hates him? His country?
Jake Ballard has two episodes left to make amends with the life he’s chosen and figure out the life he wants to lead. While this quote once left me hopeful that Jake would take a new path in his life, his tough time of things in season 7 has left him with a target on his head.
‘You can’t change the choice you made, all you can do is not let it ruin you.’ -Olivia Pope
Is there a better quote to reflect this entire series? I think not.
‘You are a gladiator. Gladiators don’t run, they fight, they slay dragons, they wipe off the blood, they stitch up their wounds, and they live to fight another day.’ -Olivia Pope
A classic quote, one that, even after all Scandal has put us through, still has the ability to bring about chills. It’s the core of the series. OPA, now QPA, is the heartbeat that kept the procedural episodes rolling, the B-stories alive and well, and gave the core cast a place the fall back on when things got tough.
The office is a physical place, but to be a “Gladiator” is something that transcends where business is done. It is a state of being that one takes on willingly, a cause that drives a person to always seek justice. Most of the time, Gladiators operate in the gray. It’s a tough gig, but one that should reward more than tax a person.
All at once being a Gladiator offers atonement, family, safety. Season 7 highlights the darkness that awaits someone who loses sight of the good that being a Gladiator brings. Can there be a triumphant return in the end? Can they find a way to recover and fight one more day?
‘I want to rule the world.’ -Mellie Grant
Ambition. There is no shortage of ambition on Scandal. Whether it is finding the right horse to back for social change like Marcus, or keeping the little people out of trouble like the members of QPA, everyone wants to see the world keep turning in the right direction.
But there is also a downside to ambition. Those who have a loose idea of what they want and how they think getting it will make them happy. What happens when you can rule the world? Mellie lets this line slip to Fitz as they sit on the best CGI porch in the ABC universe.
Where will we see these characters wind up? Will they get what they want, or at least figure out what that is?
Will Scandal leave us with one more quote before they say goodbye?
The Scandal series finale airs Thursday, April 19 at 10:00 p.m. ET on ABC.