First of all, a HUGE thanks to the awesome Jessica for stepping up at the last minute last week. Due to the Texas ice storms I was unable to watch “YOLO,” but I’m all caught up and there’s so much to talk about.

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Kerry Washington looking flawless in “A Door Marked Exit.” Photo credit: ABC

The Great

Jeff Perry has been doing career best work for three seasons, but this week he really stepped it up. He finally gets how terrible he is after Sally killed Daniel. The problem with Scandal is that all of the characters are so terrible that’s it’s hard to really root for anyone. Not that that’s a prerequisite to enjoy a show, but without one character to actively cheer for makes it a little tough to wish for them to succeed. For Cyrus, however, I hope things change for him soon. Maybe this act, this horrid, terrible act, will bring back Cyrus’s conscience. . . if it ever existed at all. His confession to James was truly heartbreaking, especially the moment he realized he caused Daniel’s murder. Lots of great things happen when Cyrus is in his underwear, for what it’s worth.

Last week Sally chose politics over Jesus and now look at her. That editing at the beginning was riveting, amazing stuff. It felt like a good, edge-of-your-seat horror movie instead of some soapy primetime drama. Well done, editors! Sally’s entire modus operandi has always been that of an ambitious woman just waiting for her chance. She’s always stuck to her ideals and convictions and is one of the few on the series who can say that. Has her ambitious spirit been broken forever? She realizes she’s no better than anyone else, especially Fitz, the man she’s spent her entire professional life trying to rise above. She always thought she was better than Fitz, but now Sally has fallen so far, so fast. She and Fitz are so similar — they both killed someone in order to save themselves. We’ve seen Fitz struggle with killing Verna and now it’s Sally’s turn. Will she run for president still? Will she stay on a Fitz’s vice president? Will she get out of politics all together? I’m very excited to see where Sally ends up in 2014. ┬áBy the way, ┬áthat entire opening sequence was as good as anything I’ve seen on TV this year. . .

. . . until that Rowan monologue later in the episode. Creepy Fitz kidnaps Rowan and keeps him in a secret bunker in the Pentagon. Really, Fitz? You’re the leader of the free world and the best place you can think of hiding someone is the Pentagon? You really are a boy. While Rowan is tied to a chair, Fitz decides to take the time to brag about knowing what Olivia tastes like and how his body part goes into her body parts…and oh my god I can’t finish that sentence. I’ve really hated Fitz all season, and especially tonight. Rowan looks at Fitz and just lays into him. The way he called him “boy” so often was the kind of stuff that made the hair on my arms stand on end. Unlike Pinocchio, Fitz isn’t too happy with being called boy. Ok, I need to amend my earlier statement: I was rooting for Rowan in that scene. I literally stood up off my couch and clapped as Rowan finished his monologue. Terrific writing and acting.

The Expected

So that was the good stuff. Let’s move on the “sure, okay, that happened” stuff. Mama Pope is a terrible person who made Rowan kill over 300 people just for fun. The transition to Scandal becoming Alias is almost complete! Olivia just needs to put on some wigs and find some 400 year old artifacts to complete the transition!

Apparently Jake is now Command? He and Fitz working together to push Rowan out of B613? Jake, you know you’re totally getting played, right?

Also, David and Abby. I like them, okay? They are cute and actually have the best relationship on the show. I’m also excited to see what David does with the NSA phone call we saw at the end. Will he pursue the murder of Daniel or did he learn his lesson the first time? I am genuinely intrigued by these turn of events.

The Bad aka Quinn

Finally, the bad: everything about Quinn’s character. I mean, come on. She’s not wearing any underwear! She takes her tooth out with a gross metal rod! She’s not a gladiator anymore! And I feel no remorse for her! Sorry, Quinn!

I actually thought last week’s episode would have worked better as a winter finale, but this one was fine, too. It sort of fell apart at the end and I found I don’t really care what Olivia’s mom is up to. I don’t know, y’all. It was all just too obvious the moment we saw her eating her own wrists. The lengths that woman will go to is unsurprising after that horrific image.

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He looks like he’s leaning. Photo credit: ABC

Scandal’s biggest problem is that it feels uncomfortable with silence. That awesome scene with Rowan and Olivia was the closest the show has come to getting dramatic, solid moments from silence. Scandal can take some cues from The Good Wife in how to create tense moments with silence, especially from its leading lady. Olivia has no command of a room unless she’s speaking or yelling; Alicia, however, commands the room with a look and those eyes. The difference is that Alicia is comfortable with silence while Olivia craves comfort as evidence with her phone call to Fitz. The characters on Scandal say 35 words when 10 will do, and so far it’s been one of its greatest strengths. But here lately, and this season specifically, it’s really proven to be a hindrance. There’s something about this season that has really been hit or miss with me and I think it’s that Shonda Rhimes is so determined to shock us every episode. The problem, however, is that things are so telegraphed because of how big the moments are. Yes, Sally killing Daniel was surprising to me because there was absolutely very little setup before the act. Instead of letting these moments marinate and settle, Rhimes throws everything out as quickly as possible in order to achieve that shock value she’s so set upon. I totally prefer plot development over relationship development, and Rhimes has done really well in this department this year. By letting the plot advance and grow allows relationships to happen organically. Rhimes has realized this and toned the ‘shipping down a bit. The plot development, however uneven and ridiculous, has been the most surprising part of this season. More, please!

Yes, there’s lots to complain about this year, but I applaud the risks Rhimes and the other writers are taking right now. We are watching a show full of nonredeemable antiheroes and I am mostly okay with it. Rhimes has resigned to the fact that Olivia is a terrible person, and once she let go of the white hat motif we’ve a much more grounded, rounded character. Kerry Washington does amazing things and always plays even the most ridiculous moments with grace and aplomb. She is such a breath of fresh air on screen no matter how weak and unsure she’s become this year. I actually love her naivety and that the writers have given her struggles and weaknesses this season.

Anyway, what were your thoughts on the Scandal winter finale? Will you eagerly await the show’s return in February? Thoughts on where the show is headed in its final eight episodes? Sound off in the comments or talk to me on twitter!

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