ABC’s Scandal came out of the gate swinging from the very beginning of its season three opener and it never slowed down until the 59th minute of the finale last night. Whew! The true natures of Olivia Pope’s parents were revealed, Quinn took a swan dive off the deep end, Sally slaughtered her husband, Cyrus pimped out James, Rowan was dethroned from B613 Command in a hostile takeover and then was reinstated after ‘killing’ Mama Pope for Fitz, Mellie’s tragic history got all out in the open winning Mellie presidential sympathy, and Fitz betrayed Olivia in the worst way possible by being so hurt of Mellie’s frigidity in their early marriage. Oh, and Mama Pope, she blew up a cathedral.

Though we nearly got whiplash from the twisty plot developments of a truncated labyrinthine final quarter, Scandal was a bit light on powerful soliloquies in comparison to past seasons. Scandal also departed from its formula of outrageous clients with seemingly insurmountable scandals thereby denying us front row access to the masterful dominion Olivia holds over the gladiators and anyone who dare get in her way as she finesses each situation to her client’s benefit. We may miss the previous formula and pray for its return (because of course Olivia is going to end up back in Washington), but season three was an explosive Fort Knox vault full of hawt entertainment gold.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 

We could populate the columns on our Scandal balance sheet with instances executed in just the last five episodes of the season. Yes, they were that chock full of scandally scandalous scandal. But we’re here to recount for you what we consider the most remarkably Good, Bad and Ugly of it all. See if you agree with what we’ve chosen.

Scandal Season 3 Finale Recap: Actions Have Consequences>>>

Mellie and Olivia Wove a Tangled Web 

The Good: Mellie (Bellamy Young) and Olivia (Kerry Washington) saved the presidency by contriving a fairytale about Liv’s and Fitz’s (Tony Goldwyn) sexual relationship indicating that it was a twice consummated wanderlust and a forgettable dalliance rather than full-on love. This was good for everyone as it took the three out of the spotlight at a crucial time.

The Bad: It was painful to watch Olivia die inside as she crafted the monotonous lie about her affair. Even more painful was her coming unglued in Fitz’s arms afterwards.

Also quite painful later on was Mellie’s pleading with Olivia to be Fitz’s campaign manager. Sell her dignity to her nemesis in exchange for maintaining First Lady status, Mellie was reduced to a sad shell of a woman. Note: Her lengthy killer monologues–the ones where she drops her voice into a lower register at the end–were sorely missed this season.

The Ugly: Fitz was the duplicitous droopy sack who leaked Liv’s name to the press as his lover. Why? So he could dump Mel, marry Liv and make her First Lady. Tra, la, la, Fitz. What’s the color of the sky in your world and do you own a unicorn ranch? And how could you do that to Olivia? She’s not a hen or a prize, did you not get that?!

Huck Turned (Back) to the Dark Side

The Good: Huck introduced a new perspective with his poignant and well crafted, “You took in a wild monster and you groomed me and petted me and trained me to sit at your feet,” speech to Olivia. Huck (Guillermo Diaz) is responsible for his own actions, yes, but Olivia put him in this position. Maybe living in the subway would have been a better life? Or maybe he will regain his old life with his family now. we want good things for Huck Monster.

The Bad: Huck fell off the ‘whiskey’ wagon and killed Pete Foster, the retired Navy pilot who manned Flight 522, furthering the cover-up of Project Remington. After that he began looking more and more like that big creepy kid on the school bus who always sat alone and smelled like lawn mower gasoline and fermenting grass clippings. #Creepy 

The Ugly: Huck actually bound and gagged Quinn and then … Pulled. Out. Her. Teeth. (Moment of silence for the horrific audacity of that move). With this one act, Scandal cloaked itself in a surreal ambiance declaring that henceforth shit would get even more deeply absurd. 

Quinn Went Batshit with Bloodlust (and Huck Lust)

The Good: Sorry, there was no good here except maybe that Quinn grew a pair and asserted herself more than we’ve ever seen her before. And maybe this new thing in the sack (or on the hood of a car) with Huck will bring her back into the gladiator fold–if there even is a gladiator fold after the dissolution of OPA. Quinn’s one redeeming act this season was showing Huck where his family lives. 

The Bad: She developed an unhealthy obsession with torturing and killing. Morbid. Morbid. Morbid. Oh, and she hooked-up with scarry-lethal Charlie. She also licked Huck’s face … which looks like it’s becoming a thing. Ew!

The Ugly: She killed a man and (kinda) joined B613 for a while. Her masochistic hook ups with Huck were off-the-charts disturbing. And in the office in front of Rowan’s blood bath? *full-body shiver*

Mellie and Fitz in Love, a Rape and Fitz’s Obliviousness

The Good: It was salve to the soul to see the flashback of Fitz and Mellie young and in love. In present day, it was cathartic to watch Mellie slap and rage at Fitz in the Oval Office when she learned he’d ordered Andrew to stay away from her. It was sad to see it come to this, but didn’t we applaud Mellie for her actions? I know I did. Now that everything is out in the open and Olivia is on a plane to Nowhereland with sexy Jake, who knows what might happen for the Grants?

The Bad: Fitz was too dense to recognize a traumatized young wife when all the signs were staring him right in the face. Not surprising since Fitz’s life revolves around his own navel … or maybe a little lower on his anatomy.

The Ugly: We learned Big Jerry raped Mellie when she and Fitz were young and childless, putting little Jerry’s paternity in question. That’s more than ugly, it’s f-ugly. Pouring salt in the wound, Fitz, with his ginormously hypocritical, “You ruined our marriage. You killed us!” speech earned himself solid jack hole status. Though … what now, brown cow?

There Were Some Interesting Booty Calls and Some Real Love

The Good: David (Joshua Malina) and Abby (Darby Stanchfield) got back together and this time they seem solid. This adorable, sweet couple deserved some goodness in their lives, right? What sealed the deal was Abby’s heart-melting “Your pain is my pain so tell me everything” speech. Now that OPA is in shambles and David has a butt load of incriminating evidence against B613, maybe there are wedding bells and normalcy in the cards for these love birds. #CottonCandy4TheSoul

Olivia and Jake (Scott Foley) had a hot, hot, hot night of steamy sex. Did I mention it was hawt? Oh, and it was gleefully delicious that Jake mentioned their hook-up right in front of Fitz. Take that, Mr. President! She didn’t answer the presidential phone line when it rang on her getaway plane with sexy Jake, but will it last? Fitz is going to flipping freak out when he finds out Olivia flew off into the sunset with Jake. #TrueDat

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Finally, Mellie got some genuine love in the form of Governor Andrew Nichols (John Tenney), a man who knew her terrible Big Jerry secret from the beginning and worshipped her anyway. She was gloriously happy for five minutes when all of a sudden …

The Bad: The Grant kids found out about Mellie and Andrew’s afternoon delight, while Olivia claimed her own tryst with Jake “Run Away With Me, Save Me” Ballard was for the sole purpose of tapping his phone … but do we believe that? More importantly, does she believe that? Let’s hope she wakes up and smells the latte now that she’s left Washington behind.

The Ugly: Fitz made Olivia put the kibosh on the Mellie-Andrew affair, forcing Andrew to choose between power and love leaving Mellie heartbroken and delirious with rage. 

Oh, and something about Mellie and Andrew sexing it up in the afternoon at the White House was gross. Not because Andrew isn’t sponge-worthy (thank you, Elaine from Seinfeld) because he definitely is. Was it because Olivia is a mom? Was it because her pencil skirt (dress) made it an awkward transaction? Was it because it seemed woefully out of character for her? Don’t know … but it was kinda gross. She’s getting sympathy from Fitz in the wake of their son’s death, but that’s only gonna last five minutes, you wait and see.

Josephine Marcus and Leo Bergen Graced Our Screens

The Good: There’s only good with these two. Lisa Kudrow, one of our oldest and dearest Friends (pun intended) was an absolute delight to watch when she showed up as ballsy and principled presidential candidate Josephine Marcus. More please?

Paul Adelstein was manifique as Leo Bergen, Sally’s frazzled-to-near-breaking-point campaign manager. Watching him squirm and scrupulously use tragedy as opportunity was pure joy. The best line of the finally was his: “Go in there and be Jesus, Sally” With cojones the size of Mount Rushmore, Leo was quick witted, unapologetic and great entertainment.

Cyrus Killed James and Sally Killed Daniel Douglass

The Good: Through flashbacks we learned the details of Cyrus (Jeff Perry) and James’ (Dan Bucatinsky) early romance and, wow, was it sweet. Cyrus pulling James onto the dance floor was absolutely beautiful. I mean, pass-me-a-Kleenex emotional. Also fantastic, and probably Cyrus’s best all season, were the three pleading (though manipulative) soliloquies he delivered to James in the midst of their WWIII quality fights.

There’s not much good to say about Sally except that we’re glad she’s finally done something that can be used as collateral against her. Not even getting dirty in the aftermath of an exploded church can take that away. She’s about to be replaced by Andrew, but have we seen the last of her?

The Bad: Cyrus shamelessly and repeatedly manipulating James for his own purposes was fantastically juicy, but despicable. Sally slaughtering Daniel Douglass was a jaw-dropping shock. 

The Ugly: Cyrus may not have pulled the trigger, but it was Cyrus’ abuse of James that fueled his husband’s rage and inspired the birth of Publius, the current-day Deep Throat who would derail the presidency, thereby putting a bullseye on his own forehead. 

James retaliated against Cyrus by hooking-up with Daniel Douglass (Jack Coleman). This was borderline bad-ugly. Revenge is a dish best served cold, right? However, the ugliest of Cyrus’s sins against his husband was, bar none, his pimping James out to blackmail Sally (Kate Burton). Now that was a dish of frozen ugly if ever there was one. 

Sally blamed her heinous crime on Satan himself. Her “The devil came in” defense was fascinating and despicable. More despicable yet was her continued public slaughter of Fitz ‘Crispy Piggy’ Grant for his philandering ways. Olivia and Andrew aren’t the only ones who live in glass houses, Sally. 

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Olivia Witnessed Fitz’s Facade Cracking

The Good: Olivia got a glimpse of Fitz’s true nature when she walked in on his scathing diatribe against Mellie and realized that maybe Maya was right, maybe she is just the help and just the fluffer after all. Her “What service can I provide for you today” soliloquy was phenomenal as was her “There is no clean, there is no Vermont” speech. Now that Fitz knows about Big Jerry’s rape, Olivia has just cause to break ties with Fitz and she told him so. #Hopeful

Bad: She already accused Fitz of making promises he can’t keep. Then, his true anguish over his failed marriage poured forth in his “You killed our marriage” tirade. The worst part of listening to Fitz berating Mellie like a man scorned was that Olivia realized something crucial: Fitz really loved Mellie once and could again now that he knows what she gave up for him, what she endured for him. Time to move on, sister girlfriend! 

Ugly: She insists she still loves Fitz. Enough said. Livvie, you in danger, girl, if you don’t get over him.

Rowan Became Transparent

The Good: Olivia finally realized that her father loves her and has always protected her. Rowan was the ‘good’ parent after all. Of all the characters on Scandal, Joe Morton’s scathing and eloquent soliloquies as Rowan Pope are the absolute best. Always. His resonant chocolate voice, his definitive pronouncements, his emotive deliveries; All are in a class unto themselves. His best speeches this season? To Fitz: “You are a boy.” To Olivia: “You have to be twice as good to get half,” and ‘In the face of darkness, you drag everyone into the light,” and “I wish I could help you.”

The Bad: He kept Maya Pope locked up for 20 years. That’s just cold. How did he do that? And now he’s gonna do it again. Who didn’t see that coming? 

The Ugly: He’s responsible for 184 deaths, including poor innocent Jerry Grant, he doesn’t think twice about torturing and tossing people in a hole for months on end, and he killed Maya’s lover right there in Olivia’s office. And did I mention he killed little Jerry. That deserves two mentions, it’s so heinous.

Abracadabra Mama Pope Appeared

The Good: Olivia learned the sad truth about her mother and gained (heartbreaking) closure. she really does love Olivia in her own twisted way, and she says she did it all to free Livvy from Fitz. Uh, that is messed up, Mama Pope, but we acknowledge the sentiment. 

The Bad: Maya Pope (Khandi Alexander), aka Marie Wallace and 52 other aliases, was revealed as a heartless murderess who sold international secrets to the highest bidder. 

The Ugly: Her life with Rowan and Olivia was a calculated farce designed for the sole purpose of stealing governmental secrets and culminating in her tricking Rowan into blowing up a completely harmless plane full of passengers. 

The Uglier: Her only loyalty is to herself. She remorselessly assassinated her accomplices, her friends, and her lover (by proxy).

The Ugliest: Mama Pope killed Senator Hightower to force a funeral, then blew up what was supposed to be a church filled with the president and all other persons of import at the White House. Then, she stabbed Rowan. #ThereAreNoWords 

There you have it, boys and girls. This balance sheet was by no means comprehensive, because our cups runneth over with all the good, the bad and the ugly of Scandal season 3. 

See y’all in the fall!

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(Images courtesy of ABC)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV