Tonight feels a little like the first day of your senior year. It’s the last time we will ever watch a Scandal season premiere. The seventh season of Shonda Rhimes’ political drama and megahit will be its last. It’s a bittersweet moment. I’m flooded with memories of watch parties with friends in D.C., when I worked as a professional organizer fresh out of college and the outlandish storylines hit close to home. Scandal is the reason I was still awake when Beyoncé dropped her surprise self-titled album at midnight on Friday, December 13, 2013. Scandal is also responsible for it’s equally great parody “Defamation” on Netflix’s Dear White People.
Kerry Washington broke the mold when she became the iconic Olivia Pope, a Black woman who is also the most powerful person in Washington. Scandal and it’s frontwoman will always have a special place in my heart. So, know that what I’m about to propose is coming from a place of love when I say that Olivia Pope should die in the final season.
I can already hear diehard fans protesting what they just read. But before #SaveOlivia starts trending, hear me out. I think there are some pretty compelling reasons for killing off the show’s central character and making Scandal better as a result.
Before I make my case, let’s talk briefly about why Pope shouldn't not die, especially for those of you who think she deserves a better ending based on her own merits. Pope’s proverbial white hat has been stained for a long time. Her credibility as an all-American patriot was shot the moment she decided to rig the election in favor of Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), a politician with intelligence and competence levels that can be described as average at best. She slept with said President while he was married, in case you forgot. Pope also murdered Vice President Andrew Nichols (Jon Tenney) and forced Vice President Luna Vargas (Tessie Santiago) to commit suicide. She has plotted to kill both of her parents at different points in the series.
Pope is an amazing woman with a lot of great qualities, but her hands are not clean, and she is ok with that. She forfeited jam in Vermont a long time ago. She loves her work, which is strategizing for the nation’s most powerful.
Which brings us to the primary reason Olivia Pope should actually go. She has spent her entire career playing puppet master to politicians. And it hasn’t always been strictly business. Many of her decisions have been motivated by personal issues and felt broadly as a result. Olivia Pope represents the broken political wheel. She is the reason for the corruption in her fictional Washington. It’s easy to argue that someone else will just replace her in this role, but the chances of them being as good at it are slim. If Scandal truly wants to close the book, Pope is a loose end that needs to be tied. Retirement is not an option, as she will always be a target. And knowing that she’s still solving cases is just going to keep me up at night. Give Pope an honorable death, and with it, give us some hope that our political system can actually work for the people.
This is an impossible predicament for Shonda Rhimes, who loves to kill off a main character but also hates happy endings. I can’t imagine that the woman who put a diverse spin on a Shakespearean tragedy (Still Star-Crossed) and also killed Wes on How to Get Away With Murder is invested in the idea of a better tomorrow for the nation in Scandal. But Rhimes does believe in good television. And at this point, Pope’s death is the only thing that could shock viewers after the seven-season long emotional rollercoaster that fans have been on with this show.
Pope is the only character whose death would mean something in the end. Quinn (Katie Lowes) should have died years ago. Abby (Darby Stanchfield) is no longer in the squad, so we don’t care what happens to her. Fitz’s death would be a welcome occurrence. Mellie (Bellamy Young) is still annoying, so she can go as well. The death of Huck (Guillermo Díaz) would be too shocking to air on television, and Cyrus (Jeff Perry) is the best character so he has to stay.
When this season ends, I don’t want to feel like I’ve been just been set up for an inevitable reboot in 10 years. They’re never as good as they’re hyped up to be. Let’s make this a conscious uncoupling and lay Olivia Pope to rest.