‘Scandal’ winter finale recap: ‘And the devil did, indeed, come in.’

Warning: This recap contains spoilers.

Papa Pope said it best (or at least first): Cut the head off a snake and another one grows in its place.

The winter finale of “Scandal” was like a snake revival — for every truth revealed, a lie (or two) would crop up.

After last week’s shocking ending, we saw the hurled insults and final show of betrayal that led Sally to kill her closeted husband Daniel Douglas. Less shocking were the gladiator-esque lengths that Cyrus went to in the interest of covering up Sally’s “sin.” Cyrus continued to feel the weight of his backfired scheming, which caused him to get physically ill. By the way, I barely blinked during that scene. That was like four on a scale of one to biting one’s own flesh.

Speaking of biting flesh (still not over it), much of the episode revolved around Maya as Olivia tried to figure out just who her mom really is and how to stop her. We learned that Maya was born in East London and moved to various cities around the world, always changing her name while she sold government secrets to the highest bidder.

Beyond that, what do we really know about Mama Pope? She seemed to have raided Liv’s closet — she was working that coat in the last scene, but really, that’s all I’ve got.

Seeing her mom for who she really was made Olivia question her view of her father. I loved the scenes between Kerry Washington and Joe Morton in this episode. It felt very authentic, Olivia desperately wanting to see the good in her father even after the all of the terrible things he’s done.

We want to see the good in him, too, and we sort of did. Can we talk about Rowan’s epic Fitz takedown? Some choice lines:

“That’s a matter of national security, and it’s above your pay grade, Mr. President.”

“You are a boy. I’m a man. I have worked for everything I have ever received.”

“You will always be Senator Grant’s disappointing son, and she will always be the formidable Olivia Pope.”

I filed Papa Pope’s speech under Things “Scandal” Fans Say To the Television When They’re Over Fitz and Olivia.

Let’s not forget that Rowan could have been history had Quinn been able to carry out her syringe plan. No one actually believed that she could, of course, but then again, Quinn’s been a bit of a wild child lately. She’s like, in love, with Creepy Charlie. She seems unsure of where her loyalties lie. And she probably needs a tetanus shot.

Her mentor turned torturer Huck isn’t making things any easier. He informs her that she’s “not a gladiator anymore,” which I imagine hurt more than having her tooth pulled.

Has Jake officially replaced Quinn as Huck’s partner-in-crime? The two teamed up to locate Rowan, finally figuring out that Fitz had taken him to the Pentagon. Olivia makes her way there to confront her father about what really happened on the last day she saw her mother.

So Olivia’s mom is looking pretty evil right now. Also evil is Cyrus who embraces the title proudly, both in his appeals to Sally to keep her transgression a secret and in his pleas to James.

“I’m still the man that you married. You just maybe never noticed the 6-6-6 on my forehead, but now you see it. I’m hoping, you’ll love me anyway.” (Somewhere, someone is writing a YA novel with this plotline.) James agrees to stay with Cyrus under the condition that he make him White House press secretary. Obviously.

Mellie, a much perkier brand of evil, tries to make the best out of Sally’s situation and convince her (demand, really) that a presidency just isn’t in the cards. It probably was never for Sally, who angrily confesses the murder to her campaign consultant Leo Berman. At least Fitz can keep a secret.

But that’s the least of Sally’s troubles. Thanks to the NSA, a recording of Sally’s confession to Cyrus ends up with David Rosen, who had been dutifully trying to avoid the political drama that once cost him his job (and basically his life).

Will Dabby make it through this? While I could have done without David’s graphic description of what makes them close, I totally ship them.

I sort of also ship Jake and Olivia, so Jake telling Olivia that he loved her definitely tugged at the heartstrings. B613 may not be an individual, but can the head of the snake really love anyone? I guess we’ll find out because Jake is now Command, thanks to some collaboration with Fitz that I don’t yet completely understand.

Another thing I don’t understand is how the plane Olivia arranged for Maya ended up in Mongolia, while Maya herself ended up, impeccably dressed, in front of the White House.

I’ve got 11 weeks to try to work it out in my head.

Lingering questions: Is Olivia going to Sunday dinner? Is Rowan out at B613? Does Huck have the authority to de-gladiate anyone? What will Jake do as Command?

Bethonie Butler is a producer and a reporter on The Post’s engagement team. She oversees online comments and has also contributed to The Style Blog and She The People.
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