Scandal takes an interesting approach to how it deals with its winter finales. While some series will save its massive cliffhanger for that last episode in December and leave fans to wait weeks or longer for the series to take its next breath. Scandal takes a slightly different approach. Last year, the penultimate episode of the half-way point of the series delivered the cliffhanger. I am, of course, referring to the sight of Huck standing near a smoking gun moments after the president was nearly shot to death on his birthday. The winter finale picked up in the aftermath of that, taking the series to a more manageable tension before breaking for the hiatus. Tonight’s episode, “The Door Marked Exit” was the exhale after last Thursday night’s gasping shocker. Sally killed her husband!

She really killed him too. This isn’t one of those times when we’re made to think she did it and then, surprise, he was stabbed to death by a knife operated by remote control, while Sally’s being set up. No, Sally totally killed her husband. We saw the scene play out through a spattering of clips showing Kate Burton’s scary side as Sally tore into her husband. Daniel made things worse when he tried to take credit for her success. She passed a lot of judgment, lost her mind and stabbed him in the back with a letter opener. Horrible.

It was interesting to see the difference in reaction between Cyrus and Mellie. Granted, Mellie never had to see Daniel’s body on the floor of Sally’s office. She wasn’t the one to call in B-613 to clean up the mess and get Daniel in his bed where they could make it look like a heart attack. She wasn’t the one to talk Sally out of turning herself in. That was all Cyrus. But that’s Cyrus. He and Mellie are both take-charge kind of people, but i’m not sure Mellie would have been as quick to find the necessary words to get Sally to hand over her sin, confess her misdeeds to God instead of the police and stay the course. He even got her to keep the medical examiner from looking too closely at Daniel’s body. I guess a good once-over will suffice for that doctor. Had he gotten Daniel's shirt off and flipped him over, he would’ve seen the stitched-closed stab wounds.

Cyrus took care of business, but not before vomiting the toilet. And he spent most of the episode looking like he’d aged a year each second that passed. Cyrus thinks he's lost his soul. But if he really was soulless, I don’t think he would feel nearly as remorseful as he does for his indirect involvement in Daniel’s death. He didn’t kill the guy, nor did he sanction it, but he set the course for it. He played a part in the chain of events that led to Daniel’s death, both when he set James up to be hit on and then when he showed Sally the photos. Now, I don’t think Cyrus should shoulder the blame for what Sally did. She did that. But the fact that he feels responsible for it shows his humanity, much more than say, Mellie, whose major concern was using the situation to get Sally to back off her campaign ambitions.

Speaking of which, it was looking like Sally was going to back off and forget her goals. But then she went off about Daniel to Leo, tipping him off that she killed her husband, and tipping us off that she’s still just as enraged over what Daniel did as she was before she stabbed him. And if she’s really that mad, is she really all that remorseful? Or is the shock of what she’s done wearing off? I’m thinking it is, or it will, and now that Leo knows, he can proceed to lure Sally back toward the political race. He knows her deep dark secret, and I’m less inclined to think that he’ll try to use it against her as I am to think that he’ll figure out a way around the situation for Sally. Maybe he’ll get something on Mellie or Fitz that he can keep in Sally’s pocket to protect her against any threat that Mellie or Cyrus might use to leak the truth in an effort to wreck her campaign. Whatever the case, I feel like Leo knowing is a big part of whatever happens for Sally's political future.

Meanwhile, one of the twists in tonight’s episode came in the form of a woman who showed up at David’s office with a recording of Sally’s phone call to Cyrus saying she committed a sin. That by itself probably isn’t all that incriminating but it's much worse when combined with the conversation David had with James earlier, during which James urged David to look into Daniel’s death, believing the man was murdered. Because it was just too coincidental that Daniel would die of a heart attack so soon after Cyrus confronted James with photos. Of course James would suspect. David brushed James' words off, still angry over what James did to his career to want to hear him out, but now that he's heard Sally's phone call, I’m thinking he’ll start sniffing around.

James seems prepared to stay with Cyrus. Their marriage is a mess, but he asked Cyrus to let him be White House Press Secretary, and I think Cyrus will make that happen to keep his husband from walking out on him for good.

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