'Scandal's' Ticking Time Bomb: Will the Election Blow Up in Fitz's Favor?

With only one episode remaining in its third season, the ABC political drama set the stage for a truly explosive season finale.

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's "Flesh and Blood" episode of ABC's Scandal.]

ABC's Scandal set the stage for an explosive season three finale during Thursday's penultimate episode.

With the presidential election only days away, OPA and B613 come together to track down Maya Pope/Marie Wallace, but as one would expect, it isn't pretty. While Rowan has joined forces to work against his "wife," Jake is forced out solo and recruits David to help him track down the woman whose lone mission is to assassinate President Fitzgerald Grant.

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While all the Gladiators -- past, present and honorary -- are working overtime, Rowan and company believe Marie planted the bomb in the basement of Defiance High School, where Fitz is staging a last-minute rally. After leaving the White House -- much to Olivia's chagrin -- Liv joins him on stage in a bid to protect everyone from the bomb. While the rally is cut short, Adnan Salif tells Harrison -- whom she's holding at gunpoint -- that she and Maya deviated from their original plan.

Instead, David comes up big and shows Jake footage connecting Marie to a prominent senator's death. She killed the senator in an effort to draw the president to the church funeral where the bomb is really set to go off in less than an hour.

Armed with this knowledge, Cyrus tells Jake that he'll keep the president from attending the funeral. Only Cyrus uses the information to further help Fitz's re-election: He knows Sally -- who is ahead by four percentage points -- is on her way to the funeral and does nothing to warn the sitting vice president of the impending doom. Sally arrives at the memorial, which has drawn a who's who of D.C., including her adviser Leo and Fitz's best friend and running mate -- and Mellie's lover, Andrew.

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With Huck and Quinn "occupied," Marie walks into OPA and demands that Rowan bring Olivia back home. Marie winds up leaving Rowan to bleed out on the floor as retribution for killed Dominic -- the only man she really loved and the guy the former B613 Command shot to death in a bid to track her down.

Meanwhile, Olivia "handles" news of Mellie's personal bomb -- that she was raped by Fitz's father, Big Jerry, and that Jerry Jr. is not the president's biological son. Of course, it's information Leo and Sally were poised to use to bring down the Grant administration after the former bribed Jerry Jr.'s girlfriend for the teen's DNA.

The hour set up next week's season three finale -- titled "The Price of Free and Fair Election" -- in which the bomb will detonate. Here are the burning questions still up in the air heading into the season finale:

• Will Mellie, still reeling from having to cut off her burgeoning relationship with Andrew, have to mourn his death?

• How many lives will the bomb claim and what kind of an impact will it have on Cyrus?

• Might Mellie, who has been hitting the sauce of late, tell Fitz that Jerry Jr. isn't his son? How might father and son be impacted if that secret were to come out?

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• Will Fitz win the election because Cyrus opted to not save Sally's life and instead chose to protect the president?

• Will Rowan survive Marie's attack?

• How might Olivia handle the loss of a parent -- or two?

• How will Huck and Quinn "handle" the Charlie situation?

• How will OPA respond to a Huck and Quinn romantic pairing? Will she be welcomed back to OPA?

• Will Jake ever be free of B613? Can he allow B613 to be permanently dismantled?

• Will Harrison survive Adnan's captivity?

• Will Abby and David -- or Fitz and Olivia! -- ever have a quiet night out? (OK, maybe that first one is just our wishful thinking!)

What are your burning questions? Sound off in the comments below. Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC. Check out a promo for the season finale, below. 

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit