It’s time once again for Laura’s rundown of this week’s episode of Scandal!
Fitz and Mellie finally got divorced, Fitz and Olivia almost got married, Jake once again lost a woman he loved, and Papa Pope returned. Sounds like a Thursday! The Scandal crew also had to contend with a Senate hearing and walking the fine line between truth and perjury, while keeping Fitz and Liv safe. So let’s dive into all this, shall we?
To Say I Do or Not to Say I Do?
A good portion of the episode dealt with whether or not Fitz and Olivia should get married. Cyrus essentially proposes to Olivia on Fitz’s behalf as the three of them talked in the Oval Office, explaining that if they’re married she can’t testify against him. Olivia, as we might expect, reacted in horror: “A shotgun wedding on the heels of a quickie divorce? You may as well turn the Oval Office into a drive-thru wedding chapel.” Of course, that’s not her main issue with the entire situation.
She confided in Abby, who characteristically rambled on without thinking as she freaked out over being in the president’s bedroom. She speculated about how hellish being First Lady must be until Liv told her that Fitz wants to get married. Liv, naturally, feels the same way Abby does, hence part of her hesitation in getting married. So instead of a wedding, she’s decided to lie on the stand, “because otherwise Fitz will be impeached and I love him too much to let that happen.” Abby, thankfully, asked the question on many viewers’ minds: If you love him, then why not just get married?
Olivia: We’re not ready to get married. It would just be a last minute get out of jail free card. I don’t want that for us.
Abby: If you take the stand, you could end up going to jail.
Olivia: And if I get married? What in the hell do you think this is?
She clarified her point by looking around the president’s bedroom, as did Abby. It’s lavish, but as First Lady, it would be a kind of elegant prison, just as Mellie told her.
Fitz thought if he redid the proposal in a more romantic way then he’d get Olivia to say yes—that it was simply the circumstances of Cyrus discussing their marriage like a business transaction that got in the way. He put together a romantic setting—rose petals, candles, him in a tuxedo, and getting down on one knee. But Olivia stopped him; that’s not what she wants. Since he admitted he didn’t want to do the elaborate proposal thing either, she asked why he bothered.
Fitz: Because I love you. Because you are what I want. But obviously you don’t feel the same.
Olivia: We’re not ready.
Fitz: You’re not ready. And you know what I think? You never will be.
Olivia: That’s not fair.
Fitz: Then answer the question, Olivia. What is it that you want? (She doesn’t say anything, just looks at him) That’s what I thought.
Poor Fitz. Even though I don’t think the two of them should get married, I felt for him in that scene. His actions later in the episode made me less sympathetic, but we’ll get to that. Eventually, Liv agreed to marry him, but she clearly started regretting her decision in the moments before the wedding when her new Secret Service detail explained how her life will now work. She was saved at the last minute by Mellie and her father, although instead of telling Fitz directly, she had Abby return the ring to him.
What do you think of Olivia’s actions here? Or Liv and Fitz’s love story? Olivia seems to have a classic “grass is always greener” attitude, wanting what she can’t have. Now that she has a chance to live happily ever after with Fitz, she doesn’t want it. Is it simply because of how public her life would become and how controlled it would be as first lady? Or is it because Fitz is no longer forbidden fruit, thus eliminating some of the appeal? Personally I think it’s a mixture of both. When she and Fitz started their affair, he wasn’t only president he was married. You can’t get more out of reach than that. I do believe what she said last week, however, that she’d tried to stop loving him and can’t. There is more there than simply wanting what you can’t have, or she would have been able to quit him a long time ago. But a marriage is permanent (sort of); there’s no turning back from that. Her life will change forever if she says “I do” to Fitzwilliam Grant.
The second part of it is, I think, the fact that she does not want to become First Lady. She’d no longer be able to run her business, go anywhere without Secret Service agents around her and the media documenting it, or even have her own cell phone that isn’t a White House approved secure communications device. She’d become the figurehead that Mellie was, smiling and waving for the cameras yet powerless to truly do anything herself without Fitz’s backing. That would be hell for someone like Olivia Pope.
Olivia and Jake
The third part of the equation in Olivia’s refusal to marry Fitz comes, in my opinion, from Jake Ballard. Yes, I’m unashamedly Team Jake—even more so after the way Fitz spoke to Mellie during their divorce in this episode. I’ve always said Jake owns who he is. There’s no pretense with him anymore. He acknowledges the bad things he’s done and never acts superior or holier than anyone else. Fitz manages to push his own prior bad acts aside when he blames others for their wrongdoings.
I’m thrilled that Jake didn’t let Olivia use him, though. Their two conversations were priceless. When Olivia felt overwhelmed, she instantly called Jake like always. And, like always, he was there for her—until she told him why she was calling:.
Olivia: I can be a married person, right?
Olivia: You think I’d be ok being married? That I could do it? Because I think I might have to get married.
Jake: To him? Are you calling to… (scoffs) Liv, I have to go.
Olivia: I need to know what to do. You’re who I talk to.
Jake: About whether or not to marry him?
Olivia: I know, I’m sorry, I just –
Jake: I’m gonna hang up the phone now, Liv.
And he did, which I applaud. Their second conversation was just as pointed.
Olivia: I’m gonna do it.
Jake: Ok, well, good for you.
Olivia: I didn’t want you to hear it on TV or something.
Olivia: Jake, I need you to be –
Jake: Stop it. Don’t you need me for anything. Don’t you ask me for anything. That’s his job.
Again, he hung up the phone, as he should. It’s awful of her to call him for advice under these circumstances or ask him to be okay with it. He loves her. Deeply, madly, truly loves her. It’s unfair to ask him for anything when she’s considering marrying another man.
Mellie Grant & Papa Pope: A New Team?
The powerhouse player of the night’s episode was Bellamy Young. The episode started and ended with her, and in those 45 minutes she did a complete 180, turning her life and her perspective around. In the beginning, she got completely sandbagged in the Senate hearing and thought she was about to lose her career because of it.
Meanwhile, Elise is pretending to work for Rowan, but when Jake found out and confronted her, he learned she was there to kill him. She was hired by the people running Lazarus One, and they’re killing all their enemies, including Rowan. Thus, instead of the escape Rowan thinks he’s heading toward, he found himself almost killed by a guard and ended up in the hospital. He tried to reach out to Olivia, but she wouldn’t speak to him, so he sendt a message through Quinn to get Olivia to come see him. If she’ll help him escape, saving her life, then he can shut down the Senate hearings and get her out of the mess she’s in.
Olivia, desperate to find a way to get out of testifying that doesn’t require a trip down the aisle, was actually willing to make a deal with the devil. She turned to Mellie and asked her to release a man from prison in Virginia. Mellie, of course, recognized Rowan as the man who blackmailed her for a list of jurors last season, and she’s horrified to learn this man is Olivia’s father. Mellie demanded to know if Fitz told Olivia about what happened, but he hadn’t. Along with telling Mellie the truth that her father runs a secret intelligence agency, she also confessed that Rowan is the one who killed Mellie’s son. I’m not sure why Olivia told Mellie the truth there when it cemented Mellie’s refusal to let Rowan out of prison, but it was definitely the right thing to do. Mellie deserved to know, even if that knowledge causes her tremendous pain.
Then we got the divorce scene, a truly brilliant piece of writing and acting. Fitz accused Mellie of taking everything from him: “Everything there is. Everything I had. You name it,” which, I have to agree with Mellie, is laughable. I also agreed with her completely when she asked him, “How do you talk yourself into believing anything you want to believe? Convince yourself that you are completely blameless in every situation. What kind of messed up cognitive processes go on in that tiny head of yours to make all that happen?”
Then Mellie delivered her incredible speech.
Mellie: What I have been forced to endure –
Fitz: You have blood on your hands.
Mellie: In an effort to protect you! Every imaginable scenario, they all end with you, Fitz! Don’t you get it? You are the common denominator here. You are the root cause of everything. I’d still have my dignity if it wasn’t for you. I’d still have my career if it wasn’t for you. Those jurors would still be alive if it wasn’t for you. I would’ve gotten to see Jerry attend his senior prom if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t have had to bury my baby if it wasn’t for you! I wouldn’t have even had kids. I wouldn’t have married you. I wouldn’t have forced myself to stomach having you and your disgusting father lying on top of me. I would have something, been something, done something. I wouldn’t have wasted 20 years propping you up, making you feel ok about your pathetic mediocrity. Petting you and applauding you. My life would have meant something if it wasn’t for you!
Something about that speech must have fired up a part of Mellie, or given her a sense of freedom. Whatever it was, in that moment, something changed completely, because she then apparently chose to let Rowan out of prison. Unfortunately, Jake is the one most hurt in the crossfire, since when he turns up to meet Elise at Union Station to leave town with her, he finds her dead. My heart seriously broke for Jake in that moment. The poor guy can’t catch a break. Elise was his chance to free himself from Olivia, to move on with another woman he once loved enough to marry. Rowan took that from him.
We don’t see Rowan kill Elise directly, or order someone else to, but it’s easy to infer what happened when Olivia once again went to meet with Mellie, who told her:
Mellie: You are not my enemy. You are my freedom. You are my white knight. You are my challenger, my push to greatness, my savior. I was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind but now I see. You are gonna make me president of the United States. You owe me, Olivia. I gave you what you wanted.
Rowan: She went through an old friend just for me. Hello Olivia.
(And Rowan walks forward along with the Secret Service Agent—Tom, I believe?—who helped him in the past—who, in fact, killed Mellie’s son.)
But Rowan is true to his word. He sent copies of B613 files to all of the senators on the committee and they immediately dropped their investigation.
Susan: A Breath of Goodness, As Always
Susan and David are two of the most blameless people on this show, especially Susan. They’re good people. So it was nice seeing the two of them together in this episode, and funny in an odd way when Susan told David, “I want to quit my job as Vice President of the United States.”
Susan: I would make a terrible president.
David: Which is precisely why you shouldn’t quit. The people in this town who worry me sick, who make me fear for the survival of this democracy, are the ones who think they’d make great presidents. They’re so loaded up on mega-doses of hubris that they don’t recognize that it’s the most humbling job in the world. But you do.
That scene reminded me of that old Douglas Adams quote, “It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
Now that’s a quote I agree with!
What did you think of this week’s episode of Scandal? Does Olivia reject Fitz because he’s no longer presenting the forbidden fruit temptation, because she dreads becoming First Lady, because of Jake, or a combination of the above? How do you feel about Mellie’s speeches and her decision to not only free Rowan but work with him? Should Olivia have gone through with the wedding? And what about poor Jake? As always, please share your thoughts and comments! I look forward to reading them.