Scandal 5.16: “The Miseducation of Susan Ross”

Let’s all welcome back Laura, who’s returned to NGN to offer her take on Scandal as the show heads into the home stretch!

Hi folks! Sorry for the long hiatus from these Scandal posts; I’ve been dealing with some health issues. But I’m back now, and boy do I have a lot to say about where this show has been going in the second half of the season!

White hats came and went and came back again in this episode of Scandal. For a while, I thought my headline for this post would be “Olivia’s White Hat Gone for Good.” I’m thrilled the episode proved me wrong, although it did it in a way that took some of the choice out of Olivia’s hands. She fully intended to expose Susan’s secret and go ahead with her baby daddy’s interview until the moment she learned he’d hanged himself in prison. It wouldn’t be as much of a story without Ronny there to back up the paternity claims, which, in some ways, made it a lot easier for Olivia to put the white hat back on. Still, she deserves some credit; she plans to keep that hat on moving forward so she can end the campaign “with dignity.”

When Fitz and Huck are on the same side and have the moral high ground, telling you that you’re crossing a line, you know it’s time to rethink your actions. Olivia crossing that line did cause Ronny’s suicide—a fact that gets glossed over in her final conversation and drink with Fitz. She didn’t put the white hat back on in time to prevent that tragedy. Hopefully that fact will stick with her.

Speaking of Fitz, he seems to have undergone a profound transformation. I’ve always been a vocal supporter of Team Jake, but now that Jake’s working with Papa Pope, he’s starting to bring out the worst in Olivia instead of the best like before. And Fitz, who I originally thought brought out all of Olivia’s least desirable traits (not to mention I hated how he controlled her), is now pushing her to be a better person. Not sure I’m entirely ready to give up on Jake and join the Olitz fans, but that may change if this trend continues.

What is Jake’s end game here? He killed to become the new head of the NSA. He’s marrying a woman to use her bank accounts to funnel money to a presidential candidate. He’s concocting all sorts of plans with Eli Pope, the man he once longed to kill and who he blames for ruining his life, killing his ex-wife, and destroying any chance of a normal relationship for Olivia because of the way Papa Pope raised her. Also, how did Eli get control of Edison, who used to be a paragon of morality? Anyone have any theories? I’m really hoping the show gives us that backstory sometime this season. Why do Jake and Pope want Edison to be president? What’s their plan?

I’ll admit I liked Papa Pope defending his daughter when Edison told him to “pull back on the reins,” since that was an absolutely obnoxious comment. First, no one who knows Olivia could think anyone would ever completely control her. And second, the use of the word “reins” sounded particularly offensive with the sneer he used to say it.

Abby’s another person whose white hat comes and goes. She ousted Cyrus from office instead of keeping his secret. Did Cyrus deserve it? Yes. Should Abby have done it? I’m honestly not sure. I might go back and write another post about that particular episode and the scene with Olivia advising Abby, if anyone wants to go deeper into that.

The Susan/Liz/ David triangle has come to an interesting end, with David losing both women. I’m glad he ended things with Liz; however, I do believe he loves Susan, so I have mixed feelings there. I completely understand Susan hating him and refusing to forgive him. At the same time, I feel bad for David. What do you think? Should she forgive him eventually, or does he deserve her scorn?

Finally, there’s the presidential campaign, the focus for this half of the season. Hollis Doyle definitely resembles a certain current political candidate, so I’m curious too see where Scandal will take that. As for the others, I think I’d vote for Susan Ross or Mellie Grant over any of our current candidates! Marcus telling off Mellie was brilliant. She needed it. Sometimes you just want to shake Mellie and say, “Get over yourself!” But the good thing about her is that she listens. When Olivia pushed her on the book, Mellie rewrote it and made it better. And when Marcus pushed her, she read those mean tweets and laughed at herself with the audience, showing a different side to the world. Then there’s Susan Ross, who usually oozes integrity but has her human moments in the cutthroat world of politics. Not to mention Frankie Vargas over on the Democratic side, who also appears to want to run his campaign with the same honor and dignity as Fitz and now Olivia, but who (like Susan with Liz) is surrounded by vultures.

At this point, the show could go in several different directions, depending on who wins this election. Personally, I’m torn between Mellie and Susan. I think for the show, having Mellie win will be more interesting, since it keeps Olivia in the center of the political scene. But depending on what the writers have in mind, Edison, Frankie, and Susan could also bring something fresh to the table. The only person I’d hate to see win is Hollis Doyle.

Who do you think will win? And who do you think should win? Unfortunately, as it is in life, those questions often have very different answers.

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