Scandal Season 5, Episode 1 Recap: America's Princess & Mistress Have Arrived

Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC.
The previews promised us a steamy episode between Olivia Pope and President Grant, which we got — for about five seconds. It wasn't a surprise considering the last time we saw America's most secretive couple they were sharing a kiss on the balcony of The White House. Yes, outside, in the open. For five seasons we were led to believe that as President, Fitz could never leave his wife, and that no one could ever see him and Olivia together. Apparently, that was always a lie.

There was really no time to worry about this sudden change, because in the first few minutes we got two references to events much closer to our real lives than ABC's T.G.I.T lineup. Although, today is there anything more real to us than Queen Shonda Rhimes's Thursday night?

While Fitz is still president in Shondaland, in modern day America we have two females running for president. We could have a female president and a first man before Mellie Grant starts her official presidential campaign. Naturally, the ever-present Sally had something to say about Fitz hosting an event, "The man who calls himself our President is throwing himself a party." Throw in the word "former" and we officially have foreshadowing for what pundits could be saying for years. Because powerful, straight men throwing a party is just a crazy idea.

The party in question is for Princess Diana and Prince Charles, er, I mean Princess Emily and Prince Richard of Caledonia. Outside of the American heritage of Princess Emily, the similarity between this fictional royal couple and the one that captured the world's attention over 30 years ago is uncanny. Emily is a common-born woman who married a Prince with a very powerful Queen mother. They are a beautiful young couple that the media is obsessed with, and they are followed constantly by the paparazzi. Just to ensure the reference clear here — they had an extravagant wedding that was broadcasted live. She was adored by the public. She was the "world's princess."

I thought the most upsetting part of this episode was going to be Abby fawning over Princess Emily. When Abby mentioned being jealous over Emily who left her career to "wear diamonds on her head," I think blood actually ran to my head. Sure, I am no stranger to princess fantasies, and having a childlike sense of wonder with fairytales, but where is my Abby? Where is the badass woman who always puts her career and friends first?

However, my anger over Abby's out-of-character moment subsided when I realized how far the Princess Diana storyline was going to go. At first I thought I was wrong. It would be just too gruesome, too close to the truth, right? Nope. That was Princess Emily's body in a tunnel after a fatal car accident. She was surrounded by paparazzi taking photos to sell to the highest bidder, and the other victim of the accident was her bodyguard. The bodyguard she was having an affair with.

From there the writers started to stray, or perhaps more accurately dive into the conspiracy theories that have surrounded Princess Diana's death for the last 18 years. Quinn discovers Princess Emily's death wasn't the result of a car accident. Actually the princess was assassinated because of her affair. Not only that, but the Queen herself is the one behind the murder. Oh, and the princess was pregnant with a child that may or may not have had royal blood. The horror!

Olivia is back officially in white hat mode, and won't let the Queen get away with it. She tells Prince Richard, and he forces his mother to abdicate the crown. Oh, to live in a European world where a Queen abdicates for being too old, and a Prince doesn't have to abdicate for marrying an American woman. This also leads to perhaps Olivia's best line of the night, "not all fairytales have happy endings, but Evil Queens, they tend to go down."

The second best line of the night goes to Fitz when he surprises Mellie by pulling out papers and saying, "I'm divorcing you." Now it's time for us to wonder, again, is it OK for the President of the United States to get a divorce? Since it's his second term, can he just throw all caution to the wind?

Apparently, because Liv and Fitz are back on the balcony of The White House. (Pause really quick while we all collectively wonder why the background of The White House is still so fake-looking in the show's fifth season. OK, back to the plot).

Liv and Fitz spent their first day as a couple working against each other. They even had their first lovers' quarrel in public, which conveniently let Abby and Chief of Staff Elizabeth North learn about the rekindled romance. But, they are committed to making it work. If only the world was listening to them. Right as Liv finished saying, "I want our business handled. I want our problems fixed. I want to be ready before the world is watching," Abby comes to get them. Surprise, there was a reason they weren't allowed to engage in PDA all these seasons.

The ever-present Sally has pictures of their canoodling, which she so politely decided to share with the world on her show. Her show that airs whenever she wants it too, apparently. I wanted to say "I told you so, you should have got off the damn balcony!" However, the photos weren't balcony photos, they were from inside The White House. I think it's time to call Cyrus back, since someone in Ms. North's new staff (or, more likely, Elizabeth herself) doesn't really understand confidentiality. Looks like next week will go from being all about "America's princess" to "America's mistress."

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