Scandal Recap Season 5, Episode 13: To New Beginnings

Photo: ABC/Nicole Wilder.
This week's episode of Scandal started off strong, with Mellie (Bellamy Young) and Olivia (Kerry Washington) together — it's the only pairing on the show that comes close to relationship goals.

Liv points out that Mellie needs to keep her ex-husband from endorsing Susan Ross (Artemis Pebdani). It's pretty sad that Mellie wrote a book about how she finally found her own voice outside of Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), and yet she needs his voice, or lack of it, to get ahead in her career.
The episode went straight from girl power to sexism and misogyny in government. First, we hear Abby (Darby Stanchield) lay down the rules for Fitz's new dating life. He finds "a pick" (otherwise known as a woman) that he finds attractive at events, nods to his security guards, and they bring her up to the Presidential suites.
This is followed by a party of the President's secret service that "gets out of hand." So out of hand, in fact, that one of two "hookers" who was purchased that evening is found dead in the middle of the hotel room's floor. As the security detail explains the evening, they call the living woman "this one." To which Marcus (Cornellius Smith Jr), responds with the best line of the night: "This one? She has a name." Thank you. Thank you, Marcus.
The agents said she died of a heroin overdose, and Olivia Pope & Associates get busy cleaning it up, led by Quinn (Katie Lowes). Much like Fitz gets to flex his sexual power by a single nod to the right person, with one nod Liv passes the torch of OPA chief. For the first time, Quinn calls the shots. The mess was effortlessly handled, except Marcus didn't trust the security agents.
Marcus' instincts were right: She didn't die of an overdose, she was murdered by the agents. They tried to not pay for her services, got in a fight with her, and when she got hurt and started bleeding, they shot her up to cover it up. This leads to the moment the show really needed — Liv and Fitz meeting post-breakup.
Even though Liv deserves someone better than Fitz, Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn have amazing chemistry when they share the screen. It's been the missing element of the last few episodes. And she's always been the only person that gets through to acting-like-a-child-Fitz and reminds him that he is the President. And more importantly, a grown-ass man. Thankfully, she calls him out on perhaps his biggest discretion of this episode — having one of his flings walk out in a bathrobe in front of his young son.
Right after this talk, Fitz brings Susan Rice to his office and tells her to "never lie to the American people again" and says that he's going to do whatever he can to earn her respect and make her want his endorsement. He starts off by firing the security agents involved in the hotel party, and holds a press conference about that night. It's the first time he's deserved being called "Mr. President" in quite a while. And the smiles on the Gladiators' faces when the President did the right thing means OPA may deserve to wear White Hats again sometime soon.
Fitz is finally behaving, but Jake (Scott Foley) is clearly up to something. He broke up with Liv in last week's episode to date his new love interest. He then made a very creepy house visit to Liv's. I'm really not sure why he decided to sneak in while she was asleep, but once she woke up he started trying to hook up with her. In a very strange — but refreshing for primetime television — pick-up line, Jake told Liv that her orgasm face was the reason he was there. After getting caught up in the pleasure for a minute, she asked him to stop. He promptly left her apartment.
The scene was extremely weird, but it was nice to see a male truly only care about the woman's pleasure. Sure, in this case, sexual pleasure was being used solely as a control mechanism, but it's a flip of the script we're thankfully starting to see more often. We still don't know what game Jake is playing, but he definitely sees Liv as a pawn — Jake and Vanessa got engaged presumably that same night. Between David (Joshua Malina) using Susan to help Elizabeth North (Portia de Rossi) get power, Jake using Liv, and Fitz using a multitude of his staff and journalists, the men really stepped up in objectifying women and using them as part of a game.
Next week promises to be full of new beginnings. Jake is engaged, Fitz is ready to be a grownup, Governor Vargas (Ricardo Chavira) is officially running for president, the Gladiators are back, and hopefully Liv will finally take on Mellie's campaign in an official capacity. We will definitely toast to "new beginnings," if it really means a return to the genius of Scandal in Season One. Here's hoping.
Lingering thoughts:
1. Do we even want the White Hat back? Olivia's clothes the last few episodes have been remarkably different, something the costume designer has been very vocal about. And the yellow and black striped coat in the beginning of this episode was far better than the pale coats she paired with the figurative hat in seasons past.
2. Does Cyrus even remember his daughter? Once upon a time, Cyrus was in love, and he adopted a daughter. It's been episodes since we've seen her. (I even discussed with a co-worker today the fact that the writers seem to have completely forgotten about her.) The good news is that Michael apparently remembers Ella's existence. And he seems to be a great dad — one who even practices braiding styles on dolls.
3. Can "never lie to the American people again" be a law for politicians? When Fitz demanded that of Susan, I laughed. I mean, she's about to be President. Is it possible for a President or a Presidential hopeful to not lie? It may be too late for us with the Democratic and Republican primaries solidly under way.

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