Scandal Season 5, Episode 15 Recap: Follow The Money

Photo: ABC/Greg Gayne.
When I order a fast food burger, it's not a big deal, but also not something I particularly want the whole world to see. Yet, when it comes to the world of Scandal, and maybe the real world, a fast food burger can change the whole election.
Tonight we saw candidates win and lose the votes of constituents because of fast food, gun ranges, buzzers, haircuts, and the colors of podiums — all before the first debate even started.
With the beginning of Scandal's debate season, the writers are asking everyone — how do you vote?
Olivia Pope's (Kerry Washington) biggest challenge running Mellie's (Bellamy Young) campaign? She has to turn Mellie into a woman of the people. We've all heard that people vote for the candidate they can imagine drinking a beer with, and well, Mellie is not exactly that person.
In focus groups people called Mellie smug and arrogant. One of them said: "She might be OK if she didn't talk." Which is followed by an even more irritating line: "She seems too smart or something." Based on these expectations and presumptions people have about women, Olivia Pope & Associates, who seem to no longer be taking clients beyond Mellie, spend the episode giving her advice to smile different, lose her bitchface, wear her hair differently, and, yes, dumb herself down.
This leads to the infamous fast food burger incident. They decide the best way to make her seem relatable is to have her eat and talk about cheeseburgers, which considering the headlines around Jennifer Lawrence's press tours, is not entirely a bad idea. Mellie gets caught in a lie about eating cheeseburgers every Sunday (said restaurant is closed every Sunday), making her not only too smart and not at all relatable, but untrustworthy as well. She's polling in last place going into the debate in next week's episode.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth (Portia de Rossi), Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), and Abby (Darby Stanchfield) have to deal with the personal, not the political, with Susan Ross (Artemis Pebdani). Susan's dealing with something every constituent has experienced — betrayal and heartbreak. Abby accidentally let slip that David (Joshua Malina) had multiple girlfriends and Susan's head never really went back to the American people after that. After finding the confidence to ask Fitz, the President of the United States and her boss, why he cheated on his wife, she promptly dumped David.
Photo: ABC/Kelsey McNeal.
And then there is Donald Trump Hollis (Gregg Henry), who says nothing about the issues, focus groups, or strategy of any kind. Instead of worrying about the debate, he invited the media to the gun range to watch him basically brag about his lack of political background and ability to get eight hours of sleep a night. Naturally, he's the one leading the Republican polls going into the debate in next week's episode.
The Democratic candidates don't have quite as much pressure or drama yet.
Vargas' (Ricardo Chavira) biggest issue right now is having two campaign managers — Cyrus and Vargas' brother, Alex (Danny Pino). The fact he thought Cyrus (Jeff Perry) would possibly be OK sharing the prestige and power is laughable, and really concerning for Alex. Does he realize that Cyrus has no problem hiring hit men? Or that he is currently sleeping with a hit man that already has the death of the current President's son on his résumé?
That drama pales in comparison to Senator Edison (Norm Lewis) joining at the race. At first I thought that we might be getting one drama-free candidate to balance out the chaos. Nope. That would be too easy. Turns out that Edison is in bed with Rowan (Joe Morton), and Jake's (Scott Foley) relationship with Vanessa is all for her money. He's using her bank accounts to fund a Super PAC for Edison.
Liv can now say "I told you so" to everyone who doubted the reasons behind her stalking Jake the past few episodes, but her next steps made no sense. She received the intel without anyone finding out. Why did she go straight to both Edison and Jake and reveal her cards?
The only thing more baffling is that Liv also went to Alex to get the dirt he had on Susan in exchange for secrets about Edison. She had stupidly gone to her dad for advice on this earlier in the episode, meaning Papa Pope already knew this meet up could happen and 100% has a plan on how to use it against Liv.
It's too early to know who will be the next President of TGIT (although all of Shonda Rhimes' leading ladies have endorsed one candidate in real life). The race is certainly incestous though. There is Mellie, the ex-wife of one of Liv's ex-boyfriend; Edison, one of Liv's ex-boyfriends who is being funded by another; Susan, who is being supported and endorsed by one of Liv's ex-boyfriends; Vargas, who is being trained by Liv's mentor, and Hollis, the only person not connected in this web of politics...yet.
To sum it up — there are four qualified, experienced, intelligent candidates, who all have political ties and backgrounds, and a fifth candidate who has no political experience or expertise. This "outsider candidate" flaunts his lack of censorship and political background every chance he gets. No one considered him a risk at first, and now he's leading in the polls. I wonder where the writers found the inspiration for that storyline?

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