Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is on top of the world in the new, and final, season of Scandal. In the season premiere, we see her running things as the White House Chief of Staff under Mellie Grant’s (Bellamy Young) administration. Pope is simultaneously serving as command of B613, the same undercover government agency that she spent so much time trying to dismantle when her father was in charge of it. But she only trusts herself to do both of these jobs properly. She has finally tipped the scales just right so that she holds all the cards. It’s the Olivia Pope we always knew she was capable of becoming — a woman on top. And all of her professional success really only leaves one question for viewers: who is Liv choosing to spend her time on top of?
Liv’s longtime lover, former President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), has made good on his promise to live a simpler life in Vermont, even without her. So for now, he’s out of the picture. The process of elimination leaves only one person with that access and tenacity to get Olivia Pope off: Jake Ballard (Scott Foley). This is the same man that Olivia once ran away with to a secluded island, and he fingered her on a beach chair. Sure, he was once best friends with her married boyfriend, but Jake and Liv have a special connection. This apparently has no bearing on their current relationship, as our lead character is not being very loving to her boo.
In fact, Pope has become the lover that your parents warn you never to date. Your friends would tell you to block her number if they knew she treated you in the same way she did Jake. We first see the new NSA Director and Navy Admiral unbuckling his pants to explain to Liv (clad in a negligee) that there is more sex to be had. Liv wants to do more work. In fact, she demands it. A domineering partner is always a red flag. Olivia is setting off all kinds of red flags this episode.
We can’t forget that in addition to his official titles, Jake is still an operative for B613, which makes Olivia his boss. Given the high stakes of their organization, it’s safe to say that this is a power imbalance. Another red flag. When Jake undermines a decision that Olivia makes about the status of a compromised spy behind enemy lines, she cuts off their strictly physical relationship. According to her, Jake has gotten too comfortable. What she really means is that the terms of sleeping with her require complete obedience and subservience. And this is perhaps the biggest red flag of them all. Your partner should not leverage your sexual relationship against you at work.
Jake is not the only one falling victim to Liv’s new approach to intimacy. While she disposing of an uncontrollable Jake, reporter Curtis Pryce (Jay Hernandez) had his eye on the political powerhouse. After things are permanently over with Jake, she sets up a “meeting” with Curtis at a restaurant. He doesn’t get a word in before she explains that he is going to meet her at a hotel, and then she walks away. Curtis deserves better, and someone needs to inform Liv that being the baddest chick in politics is no excuse to be a trash partner.