Scandal Season 5, Episode 17 Recap: Murder, She Wrote

Photo: ABC/Richard Cartwright.
In one of the most memorable scenes in Scandal, Tom (Brian Letscher) called Olivia (Kerry Washington) "Helen of Troy" — the beauty who started wars. But tonight we saw that Olivia could also end wars. And it wasn't pretty. Her White Hat is not only gone, but replaced with blood stains and the kind of résumé that makes her a promising candidate for B613. Yes: Tonight Olivia Pope committed murder.
Tom called her Helen as foreshadowing of the actual war that was started to save her. When Andrew (Jon Tenney), the former Vice President, was ready to get out from under the shadows of President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), he went for his Achilles heel — Olivia. He hired people to kidnap Liv and sell her, and as a result, Fitz declared war with West Angola.
Liv was saved, thanks to an old friend and former gladiator. And the war, like most of Fitz's actions, turned out to be useless after all. The regular team of high-powered misfits were able to cover up everything that happened. Andrew was the only casualty. Huck (Guillermo Diaz) punished him in the violent way only a member of B613 could.
Meanwhile, Andrew is threatening to destroy everything...again. He is alive, awake, and has regained his voice. This time he went after Fitz's latest fling, the one who just so happens to be a journalist. She's getting the story of a lifetime — one that takes down three of the four candidates running for president.
The members of the coverup include Elizabeth North (Portia de Rossi), Liv, Fitz, David (Joshua Malina), Abby (Darby Stanchfield), Mellie (Bellamy Young), and Cyrus (Jeff Perry). While Mellie is the only nominee actively involved, Elizabeth, David, and Fitz are part of Susan Ross' (Artemis Pebdani) campaign, and Cyrus is part of the campaign for Vargas (Ricardo Chavira). The only nominee who wouldn't be tarnished by the scandal is the pseudo-Trump character, Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry). Talk about bleak political prospects.
Over the years we've watched the conspirators from tonight's episode do anything and everything to get Fitz elected and keep him in power. Now that the majority of the club are representing the next political generation, they have other interests to protect. This time, when Fitz decides to be the hero, they all jump at the chance for him to take the fall. Or, as they so eloquently put it, become the man they all wanted him to be. Except Abby.
Abby is the sole person whose life still revolves around Fitz in The White House. After years of Liv and Abby looking out for each other, Abby showed that the true loves of her life are her job and her power. In return, Liv showed the true loves of her life — her job and her power. Sorry, Fitz and Jake (Scott Foley), but you didn't make the cut.
Abby makes a deal with Andrew. He still gets to tell his story, but instead of mentioning Fitz and West Angola, he gives America the tale of a sordid affair between himself and Mellie. Mellie would lose any remaining chance at The White House, and Fitz would keep his legacy unblemished. Sometimes the student beats the teacher, but this was not one of those times.
Liv talks to Andrew, but her normal calm and controlled demeanor doesn't last. Alone in a room with the man responsible for her being kidnapped for weeks, auctioned off to the highest bidder, and locked in a tiny room fearing for her life, Liv breaks. She grabs a chair and attacks Andrew, hitting him in between flashbacks of her time locked up.
She sits on the floor seeming powerless, until Fitz and Abby walk into the room. After a moment of vulnerability with Fitz, Liv returns to her normal self. This time Liv declared war — on anyone who dared to cross her, including Abby. Andrew's dead body is both collateral damage and proof she meant business. She walks out of the room to the car where Quinn and Huck are waiting for her with a change of clothes. Ladies and gentlemen, this wasn't some spur-of-the-moment loss of control. Liv went to The White House to kill Andrew. Her PTSD from the kidnapping was 100% a factor, but on some level, I think she always knew what would happen before she left the room. She knew that she'd come out with blood on her hands and her clothes. Naturally, afterwards she went to the place that feels most at home to her now — her father's house.
Are we supposed to accept Olivia Pope, murderer? Are we supposed to be OK with the lines that she's crossing? The murder seemed like a moment of panic, of loss, of anger, of revenge, which makes sense — we always knew that Liv had a big, vulnerable heart under those expensive coats. But we can't pretend it won't change her. While I'm glad she didn't send Huck to do her dirty deeds, who will Liv's character be now? In some tellings, Helen of Troy didn't have a happy ending. That might be out of the cards for Liv now, too.

More from TV

R29 Original Series