Can White Men Please Stop Telling Olivia Pope What To Do?

Photo: Scott Everett White/ABC.
If there's one character whose rise from the Scandal background has been surprising, it's Charlie (George Newbern). The sugar-loving hitman managed to worm his way into fans' hearts — despite the fact that he almost killed James at Cyrus' (Jeff Perry) request. Now, we're even supposed to root for Charlie and Quinn (Katie Lowes) to have a romantic end to their story, although Quinn's feelings for Huck (Guillermo Diaz) might get in the way of their engagement.
And while I love Charlie as much as the next person, I don't understand why he had to be the one to give Olivia (Kerry Washington) a pep talk in last night's episode, "Dead in the Water."
Ever since she killed Andrew (Jon Tenney), it's been clear that Olivia doesn't have a support system to help her, even though she desperately needs one. Her relationship with her former best friend, Abby (Darby Stanchfield), has been strained for months, if not years. And that was before Abby got involved with whatever Sarah's (Zoe Perry) sinister organization is. Quinn is too close to the situation to talk to Olivia about finding Huck. That leaves...honorary gladiator Charlie.
It wasn't so bad that Charlie joined the OPA investigations this season. There are hardly any gladiators left, especially now that Marcus (Cornelius Smith Jr.) is working in the White House. But the conversation between him and Olivia just felt off. These two don't really know each other, and, honestly, Olivia really doesn't need another white man telling her what to do.
Charlie means well when he goes to Olivia. He does. He wants to find Huck, and telling Olivia to do "the whole Olivia Pope thing that you do" is well-intentioned. But it's uncomfortable that he has to call her a "mean" woman who's "stomping around" in order to get his point across.
"You can't just give up," Charlie tells Olivia. "You are a miracle worker... miracle workers don't get to quit."
Olivia finds Charlie's words reassuring, and returns to the conference room to inform everyone that they're going to find Huck.
What's most depressing about this scene is that Olivia already had a version of this conversation earlier in the episode, with Marcus. He reminded her that she helped him by making him a gladiator after his mayoral bid didn't pan out. Charlie also reminds Olivia of what she's done for him, but Marcus already said the same thing. Why is she moved to action by Charlie's words, and not Marcus'? If anyone gets to tell Olivia Pope to "fix this," it should be Marcus, not Charlie.
I get that the show wants to strengthen Olivia and Charlie's relationship now that Charlie's around more. But this conversation felt totally stilted — I just don't buy that he's the only person who could compel her to look for the missing gladiator. If this conversation really had to be with an outsider, why not the new FBI director, or even Mellie? We know the new director has a past with Olivia, and despite their differences, Olivia would be the bigger person and reach out to her to save Huck. And Olivia's helped Mellie just as much as she has Marcus and Charlie. He didn't need to be the one delivering the save-the-day speech.
This also isn't the first time this season where the show's white men have tried to manipulate women's feelings. The worst episode of season six so far was the fifth one, in which Jake (Scott Foley) refuses to tell his wife, Vanessa (Jessalyn Gilsig), making her feel desperate for asking extremely reasonable questions.
And in last night's episode, Fitz showed up at the hospital to ask Olivia if the OPA team needed anything — after they already found Huck on their own, without the help of him or his administration. Fitz even has the nerve to tell Olivia to forgive Abby, when that's not his call to make. At all.
Maybe it's not Marcus or Mellie. It's clearly not Abby. But Olivia desperately needs someone she can confide in, who can build her up in times like this. And that someone is not Charlie.

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