Scandal Season 3 Episode 16 recap

What? Is that too bold? Is it a bit harsh? Let’s remember that first of all, this episode was called “The Fluffer”. But secondly, this episode was really mostly about bad behavior, the people who get away with it, and the people who are proud of the fact that they’re dicks and kind of celebrate it.

It was an odd episode, full of far too little Cyrus and an attempt to make a whole thing out of Abby isn’t Olivia (never mind the whole “Gabby” non-joke) but if it’s in service of showing us how we’ve come to the place where you have to choose between them all, then fine, I can understand that.

Let’s start at the top:

Ways Olivia is a dick:
So Olivia’s single-minded obsession with the White House and the Fitz campaign is supplanted by her obsession with B6-13, to the point where she says she’s never going back to the White House. Except she does, moments later. I get that when you burn through story at this rate you have to construct some false houses to burn down for fun, but it makes Olivia seem stupid.

In fact, the more the show goes on, the stupider Olivia seems. The reason for this is actually kind of, well, if not smart, at least reasonable: Olivia is the character the audience identifies with. We want to be her, so we need to find things out at the rate she does but it’s less and less appealing because all of her supposed moxie and intelligence is for moot. Olivia spends a lot of time lying awake in the dark.

This episode, that got literal, and she slept with Jake to get access to his stuff. This is standard issue on any sort of espionage-y show, and I suppose it’s only drama because Jake has leftover feelings and Olivia doesn’t allow herself to.

She’s also a dick because she keeps engaging with Fitz at all. Sure, she yelled at him and called herself a fluffer, but she should just not tolerate him at all. Doing so only encourages him. More on this later.

There are, of course, many more ways in which Olivia is a dick but let’s focus on one that’s not her fault: it may be genetic. She’s the child of Rowan and Marie, and they’re both just atrocious, albeit in different ways. It’s not like she had any examples of how not to be.

And so she hates herself, at least, when she can figure out who she is and who she’s supposed to be. She can’t stand feeling out of control, feeling like she’s hurting the wrong people, feeling like she’s just missing the mark. 

So she continues to miss the mark and hurt the wrong people. I hate dumb Olivia.  I’m not saying she has to be all-knowing and all-seeing. But honestly, you’re gonna shut down B6-13, you don’t think there’s going to be some fallout? That it will be traced back to you? How is this in the same scope of your job as coaching Josie Marcus? With the same amount of people?

Please, start being the Olivia everyone used to be able to rely on…

Ways Fitz is a dick:
All of them. Do you need me to further enumerate?

Fine, here I go. He is utterly and completely contemptuous of anyone in his life who tells him anything he doesn’t want to hear. This is dickish but possibly acceptable in a professional context. I can argue that I dislike it when he rails on Cyrus or Olivia for pointing out the obvious, but at least there’s an arguable benefit. You don’t want the President of the United States to roll over without a fight.

However, when he yells at Mellie for continuing to exist, that’s when his dick territory starts to encroach on “horror show”. He has never stopped punishing her for not being Olivia, despite the fact that what she has always been is the wife of the POTUS – never once falling down on the job where it matters, never once letting her face crack in public. He doesn’t acknowledge this. Instead her continuing to exist is a thorn in his side, and her infidelity weighs more than his because…you tell me.   Because he has to know about it? Because he has to look at the guy? Because somehow Fitz believes he’s elevated above all things and all people and can do no wrong?

…There it is.

Ways Marie is a dick
I understand this character is here to agitate and annoy. To be the big bad. But while we’re all set to relish what she has to say about wine – “Hooray! She’s like Liv but BAD LIV!” – the scenery chewing makes it really, really difficult to take her seriously.   In fact, she’s a few moments of improv away from literally twirling her moustache.   Some of this is not her fault, seeing as the writing is full of “darling” and “dear” but honestly, if she could play anything other than smug satisfaction, I might be more intrigued and less worried that THE BOMB was going to turn out to be a giant red herring (as I thrum my fingers together, evilly).

Ways Jake is a dick
Jake is not a dick, and this is his problem. He would love to be the guy who just does what he does, no remorse, a little work on the rowing machine to slough it off, and on with his day. But that’s not him. He’s the guy crying outside the door of the woman who is moments away from f*cking him over. He haaates that he’s that guy.   He’s the guy who isn’t yet hard enough to just bark at them to take the shot at Marie.   He hates that he’s not that guy too. Jake is Command in name, but not in deed. It would be so good for him to be a dick, but he isn’t. Too bad.

Notable Non-dicks: 
Neither Quinn, whom I don’t love, nor Charlie are dicks. The trick here isn’t going to be getting Quinn back in Pope & Associates, which, duh. The trick is whether they can get Charlie to turn too, because see above where Command is not command-y enough to hold his interest. Right?