Scandal Season 5 Episode 16 recap

Hands up if you only really woke up when Mellie read Mean Tweets about herself. That woman is a ray of sunshine, and if Marcus’s only purpose on this show is to get her out of her head and onto the Jimmy Kimmel stage, then he has fulfilled his destiny. Because let’s be honest, he doesn’t actually have one at Pope & Associates, and everyone knows it. Mostly because everyone back ‘home’ is trying to keep Olivia from going off the rails. 

Now, a confession: I’ve always thought Olivia was going to go off the rails. I have always assumed that the end of this series would be about Olivia fully losing touch with reality, running her ‘business’ for clients that mostly didn’t exist but occasionally being right about what to do, like a stopped clock. I don’t have a lot to base this on, except—look at Papa Pope. His bellowing oddness may already be a break with the strictest interpretation of reality, so why shouldn’t Olivia follow in his footsteps?

The process will be slowed down, of course, by the human beings who are surrounding her, trying to get her to be a reasonable person who doesn’t ‘fight dirty’. I want you to look at your knowledge of this show and remember that there are people on this show who remove teeth from others for sport, and those who smother Supreme Court Justices, and they are the sane ones here, telling Olivia she’s gone too far, trying to get a convicted man to reveal his parentage to take down the largely unassailable Susan Ross.

For what? Like, I get it, she wants to win. But what makes her so hell-bent on getting Mellie Grant into office that she has to resort to these tactics so early? It’s still the primary, and Mellie is doing relatively well. No doubt she’d be doing better if she had her actual campaign manager by her side, but Olivia is distracted by…

By what? Not by other OPA work, because there sure as hell isn’t any. Not by anything supposedly noble—she agrees that everything she’s doing, like selling out her old lover, is dirty and below-the-board—and not even, this week, by Jake.

I have to say that while the whole ‘what is Jake up to’ plot is endless (last week while we were on Good Friday hiatus, we learned Vanessa had to surrender her bank records to him before they could date, which isn’t NSA standard), Scott Foley is enjoying the hell out of himself. He also directed this episode so it makes sense that he’s not in it much,  but if you gave someone the direction ‘try to be menacing AND innocent while eating fried chicken’, WHICH IS ABSURD AND DELIGHTFUL, he would be doing a good job. Sometimes I forget, as we all do, that even though Scandal has ups and downs, that this is a show in which ‘Yum Yum, crispy piggy’ was uttered in earnest. The macabre absurd is funny, and we take it for granted.

But it’s supposed to be the decoration on some white-hat nobility, and I don’t think anyone feels that from Olivia, nor cares to feel it from Fitz (ugh, Fitz). Which leaves us with the purported ‘hero’ of the episode, Susan Ross, who is way too reasonable to be associating with all these people, and who at least has enough sense to reduce David Rosen to a prop and to tell him so. But Susan is a problem because she is a reluctant runner in this race. She’s not hungry for it, and even the ‘dirt’ we unearthed about her is pretty pedestrian…so she’s not scared either. I’m not feeling passion from Susan yet, even if she can shut down a debate.

So what? So, we wind up not caring about anyone but Mellie, the fact that her campaign manager is becoming legit nuts notwithstanding. As for Vargas’ brother…we will see him again, I’m sure, and I hope he will work on his ‘I’m an evil villain’ skills in order to actually be a problem for Olivia later, because she needs something…soon.