Scandal Season 5 Episode 18 recap

I have decided that there are two ways to respond to and recap this episode, and so after careful consideration, I’m doing them both. Here we go…


At this point, who cares anymore? Okay, so Olivia is a pouty, mentally unstable teenager at home in her childhood bedroom, decorated in a way time forgot, with posters of Dead Poet’s Society and TLC (and Prince…I still can’t believe it), but also a Fisher Price tape recorder front and centre. Oh wait, no she’s not – it’s all an act. Okay, but how do we trust her anymore? Every time we see Olivia, or Jake in the present day, they’re ciphers. We’re not sure if we’re supposed to know them or whether they’re smarter than us, whether the secrets they have are real factors for us to consider (like the former Pete Harris’ home life, and the things that ultimately made him become Jake Ballard and B6-13), or just elaborately woven stories, like the ostensibly fatherly things Rowan says to Olivia. “You love Adams Morgan”, he tells her, like a father who knows, who loves his daughter. Like a person.

But what does it matter that Olivia is pulling one over on them when Rowan wins everything, every time? Olivia is all set with what she thinks is a perfect plan, and she gets outsmarted by the cartoonishly evil Rowan, who will slit his throat. No matter what Olivia does, Rowan will slit Jake’s throat. She can’t move, she has no recourse, because Rowan will slit Jake’s throat.

So what’s the point here? She’s tried to best him before and has failed, he reminds her of that often, she’s crushed by him and has no new plans, so what’s the point?

Furthermore, what’s the point of these huge ‘I don’t love you’ speeches? The drama and the unnecessarily vitriolic speech? We’ve just been told all episode that Olivia puts on these elaborate performances. That she can do that. So why should Jake even listen to the abuse, as though it will make it more real? Obviously she’s just repeating the patterns Rowan has taught her over the years, but who believes it any more? More importantly, who cares? Rowan is insurmountable, Olivia isn’t allowed to be happy. It’s felt the same since season 3. Why do we still care? Or is the not-so-secret-truth that we really, really don’t?

That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s the other:

Prodigal Children

Now we know. Now we know how Jake became Jake, why he’s so indebted to (or yoked to) Rowan, why he’s marrying the incredibly bland and boring Vanessa (and correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t she be younger? If he’s going to be the perfect Vice President shouldn’t there be the impending delightful possibility of Vice Children sometime soon?). 

But we also know where he came from, and more to the point, what he’s capable of. He killed his father. In case you didn’t get that, let me type it again.

He killed his father.

Get it? He’s the one. He’s the only one who can actually stop Rowan—combined, of course, with Olivia, his actual flesh and blood, who will have the ultimate connection that needs to be severed, like Harry Potter and Voldemort. Something she hasn’t been able to do in the past. The opportunity has come up at least once before, at the hands of some of Olivia’s henchmen, but now we know the truth.

Now that we’ve seen Olivia kill, and we’ve known Jake to kill, now we know the truth.

The only way to stop Rowan—and this episode proves, as if it needed more proving, that he needs to be stopped—is at the hands of his children, Olivia and Jake. While everyone else was praising the set design of Olivia’s room (and it’s amazing, no doubt) I kept thinking about how much Rowan would still love her if she would just be his little girl. If she would just not have grown up to be suspicious of him, he would still be the loving father she always knew. Eli of the Smithsonian.

Now Jake’s doing the same thing, or at least we know he has the potential to do so. To grow up, stop eating food ostentatiously, and stop the man who’s making him unhappy. He has the ability to do so. Olivia has the ability to do so. They have to do it, or else nobody gets to move forward and have a productive life of free will.

So…do they do it?

Those are my conflicting feelings. Obviously, I thought of one before the other, but I really want the second to be true. What about you…what do you think?