Catch up on Scandal S5 Ep. 10 It’s Hard Out Here for a General


L.T. Milroy

Scandal is back, bitches Gladiators!

Six months have passed since the winter finale and much has changed in Scandalverse. After that epic fight, Olivia and Fitz are no more, living separately and not even on speaking terms. They both throw themselves into their work to deal with the traumatic breakup, with Fitz, of course, requiring a bit more outside help. He’s always been a high maintenance kind of guy.

The theme this week is power. Who has it, who wants it, blah blah blah. This is DC, so obviously, lots of people have it to varying degrees, and everyone always wants more. At least according to Papa Pope, and also Sally Langston, the episode’s Shakespearean narrator. The love of and quest for power is a constant undercurrent that often bubbles to the surface.

Let the season’s second half begin!

Case of the Week. The pace is set by Olivia Pope and Associates’ latest case. Liv is hired by Air Force Lieutenant General Diane Peters, who is the first female director of the National Security Agency. She’s the victim of a computer hack, something called a rootkit, which enabled someone to copy hundreds of documents off her home computer. Some of them concerned the super-secret program to spy on other countries called Project Mercury.

Her first mistake was having those sensitive documents on her home computer in the first place, since it’s against agency policy. Her second mistake appeared to be her choice of a boyfriend. When OPA determines that the hack must have been installed directly into the computer, Diane’s live-in, William Torrance, falls under suspicion. Not only does he develop computer programs for a living, he’s the only one who had been inside the house. He also didn’t show up at work today and isn’t answering his cell phone. Diane can’t believe he’d betray her. She’s a military lifer and a thorough professional and had him rigorously vetted. He passed. She refuses to believe he’s guilty.

Dinner with Pa. Liv is glad to have a case to focus on in the wake of all her newfound spare time, since breaking up with Fitz and no longer being a ‘first lady’ and having her every move accounted for. She’s spending that time in some weird ways, though. As the episode opens, we learn much of what’s been going on in the past six months. For one thing, Liv is out dining with Pa and they’re joshing around like old buds. You’d never know they’ve hated each other and planned to do away with one another countless times over the run of the show. Pa chides her for giving up access to the Oval Office and all its power. Liv tries to brush that off and asks him why Jake is staying at his house. Wow, six months later and Jake is still shacking up with Pa. I can’t even imagine the conversations that have taken place in that house.

Liv gives the impression she’s annoyed with Jake and hasn’t seen him, but when she goes home, he’s waiting by her door. She tells him to leave, and they stare each other down a bit before she jumps into his arms. Then they go inside and have a strange sex session, including a moment where she pushes him in the face in true talk-to-the-hand fashion. He also goes down on her…for about three seconds. Come on Jake, anything worth doing is worth doing right. They obviously get quite a workout, as when Huck shows up to inform Liv about their new client, Jake is shirtless and sweaty and chugging water. Eww.

It’s not the only Olake romp we’re subjected to. Later, they’re lying in bed, spent, but this time Liv is the one gulping desperately on a water bottle. And she won’t share with him. Hee. Sure, she’ll have dehydrating sex with him, but one has to draw the line somewhere.

Grant and Ballard, together again. Jake has been busy with lots of different relationships lately. Hard as it may be to believe, even after all they’ve been through, he and the prez just can’t stay away from each other. Fitz summons Jake to the White House and tells him about Diane and her skanky spy/whistleblower BF Billy and how Project Mercury has been compromised. Jake says a hacking like this could only come from the inside. Fitz tells Jake he still trusts him, even after all that happened between them and Liv. Then he asks if he ever sees Liv, and Jake hesitates a bit before lying and saying no. Fitz says he hasn’t seen her, either, but appears to be telling the truth. Then Fitz asks if he’ll find Billy and shut him up, and Jake accepts the assignment.

Of course, OPA is trying to find Billy for its client, Diane. Liv finds out what the White House already knows, which is that Billy called the Post to try to sell them the Project Mercury secrets. It seems to pretty much cement his guilt, though Diane still doesn’t want to believe it. She knows Liv knows the president and asks if she can speak to him about the situation. Liv tries to put her off.

Nasty bedfellows. Huck traces Billy’s cell phone, and Quinn and Marcus rush to the location. When they get the house, the place is empty and it looks like Billy ditched his phone there to throw everyone off the track. ‘Everyone’ includes Jake, who apparently also tracked the phone down. He pops up when the Gladiators are poking around the house. It’s a jarring way for OPA to find out that Jake is seeking their quarry, too, at the president’s request.

Liv is obviously upset about it and has a showdown with Jake. He says he’s on the side of the president, and she’s on the side of an idiot who let a traitor to the country move into her home. He has no qualms about what he’s doing. And since he doesn’t respect her client, he says, he and Liv can’t work together to find Billy.

Liv goes to see Diane, who’s now under investigation by the inspector general. She seems to finally accept that the still-missing Billy is guilty. She’s worried for her career and knows that if she’s fired, not only will it be a setback for her, but her bad judgment will be used against all women. Qualified women will be shut out of consideration for the job for a generation or more.

The Fitz and Abby story. Meanwhile, there’s been a subplot that will soon dovetail with the main one, concerning the newly single Fitz. Now that Liv and Mellie have both moved out, and he doesn’t trust Cyrus like he used to, the prez is a lonely guy. He needs someone to fill the hole in his life, and the lucky person is press secretary Abby.

With no one around to nag him about getting his rest, Fitz is up all hours these days. In fact, there’s no one around to talk to about anything, so he decides Abby is his new bestie. She has become the recipient of middle of the night phone calls about nothing in particular, as Fitz just wants to chat, and a sleepy Abby must listen respectfully.

Cy is well aware that Abby is receiving all of Fitz’s presidential attention. He knows what a handful a morose Fitz can be, and he’s concerned Abby might not be up to the job of being his work wife. He calls Liv to say he’s still an outsider in the administration and seeks reassurance that Red can keep a demanding and lonely commander in chief content. Liv tells him she can, but adds cryptically that before Cy gives up the power of the Oval, he should be sure.

Abby does a good job as Fitz’s work wife, but it’s exhausting her. She’s taken to sleeping with one eye open and her phone on her belly, as she knows that a post-midnight call from the White House is always pretty much a given. She complains to Cy that she can’t function on three hours of sleep a night. He tells her she’s Fitz’s new wife. It’s not Liv anymore, or Mellie, or him, it’s Abby, and she needs to find her way in this marriage.

Abby gets away long enough to pay Liv a visit. They sit and drink and complain about Fitz. Abby says because of him, she has no life. Liv says she wants to call him on behalf of her client, but she doesn’t want to ask for a favor. Abby thinks it’s because Liv is afraid that if she talks to Fitz, she’ll get sucked back into her old life. Liv can’t argue with that.

Red is no pet. Abby finally reaches a breaking point. Tired, literally, of being woken up in the middle of the night to chat about nothing, she answers Fitz’s latest call by showing up in person in the Oval. She tells him she’s busy enough during the day with her many press secretary duties, she needs a few hours of rest at night and can no longer serve as his companion animal. So I guess she’s found her way in this marriage.

And Liv finally gets frustrated enough with Diane’s case that she calls Fitz. She doesn’t have his private number anymore and has to go through his secretary, who puts her on hold before telling her the president is unavailable.

Liv on the outside. Quinn is doing better than Liv in the relationship department, as it looks like she and Charlie are a cute couple again. He even gives her some inspiration on the case, and Quinn decides to track down the voice mail Billy supposedly left when he called the Post.

While she’s out digging, Liv is with Diane, for whom things keep getting worse. Fitz has asked for her resignation. Liv says she’ll do her best to help Diane ‘transition’ back into civilian life. But that’s not the kind of talk Liv was hired for. Diane asks again if Liv can get her a meeting with the president, and Liv hems and haws for a bit, long enough for Diane to finally get the message that Liv is far from being the insider she formerly was. OPA was hired on the basis of Liv’s access to the White House, which she no longer has. Too bad for Diane she’s only finding this out now. Her sources are better than Liv’s, as she knows that Fitz has already picked a new NSA director. She doesn’t know his name, but it’s someone long known to Fitz who has been around DC a long time.

Liv calls Abby, who confirms that Fitz is just about to publicly announce his pick. There won’t be any problems this time, says Abby, as the new director is an insider who will definitely pass muster with the vetting process.

At the same time, Quinn’s efforts pay off. She calls Liv to tell her that the voice on the message left at the Post wasn’t Billy. Someone set him up. As Liv gets this news, she watches as Fitz informs the press of his nomination for new director of the NSA, and, surprise! It’s Jake. Insider, indeed.

Liv puts everything together and sends Quinn and Marcus back to the house where Billy’s cell phone was found. They find Billy in the freezer. Jake had apparently done away with him right before OPA arrived the last time.

Jake the snake. That night, Liv goes to Pa’s house, where Jake is calmly eating dinner. Huh? The brand new NSA director is sitting at a dining room table by himself at Pa’s? There’s not even a place set for Pa and no TV or Internet or radio on. Just the new director eating dinner alone in an empty room in silence. Weirdness.

Liv accuses Jake of a mad power grab, not to mention killing Billy and ruining Diane’s life, but he stays calm and says he did it for national security reasons. Pa says the world is safer with Jake in charge of security and adds that neither of them has any use for those two losers, Diane and Billy. They were weak and stupid, and the country is better off with them out of the way and Jake running things. Or will Pa really be running things? Jake appears to pretty much have sold his soul.

Then we get a patented Papa Pope speech, this one about how Liv should learn from this experience exactly what her life lacks, which he says, of course, is power. She can’t fool herself for very long and keep pretending she doesn’t miss it. She once had free access to the Oval and the president’s ear, and she can keep lying to herself and say she’s happier now, but she knows that’s a lie. He knows her, he says, and urges her to get back in the game and get some real power for herself.

Pa also at one point says he knows his daughter as well as he knows his son, and motions toward Jake. So he considers Jake his son. Does Pa know what his kids were doing earlier that caused them to be chugging all of that water? Eww, Scandal. Seriously, think these things through better.

Liv leaves a bit stunned, but it doesn’t take her long to take his advice.

The birth of Molivia? Early in the episode, Mellie paid an unexpected visit to Liv’s office. Mellie, the junior senator from Virginia, is busy carving out her own political career apart from Fitz and is currently riding the high of her recent successful filibuster. She comes bearing a manuscript, a book she’s written about herself. She has full intentions of running for president, and wants to get all of the dicey stuff from her past out in the open before she does so. She wants Liv to read it and give her opinion. She cheerily adds that she also wants Liv to run her campaign. Liv doesn’t want to do either, so Mel tells her to think over the campaign thing and rushes out before Liv can give the manuscript back.

At that point, Liv obviously intended to blow Mellie off. But after all that happened, by episode’s end Mellie was back in Liv’s office. Liv tells her she read the book, and it was boring. It was clear it was just to pave the way for a presidential run, which is not what people want to read. The book that will sell is the one that’s honest about what Mel has been through in her life. It won’t be an easy book to write, Liv says, but people will read it, and it will help make her president.

Mel smiles and says she wants to write that book. Liv tells her they’ll get started tomorrow.

So it looks like Liv is taking Pa’s advice and figuring out her way back to power. She doesn’t want to take the easy route, via Fitz, and neither does Mellie, coincidentally. They both want to find their own way to getting what they want, so they do have this weird alliance going. It’s just that if Mel is going to write about all the senationalist stuff in her past, doesn’t much of it involve Liv? These literary sessions should be a lot of fun.

Whatever could lie ahead? Here’s a preview of next week’s episode, 05.11 “The Candidate” –

Mellie seeks out Olivia’s help, but may not be prepared for what that entails, and Liz tries to convince Susan Ross to run for the presidency. Abby and Cyrus are at odds when a profile piece on Fitz comes into question.

Susan, Lizzie and David were all MIA this week, but it looks like they return next week in a big way! From what we’ve seen so far, it will take quite a bit of persuasion to convince Susan she has the constitution to run for president. How long before Susie finds out about Liz and Davey’s nasty closet sex, and what will her reaction be? So many questions…

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