Catch up on Scandal S5 Ep. 11 The Candidate


L.T. Milroy


Things are getting real around Scandalverse, which is actually starting to resemble reality these days. Imagine that, after all this time.

Specifically, Fitzgerald Grant, a two-term president, is nearing the second of those terms. He’s fighting lame duck malaise and being forced to do so on his own, with his wife and mistress both gone, still not quite trusting Cyrus, and being told to back off by Abby last week. For him, the whole thing is basically like a big midlife crisis.

While Fitz contemplates his political mortality, Washington is abuzz around him as election season is in full swing. The Iowa caucuses are six months away, so they’re a bit behind us in Scandaltime, but the goings on very much mirror reality. Pols everywhere are realizing their ambitions, some with a helpful shove from advisors with less than altruistic intentions.

The title of this week’s episode is “The Candidate,” but which one is it referring to? Everyone is a candidate these days, or at least a potential candidate in someone’s eyes. Not everyone in DC wants to be president, but everybody at least wants to bask in the glow of that power, maybe be kingmakers themselves. All it requires is finding a candidate to back, and since you can’t walk two feet in this show’s Washington without tripping over one, that’s not a difficult task. It also likely reflects reality to a large extent, too.

Everyone in the world of Scandal is jockeying for position, finding a horse to back, and getting ready to ride to the finish line. Saddle up!

A couple of chicks writing a book. Yes, Molivia is on, big time. Mellie wants to write that book about herself that will capture the attention and affections of the American people, thus paving the way for her presidential run, and Olivia is there to help her.

When we first see them, Mel is anxious to get started, but the two are still holding each other at a distance, which is certainly understandable. Liv has read the book and asks Mel why she stayed with Fitz, even after discovering he had a mistress. The chapter addressing that question is missing, and Liv wants to know why, since that’s the chapter people will most want to read. Why would anyone bother with the book when the matter they most want to know about isn’t discussed?

Mel is annoyed Liv brought up the issue. She says why she stayed with Fitz is unimportant, but Liv says everyone will be asking. Mel says it’s no one’s business, but then after thinking about it she says she’s not sure why she stayed. “Why did you go?” she asks Liv. These are questions neither of them can answer right now, but they’ll be asking them for the rest of the episode.

White hat, off. The show lost the last of its white hat brigade, as David officially joined the dark side this week. With some encouragement from Lizzie, of course.

Early in the episode Liz, the chief of staff for VP Susan Ross, gives Susan some poll numbers that show how popular she is. If she were to run for president, Liz says, she’d get wide support. Susan has been a DC anomaly in that she has never been shown to be ambitious, but for the first time seems to take the suggestion to seek the presidency seriously, though she tells Liz no.

Liz senses a crack in Susan’s resolve and drops by to see Attorney General David. He assumes she’s there for a romp and even accommodates by getting down on all fours for her. My, these two are a bizarre couple. But this visit is all business. She asks David to try to convince Susan to run for president. He says it’s not worth the effort, because she’s not interested, but Liz gets frustrated and says it’s not about Susan, it’s about her. She wants Susan to run, and if David doesn’t help ‘encourage’ the veep, there will be no more nasty closet sex for him.

Surprisingly, that’s all the incentive Davey needs to do something that seems out of character for him. He drops by Susan’s office and awkwardly asks for a date. When he finds out she’s never been to that DC landmark Gettysburger, he whisks her away. David has been such a holdout for doing the right thing it’s kind of shocking how quickly he folds here, but the VP and AG are about to close down a fast food joint.

Molivia: It’s better than therapy. While David is busy sullying his white hat, Mel and Liv are at OPA, having an intense literary session. Mel finally says she was devastated by Liv’s affair with Fitz, but she rationalized that it was just a phase for him, and their marriage could survive a phase. Liv doesn’t buy that, which ticks Mel off, so she makes it personal. She says Liv’s relationship with Fitz had nothing on their marriage. They were together for twenty-three years. She was a permanent part of Fitz’s life, while Liv was just a plaything. She was merely a blip on his radar. And it seems Mellie also knows all about the house in Vermont and those jam-making plans. She scoffs at how meaningless all of that is and stalks out.

Round one goes to the junior senator from Virginia.

Guess who’s coming for dessert. That night, Liv is home brooding when there’s a knock at her door. It’s Jake, but instead of telling him to leave, she wordlessly lets him in. The silence continues as they head for the bedroom, undressing as they go. So, they’re having hate sex now? Not sure what else to call it. Afterward, as he’s dressing to go (no afterglow in this skanky relationship), he tells her he’s glad she got past her “issues” with him. Ugh.

I would say Liv can do so much better, but she probably remembers the last time she decided to pick up some booty. He turned out to be a plant by Papa Pope, and she ended up holding a gun to his head demanding information. So I guess she figures at least she knows what to expect from hate sex with Jake. But still, it’s creepy.

The outsider. That’s all we’ll see of Jake this week. Cyrus is another matter.

Cy is still uncomfortable with his new role as a virtual outsider. Taken back but no longer trusted by Fitz, Cy is out of the inner circle and trying to find his way. The impending end of the Grant administration doesn’t help, as it’s a big deadline staring Cy in the face. He tries to do something about it by going to Fitz and telling him there’s still time to get things done. They have a year left, and just because they’re lame ducks that doesn’t mean they have to waddle to the finish line. Fitz, whose ass is parked on the couch most of the time these days, is uninterested.

And the prez still isn’t listening to his chief of staff. Abby tells Fitz that Lillian Forrester, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, wants to do an interview with him. Cy tells him it’s a bad idea, but Fitz has an eye on shaping his legacy, thinks the interview might help with that, and agrees to it. Just one more small indignity heaped on poor Cy.

But of course, he’s been around Washington long enough to always be planning his next move. That night, Cy spies Mellie in a bar and sits with her. Mel is drowning her sorrows after another tough session with Liv. She says they’ll never get rid of Liv and Fitz, and they’ll always be part of their lives. Mel is depressed, and Cy starts kissing her ass and talking her up. Shamelessly. It’s so transparent that Mel stops him and says she’s already found someone to run her campaign. Cy seems a little shocked that she shut him down so quickly.

Honesty in a jar. That episode leads a hammered Mel to show up at Liv’s place. As if the bar wasn’t enough, she’s carrying a jar of that moonshine she had hidden at the White House. With liquor comes honesty with Mel, and she tells Liv she stayed with Fitz, because their triangle was working. When Fitz became obsessed with Liv, it gave Mel free time to think and plan. She allowed the affair to continue, because it allowed her prepare to run for senator and now, president. It’s time for the big payoff she deserves for looking the other way.

Liv listens patiently, and then tells Mel that while it’s honest, she can’t tell anyone any of that. Mel says she knows, and that’s the problem. Then they sit on the couch and gulp from the jar.

She’s no Mary Sue. The opposite of honesty is across town scarfing down fast food. David is alone with Susan at Gettysburger. She still can’t believe that as VP, she can walk into a place with a couple of secret service agents and have it shut down. David listens to a bit of this talk but wastes no time trying to get his nefarious work done and starts telling her what an amazing president she’d be.

But Susie is no fool. She knows why she was chosen for VP. Because Mellie finds her unthreatening. Mel didn’t want to deal with a veep she might have to fight for the presidential nomination, and she has never considered Susan a threat to her ambitions. Susan knows the deal, she says, and it’s fine with her.

David listens intently, and when she asks why she would ever want to put herself and her daughter through the arduous process of running for president, he interrupts by leaning over and kissing her. It looks like maybe she has won him over, and he’ll back off, but then he tells her she could win. Ugh, David. You disappoint me. But I guess not disappointing Liz is the only thing you care about.

Hooch, truth and laptops. Back at Liv’s, Mel and Liv have taken to the floor while passing Mellie’s moonshine back and forth. More truth comes out. Mel says she looked the other way during the affair, because Liv was a great mistress, and Fitz would have never been elected without her help. She was too useful to get all that upset about. Liv admits she liked the flexibility being a mistress allowed her, because she could take what she wanted and didn’t have to go all in. Mel kept Fitz unavailable. It looks like they each appreciated the other’s role in the whole thing.

Then Liv says she left for the same reason Mel stayed. She was scared. She tells Mel that’s what she should write. She stayed in a bad marriage because she was scared, but she finally realizes she had the power all along, and now she’s finally exercising it. Liv tells her to write all of this down immediately, and Mel scurries for her laptop.

At one point they require more hooch, and Mel crawls to her purse to retrieve it. Being on the floor on all fours, for various reasons, appears to be a theme this week.

Later, Liv reads what Mel wrote and thinks it’s perfect for the book. But about that book…it will just take too long to get it published and out to the public. This is election season, and time is of the essence. They can’t wait the six months or more it’s going to take to get a book in stores. The book, or at least part of it, must come out now, so they can get the jump on everyone.

Liv decides a ‘leak’ to the Internet might not be so unfortunate. A website somehow gets possession of a couple of chapters and runs them. It’s the talk of Washington.

It should be mentioned that Stevie Wonder’s Master Blaster is playing during this scene. Remember when Scandal regularly scored scenes with great old soul tunes? I miss that.

Two black hats. It turns out David was swayed by Susan’s sincerity. He calls Liz to his office and tells her he’s out. Susan is a good person, and he refuses to mess with her. He calls her a political unicorn. A politician unsullied by greed and ambition, and he won’t be the one to sully her. He’s out.

Not so fast, Davey. Liz smiles and says Susan filed the paperwork. She’s at least going to explore a run for president, so whatever David said to her, it worked. Poor David is at a crossroad, but not for long. Liz unbuttons her blouse, gets very close to him and whispers, “Let’s make a president together.” Then they kiss like a couple of hungry carp. Looks like David is back in.

Planning for the future. By this point in the episode, Cyrus has been humiliated by just about everybody. He lost a disagreement to Abby in front of Fitz, he’s stuck in a lame duck administration with a president who no longer trusts or confides in him, and his desperate bid to run Mel’s presidential campaign was shot down. The status of his future seems to be in grave doubt.

He appears at the end of his rope when he wakes Fitz up in the middle of the night. He says his cousin has died, and he must leave immediately. A groggy Fitz gives his sympathy and tells him to go be with his family. Cy says goodbye, and there’s something about the way he says it that seems final. Like he’s not just leaving for a couple of days but much longer. He could even be suicidal.

But if Cy has proved nothing else over the last four-plus seasons, it’s that he’s a survivor. He had somewhere to go, but it’s not a funeral. Quite the opposite. When we next see him, he’s in a basement somewhere in Pennsylvania, watching a politician at a town hall-type meeting. The guy is a pretty inspiring speaker, and Cy is watching him like a starving man gazing at a delicious feast. We don’t even learn his name, but he keeps talking about Pennsylvania, so he’s obviously running for some state office, not for president. It’s also obvious that Cy will be having a talk with him about that in the near future.

So we’re witnessing the rebirth of Cy, the kingmaker. He really was saying goodbye to Fitz. He’s giving up his last year of access to the Oval Office in a gamble to get four, maybe eight, more. I imagine he and PA pol will be having a very interesting conversation next week, as Cy tries to convince him he’s presidential material. I sure hope we get to see that conversation and it doesn’t take place off camera. It has great potential.

No comment. No, actually, I will comment. There was also a side plot that was silly and anger inspiring. It concerns that interview Cy didn’t want Fitz to do.

The interviewer is a supposed professional, Pulitzer and all that. She at first seems to be all business and isn’t intimidated when Cy and Abby try to lay down some parameters for the interview. When Fitz unexpectedly drops by and does the same, she’s still not intimidated. She tells him that she won’t work from a script. Either she does an honest interview where she asks the questions she wants, or she won’t do an interview at all. Fitz seems to appreciate her resolve and agrees to her terms.

Once the interview commences, however, all of her professionalism disappears. As Fitz answers her first question, about fifteen seconds in, Lillian abruptly turns off her recorder. She says she can’t go on, because she’s too distracted by him. She finds him attractive and has a huge crush on him. HUH?? I can’t even, with this. Even if that were the case, do your damn job and get an impartial interview, you hack. Hard to believe this episode was written and directed by women, because they certainly do female journalists no favor here.

And it gets worse. Fitz doesn’t get upset at or frustrated with the lack of professionalism. He’s flattered by it. It’s not a problem that she can’t put her libido aside long enough to do her job. Would she instead like to go out on a date with him? She accepts.

  1. can’t. even.

Stay away from your kid, you maniac. There was also a trifle about Huck and Marcus. Huck still thinks Marcus is too normal and won’t accept him as a real Gladiator and isn’t shy about showing it. Meh. We learn that Huck’s ex and kid have moved, presumably to get away from him. He’s been watching his son’s soccer games on his computer at the office. When Marcus catches him, Huck laments about how he never gets to see his kid, and Marcus tells him he should do so. Shut up Marcus, you have no idea what you’re talking about. The best thing Huck can do is leave his family alone. It’s hard to imagine a worse role model. If he really loves that kid, he’ll stay far away.

That’s where we stand after this week, with the political intrigue really starting to heat up in Scandalworld. Liv and Mel are really getting along, and after they finish the book, there’s a presidential campaign to run. Those two are getting way too close. Are they the first major Washington lesbian power couple in the making? And what of Cy and the candidate he’s chosen to back? I’m sure we’ll be learning all about the mystery man from PA. How will Dizzie go about getting Susan ready for a presidential run? And what will become of poor Abby? She’s stuck back at the White House with a lazy president who’s content to ride out the final year of his term doing a whole lot of nuthin’. Other than bone reporters, of course. I assume she’ll have to deal with that. Poor Abby.

Here’s a preview of 05.12, “Wild Card” –

While Fitz is preoccupied with his own interests, Cyrus begins to orchestrate his next master plan, and Elizabeth uses David to mastermind a plan of her own; Olivia continues to question what exactly Jake is planning in his new role as head of the NSA.

I hope that last part doesn’t mean more B613 stuff. This week was free of that nonsense, and of Papa Pope, and none of it was missed. More politics and Gladiatorism, less B613 tripe, okay show? Agreed??

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