Scandal “Paris is Burning” Review (Season 5, Episode 3)

Scandal "Paris is Burning" Season 5 Episode 3 (1)

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: we are all free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices. That was a lesson Olivia learned the hard way in this week’s Scandal. Usually, before I write a review, I watch whatever I’m reviewing twice. The first time is just so I can enjoy it. The second time is to watch critically so I can write about it. This time, I didn’t do that because I didn’t have to.

Very rarely have I disliked the heroine of a story more than I disliked Olivia in this episode. Olivia has never been a saint. No one on this show has. But even though she’s flawed, Olivia has never been unlikeable. That wasn’t the case in this episode. Maybe it’s just me, but I found myself really annoyed with her. She destroyed lives and careers without consulting any of the other people involved in the situation. When Fitz asked her a few days earlier to go public, she refused. She said she wanted to “fix them first.” So Fitz respected her wishes, swallowed his pride, and did what he had to do. Then, a few hours later, Olivia changed her mind. But did she consult Fitz (or anyone else for that matter) about her desire to go public? Nope. She just unilaterally decided it was time to go public and she did. You just don’t get to make those kinds of decisions for other people without consulting them first. Now not only has she made Fitz into a joke, she’s taken away any opportunity he had to get good legislation pushed through before he leaves office. She’s also killed Pope and Associates. No one is going to take her or her firm seriously again either, so Quinn and Huck are out of a job too. And let’s not forget, she’s forced Abby to stand at the press podium and call her best friend a whore. Nothing about what Olivia did was a good thing. She’s been destroying what was left of Fitz and Mellie’s marriage for years, but now she’s caused even more damage. And for what? The truth? Olivia didn’t admit to being Fitz’s mistress because she’s determined to have the truth out. No. She did what she did out of selfishness. She decided that she was tired of waiting, so she forced everyone’s hand. And quite frankly, I’m wondering how exactly Olivia figured the situation would work out. Did she expect all unicorns and rainbows? I was just left scratching my head as to why someone as savvy as Olivia would create that kind of frenzy around herself. Especially when she’s spent the last several days running away from all of that. Then I just had to roll my eyes when she demanded that Fitz sit down and watch her choose him. She wasn’t choosing him. They were out of options, and that was the only play left. The only choice in that scenario is whiskey or vodka.

I think what bothers me the most about Olivia’s choice is she was still trying to control the consequences. She was still trying to make sure she wasn’t painted in a bad light. She was still trying to figure out how to have her cake and eat it too. After she realized what a colossal mistake she’d made, she wanted Fitz to help her take it back. But what’s done is done and there is no going back. The truth of the matter is, Olivia never fully considered the consequences of the choice she made. Everything she’s worked for is gone. Any kind of respect she’d earned is wiped out behind whispers and innuendo. Olivia doesn’t have a life any more, and what’s worse is she doesn’t have a choice anymore. Everything she does going forward is going to be carefully and thoroughly scrutinized. She’s going to be talked about and picked apart. She doesn’t get to have an opinion on anything. She doesn’t get to talk about anything more substantial than plate decorations and Christmas tree ornaments. Intentionally or not, she’s consigned herself to the same gilded cage that has trapped Mellie for so long. And just like it suffocated Mellie, it’s going to suffocate her.

Mellie was angry and hurt about the whole situation, and I can’t say I blame her. I’m gonna feel dirty saying this, but I actually sympathized with Mellie just a little bit. She has sacrificed a whole lot in order for Fitz to get where he is. She gave up a successful legal career. She put her dreams of governance on hold. She endured the humiliation of Fitz being unable to keep it in his pants. And most heartbreakingly, she suffered the loss of a child. Through all of that, Mellie has put on a brave face and kept on trucking because Fitz needed her to. I forgive her for that whole Smelly Mellie phase because c’mon. She was mourning her son. She gets a pass. But even then, when Fitz needed her at the State of the Union address, she figured out how to pull it together enough to be there for him. So I can understand her anger at Fitz abandoning ship just when her star is beginning to rise. It’s not even about love really. It’s about reciprocity. She did for him, so she expects him to do for her. I wasn’t actually surprised to see Cyrus come back to try to “help” Mellie because he’s been looking for a way back in ever since Fitz kicked him out. I am, however, surprised by Mellie allowing Cyrus to play her again. This is not the first time that we’ve seen Cyrus manipulate Mellie to achieve his own purposes. And it’s not like he even used a different tactic. It doesn’t make sense that Mellie is trusting Cyrus to be on her side when he’s made it plain he thinks of her as barely more than pond scum. That relationship isn’t going to go well, but it could be interesting to watch it implode.

This won’t go down as one of my favorite Scandal episodes, but one thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the music selection. This show always has fantastic music, but the song choices in this episode in particular were excellent. Give whoever is in charge of the music department a raise. It looks like Fitz has made an enemy of Cyrus, and I know for a fact that’s not going to end well. Cyrus is angry, he’s a monster, and he’s got nothing to lose. That makes him a very dangerous man. Fitz better watch his back. Jake seemed pretty anxious about the fact that the Louvre was burning. If he was anxious enough to go see Papa Pope, then whatever it means has got to be extremely serious. I’m intrigued. I’m trying to remain optimistic, but the show isn’t making it easy for me. These last two episodes haven’t done very much to boost my confidence, so I’m hoping things will get better from here. Fingers crossed. So what did y’all think of this week’s Scandal?