Scandal “Get Out of Jail, Free” Review (Season 5, Episode 6)

Scandal "Get Out of Jail, Free" Season 5 Episode 6 (2)

Stupidity isn’t a virus, but it sure seems to spread like one. That was pretty much the thought I kept having while watching this week’s Scandal. I don’t know whether it is a conscious effort on the part of the writers to make all of the characters just a little bit more stupid and unlikeable than usual, but I really wish they would stop.

I have been having a really hard time with Olivia thus far this season. She isn’t even a shadow of the Olivia Pope I’ve come to respect, and it’s difficult to even like this version of Olivia much less respect her. Although Olivia is definitely a flawed individual, I’ve always felt that for the most part she’s tried to do the right thing. She stands up for justice and truth whenever she can, and when she can’t she tries to help people accept their situation and make the most of it. Sometimes that is a dirty business and sometimes she has to resort to dirty methods to get it done, but at the end of the day, I still feel like she was trying to help people. Now, I don’t feel that way so much anymore. I don’t know whether the show is intentionally making Olivia less likeable and less of a white hat, but if it’s unintentional then they need to take a step back and re-evaluate the direction they’re taking this character.

I was pretty much done when Olivia went to Mellie for help getting Eli out of prison. Not only was that a particularly stupid move, but it was also one of the most selfish things Olivia has done. And that comes in a long line of recent stupid and selfish moves. Olivia knows better than most exactly what Eli is capable of. She knows the danger he presents not just to her but to a whole host of people. So her decision to try to get him out of prison just to keep from having to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee was extremely selfish. She could say it’s so that she wouldn’t have to lie or give the Committee enough rope with which to hang Fitz, and that is partially true. She doesn’t want to put Fitz’s presidency in any more jeopardy than it’s already in, but that’s not the primary issue. Olivia is tired of being hounded by the press. She’s afraid of the guilded cage she knows she’d have to live in for the rest of her life. She wants her old life back, and the easiest way to do that is to get the committee to back off. Eli knows that and he also knows Olivia. He knows that she would do just about anything to make this situation go away. A situation that she created, might I add. But to approach Mellie about getting Eli out was just ridiculous. Even worse was letting Mellie know that he was the one responsible for her son’s death. What was Olivia’s purpose in telling Mellie that? How did she think that was going to convince Mellie to help her? Or was Olivia just being cruel? Because that’s certainly what it felt like.

Olivia’s cruelty wasn’t limited to Mellie either. Olivia kept calling Jake because she wanted to talk to him about everything that was happening with Fitz, and she wanted Jake to help her figure out what to do. Um…what? It would be one thing if Olivia and Jake had been friends for a long time and they always talked about things like this. It would be one thing if Olivia didn’t know that Jake is in love with her. But neither of those things are the case. Olivia and Jake weren’t ever really friends so much as they were close acquaintances with benefits. Then on top of that, Jake told Olivia repeatedly that he’s in love with her. So for her to call a man who she knows is in love with her to whine about a situation with another man is not only classless, it’s just cruel. It doesn’t make sense that Olivia would be so shocked and hurt that Jake kept hanging up on her. What else do you expect in that type of situation? I know Jake isn’t everyone’s favorite person, but I’ve always felt like he would be good for Olivia if she would’ve given them half a chance. He very clearly loves her, and he’s put his life on the line more than once to save hers. But however you may feel about Jake, it doesn’t excuse Olivia’s heartlessness and insensitivity toward him.

Then there’s Fitz. Once again, I don’t know whether it was just bad writing or whether it was intentional, but Fitz is going back and forth so much I’m getting whiplash. It made me very happy when Fitz called Olivia out on the way she’s been treating him. For years Olivia has lamented the fact that Fitz will never choose her, and she’s seemed genuinely hurt by that fact. However, ever since Fitz kicked Mellie out, he’s done everything he knows to do to show her that he’s chosen her. He’s gone along with her outing herself as his mistress. He’s done everything he needs to do to divorce Mellie. He’s risked his presidency and his freedom for her because she said that’s what she wanted. So after he’s gone through all of that, he’s ready to propose to her, she tells him that “they’re not ready” to get married. When Fitz called her on the fact that it’s not “them” that’s not ready to get married, I felt like Fitz finally opened his eyes to the fact their relationship isn’t exactly a balanced one. Olivia wants everything, but she wants everything on her terms and that just not how relationships work. There’s give and take. You have to compromise. You have to sacrifice and you have to put the other person’s needs above your own. Olivia hasn’t done that with Fitz. She’s never done that with Fitz. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what Fitz does, it’s never going to be enough for Olivia and it’s never going to be the right time for Olivia. It’s true that sometimes we think we know what we want until we get it, but that’s not the case here. This is a case of Olivia realizing that if she goes through with marrying Fitz, she’ll never be able to go back to her own life. But this isn’t a realization she’s just now having. It’s a realization she had a long time ago, but she never thought Fitz would leave Mellie so she would never have to choose. I felt bad for Fitz when he seemed to realize that too, but my sympathy was short-lived.

This is where the whiplash part comes in. Fitz calling Olivia out was a great moment of clarity, but that moment was overshadowed by his subsequent conversation with Mellie. While negotiating their divorce agreement, Fitz made the snide comment that Mellie didn’t want anything else because she’s already taken everything from him. In what universe is that true, Fitz? When you look at the scales of who has given up what in Fitz and Mellie’s relationship, the scales definitely tilt more toward Mellie than they do toward Fitz. To be clear, Mellie is a horrible human being. That being said, if anyone has given up everything, it’s been Mellie. She gave up her legal career for Fitz. She gave up her freedom for Fitz. She gave up her dignity for Fitz. She gave up her life and her future for Fitz. Even though she may have been looking down the line and waiting for her turn in the Oval, the fact remains that in the here and now and for the past twenty years, she has sacrificed her life and her dreams so that Fitz can achieve his. So on balance, whatever Fitz has had to sacrifice doesn’t begin to compare with Mellie. For Fitz to even try to start that conversation made him sound like a petty, whiney brat.

In case you can’t tell, I had a hard time with this episode. Scandal is treading some very dangerous territory with the way they’re writing these characters. None of the main characters are likeable, and that’s not a good thing. They’re not even in the category of characters I love to hate. They’re just obnoxious. It doesn’t help that it looks like we’re about to get a resurgence of the B613 storyline either since I was so over that storyline last season. Eli Pope is an interesting character and Joe Morton does a phenomenal job with him, but I’m just not overly anxious for Scandal to get back into the spy game. What I’d really like is for Scandal to spend some time watching its previous seasons to remind themselves of who Olivia Pope is. It seems they’ve forgotten that even though she’s flawed, she’s supposed to be the white hat. It seems they’ve forgotten that even though she doesn’t always make the right decisions, she’s very rarely as selfish as she is now. It seems they’ve forgotten that even though Olivia’s life may be a mess, she is smart, compassionate, and someone to be respected. Basically, I’d like them to figure out how to bring Olivia Pope back and get rid of this second rate version of her.