Scandal “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Review (Season 5, Episode 9)

Scandal Baby, It's Cold Outside

One of my favorite TV characters is Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series. In one of my favorite Star Trek episodes Spock said, “After a time, you may find that ‘having’ is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as ‘wanting.’ It is not logical, but it is often true.” That’s the thought that kept running through my head the entire time I was watching last night’s Scandal.

The walls closed in and crashed down around Olivia. Unsurprisingly, Olivia ran. I guess it was supposed to be a great moment of dramatic tension when Olivia and Fitz finally had the argument that’s been coming or a little while now. I guess it was supposed to be shocking that Olivia dumped Fitz. But the truth is, that was a forgone conclusion from the moment Olivia made her relationship with Fitz public. Mellie tried to warn Olivia over and over that being the FLOTUS was one of the most mind-numbing, thankless jobs ever. Mellie warned Olivia that she wouldn’t be able to hack it, but for whatever reason, Olivia decided that the fate of all the former first ladies wouldn’t befall her. I’m not sure how she reached that conclusion, but she was totally wrong. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I regularly laugh at inappropriate things. Seriously. I sometimes get so tickled by something that shouldn’t be funny that I have to get up and leave the room in order to compose myself. So I probably wasn’t supposed to laugh at the look on Olivia’s face when that senator’s wife revealed that she needed Olivia’s help with finding a certain cookie recipe, but I totally did. That was one of the last things in a long list of very un-Olivia things she was required to do as the President’s girlfriend, and all of that culminated in Fitz and Olivia imploding.

Fitz and Olivia’s breakup scene was more frustrating than it was dramatic. It’s not that Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn didn’t sell it. They absolutely did. The problem was Olivia, once again, refusing to accept responsibility for her part in everything. Olivia acted surprised that she was required to step into the role Mellie vacated. More than that. She actually seemed offended that she was no longer viewed as a power player but as a party planner. Fitz didn’t even beat around the bush though. He realized that Olivia didn’t want to be with him anymore because now he’s available. Olivia finally admitted that she didn’t know how to be with Fitz when he’s available because Mellie had always done all the heavy lifting. Olivia pretty much just showed up for the fun parts. And how selfish is that? So many lives and careers have been irrevocably changed because Olivia decided she wanted to be with Fitz, but now that she’s faced with the day to day reality of being in a relationship she just picks up and walks away? If I were Fitz, I would’ve been saying good riddance. Nothing he’s done has ever been enough for Olivia, and even if it is enough, Olivia changes her mind as often as most of us change our underwear. Olivia claimed that them not working out was just that they didn’t give themselves time to fix themselves before going public, but whose fault was that? Fitz had agreed to wait and then Olivia unilaterally decided to go public and NOW she’s blaming the public scrutiny for the failure of their relationship? I’m getting whiplash over here.

As I’ve said several times before, I’m not sure whether it was a conscious decision on the part of the writers to make Olivia such an unlikeable character this season, but if it was, it was a big mistake. Part of what makes Scandal work is the willingness of the audience to accept the fact that Olivia is a flawed person, but she’s still a person who tries to do the right thing. For the most part anyway. That hasn’t been the case with Olivia at all this season. Everything she’s done has been about her, and the collateral damage has been extensive. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be selfish sometimes. It’s not. And quite frankly, sometimes it’s a necessity. But you should only be selfish in instances where your selfish actions aren’t going to negatively impact other people. That’s not the case with anything Olivia has done this season. She’s caused families to break apart. She’s released a dangerous man back into society. She’s destroyed careers. Then to top it all off, apparently Olivia got an abortion without even telling Fitz that she was pregnant. I fully support the right of every woman to choose what she does with her own body, but Olivia didn’t get pregnant by herself. Fitz had a right to know and voice his opinion on the matter. Maybe she would’ve ultimately decided to go through with the abortion anyway, but it is the epitome of selfishness to not even tell Fitz that she was pregnant before ending it. I understand that the show was making a statement about Congress’s recent de-funding of Planned Parenthood. However, if you’re going to use the show to make a political or social statement, it should at least fit within the confines of the characters and story instead of being thrown in out of the blue. It’s just really hard for me as an audience member to get on board with this version of Olivia when she is so fundamentally different from the Olivia I’ve come to know over the last few seasons. It would be one thing if this Olivia was the result of a slow character evolution, but she’s not. It’s like invasion of the body snatchers. One minute she was Olivia Pope and the next she was just someone wearing Olivia Pope’s skin. The idea may have been to give Olivia what she thought she wanted so she could see that it wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be and then reset her to her factory settings. But if that was the plan, the writing didn’t do nearly a good enough job of working that out. I sincerely hope that the powers that be spend this (incredibly long) winter break figuring out how to get Olivia Pope back on Scandal.

While Olivia was white-knuckling it through all of those holiday parties, Mellie was taking a stand in the Senate. She was very disturbed by the fact that funding for Planned Parenthood would become discretionary because it’s evident by everyone’s actions that they don’t take women’s health seriously. I’m going to feel a little dirty saying this, but I was actually proud of Mellie. She didn’t take a stand because it would win her political points. As a matter of fact, her actions actually made her a few more enemies in the Senate. Mellie took a stand simply because it was the right thing to do, and that’s not something we see from Mellie often. Or ever. However, Mellie’s decision to do the right thing earned her public respect which she desperately needed after everything that happened with Fitz. The show hasn’t really known what to do with Mellie ever since they’ve put Fitz and Olivia together. Mellie was at her best when she was maneuvering and conniving behind Fitz’s back to get whatever it was she had decided she wanted. Putting her in the Senate and basically removing her from Fitz’s life essentially de-clawed her which makes her a much less interesting character. However, having her carve out a place for herself in the Senate and putting her considerable manipulative skills to work there could be an interesting direction to take the character. I don’t want to get my hopes up that Mellie will hit her stride as a senator though because the show hasn’t actually been doing that great of a job of paying off with characters lately. It would be nice if they did in this instance though.

As mid-season finales go, this was pretty blah. Admittedly, Huck kidnapping Eli Pope didn’t play out the way I thought it would, but other than that, there weren’t really any surprises. There wasn’t anything that I’m just dying to know about. Olivia has, once again, blown through Fitz’s life like a tornado and left irreparable damage in her wake. Jake has been sucked back into Eli’s orbit which I’m certain is not going to work out well for him. It also seems that someone else is trying to get B613 up and running again, and that person is supposedly not Eli. I’ve already said I’m not thrilled with the idea of dealing with B613 or any variation thereupon because that doesn’t fit very well into the Scandal universe. Hopefully it won’t be a major part of the story going forward though. Poor Susan Ross is being set up for epic heartbreak. Elizabeth North is enough of a vindictive witch to make sure Susan finds out (probably sooner rather than later) that she and David are sleeping together. Which, still ewww. Anyway. Like most vindictive witches, Elizabeth doesn’t really want David, but she doesn’t want anyone else to have him either. It’s a shame David is thinking with his downstairs brain instead of his upstairs brain though because I think he and Susan would be really cute together. Scandal is now officially on winter break and won’t be back until February 11th. Fingers crossed they spend some time figuring out how to get themselves out of this hole they’ve dug. So what did y’all think of this week’s Scandal?