Scandal “The Fish Rots from the Head” Review (Season 5, Episode 13)

Scandal It's Hard Out Here for a General

One of the many qualities that makes a good leader is integrity. It’s doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, not because you think it will raise your status in the eyes of other people. That’s a good rule of thumb for everyone in their every day lives. Do the right thing just because it’s the right thing. Sometimes, that means you will have to stand alone. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, it means you can be a light for those who have wandered off the path and lost their way.

I’m not going to dwell on my current dislike for Olivia because it doesn’t do any good to continue beating that particular horse. However, it looks like there might be a little light on the horizon. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high because Scandal has been letting me down for the past couple of seasons, but Marcus could very well be the catalyst that brings back the Olivia Pope I love and respect. We first met Marcus last season in one of Scandal’s post powerful episodes, “The Lawn Chair.” A Black man’s son had been killed by the police and the DC police chief brought Olivia in to try and contain the situation. Marcus showed up with his soapbox and started getting all of the people riled up, but he wasn’t trying to get to the truth any more than Olivia or the police chief. At the time, he was much more interested in pushing his own agenda. He created a dangerous situation for everyone, but in the end his antics reminded Olivia that she should be looking for truth and justice. Not just trying to make sure the situation gets handled. He did the same thing this time around. Albeit in a much less obnoxious way.

Part of the problem with Olivia is that she hasn’t really been interested in truth and justice for a long while. In times past, if Olivia found out her client was in the wrong, she would figure out a way to both serve the client but also make him or her answer for what they did. It didn’t always end with rainbows and candy, but for the most part, Olivia did whatever she could to make sure the bad guys got their comeuppance. Take for example the episode in which Queen of Made-Up European Country had her daughter-in-law killed because the daughter-in-law was sleeping with her bodyguard. Olivia figured out that the Queen had the Princess killed, and the Queen (rather smugly) told Olivia there was nothing she could do about it. In the end, Olivia still did what the Queen paid her to do, but she also made sure that the Queen’s son knew the truth about what his mother had done so he could handle it. Contrast that to Olivia’s attitude in this episode. She showed up, didn’t really ask any questions and didn’t even try to ascertain whether the agents’ story held water. She didn’t care about the truth. Didn’t care about getting justice for the victim. She just didn’t care. If it hadn’t been for Marcus’ sense of justice, who knows how many other women those agents would’ve hurt or killed. I’m not sure what exactly prompted Olivia to change her mind about digging deeper into the case, but I’m hoping it’s the first step on the road back to her becoming Olivia Pope. Marcus may have also earned some respect from Huck. Quinn and Huck haven’t exactly been very welcoming of Marcus. I understand Huck’s desire to protect Marcus from them, and it’s sweet. But at the end of the day, Marcus is a grown man. He made the decision to go work at Pope and Associates, and he knew what it is they do before he signed on the dotted line. Now that he’s there, they need to either treat him as an equal or let him go.

It looks like Fitz is trying to recapture his youth. Or maybe he is, as Olivia said, inadvertently turning into Big Gerry. Whatever it is, Fitz was basically acting like a manwhore. It’s so bad that Abby had to develop SOP for Fitz’s many liasons. I mean, I get that he’s finally free to sleep with whomever he wants to, but come on. Have a little class, dude. Although Olivia had absolutely no right to say anything about who Fitz sleeps with, she was correct that the secret service agents who killed that hooker were modeling themselves after his behavior. Whether Fitz likes it or not, he doesn’t get to be a regular, newly single man. He doesn’t get to sleep around with however many women he wants. It’s not fair, but it is what it is. Olivia asking Fitz whether he wanted to be Big Gerry seems to be what finally knocked a little sense into him. Mellie had to do that for him once before right after he found out about what they did in Defiance, and I’m hoping this time it’ll stick. Fitz always had so much disdain for his father because he believed Big Gerry to be nothing more than an alcoholic womanizer. He wasn’t wrong. Big Gerry was not a good man and an even worse husband and father. Fitz has spent most of his life trying not to be like his father, and I don’t believe Fitz realized that that’s what he’s turned into until Olivia called him on it. Now that he’s been called out, I sincerely hope Fitz will figure out how to keep it in his pants for a while.

Then there’s Cyrus. If manipulation were an Olympic sport, Cyrus would have all the gold medals. Seriously. He’s playing everybody. I get that Cyrus has given up on Fitz. I get that Cyrus wants to be able to maintain the power he’s amassed over the years. I get that Cyrus has dedicated his life to getting to The Oval. However, what he’s doing to Governor Vargas is just lower than low. Vargas has a really good reason for not running for President. It’s a long, time-consuming process, and he’s got obligations both as a governor and a father that will have to take a backseat to his campaign. Vargas’s daughter is dying, and all the time Cyrus will insist he spend on the campaign trail is time that he will not be able to spend with her. It is time that he will never get back, and he will hate himself for not being there when the good Lord calls her number. Mark my words people. It’s gonna happen. And then Cyrus is going to figure out how to use that tragedy to his advantage. Because Cyrus is a self-centered monster. The whole time he was sitting there spinning that story about “Oliver” I was thinking to myself ‘I’m pretty sure Cyrus is an only child.’ I thought I must’ve been mistaken until Michael confirmed that Cyrus is an only child. All of this is going to blow up in Cyrus’s face eventually. The reason he’s no longer in Fitz’s inner circle is that he did to Fitz exactly what he’s doing to Vargas now. Cyrus is lying to Vargas and manipulating circumstances to serve his own purposes. That’s Cyrus’s MO, but did he ever stop to think that things always get screwed up for him because he keeps doing the same thing, the same way, expecting different results. I also find it interesting that Cyrus is so excited about how good of a man Vargas is and how much they could get accomplished, but didn’t he feel that way about Fitz too? Now that he’s finished corrupting Fitz, he’s moved on to his next victim. I sincerely hope Vargas gets away before Cyrus gets his hooks in too deep.

This episode was better than the last couple, but honestly, that’s not saying much. I feel so bad for Susan Ross. She’s unwittingly snared in David and Elizabeth’s web, and it’s not going to work out well for her. She looked so uncomfortable when she followed David’s advice and lied about Governor Vargas’s education plan. David ought to be ashamed of himself, and I sincerely hope Susan makes him and Elizabeth pay when she finds out what they’ve done. Jake’s guy is completely out of his cage, and it doesn’t look like there’s much hope of putting him back. This is going to get really ugly really quickly, and poor Vanessa is no doubt going to be collateral damage. Jake clearly doesn’t love her, and I have no doubt that he and Papa Pope are using her for something which is the only reason they’re getting married. Like I said, this is going to end badly. On a more adorable note, how sweet was it that Michael was trying to learn how to braid so he could braid Ella’s hair? I was concerned about what would happen to Ella after James died because Cyrus never wanted kids and basically ignored her all the time anyway. It’s good to know that Michael seems to have taken to her though. I’m trying to hold out hope that Scandal is finding it’s way again, but like I said earlier, not really holding my breath. So what did y’all think of this week’s episode?