Scandal “The Miseducation of Susan Ross” Review (Season 5, Episode 16)

Everyone loves to win, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when winning by any means necessary seems like a reasonable option. The ends do not always justify the means, and the question you have to ask yourself is just how far are you willing to go to win? More importantly, will you be able to live with the consequences of the choices you’ve made? That’s the question Olivia had to ask herself in this week’s Scandal, and quite frankly, the answer was kind of scary.

The first debate was a definite loss for Mellie and Olivia. As I said in last week’s review, both Mellie and Olivia have something to prove and losing the first debate doesn’t help them make their point. So Olivia decided to start things off by playing dirty. I can’t say I’m surprised she went there. It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve seen Olivia get down in the mud to get what she wants. It’s also not the first time we’ve seen Olivia go to extremes to get her client what they want. What was most disturbing about this situation was how cavalier Olivia was about destroying a child’s life. It doesn’t matter how Olivia twisted it around to convince herself that she was only going to hurt Susan by divulging her daughter’s biological father. Olivia knew good and well that exposing that information wouldn’t just ruin Susan. It would destroy Caycee too. I don’t care who you are or how important you think what you’re doing is, kids are off limits. Period. They didn’t ask to be involved in whatever foolishness their parents got involved in, and it is absolutely not ok to pull them into the fray. The fact that Olivia was willing to do that to Caycee and Ronnie just because she figured it would tick up Mellie’s poll numbers is disturbing and disappointing. And I’m not sure whether Ronnie hung himself because he didn’t want to be forced to destroy Susan’s career or whether someone else got to him and just made it look like suicide, but whatever the case, his blood is on Olivia’s hands.

While Olivia’s behavior was completely disgusting, it’s a good thing Huck kept sight of the big picture. I’ve said before that Olivia chooses to keep people in her inner circle that won’t challenge her and will jump when she says jump. That’s not a good thing. Part of being a good friend is calling out your friends when they’re acting like a jerk. Olivia keeps people around her that generally don’t do that, and for a long time, that included Huck. However, Huck’s eyes have been opened to what Olivia really is. For a long time he either didn’t realize or didn’t accept that she is just as broken as he is. He thought she was infallible. However, her actions over the last year have shown him otherwise, and I don’t think he’s going to be her loyal guard dog anymore. It’s not that he doesn’t love or respect her anymore. Quite the opposite. His actions are actually evidence of how deeply he cares for Olivia. He saw her walking down a path that would, in the long run, destroy her and he refused to let her do it. I mean, you know you’ve gone off the rails when even Quinn looks horrified at what your plan. So instead of confronting Olivia directly, because that wouldn’t work with her, Huck went to Quinn so that they could basically stage an intervention.

Part of that intervention was to bring Fitz in to try and talk Olivia down. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never really been a fan of Fitz. He’s always had way too little spine for my taste, he rarely takes responsibility for his own actions, and he tends to act more like a moody teenager than a grown man. That being said, he also has moments where he gives us a glimpse of the man he could be if he tried a little. I’m glad to say that Fitz impressed me. While everyone else was generally behaving badly, Fitz was a voice of calm and reason. He told Olivia that they have a chance to do it better this time, and he intends to do so. He believes in his candidate. But even more than that, he believes he has the chance to do it right this time and maybe have someone in the White House who earned it. He gave Olivia some very good advice, but the advice he gave Susan was even better. Basically, he used himself as a cautionary tale. For a man who generally blames everyone else for his shortcomings, he was surprisingly honest about why he feels he’s been so ineffective as a President. He recognizes the fact that he didn’t really earn either of his White House wins means that he didn’t respect the office the way he should have. That lack of respect translated to his relationships with his wife, his children, his friends, and even himself. Despite his personal failings, I do believe that Fitz honestly loves the country and wanted to serve the American people. That’s what he sees in Susan and that’s what he wants to try to preserve. He’s trying to do for her what Huck did for Olivia. He’s trying to stop Susan from walking down the same path to destruction that he walked.

Things aren’t working out for Edison the way he thought they would. First of all, I don’t know why he was so shocked that Olivia leaked the information about his addiction to painkillers. He knows exactly who Olivia is and how she operates. He shouldn’t have believed a word out of her mouth when she said that she wouldn’t reveal the information. The fact that he did and then acted so indignant about it only makes him look like an idiot. Of course, Eli Pope going off on him was even more embarrassing for him. Edison seemed to think he was running something, but when you get in bed with Eli, you can be sure that you’ve only been given a part of the story. Olivia did try to tell him that Eli isn’t to be trusted because all he wants is power. Maybe Edison is so desperate for power too that he refused to see that Eli is worse than Olivia, but he knows for certain now. The problem is, once Eli has his hooks in you, there’s no escape.

Cyrus is back to his old games. Can’t say I’m surprised though. Once he realized that Frankie had booted him out as campaign manager, I didn’t think it would be too much longer before he got up to his old shenanigans to make sure that he’s the only one whispering in the candidate’s ear. The thing I don’t get with Cyrus is why he keeps doing the same thing, the same way expecting different results. Hasn’t he ever read Einstein’s definition of insanity? One of the reasons his relationship with Fitz deteriorated is that he kept lying to and manipulating him. One of the reasons he was unable to work with Mellie is that he kept lying to and manipulating her. He’s been lying to and manipulating Frankie from the beginning, so what makes him think this is going to work out any better for him? Alex is a younger version of Cyrus, so I don’t imagine he’s just going to leave this be either. If he ever figures out that Cyrus is the one who undermined his scoop on Edison, Alex will be out for blood.

All in all, this was an ok episode. Olivia needed to be reigned in, and I’m glad it was people who actually love her who were the ones to do it. I’m hoping that the Fitz we saw in this episode is the one we’ll stick with for a while. I actually kind of liked this version of him. Even though David does seem to be sorry for what he did, Susan still hasn’t let him off the hook and I don’t blame her. David was just wrong for what he did. Speaking of Susan, I’m not thrilled that she has started down the path of deception. It never ends well, and sooner or later lies always come to light. Mellie still has an uphill battle to fight, but Marcus did help her win a few points with the public. Marcus is right that Mellie is unlikeable, and it wouldn’t serve her well to try and fake it. But unlike Olivia, Marcus actually has experience being a political candidate and he gave Mellie good advice. I doubt it’ll change her all that much, but she was at least able to work the situation to her advantage. Now that the show has shifted to focus more on the campaign and the candidates, it’s become a little bit more interesting. so what did y’all think of this week’s Scandal?