Scandal “Til Death Do Us Part” Review (Season 5, Episode 18)

After finally having a chance to sit down and watch this episode of Scandal, I must say I was pretty underwhelmed. This episode didn’t cover any new ground and everything played out exactly as I figured it would. That’s not to say that it wasn’t engaging. It just was a wash, rinse, and repeat of what we’ve already seen and a rehash of information that we pretty much already know.

It’s no secret that I’m Team Jake. I have been pretty much since the beginning. That’s why this episode was kind of hard for me to watch. Despite the fact the show hasn’t previously shown us flashbacks of how Jake came be twisted up with Eli Pope, they’ve still given a few bits a pieces of Jake’s background. It’s not surprising that he had the kind of childhood he had because those kinds of scared, abandoned, angry, and broken people are prime targets for monsters like Eli. It actually makes it even more sad though because Eli seems to really believe that what he gives is actually love. And in his mind, it might be. To him, it might be love to break someone to the point that they don’t have to think for themselves or be their own person. Perhaps in his mind, refusing to allow an individual to be an individual is love because you get to “take care” of them. It’s sick and twisted and pretty much the complete opposite of love though. The truth is, the only thing that Eli does is push people who are already teetering on the edge of sanity over the cliff into madness. He takes whatever it is that drives them and twists it, turns it, and corrupts it to use for his own purposes. Because let’s be honest, if Jake weren’t of any use to Eli, Eli would throw him out like last week’s garbage.

It’s no secret that Eli is a monster, and the show takes every opportunity to remind us of that. Once again, not a startling revelation. There was nothing I saw of Eli in this episode that surprised me. I will say, though, that watching him break Jake was all kinds of sad and also all kinds of wrong. Jake was a little kid stuck in a horrible situation. His father was an abusive, child-molesting alcoholic and that sucks epically. Even at 17, Jake was still just a kid. It shouldn’t have been (and wasn’t) solely his responsibility to stop the old man from beating his mother and raping his sister. Eli taking those incidents and twisting them around to reinforce Jake’s (wrong) thinking that all of the horrible things in his life happened because he was weak and that he was responsible for what happened to his sister was cruelty of the highest order. And it would be one thing if Eli were forcing Jake to confront what he’d been running from in an effort to help Jake move on in a healthy way. But it wasn’t. Not even remotely. Eli saw his opportunity to get his hooks into Jake, and he jumped at it. Now Jake will never be free.

Then there’s Olivia. I’m pretty disappointed that the show seems to have decided to act like there aren’t any repercussions for the fact that Olivia just killed a man in cold blood. Yes. Andrew was a horrible person, and I don’t feel particularly bad that he’s gone. But he was a person nonetheless, and it would be nice if the show gave more than just a passing mention to what Olivia did to him. Instead, this episode decided to focus on Olivia losing to her father again. She went there to try and find out what he’s up to. Which is apparently positioning Jake to be Edison’s running mate. Once again. Not surprised. And after finding out Eli’s plan, Olivia decided to try to stop him. Here’s where I had some trouble. Olivia kept telling Jake that he didn’t have to do what her father wanted, but when has that ever worked out? When has Jake ever been able to get free of Eli? Jake’s always going to do what Eli wants in the end and Olivia should know that because so does she. She caves to Eli every time he makes a threat or otherwise throws her off her game. Why pretend that Jake is any less twisted up than she is where Eli is concerned? Jake’s probably even more messed up than Olivia, and that is saying something. So it wasn’t any shock that Olivia pulled a Satine on Jake. And yes, I just made a Moulin Rouge reference. Anyway, the point being, Olivia saw herself as saving Jake but she actually did the opposite. Jake’s life hasn’t been his own since the first day Eli Pope laid eyes on him. Eli took his name. Eli took his career. Eli took his life. Jake hasn’t been free to make any of his own choices. He just hasn’t been free period. Quite frankly, death might be preferable to living the rest of his life stuck solidly under Eli’s thumb. It would be nice to put the blame solely on Eli’s shoulders, but that’s not where blame goes. Not this time. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Eli bears a great deal of blame for a lot of things, but everything that’s happened since Eli was released from prison is on Olivia. Let’s not forget, Eli was locked away and pretty effectively neutralized until Olivia got him out so she wouldn’t have to marry Fitz. So everything he does going forward, Olivia bears at least half the blame.

Like I said, nothing really new to see here. Despite that fact, all the actors did a wonderful job. Scott Foley had a lot of heavy lifting to do in this episode, and I think he did a fine job of it. Especially in the scene between him and Joe Morton where Eli finally broke Jake. Morton was his usual scene chomping self, and Foley did an excellent job conveying Jake’s barely contained rage. Kudos to both actors for great work. It looks like the show is going to jump back into the election in the next episode, and Abby faces off against Olivia. Let’s see how this one turns out.