Scandal “Buckle Up” Review (Season 5, Episode 19)

The English poet William Blake once said that it is easier to forgive an enemy than it is to forgive a friend. He wasn’t wrong. It always hurts so much more when a friend betrays you because of the love and trust that generally form the foundations of friendship. Letting go of that hurt and moving on is what makes forgiving friends so difficult. It’s not impossible, but both parties have to recognize their fault in the issue, accept it, and apologize for it. Part of the problem with Olivia and Abby is that one of them doesn’t recognize or accept her fault in their situation. Olivia and Abby’s friendship changed after Abby took Cyrus’s job. Abby’s priorities and loyalties shifted. As they should if she’s going to be effective at her job. Even more than that, though, Abby changed. For a long time Abby sort of hid in Olivia’s shadow, but after the hunger was awakened in Abby, she wanted the spotlight. Olivia either didn’t recognize the paradigm shift or didn’t accept it, but it happened all the same. Instead of Olivia treating Abby as an equal afterwards, Olivia is still trying to control Abby, Fitz, and everything else which leaves her and Abby as frenemies more than anything else. Truth is, I don’t know that they can ever go back.

This kind of came to a head in the race to win Florida and ultimately the Republican nomination. It wasn’t pretty. It ended up with the two of them in a stalemate and digging their heels in on an airplane tarmac. They only really ended up making fools out of themselves anyway. While I do feel that what Abby did was playing very dirty, at the end of the day, it’s totally what Olivia would’ve done if their positions had been reversed. Fitz even admitted that much after all was said and done. It was a strategically smart move since Abby is trying to help Fitz help Susan win the nomination. Olivia was just sulking because she was on the receiving end of one of her own moves. I don’t know how long those two planes would’ve sat on that tarmac if Marcus and Mellie hadn’t intervened, but I doubt either Abby or Olivia would’ve budged.

It’s really too bad that Olivia wasn’t privy to the monologue Eli delivered to Jake in last week’s episode. I believe Eli said something to the effect of he taught Jake everything and shaped him in his own image. Why should Olivia have heard that? Because it’s exactly what she told Abby. Almost verbatim. Olivia keeps trying to convince herself that she’s not her father and she’s not as bad as him, and she’s right. She’s worse. Because Eli doesn’t pretend to be anything other than the monster he is. However much he may proclaim to love Jake and want the best for him, the truth of the matter is, Eli has always looked out for Eli. Jake serves Eli’s purposes and that’s it. Eli doesn’t love Olivia either, and I don’t believe he ever did. He is all about control. He wants people to do what he wants them to do, when he wants them to do it, the way he wants them to do it, and he doesn’t permit anyone to question him about anything. Is that not what Olivia screamed at her “team” when Quinn questioned her? When has Olivia ever not demanded people do what she wants, when she wants, how she wants, and don’t ask questions? Eli is controlling, emotionally and psychologically abusive, arrogant, and cruel. Olivia is all of those things plus some. That’s so much worse than Eli because Olivia keeps the fact that she’s a monster hidden, and most of the time people don’t realize until too late what Olivia really is. The only thing that really separated Eli and Olivia is that Eli kills without remorse. Well, Olivia can now check that box off too. It doesn’t matter how many times Olivia says she’s not as bad as her father. Repeating it over and over doesn’t make it true. Besides, using him as a measuring stick is like saying one pile of manure isn’t as bad as another pile of manure because it’s smaller. It’s all still just manure and it all still stinks.

I’m starting to like Marcus more and more. He’s figured out how to reign Mellie in (to the surprise of everyone else) and he’s not afraid to think for himself. If Olivia were more focused on Mellie’s campaign and less focused on making sure Abby remembers her place, she probably would’ve eventually come up with the same thing Marcus did. Because let’s face it, that was a fantastic idea. What I really liked about it was Marcus’s refusal to apologize for his actions or kowtow when Olivia got all up in his face about it. Everyone has been walking on eggshells, but it seems like Marcus is just done. Quinn and Huck keep him at arm’s length claiming it’s for his own good. Olivia demands he fall in line and do what she says without question, and she also pretty much treats him like dirt. Olivia clearly wasn’t doing her job, so someone had to. That someone turned out to be Marcus. Olivia seems to forget exactly who Marcus is. Does she even remember the first time they met? What makes her think that that guy is going to “follow her over a cliff” without asking questions? Without thinking for himself? It’s been a long time since anyone told Olivia no and meant it, but that’s exactly what Marcus did. Good for him.

Fitz and Mellie are so much better now that they’re no longer married. They actually treat each other like human beings now which is kind of refreshing. Their conversation on the tarmac revealed several things. First, both of them are worried about Olivia. As many trials and tribulations as Olivia brought upon Fitz and Mellie, you would think that they’d be so done with her, but the opposite is true. Mellie wants Olivia to be ok no just because Olivia is running her campaign but because she actually cares. That in and of itself is surprising. The second thing we learned from the Fitz/Mellie powwow is that Fitz seems to be sincerely proud of Mellie. Fitz has probably always thought Mellie would make a good President, but I don’t recall him ever saying that he was actually proud of her. Like I said, divorce seems to suit them much better than marriage. Finally, Fitz revealed to Mellie that Olivia is the one who killed Andrew. Mellie was genuinely shocked but also relieved. That was a very Mellie response to cold-blooded murder, and I kind of chuckled a little bit at it.

There’s so much more I could say about this episode, but this review has gotten much longer than I intended. After such a weak and rocky start to the season, it seems Scandal has regained some of its equilibrium. There was a lot packed into this episode, and all of it was handled quite well. The late night conversation between Susan and David was heartbreaking, but it looks like Susan is going to try and forgive him. Although, David is digging himself a deeper and deeper hole. Susan is upset with him because he lied to her which hurt her. What makes him think that going behind her back, dropping the case, and then lying about it is going to make her forgive him? Good luck with that. Cyrus just does Michael wrong, and I feel pretty bad for Michael. Their relationship didn’t start off on the right foot, and I get that. But Michael has done his best to be a good partner for Cyrus. He’s taken over raising Ella since Cyrus isn’t going to do it. He takes care of things at the house. He’s protecting Cyrus from Alex Vargas. And the best Cyrus can do is to remind Michael that he’s nothing more than an ex-hooker who needs to just shut up and learn his place. Really dude? Let’s not forget that Michael is more than just a pretty face. He was in grad school working on his MBA when Cyrus met him. He had to give all that up for Cyrus, and this is how Cyrus repays him? Lame. Now it seems like Michael has taken Ella and headed off to parts unknown. I don’t know whether he’s left just to make a point or whether he’s really kidnapped Ella. Also, it’s not going to take Alex but a minute to put together that Michael helped Cyrus get him kicked off Frankie’s campaign. He is no doubt going to respond violently. However this plays out, I don’t see this ending well for Michael, and that makes me kind of sad. As an aside, Sally Langston is seriously cracking me up. Her commentary on the campaign and the candidates is legitimately hilarious.