This week was the penultimate episode of Scandal for Season 4 – I just love using the word penultimate! I found the episode disturbing in a lot of ways and not just because of the gratuitous violence that warranted an advisory notice before the episode aired.
1. The Case of the Week: If someone is raped while in the military, it is considered an occupational hazard, as if they were injured in the line of duty. That’s a law that needs to be changed! So of course, Olivia, while being unable to forgive Fitz for using his Presidential power to go to war in order to save her from being killed, is fine asking him to provide her with classified documents regarding the rapist’s alibi. Luckily, Fitz will still do anything for Olivia so he helped her out and the rapist was forced to confess.
Side note: Who remembers when Alicia Florrick was involved in a case in which a woman was raped by a military contractor and the case was complicated because soldiers on active duty are excused from liability? Yup, same story line used here.
2. Jake: While recovering from not being dead, Jake had a nightmare. He and Olivia are apparently meant for one another because we’ve seen the nightmare sequences often, yet the ones we have seen have been Olivia’s. Then, he told Olivia all about how he and Russell were both sent by her father to spy on her, learn everything about her, and then become a part of her life. He also claimed that the difference between he and Russell is that he (Jake) is in love with Olivia. Doesn’t anyone see this as a problem? It’s like reverse Stockholm Syndrome or something. And hey! That’s a real thing! It’s known as Lima Syndrome – A phenomenon in which kidnappers become so concerned for their hostages that they free them without using them as bargaining chips [source].
3. Jake and Russell: Jake was wincing and in pain in the first scene of the episode, but soon enough he was dressed and walking just fine into Olivia’s neighbor’s apartment to confront his fellow B613 agent, Russell, who was being tortured by Huck and Quinn in order to gain information on Olivia’s father and the meaning of “Foxtail.” They bonded over the fact that for both of them, Olivia’s father was the closest thing to a father figure in their lives. Okay, so if Rowan was like a father, and they both slept with his daughter, isn’t that semi-incestuous?
Here’s what’s really problematic – Rowan’s game with Olivia, as Jake explained it to Russell:
“Olivia is supposed to catch you. That’s a part of it. For Rowan, that’s the best part of it. How he exerts his power over her. Where is the power in it, for him, if she never knows you belong to him? He needs her to know that she is never safe from him. Never out of his grasp. When her guard is up, he waits. He waits and he waits. Until she starts to believe he is gone. She relaxes and then he sends us in but she has to know. That’s how he lets her know Papa Pope is in charge. That’s how he lets her know that you can’t take command. She never had a chance.”
4. Mellie’s Senate Run: Mellie had to return to Springfield, the town in which her son died on stage during the Presidential campaign, in order to make a speech to help her Senate run. I was confused as to why Mellie would campaign in Missouri for a Virginia Senate seat until I remembered – there’s a Springfield in every state! And it just goes to show that I’m officially a mid-westerner now that my thoughts didn’t turn to Springfield, NJ! Anyway, Mellie didn’t want to bring up the loss of her son, so instead she used the woman who was raped in the Navy to speak on women’s rights and rape culture. What she did not do was bring her own experience with rape into it – nor did she ever use her position as First Lady to work for women’s rights or as a platform on rape prevention. But hey, she’s totally qualified to become a Senator and then the President, right?
5. Mellie and Rowan: In the last scene of the episode, Mellie’s campaign chair Lizzie brings her in to meet with a new campaign donor – none other than Olivia’s father, Rowan. As the door closes behind her, we hear the Secret Service proclaiming that Foxtail is secure. Mellie is Foxtail. Now, what we don’t know is what it means. Is Rowan planning to hurt Mellie? To manipulate her or turn her to his side? To use her against Fitz or Olivia or both of them? Or is Mellie already aware of Rowan’s identity and already working with him? To what end is all of this heading?
Over the past week I realized that one of the reason’s Scandal has been so disjointed lately is because there used to be a major tie-in between Olivia Pope and Associates and the White House – Olivia and Fitz and their relationship. In the second half of this season, there has been little to no connection between the two story lines and at times it felt like two completely different shows – not even to mention the fact that OPA is now just about officially B613 and that has made it an entirely different show than it was when Scandal began. So, I thought that Olivia and Fitz would have to reconcile in order to get the show back on track. Instead, the tie between the two story lines turns out to be Mellie. So, a show about a fixer and the President has now officially changed into a show about the First Lady and a spy.
Is there any chance of the show tying together all of the loose storylines such as who really orchestrated Olivia’s kidnapping with only one episode left? Or maybe, just maybe, could we get a Fitz and Olivia scene in which they appear in the same room together? Nah, I’m sure that’s too much to ask for.