“Scandal” has really, really gone all in on the star-crossed romance between President Fitzgerald Grant and his former campaign staffer/mistress Olivia Pope in recent episodes. They’re so romantic, so destined, so … toxic.
Yes, toxic. Their feelings for each other are intense, yes, but lately it seems all Olivia (Kerry Washington) and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) do for one another is bring out the other’s worst qualities. Their relationship has tipped way over from the flawed-but-hot to downright creepy in the second half of this season.
It’s gotten to the point where Mellie (Bellamy Young), who’s been painted as an ice queen/Lady Macbeth type from day one, is becoming the sympathetic one in this twisted triangle. We were actually kind of rooting for her to lay bare Fitz’s affair with Olivia in Thursday’s (May 2) episode.
We’ve learned this season that Olivia was complicit, if not active, in rigging the voting machines that put Fitz in the White House. Her part in the coverup led her to do some awful things to David (Joshua Malina) and Abby (Darby Stanchfield). Fitz eventually found out, and in the wake of that he has:
- Murdered a Supreme Court justice. Yes, Verna was dying, but Fitz ended her life rather than risk her spilling the secret about Defiance.
- Gone on a months-long drinking binge, coming very close to making major national security blunders along the way.
- Committed military resources to following Olivia. He can now say it was in the name of protecting her, but really — it’s just delegated stalking.
- Abandoned his job for a day or two to watch over Olivia in the hospital instead of, you know, running the country.
To Olivia’s credit, at least, she called him out on a lot of that in last week’s episode. But even as she told him no once more, she also passionately kissed him on the way out. It’s becoming uncomfortable to watch, almost to the point where you wish David or Harrison or Abby would drop a copy of “The Gift of Fear” on Olivia’s desk.
Thursday’s show rehashed the blowup from last week a couple of times, first with Olivia in the Oval Office saying she was done (unless Fitz “earned” her back), and then at Liv’s apartment when Fitz offered to “run out the clock” until Mellie took to the airwaves. (Also? “You’re All I Need to Get By” is juuuust a bit of an overstatement.) So, torching the career your lover committed a heinous crime to help give you counts as earning it, and we forget about the creepy surveillance and all the rest. Sure.
Oh, and yes, Cyrus — who can be despicable and cruel, but unquestionably loves his country — is not the mole.
The Olivia-Fitz dynamic is a big story engine for the show, obviously, and that’s not likely to change. But the show has written itself into a very strange place with the two of them. The way Fitz has acted post-Verna seems to make the case that he really shouldn’t be president, something he seemed to acknowledge with his actions in “A Woman Scorned.” Olivia, meanwhile, is embodying professionally great/personally a mess character trope, to the point where she might still be in danger. It’s a mess, frankly, and something “Scandal” will need to do a lot of work to clean up in the season’s final couple of episodes.