Scandal (S05E13): “The Fish Rots From the Head”

Review:  Previously on Scandal, people got murdered, manipulated and someone talked rapidly while giving some kind of speech. I think that just about covers it. Oh, and Mellie and Olivia sort of unofficially teamed up and formed a super badass lady unit while working on Mellie’s book. 

Mellie’s book, which now has a cover and is ready to be distributed, leads us into the opening scene. Olivia is surprised at the cover Mellie chose, but Mellie claims the other one made her look frigid. However, Liv isn’t there to talk about book covers. All Mellie wants to know, is what her next political move should be. I’m lowkey hoping they’ll also officially team up to make Mellie president and take down Fitz. Speaking of Fitz, Olivia – unofficially – thinks Mellie’s next move should be Fitz. Namely, Fitz taking a neutral stand and not giving any of the candidates (like Susan Ross) his endorsement during the primaries, so Mellie can have access to the same resources in funding her campaign.

The president in question is very busy this week. He’s buried in lady bits, luring tons of women into his presidential bed, and Abby and the Secret Service have no choice but to cover for him. Every one of Fitz’s lady friends has to hand over any personal items and sign a non-disclosure agreement, so it can all go off without a hitch. All very presidential. Naturally, all the important ladies in Fitz’s life – Abby, Mellie and Liv – are disgusted by it. 

Fitz’s Secret Service guys also end up needing Pope & Associates’s help, as a night of partying in a hotel room suite leads to the death of a hooker, Megan, who seemingly died after taking too much heroine and hitting her head on a glass table amidst a fall. Olivia and her team are on it and they initially help cover up Megan’s death. They’re fixers, after all, not detectives. But something about the case bugs Marcus, the only still sort of innocent party on the show. He keeps digging until he finds out that Megan didn’t die of an overdose, but that the Secret Service guys injected the heroine after she fell to cover up the real cause of death. 

This is the turning point. Olivia visits Abby and fills her in and then asks her what Abby thinks they should do – as not the Secret Service, but Abby herself is technically their client. Abby arranges a meeting with Fitz. When Fitz walks into his office and sees Liv, there’s the obligatory Olitz moment where – whether you ship it or not – the chemistry is palpable and if you’re someone who used to ship it, it kind of makes you wonder for a split second why you ever stopped rooting for them. And then they start talking and you remember. Olivia shows Fitz a file of the case, but this quickly turns into Olivia talking some sense into him because they can never not mix business with pleasure and ‘- let’s be real – this is more about them and less about the Secret Service. As Olivia tells Fitz, “The fish rots from the head”, meaning that the Secret Service guys are merely following Fitz’s example. Being reckless, negligent and selfish. Olivia throws in a Big Gerry reference, too, referring to Fitz seeing his own dad with his mistress. This ends up being just what Fitz needs to get his head out of his ass! 


Others who need to get their heads out of their ass? Liz and Cyrus. Both of the other candidates in the primaries are being strung along like puppets this week. Governor Vargas has no intention of running for president, not even after being shot (which Cyrus also set up…). Cyrus gets him riled up by arranging a meeting with Fitz, who bashes his education bill (because Cyrus tells him to). Then, he gets Vargas an appearance on Sally Langston’s show. But none of this works. When Cyrus finds out why Vargas doesn’t want to run – his daughter has cancer – he invites the governor over for drinks and tells him the (fake) story of how he got into Harvard thanks to his paralyzed brother, Oliver. This does work, as the next day Vargas lets Cyrus know that he changed his mind about running for president. After Vargas leaves, Matthew asks Cyrus who Oliver is, as he thought Cyrus was an only child. Matthew is not wrong. 

Susan, meanwhile, doesn’t even want Fitz’s endorsement, to Elizabeth North’s horror. Liz tries to convince David to convince Susan to seek out Fitz’s endorsement. After Vargas’s appearance on Sally Langston’s show, Liz (thanks to Cyrus!) convinces Fitz to allow Susan to appear on the show as well, so Susan can publicly shut down Vargas’s education bill. Manipulated by David and Liz, Susan agrees to appear on Sally’s show. This – and Olivia’s speech, of course – leads to Fitz inviting Susan for a meeting. He realizes that she actually isn’t all that opposed to Vargas’s education bill, but that she publicly shut it down for his endorsement. Susan admits that she was told to do so, but that she really agrees with the bill. Additionally, Susan still doesn’t want Fitz’s endorsement, at least not with the way he’s behaving. Fitz promises to change his behavior and work hard so he can earn it. Go Fitz! 

His first move in earning Susan’s endorsement? Publicly disapproving of the Secret Service’s antics, stating that he has “zero tolerance” for abuse of power. Haah. This entire show is about abuse of power, but okay…  

Finally, this week, Olivia herself is bored, according to Quinn. Bored because she went from running the White House to dead hookers. But what Quinn doesn’t know is that Olivia is busy spying on Jake and his new girlfriend. She follows Jake and keeps tabs on him until Jake surprises her in the middle of the night to confront her about it. I mean, he’s head of the NSA. In his own words, there’s no keeping tabs on him unless he allows you to. Jake starts coming on to Olivia, telling her he’ll stop if she asks him to, and she eventually does, to Jake’s surprise. In the end, on Sunday, she rings Papa Pope’s doorbell, wanting to have dinner at his house for once. Surprised, Papa Pope invites her in. Right in time for Olivia to join the celebration. Celebration of what? Jake’s engagement, of course!