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The circuitous, torturous relationship between Olivia and Fitz has always been the heart of Scandal, for good or ill. You know what, at this point, let’s just say ill. Olivia and Fitz finally getting together for good would be like all the castaways getting off of Gilligan’s Island: What’s the point of the show then?

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A long time ago, forever ago, we had delightful cases of the week that Olivia would fix, before she got dragged down into all sorts of terrible issues relating to her parents. Season five appears to be limping back to that setup, in the shadow of the Olivia/Fitz relationship that threatens to take over the entire Scandal world.

Although this time it’s different: Olivia and Fitz have been busted with actual photographic proof. Why and how this happened is about as boring as you could imagine (Lizzie did it because she hates Mellie, sure), but it has stripped Olivia of her privacy and basically, her life. So she goes on the run with her case-of-the-week with perennial Boy Scout Jake, who really should be in therapy, because he’s as much a masochist for this kind of relationship with Olivia as she is to her relationship with Fitz.

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The case-of-the-week is rather “meh,” unfortunately, with no real twists and the perp in question doing his best quirky Adam Brody expression. The upshot is that Liv gets attacked by people wanting selfies with her in a diner. For one of the first times on this show, we see her helpless, and without a plan, because what can someone do when they’re the most scandalous person in the world? Sally Langston isn’t right about much, but she’s correct when she says that Liv has nowhere to hide.

Maybe the problem with Scandal at this point is that we just need someone to like on this show, because by now everyone has done such horrible things, it’s hard to root for anyone. Even dreamy Jake mowed down Cyrus’ husband, among others. Not only did Fitz murder a Supreme Court justice with a pillow, but at this point he is, as Cyrus described, not much more than a petulant child. Forcing Abby to keep going out for press briefings when he won’t give her anything to say? Refusing to then leave the Oval Office because he’s waiting for Olivia to call and tell him what to do instead of guiding the nation? Susan is also right when she calls him out on being a horrible leader, a lovesick boy who can’t focus on anything but his relationship and who probably couldn’t run a bake sale properly, let alone an entire country.

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What about our supporting players, anything there? God no, because we’re stuck with Huck and Quinn. Huck is such a liability at this point, I don’t see how he makes it through until the end of the season. And Quinn, I get that you’re mad, but is it the wisest decision to go off on a homicidal maniac? And are we supposed to believe that these two actually make up at the end? Sorry, but if someone had taken my tooth out with a pliers, no longer sure we can hang. But that’s me.

No, all roads lead back to Olivia and Fitz, and if Olivia hadn’t said “Yes,” everything would have gone back to the status quo, Mellie living in the White House instead of the president and his “mistress,” a word we heard about five million times, under wraps. Olivia saying “Yes” opens it all up again. Guessing it was Fitz’s voicemail that led her to this decision, and her talk with Jake at the motel was the best scene in the episode. This relationship is exhausting for her and does little else but make her feel ashamed. And as soon as she tried to overcome that, she’s now been laid out vulnerably for the world to see, in a situation so dire that even Olivia Pope, fixer of all things, can’t fix it.

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So that last moment was certainly interesting, but not enough to make up for all the minutes that came before it in a basically lackluster, treading-water effort so early in the season. In a way, this show is like Fitz, and we are all Olivia, as we know that what’s bound to happen is probably not going to be spectacular. But we are compelled to keep tuning in anyway.

Stray observations

  • “David’s here!”
  • Was the hair stylist on break this week or something? Mellie’s was like a beauty-pageant wig that had been left out in the rain, and the vice-president should try a do that doesn’t make it look like she just got out of the shower.
  • Shonda Rhimes has buzzwords that she likes to latch onto, like ”the republic” in season three. The buzzword this season, God help us, appears to be “optics.”
  • This week’s diatribe: Delivered by our old friend, the now-eternally-bathrobed Cyrus, equating manipulating the president with some stern parenting methods.
  • Most cringe-inducing line: “The president’s about to get Poped.”
  • It is nice to see a show where the women often outnumber the men in these high-powered rooms.

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