This Scandal review contains spoilers.
Scandal: Season 5, Episode 17
With the foreboding, deep hum of a bass trembling in the background to open the episode, the entire 60 minutes maintained this haunting sound a majority of the time. The sinister tenor was reminiscent of a new age horror movie, threatening that something dangerous could happen at any moment. But, it wasn’t until Liv and Andrew Nichols ended up in a room alone together that the intention of such an ominous tone was made clear.
So, how do you cross Olivia Pope?
Step One: Be a Reporter
Lillian Forrester, the reporter Fitz had been sleeping with not too long ago, kicked off the episode when she was caught in some facility center. Abby immediately suspected that she was pregnant, but when both her and Liv found out she was talking to former Vice President Andrew Nichols, it was worse than they thought. Lillian put everything in motion last night.
Step Two: Disobeying Orders
Even though Huck was the cause of Andrew’s apparent “stroke” last season, he was able to talk again and threatened to out Fitz for going to war for Olivia back when she was taken. The deal was that he would never say anything about that and he could continue to go down as a war hero instead of the one who orchestrated a terrorist attack.
Slowly, Rhimes was building the tension for Liv, integrating images from the time she was kidnapped any moment she was feeling frustrated or cornered…trapped. In fact, one of the few times we heard music in the episode was in a nightmare she had similar to the moment she was taken when her and Jake were dancing to old records. In the past couple of episodes, it has been made obvious that Liv wasn’t so over her kidnapping as once believed. That time crippled her more than we though.
Step Three: Don’t Take her Deal
When Andrew demanded 10 million dollars for his silence, Liv was prepared to hand it over. But, it was only a tactic for Andrew to keep toying with Liv to get revenge for his current state. The stroke Huck induced left Andrew partially paralyzed and barely able to speak.
Step Four: Go Behind her Back
Fitz finally came up with a plan that would solve their problems, even if it meant the American people hating him. He wanted to confess to faking Andrew’s assassination attempt in order to get support for the war. However, nothing would come out about him going to war for Liv or the kidnapping. He demanded Abby to prepare for his confession, but she wasn’t having it. However, Liv’s advice was no better. Abby thought they would come up with some genius plan in order to get the president out of this reveal, but Liv was finally proud of Fitz for taking responsibility for a mistake he actually made. He was the president she made him out to be. Abby played it off cool, as if she agreed with her.
But she didn’t.
Abby struck a new deal with Andrew that would allow the tabloid to release a heinous story about Mellie and Andrew’s relationship, destroying Mellie’s campaign and tarnishing Olivia’s career. Abby threw Olivia under the bus so quick, it was so surprising. What was even more terrifying was Olivia’s reaction to what Abby had done.
Shonda Rhimes has been establishing a very new side to Abby that we haven’t seen before. We knew Abby liked to be in charge and in control of things. We knew she thrived on challenges and impossible tasks. She would always come through. But recently, it has been a power hungry Abby and tonight, she was so unrecognizable…it was chilling. Plus, the way she treated Liv was the ultimate betrayal. Everything Abby learned was from Liv and she threw away their friendship in a heartbeat.
Step 5: Make her Feel like Nothing
Abby’s burn was scathing and sent Liv crawling back to Andrew to find a way to get him to change the story. But, in her attempt to bribe him one last time, he cut her down with his words over and over again. And as his malicious words sliced into her, more images popped up in her mind from her kidnapping…from her time of devastating solitude. He belittled her until her breaking point and as her hands wrapped around the bars of that metal chair, it was apparent that she would soon throw it up in the air only to come crashing down on Andrew repeatedly, taking his life.
Shonda Rhimes thrives on the flawed character, but was this really the best move for Liv’s? Can she ever really come back from this? Not to mention after all of this, she finds her way back home to Papa Pope. Seriously? My first thought was that this is some sort of tactic Liv has been planning; that her going back to her father was only a way to get closer to whatever operation Jake and Eli have going. But the doors were mirrored with more flashes from her kidnapping, when she finally finds the exit and pushes the doors open into the light. Does Liv think this is it for her? Did she forget those doors lead to more of a trap?
We have been made to forgive all the other murders on the show. Huck’s kills, Fitz’s kill, Jake’s, Quinn’s, Cyrus’. But how do we forget the kill by a woman who has always said, “There has to be another way?”
When Fitz found Liv, he consoled her, Andrew’s splattered blood staining her face, making the moment even more confusing and disorienting. Liv then gave Abby the new story that was going to be pitched about Andrew’s death following a very cold “Never cross me, again.” Abby is on Liv’s bad side…and possibly for good.
We will have to wait two weeks, but maybe a break is a good thing? Liv isn’t going to pick herself up from this anytime soon from the looks of it and I’m still processing Liv’s staggering transformation. I’m not sure where Rhimes is going with this…but right now, it’s hard to see an uphill from here.