‘Scandal ‘5×09 Recap: Freedom Couch

In which no one can muster any holiday cheer


One has a family and a pie to look forward to, and one is dating a diabetic sociopath. (photo: ABC)

This week under Olivia’s missing couch cushion, Olivia Pope serves up Michelle Obama realness, Susan Ross stays adorable and obtuse, and Mellie almost pees on herself on national television.

Trust me when I say that after you watch this midseason finale of Scandal you’ll either really have to pee or really want to lie face down on the floor. As you recall, this season has revolved around the idea of Olivia and Fitz “choosing” each other for the very first time. In all the seasons prior, either disaster, Cyrus, or their own cold feet have come in between them coming out to the public and living as a real couple. This season, for better or worse, they went all in. Well, folks, as you probably could have predicted, “better or worse” just turned out as horrible as humanly possible.

Let’s start from the beginning. We open on Olivia channeling first term Michelle Obama (before she and Barack got super jaded and let that South Side Chicago show right on their faces), planning dinners for Fitz and schmoozing with the wives of politicians. Around two months have passed since the last episode and it seems in that time, the public has warmed up to the idea of Olivia. She even graced the cover of “Healthy Living Magazine,” the greatest gag of all since we know that Olivia Pope has not consumed a single fruit or vegetable this millennium. She’s settled into life at the White House, but not without a ton of huffing and puffing behind the scenes. That said, Fitz mostly ignores her and just seems pleased to have a woman around who is not Mellie. Speaking of Mellie, she has been hard at work getting straight up bullied by the members of the Senate. The Republicans are trying to pass a bill before everyone heads home for the holidays, and while the contents of said bill are quite dubious, all you need to understand is that if passed, it could lead to the gradual decrease of Planned Parenthood’s funding. (This plus White Cosby in the same season! Way to lean in to the Law and Order of it all, Shonda! <3) This vaguely ruffles Mellie, and ever the petulant child, she becomes dedicated to proving to her senator colleagues that she is capable of greatness.  She starts a filibuster, much to the disdain of literally everyone in Senate, and sets her sights on destroying the bill.

Across town in some poorly lit basement, Rowan is still Huck’s prisoner. He’s alive, being fed fried chicken and soda, and Huck is not even torturing him. Something is up, and Rowan decides to badger it out of him. He pushes Huck, telling him he’s a horrible father to Javi, that he is incapable of change, that he can never return to his family and is doomed to be alone. Huck is nearly unfazed, reminding Rowan that Olivia is his prized possession (bleck) and she’s been dragged through the mud by the entire country. She is all he has and she hates him, so truly Rowan has no business judging anyone’s parenting skills. “You are no one’s father,” Huck spits at him, and he’s right. Huck stays away to give Javi a chance at normalcy, but Rowan could never get Olivia back if he tried. Rowan is shaken, nearly crying, as Huck finishes his high calorie lunch, cold as ice.

Back in Senate, Mellie is still filibustering, now with heels off and a visibly full bladder. Fitz, Liv, and Abby watch from the Oval, and Abby expresses concerns that if Mellie continues, Fitz approval rating will go down. The public may see her display as a way of lashing out about the way Fitz disposed of her publicly. Olivia reminds them that not everything is about Fitz, and even though she’s right, she’s acting weird. Still, she gets back to her Michelle duties, selecting the china for Fitz’ dinner that evening, and neglecting to thank a single member of the staff along the way. Abby pleads with Olivia to intervene as Mellie inches closer to public urination, so Olivia has Susan Ross sent in to ask a lengthy question and give Mellie a potty break. Later in the ladies room, Mellie bumps into Olivia and admits she “should’ve known” it was her work that lead to her bladder freedom. Olivia, ever the passionate women’s rights activist, gives her the pep talk she needs to keep the filibuster going, reminding her that she is “the biggest bitch I know.” That big bitch completes her marathon filibuster, saving all the women and still making it home in time to open presents with Teddy (still no word on why Fitz and Mellie act like Karen no longer exists.)

Back in the basement, Rowan is still trying to provoke Huck into murdering him, calling himself Huck’s drug; one dip into temptation and he will never be able to turn back. He’s wrong, as Huck is able to free him and go about his business, entirely murder-free. See, now that Huck knows Rowan wants to be put out of his misery, keeping him alive is an even greater torture. Half-baked but fine, since Rowan seems not at all relieved to be back above ground once Huck is through. Rowan goes “home”, or at least a place he is allowed to sleep for the foreseeable future, and Jake shows up simply to tell him he was right. Lazarus One is the biggest bad guy, and no doubt they will be dealt with down the line in Shondaland.

Fitz’ fancy dinner is on and Olivia is supposed to be by his side, but she’s nowhere to be found. The appointment she has been alluding to turns out to be an abortion, explaining her passion for supporting Mellie in her Planned Parenthood defense. This abortion is it; the last straw, the final long-term connection she would have had to Fitz that she severs at her very first opportunity to do so. Later that evening, Fitz is heartbroken and confused since she never showed, but all she can do is fill up with tears and search for the moonshine in the closet. She had an appointment, she tried but couldn’t make it; to be honest, she’s given up even the pretense of effort. Fitz shouts “DO NOT LIE TO ME” in his greatest Tarzan voice and it is so on. Fitz and Liv have the blowout of the century, bringing up all the shit they’ve tiptoed around for basically their entire relationship. Fitz argues he keeps trying to make it work but Liv will do anything to run from committing to him. Liv says it’s the pushing that is breaking them; she needed time, space, a moment to breathe but ever since she said “yes”, their world’s been speeding 100 miles per hour. They breathe heavy and scream and for once, they are both right.

In the end, they drink together; Olivia’s barren womb the last secret between them, and their relationship a thing of the past. “We tried,” they sigh together, and for once at least we can say they really did. Olivia heads home (her real home), alone, in her nightgown, with her shoulders finally loosened. Later on cuddled up on the couch, she gets a phone call and I foolishly hope its Jake proposing to spend the holidays with her (even though he is still very furious). But in fact, its something even better; a brand new living room couch! You see, this couch is so much more than just a couch; it’s a physical manifestation of Olivia’s emotional state. When she spilled wine while getting kidnapped last season, she simply threw out the soiled cushion, never acknowledging the ruined couch or her own fragility. Getting a new couch signifies a change in Liv; a promise to quit running. While I don’t believe for a moment that she will actually change, I am proud of her for making the effort to try. Plus, at the very least, we get a chic new leather couch to stare at when the show returns in 2016!

Some final thoughts as we part until February (crying emoji/poop emoji/heart emoji):

  • Any guesses on why we are being forced to suffer through the Elizabeth/Rosen/Susan love triangle? My guess is when Susan eventually finds out, she puts in work to get Rosen stripped of his Attorney General title, ruining his brag streak forever.
  • Did that politician’s wife seriously not know what Snickerdoodle cookie was? Whoever she is, tell her to lose my number.
  • Is anyone else extremely worried that Scandal is trying to make Quinn + Marcus happen? Please, Scandal. Quarcus is so not happening.
  • At some point, Gypsy from Gilmore Girls calls Mellie “political quicksand.” Can everyone in this show just take a hard look in the mirror? Why do you take yourselves so seriously? This sentence is crazy!
  • Did anyone else scream “DAMN!!” when Liv called Fitz “ineffectual” during their fight? She read him for filth and it was EVERYTHING.
  • Does anyone even remember the name of the head of Lazarus One that Jake ended up murdering? And was he wearing a wig?
‘Scandal ‘5×09 Recap: Freedom Couch