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‘Scandal’ Review: ‘Paris is Burning’ (And No One Cares)

SCANDAL - "Paris is Burning" - Olivia and Fitz face some very big consequences and Mellie brings in an old friend to make sure she gets her way. Meanwhile, Abby shows Olivia she is fully capable of handling working at the White House, on "Scandal," THURSDAY OCTOBER 8 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/John Fleenor) KERRY WASHINGTON, TONY GOLDWYN

Last night’s Scandal was a whole lot of “What is going on?” for me during “Paris is Burning.” Now that everyone is learning of Olivia’s admission to being Fitz’s mistress, the ish is hitting the fan. Mellie, Fitz, Olivia, Abby, Elizabeth and the rest of White House staff are trying to figure out how to move forward, but apparently the only reaction of importance is Mellie’s since that’s the focus of the episode. There’s also OPA’s (with Jake popping up) reaction of disconnecting the phone lines and day drinking, which is what I lean toward, but I have poor coping skills and enjoy vodka when it’s a crappy day.

Anyway, the fallout from Olivia’s “Yes” response quickly deteriorates into Mellie’s demands, via Cyrus, to grant Fitz a divorce. Everyone, especially Abby, is under the gun to get the agreement nailed down. They need to get back to an interviewer who could ruin the plan by showing Fitz and Mellie lying through their respective teeth talking about how strong their marriage is as Olivia simultaneously admitted to being Fitz’s mistress. Cyrus works Mellie up to demand a ridiculously long list of expensive and petty requirements, all of which Fitz agrees to with Olivia’s prodding, and then turns around to reject the entire deal. Because butthurt and pride are strong in that one. BUT it does lead to the best scene of the entire episode: the face-off of Liv and Mellie in the closet.

When this show plays the quiet, restrained beats of a storyline, it shines. I’m dead serious. Mellie describing to Olivia what she’s about to step into as FLOTUS, what she has to suppress to do the job, what she’s going to give up to be in the role, speaks to every single red flag Olivia fears. Olivia wants Fitz, but sure as hell doesn’t want the job of FLOTUS, or dealing with the press, or planning the Christmas decorations of the White House. It’s very bizarre to me that the great crisis manager of Washington D.C. doesn’t have a plan for her life, and even more absurd that she’s reactive instead of proactive, but I guess life sneaks up on you when you fall in love.

As to the balcony goodbye scene between Fitz and Mellie, I honestly didn’t think it was necessary, but it ended up being kinda lovely. Fitz straight up says, “I’m sorry I put you through everything over the last 20 years. I don’t want this job, you do and you can do it well.” Ok. Let’s go with that. Either way, he’s apologizing for hurting Mellie (for the 15th time) and closing the door to their partnership, marriage, arrangement. Let’s move on, for real this time.

SCANDAL - "Paris is Burning" - Olivia and Fitz face some very big consequences and Mellie brings in an old friend to make sure she gets her way. Meanwhile, Abby shows Olivia she is fully capable of handling working at the White House, on "Scandal," THURSDAY OCTOBER 8 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/John Fleenor) JEFF PERRY, TONY GOLDWYN

Also, I think I’m one of two people who wasn’t surprised that Fitz didn’t take Cyrus back. Cyrus is the person who’s kept Fitz from choosing Olivia for the last 6.5 years. His plan of “stay the course” ain’t gonna fly because Fitz is done. I will say that this breakup hurt more than Fitz  letting go of Mellie. Bromance down. Especially when Cyrus pulls a Cyrus and riles Mellie up yet again right before she’s agreed to do the united front interview with Fitz. She, of course, screws everything up and walks out on Fitz and the interview and into a car with Cyrus. Pete and Repeat are about to start WWIII. In a related note, I’ve missed Jeff Perry in the White House.

A few thoughts on Abby and Olivia: I hate when they fight. Olivia was wrong to lie to Abby’s face, and Abby is wrong for blowing it way outta proportion (and should have known Olivia and Fitz are always together). Abby was right when she said Olivia didn’t think she could handle the scandal. For all the leeway she gives her associates, Olivia is a type A control freak. In this case, however, she can’t be (and will never be) in control of anything related to Fitz in public. That’s why when Olivia silently acknowledges and agrees with Abby going to the press room to pull the trigger on throwing her under the bus, there’s a definite shift in Olivia’s world. She’s never going to be the fixer in the background again, she’s always going to be “the other woman” who has daddy issues, a thing for older men, and who broke up the First Couple because that’s the narrative now.

For better or worse, Olivia has chosen Fitz. And the mirroring from when Fitz ran out the clock with Olivia in her apartment was beautiful. I just wonder if love is enough for Olivia. We all know it is for Fitz, because he’s naïve and sweet and hopelessly in love with Olivia (and I love him for it). But Olivia? She’s practical and realistic and coming forward to the press goes against everything she knows as a fixer. I don’t know if she can stand the spotlight to stay with Fitz. I hope she can, but I have trust issues with this show.

I should mention there was a scene with Jake going to visit Rowan. Because B613 (There, I mentioned it).

Please humor me with something that’s been bugging me for seasons, but was really highlighted last night. I get that deep down Mellie will always be hurt  (on some level) that Fitz doesn’t love her the way he loves Olivia. She saw herself and Fitz as a solid partnership in the quest for the White House. A quest she’s ALWAYS wanted, because let’s be real, Fitz is the dreamer and optimistic flyboy, and Mellie is the “do whatever it takes” to get what she wants. And she wants the White House one way or another. This doesn’t mean that she hasn’t faced heartbreak. She has survived a rape and the death of a child, two life-altering events that can break a person, and she’s continued to put one foot in front of the other to flourish into Senator Mellie Grant (And quite a bit of character development.) That said, I’ve thought about it long enough and want to address Mellie’s consistent use or implication of the word “whore” for Olivia.

It’s been going on for five seasons now, and it’s reached the exasperating, hypocritical level. Yes, Olivia has been sleeping with a married man for years, and a wife has every right to go after the mistress.

HOWEVER, in this instance, this wife has:

-Set up rendezvous for Fitz and Olivia to meet at the State Dinner so he can sleep better (see episode 1×03)

-Made it known to Olivia that she accepts their relationship by returning to her Fitz’s flag pin that he lost while looking at the Constitution with Olivia (see episode 2×08)

-Begged Olivia to come back to Fitz for his reelection campaign because he needs her (see episode 3×05)

-Told Fitz to go get Olivia back from kidnappers because Olivia isn’t just a cheap skirt since he truly loves her (see episode 4×11)

And here’s the KICKER…

Mellie Grant has been aware of this situation from the beginning because she was livid that Olivia “fell down on the job” and let Amanda Tanner get into Fitz’s pants while he was rebounding from being dumped by Olivia (see episode 1×07).

This is the SAME Mellie Grant who was caught on her knees servicing “Uncle Andrew” by her own daughter in the White House.  Let me be clear, I’m not slut-shaming. I don’t care who blows each other on this show; everyone has an equal opportunity for getting it in. But if I hear Mellie call Olivia a “whore” one more time and Olivia suddenly go mute and acquiesce to Mellie’s tantrum, I’m going to throw my bottle of vodka through the TV. By definition, Mellie fits the title of “whore” as well. As does Fitz, and Cyrus, and probably Lauren, we just don’t know about it yet. I’m sure there’s a deeper meaning in there somewhere that I’m missing because I’m slow, but I’m so done with this white woman calling Olivia a “whore” without her defending herself. It isn’t snappy or edgy, it’s just exhausting and enough already.

The fact that I have this much to say about a supporting character is telling. This was an episode about the fallout Fitz and Olivia face after going public and the one doing all the talking was Mellie Grant. I said last night and I’ll say it again: it seemed like the perfect set up for a spinoff show for Mellie. And that’s ok with me, maybe then Olivia Pope will find her words again. And maybe this time not with Jake on the phone.

About the author

Angela Romack

Angela Romack is writes what you’re thinking about when it comes to your favorite TV shows. If you don’t agree, that's fine. She's okay with being right. Follow her on Twitter at @AngelaMRomack.