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‘Scandal’ Season 5 Winter Finale Review: ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’

SCANDEL - "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Olivia is feeling more and more frustrated as she takes on "First Lady" type responsibilities at the White House. Meanwhile, Mellie proves just how powerful she can be and Jake and Huck continue the hunt for Rowan on the winter finale of "Scandal," THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) KERRY WASHINGTON, ELYSE MIRTO

Well, the winter finale of Scandal happened. And in terms of shock value, people are going to be talking about this for years to come. In “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” all hell breaks loose on the Senate floor when Mellie filibusters over funding Planned Parenthood. More dramatically, all hell breaks loose for Fitz and Olivia as they come to terms with what their “new normal” is. And it’s brutally ugly. Some other stuff happens with Rowan and Jake too, but once again, I don’t actually care. So let’s get to it.

Being the overachiever that she is, Mellie walks into a meeting of the Good ‘Ole Boys Club at the Senate and wants to discuss the placement of Planned Parenthood funding in the discretionary fund of the spending bill up for a vote.  Meaning, she’s concerned that the funding for Planned Parenthood can be cut off at any time because it’s not guaranteed. Senator Gibson, the residing prick of the Senate, basically tells Mellie that she’s voting the way he wants because that’s how it works here. Also, he wants to get home for the holidays, because making his plane trumps anything related to actually doing his job. Anyway, when it comes time to vote, Mellie finds it within herself to stand up to the bully and takes the floor for a filibuster, because if the bill doesn’t pass by midnight, the government will shut down. She points out all the other guaranteed monies allocated for ridiculous things like $25,000 for travel expenses for the Alabama Watermelon Queen, or $5 million dollars for Senate hair care services (What in the actual hell does that even mean?), or $500,00 to paint a salmon on a Senator’s plane. What kills me is the truth about the statistics Mellie cites in her monologue, it’s all based on real spending numbers in our government’s spending bills. Gotta love politics.

So Mellie, Virginia’s version of Wendy Davis, has to last 16 hours in order to run out the clock. What’s amazing, and by amazing I mean awful and petty, is not one woman steps up to take the floor to ask a question to let Mellie pee. I have not one single doubt that DC is this petty by the way. During Mellie’s filibuster, Olivia watches with blatant envy from the White House. While delivering cookies (I cannot), she tries to get another female Senator to ask a question to give Mellie a chance to pee. This woman refuses because it will look bad for her. See? Petty. Olivia turns to Susan Ross to save the day and Mellie’s undergarments. She strolls in, asks Mellie if she can have the floor, and leads with “So let’s talk about gonorrhea.” I did die laughing. Thereby giving Mellie an opportunity to pee after 16 hours. I kinda bow down to Mellie’s bladder control because I would’ve been out approximately two hours into this filibuster. Just thinking about holding it 16 hours makes me have to pee. Without a doubt, Susan Ross is the best thing to happen to this show in quite a while. Her lightness and veracity gives this show something to look forward to during the constant dark moments. She has the worst taste in men though. Who re-gifts a bracelet meant for your banging partner to the girl who has a crush on you? David Rosen, that’s who.

Anyhow, Mellie makes it to the bathroom where Olivia is waiting for her to give her a pep talk. Olivia says to Mellie, “You’re the biggest bitch I know. Don’t tell me you can’t do this.” So, Olivia calls Mellie a bitch, but in this instance it’s evidently ok. Sure. Remember when Olivia made a HUGE deal about Fitz calling Abby a bitch? I sure do. Also, Mellie literally tried to blackmail Olivia one week ago, but now they’re all good? I understand that Mellie and Olivia are both now members of the FLOTUS club, so they share an understanding of what a woman has to sacrifice to take on that role. But I have whiplash from all this back and forth. Mellie is reenergized after her pep talk with Olivia and makes it to midnight, succeeding in standing up for Planned Parenthood and becoming a rising star in the Senate.

Here’s the thing, I stand for every single point Mellie made during her filibuster. I stand with Planned Parenthood, I stand with guaranteed funding for Planned Parenthood, and I stand for calling politicians out for their pork barreling spending. I’m just a little tired of Mellie, the flawed but always winning character, being the one to save the day. Hell, Mellie even gets to go home to her children, the ones she’s previously admitted to not really wanting to have in the first place, to spend the perfect evening with them decorating a Christmas tree. I’m not saying a character can’t evolve, I’m saying it’s interesting the manner in which some characters get to evolve more than others.

Meanwhile, America is apparently falling in love with Olivia Pope, at least that’s what the magazine covers and press are now saying. But while America is falling in love with Olivia in the FLOTUS role, Olivia is dying a slow and painful death on the inside each day. Mind you, it’s only been weeks that she’s lived in the White House and it already looks like she’s ready to throw herself off the Truman Balcony. And I’m right there with her. I detest pod Olivia and Fitz, but after him moving her into the house without her knowledge I figured things were about to get real ugly. Annnnnd they did.

This couple is now reduced to Fitz controlling what Olivia wears and Olivia passive aggressively snarking under her breath at him. This is the same man that for years has asked Olivia for her advice on every important political decision he’s made even when they weren’t actually speaking to each other, but now all of a sudden he’s telling her how to behave while he talks shop with other politicians. What the what? Remember three weeks ago when Olivia was literally standing in the Oval running the country with Fitz happily taking notes on the couch? I have whiplash again. It’s disturbing that the role of FLOTUS and being anywhere around Fitz is akin to giving up your soul, privacy, and brains. Look at Mellie, she’s a rising star in the Senate now that she’s out of the White House. And Olivia? She was a badass political force of nature all until she joins Fitz in the White House. Basically, it appears that Fitz is the worst and takes down everyone around him. Except everyone on this show is the worst, save Susan Ross. So, Fitz being characterized as the vortex of suck is confusing as hell to me. Always has been.

Now onto what will be talked about for years. After leaving Mellie’s pep talk, Olivia ditches the dinner Fitz wanted her to be at to make her appointment at a clinic for her abortion, where ironically “It’s a Wonderful Life” resumes playing on tv after the news breaks away from the end of Mellie’s filibuster. Olivia’s pregnancy was a total shock because there weren’t any signs to pick up on, let alone process before the procedure is over as “Silent Night” is being played. Never once has birth control ever been discussed or implied by Olivia and Fitz, and to be frank, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. Because these two can’t keep their hands to themselves around each other. Ever. Her blank facial expression throughout the procedure tells me that she’s at peace with her decision. But does that mean later on she’ll struggle with her decision? Will she regret doing this? Will she be forever relieved? Honestly, none of that matters. Olivia owes no one an explanation of her decision over her body, not even Fitz. Would it be nice for her to let him know what’s going on, because they’re supposed to adults in a relationship? Absolutely, but in the end, the person who faces the biggest life change is Olivia. I would be lying, however, if I didn’t say I do feel a little for Fitz being in the dark over this. Not for him to sway Olivia’s decision one way or the other, but simply to know what was going on. That was his potential baby too. A part of me does think that he’s allowed to grieve, rage, or even be relieved that they’re not having a baby yet. But I’m also not actually in the situation, so my feelings mean zilch.

That said, let me make something very clear: I’m not at all upset with Olivia’s choice, because it’s her choice, her LEGAL and PERSONAL choice. Olivia obviously doesn’t want to bring a baby into the clusterf*ck that is her life with Fitz at the moment. They are in an awful place in their relationship, where communication doesn’t exist, but resentment is alive and well, and all under the microscope of the American public. And to be honest, Olivia is a problem fixer. This was a problem that she could handle the best way she knew how to. Agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter. It was legal and safe, and that’s really all I need to know. I do, however, question if she really wants marriage and babies and happily ever after with Fitz at all. Because deep down, Olivia is about being a fixer and being in control, and I’m not sure how she sees marriage and babies fitting into that picture.

Anyway, when Olivia returns back to the White House after her abortion, she’s immediately is confronted by Fitz for missing the dinner. All the while, she’s frantically rooting out Mellie’s hidden stash of hooch. And then I knew shit was about to go down. She’s hormonal from pregnancy, recovering from her abortion, and feeling suffocated in her relationship with Fitz and the White House. Meanwhile, he’s super pissed off because he’s clueless and only focused on how she “ruined” something for him. Again, I don’t understand how this is the same man who was willing to give up his presidency for Olivia, but now treats her like an employee, but that’s the road we’re going down. Truth be told, I’m more upset about how this couple is being torn down, piece by piece than Olivia’s decision to abort.

At any rate, the gloves come off, and the fight that has been brewing between Olivia and Fitz for weeks now, comes to fruition. And it’s brutal. She accuses Fitz of punishing her for having her father released by moving her into the White House and he responds to her accusation by saying that she actually had Rowan released to get out of marrying him. I really don’t think either one is wrong here. Fitz was super effing creepy when he moved Olivia into the White House without her knowledge and Olivia looked like she would rather chew off her wedding ring finger than marry Fitz under those conditions. Also, why is Rowan’s release only Olivia’s fault? I’m pretty sure Mellie signed those papers but nobody is coming for her for her part in it.

But back to the fight of the century. Olivia tells Fitz that based on everything she’s ever told him, how could he expect her to be someone who sits on the sidelines as a “housewife,” “girlfriend,” or even his “property.” Yoooo. Of course Fitz gets even dirtier by saying that at least he knew who Mellie was from the beginning, saying that Olivia’s upbringing effed her up so much that’s she incapable of having a normal relationship (it did by the way.)  Olivia counters that at least her father loved her, implying that Big Gerry didn’t. He didn’t, and Fitz carries that baggage as well.

But let’s take a time out for a minute. Rowan is a sociopath. I do not care that he’s found the light, or that he’s now proud of Olivia, or that he’s a “changed” man. That man jacked up Olivia’s views on love so much, she’s a walking disaster. He also still refers to the B613 men he sent to sleep with his daughter as his sons. That’s gross and disturbing. His version of love is the epitome of how not to love your child. By the way, in the middle of all this Rowan is released by Huck and dropped off on his doorstep. Jake stops by to tell him that he realizes that Rowan isn’t Lazarus, and then Rowan invites him into the house by saying, “Welcome home, son.” I’m sorry, What? These two remain shady as hell.

Meanwhile, in the White House, those two continue to rip each other’s hearts out and slash them into tiny pieces. Olivia accuses of Fitz of not being able to be alone and suffocating her and Fitz counters that she’s unable to be in a real relationship because she liked when he was unavailable. Again, neither one is wrong. Fitz was trying to take a stand and move them in the direction he thought they should go and Olivia doesn’t like being with Fitz out in the open. In the open, Olivia can’t control the narrative, or run under the radar, or do anything she wants. I question why Olivia and Fitz can’t tailor FLOTUS duties to fit her, since she’s not Mellie, but that’s just me questioning things.

The fight peaks when Olivia screams, “THERE IS NO US! There is no this! There is no jam! There is no future! Not anymore.” Here’s where I knew she had some kinda feelings about her choice to abort their baby. She touched her belly when her voice cracked saying, “There is no future. Not anymore.” That doesn’t mean I need her to regret her choice, it was just nice to see that she actually had feelings about it. Remember when Olivia said that they needed to be solid before facing the world, or they wouldn’t survive? I guess her foreshowing was right. They end up sitting by each other, sharing sips of hooch and saying that they gave it a shot and it didn’t work out. It felt very final, which is fine because I don’t know where these two go from here or even if they should. I actually need a break from either one being together or with someone. They need to work on themselves for a long minute.

So Olivia moves out of the White House, somehow manages to have a fully decorated tree in her non-lived in apartment for the last few weeks, and gets a new couch delivered that night, all after her abortion. Ok. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Olivia got a new couch. I said weeks ago that she shouldn’t be getting married until she got a new couch because she’s still holding onto that trauma, but Jesus, pace yourself, woman. The ending felt like a new beginning for Olivia, or at the very least, like she was finally at peace with her life again. Interestingly, she was still wearing Fitz’s ring throughout her abortion, the fight, and in her apartment as she’s drinking wine on her new couch. So while they’re done for now, I guess we’re supposed to have hope that they’re not done done.

I’m pretty sure I need the winter break just to fix my whiplashed neck with storylines that seem to switch directions on any given week. What did you guys think?

P.S. I’ve never said this before, but let me be clear, death threats to an actress over a storyline for a CHARACTER she portrays are vile. Period. Do better, humans.

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.

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  1. I love Tony and Kerry like no other couple I’ve ever watched on TV or in
    the movies. But the disrespect, the cold-hearted slap, the underpinning
    hatred of WOC the showrunner displays is tooooo insulting. I will NOT
    reward her with ratings. Not now; not ever again. But I will miss Olitz
    to the depth of my soul. However, now it’s a matter of my own
    Self-Respect that I won’t let Shonda stomp on my feelings ever again. Bye Scandal.

  2. Think i will wait and see how the first couple of episodes of 5B go before i tune in, Not interested in Mellie for president, sick to death of Jake and Rowans creepy stuff. I hated that finale so much. There were so many other ways to create drama. They will forget that Mellie actually doesn’t even like children, and of course she will keep them away from Fitz and campaign as the world’s greatest single mom and Fitz of course, will be satan. Bet Olivia will still want favors from everyone at the white house, though, won’t she. Just hope both Olivia and Mellie get what they deserve, they certainly aren’t saints. But i know Fitz will be the devil. Olivia will help Mellie make sure the public knows that. So if its going to go that way, i really won’t bother with the rest of the season.

  3. This review is so bang on, I can’t even express my joy over it! I honestly don’t believe any of the writers even know what is going on in this show at this point either, and I’m glad someone finally called them out on it. I signed up for Kerry washington’s amazing acting skills and some smart adult writing when this show originally aired, and now I find myself questioning my intelligence as I try to follow this train wreck week to week. I’m grateful for this review because it shows that other intelligent viewers are struggling to comprehend the debauchery that has become this show as well. It seems like a waste of such incredible actors at this point, and although Kerry Washington does amazing things, I’m not sure even she can salvage the way this character has been sabotaged. I agree with every single thing you said and am very grateful for your articulate perspective- thank you so much!

  4. The show IS going in the direction of Mellie for president, in the latest table reads it’s clear Olivia’s running her campaign.
    And that’s why Mellie will NEVER pay for her part in releasing Rowan, we’re supposed to forget it because she’s a feminist hero now apparently, but when I saw her decorating the tree with the children, all I wondered was what it would take for her to forgive Rowan if he murdered Karen and Teddy? Because I know she said she never wanted kids, but I never believed she didn’t love them until she freed her son’s killer.
    It’s fascinating that Fitz who can’t forgive his son’s murder is the bad guy but Mellie who freed her son’s killer is viewed as a heroine.

  5. Great review.

    Originally I had decided to stop watching Scandal but after a few days to cool off I have decided to wait until the first episode in February to see the direction of the show. If the show is back to being Mellie (running for President) and Jake centric than I’ll stop watching. Jake and Rowan need to die to stop the spy crap.

    For all we know, there may be another reason for the abortion although I’m fine with Olivia’s decision and hope she tells Fitz sooner rather than later. Also I don’t think Olivia and Fitz are done based on Tony Goldwyn’s interviews and periscope discussion. Plus the ratings when the show returns will force Shonda to change the story line if ABC has any say in the show’s survival.

    I do agree that the writing on the show is stupidly inconsistent and sometimes nonsensical. This episode made no sense including the Lazarus plot, Mellie’s political grandstanding and the timeline for the pregnancy.

    All Shonda had to do this season to maintain drama was to have Olivia and Fitz just date for the remaining time he is in office so Olivia would not have to play First Lady. Then she could have shown Olivia trying to juggle her professional and personal lives.

    BTW how does Mellie still have a job as a Senator after committing perjury on worldwide television? And where is the reveal of Mellie forging Fitz’ signature to release Rowan?

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