Saturday, April 2, 2016

Scandal 5x16 Recap: “The Miseducation of Susan Ross” (Great Debates and Big Secrets) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“The Miseducation of Susan Ross”
Original Airdate: March 30, 2016

The last episode of Scandal ended on a cliff-hanger, with the first Republican debate kicking off as closing credits rolled. This week’s episode picks up right where we left off last week, so let’s get to it!


Mellie, Hollis, and Susan bring their A-games to the first Republican debate. The character of Hollis quickly went from being a subtle nod to Trump to a full-blown Trump impersonator. At this point, Shonda Rhimes is basically just quoting our real world, orange-haired candidate verbatim every time Hollis opens his mouth.

Mellie stayed cool and composed during the debate and got a few good zingers in, holding her own against Hollis and his attacks on her character and her ties to her ex-husband, President Fitzgerald Grant.

The night, however, belonged to Susan Ross. Though she got off to a rocky start after breaking up with David moments before taking the stage, she rocked the debate with a passionate nod to her late husband, who lost his life in the Middle East while protecting an oil pipeline owned by Hollis Doyle. Susan is announced the clear winner, much to Mellie’s devastation.


While Mellie whines about losing and how all of America hates her, Olivia makes her a promise: that she will win the White House in November come hell or high water. I’d like to note that way back in season one, Olivia chastised Quinn for making promises to clients that she couldn’t keep, and now she’s doing the same.

It’s a sign of how far down the path of destruction Olivia’s gone that she’d make a promise like that. She’s so desperate to win the White House for Mellie that she’s willing to not only make that promise, but also compromise everything she used to stand for to do it. When she gets back to OPA, she reveals the plan: Alex gave her that manila folder full of dirt on Susan Ross – and she’s going to use it.

The dirt turns out to be that Susan wasn’t really married to her deceased husband. We viewers already knew this, of course, as it was revealed last season when we first met Susan. Leo (who I wish would come back!) revealed it to Abby, who has apparently never mentioned it to Olivia. So, though this is not new news to anyone else, it’s brand new information to Olivia.

Olivia heads back to her team and makes finding out more about this secret priority number one. Huck breaks into the courthouse where Susan was supposedly married. They find no marriage certificate. Olivia tells Huck to go through Susan’s online bank statements to see if she received benefits from the government for her supposed husband’s death. Because if she received veterans’ benefits for the death of a husband she wasn’t really married to, not only is she a liar, she’s a thief as well. Unfortunately for the team, it seems Susan is too upstanding for that. There is no record she ever received even one penny from the government for her husband’s death.

However, Quinn does find that Susan paid for a DNA test for her daughter, Casey, who as it turns out, is NOT the daughter of Susan’s fake husband.

Olivia heads back to Alex to find out if he knows who Casey’s real father is. Information is never free, and so Olivia drops another tidbit to Alex about Edison Davis’ stint in rehab: there is a nurse who oversaw Edison while he was there, and that nurse is willing to talk. With this info in hand, Alex reveals that Casey’s real father is a guy named Ronnie, who’s been locked up in prison for the last 10 years. Olivia offers Ronnie his freedom in exchange for telling the world he’s Casey’s dad, but he actually seems like a decent guy who doesn’t want to hurt Susan or her daughter.

Huck, of all people, voices his concerns about going after Susan’s daughter. So, even Huck, who is best known for murdering and torturing people, feels like Liv is crossing a line. If Huck says you’re crossing a line, it must be a really big line that should never, ever be crossed.

When Olivia comes back to tell Ronnie that time’s up and he needs to sell out Susan now, he refuses. He says he’s thought and prayed about it and he can’t hurt Susan, her daughter, or her bid for president. Olivia says that she will destroy Ronnie’s life if he doesn’t agree, leaving him little choice but to cooperate.

Huck takes a stand, enlisting the help of Quinn, who enlists the help of Abby, who enlists the help of Fitz, to stage an intervention with Liv. Fitz tries to appeal to who Olivia used to be, telling her she doesn’t have to be this awful, destroyer-of-families that she is currently being. Olivia seems unmoved and refuses to alter her plan to destroy Susan’s life.

Fitz goes back to Susan and tells her what’s going on, appealing to her to go public herself and tell the American people the truth before anyone else can. Susan is terrified by the prospect of doing this, convinced the truth will destroy her. But Fitz tells her that the only thing that will destroy her is if she takes the presidency unfairly, without earning it. In a rare moment of wisdom and strength, Fitz closes the door and proceeds to tell Susan how he won the presidency, that his first election was rigged, and he that he was too cowardly to tell the truth.

Susan thinks on it and in the morning she seeks out the president to tell him she’s made a decision. But before she can tell Fitz what that decision is, he delivers some difficult news: Ronnie has committed suicide in his cell. Olivia also receives this news, right before she’s about to go to the media.

This seems to serve as a wake-up call to Liv, who meets with Fitz to tell him that, though she does want her candidate to win more than anything, she wants to run a clean campaign from here on out. I guess the white hat is back on, at least for now.


While all the drama with Susan is unfolding behind the scenes, Alex leaks the info about Edison Davis being in rehab, and the media has a field day. Edison flips out, going to Papa Pope to complain about Olivia, since only she could be behind this information getting out. Unfortunately for Edison, he really should have listened to Olivia last episode when she warned him to stay away from her father. Papa Pope shows his dark side and goes completely ballistic when Edison makes a comment about his need to reign in his daughter. One thing you don’t say to Papa Pope is anything bad about his daughter. That’s the fastest way to end up dead.

Papa Pope puts Edison in his place and warns him to stay there. Meanwhile, someone cleans up the mess, paying off the nurse who acted as Alex’s source. The nurse recants the rumors and tells the media that Edison was never there. This puts the Vargas campaign in a very precarious situation because not only did they leak the info in the first place, but Frankie Vargas also chose to comment on what are now “unsubstantiated rumors.”

This blunder puts Alex on the outs with his brother, Frankie, and paves the way for Cyrus to assume the reins of running Frankie’s campaign, which had been his plan all along. We’re privy to a conversation between Cyrus and his go-to man, Tom, where we find out it was Cyrus who paid off Edison’s nurse to recant her story. Of course.


While Olivia is knee-deep in dirt, she sends Marcus off to babysit Mellie on the road. OPA thinks having Mellie read mean tweets on Jimmy Kimmel Live! is the best way to get the public to warm up to her. Mellie is not a fan of this plan, not knowing or caring why celebrities reading mean tweets is a thing or how it will help her.

She and Marcus have a heart-to-heart, which consists mostly of Marcus yelling at her and telling her she’ll never win if she doesn’t learn how to be a nice, genuine person. Since Mellie only seems to respond when people yell louder than she does, this does the trick. She goes on Kimmel, reads the mean tweets and the audience eats it up. Maybe there’s hope for Mellie after all.

This was a pretty fantastic episode. I was expecting the debate to take up the entirety of the episode, but instead, it took up just enough time to give us what we all wanted: an underdog winning the night. Susan Ross deserves to be the next president and I hope she can win it without compromising who she is and everything she stands for. But her big secret is still looming, and even if Olivia is letting it die along with Ronnie, it’s still bound to come out at some point. We’ll just have to wait and see how much damage it does when that time comes.

Gladiator Gems:
  • “We are not our husbands’ keepers…we are our own women with our own beliefs.” 
  • “Your hand is dangerously close to the flame. Watch out, kid.” 
  • “This isn’t politics. This is ripping a family apart for no reason.” 
  • “Tell me something I don’t know, stupid face.” 
  • “Apparently I have what the Twitterverse refers to as a ‘high booty.’” 
  • “You’re a prop, David. That’s all.” 
  • “I want to win desperately. But I want to win clean.” 


Post a Comment