Sunday, April 24, 2016

Scandal 5x18 Review: “Till Death Do Us Part” (A Wedding or a Funeral) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“Till Death Do Us Part”
Original Airdate: April 21, 2016

Olivia is hiding out at her father’s house this week after murdering the wheelchair-bound Andrew last week. But far from being guilt-ridden, traumatized, or at all acting like a human being who just murdered someone, Olivia is busy scheming it up behind Papa Pope’s back. Oh yeah, and we finally find out Jake’s backstory, so there’s that. Let’s talk Scandal!


It’s been five seasons coming, but Jake’s much-anticipated backstory is finally revealed. And it’s just as sad and tragic as we expected it would be: Jake’s father was an abusive alcoholic who beat Jake’s mother and sexually abused Jake’s sister. We see snippets throughout the episode of Jake’s upbringing and how Jake landed in Papa Pope’s employ.

Jake’s real name is Pete Harris and he left home and joined the Navy after his sister committed suicide. He’s constantly in trouble and is about to be dishonorably discharged and thrown in jail when Papa Pope steps in and offers him a spot in B613. He gets a new job, a new life, and a new identity as Jake Ballard.

We get to see Jake getting beat up and verbally abused by Papa Pope a lot. Papa Pope successfully breaks him, positioning himself as his savior and new, better father. Papa Pope is truly terrible and nightmarish, and it’s no wonder that Jake ends up brainwashed into being his lapdog for the rest of his life. It’s not at all hard to believe after everything Jake’s been through — and after everything Papa Pope subsequently puts him through — that Jake would do and say anything he’s told by this man who now claims to be his father and only family. The day Jake graduates from B613, he drives back to his father’s house, takes a gun, and shoots him. Then he comes back “home” to Papa Pope, where he’s been ever since.


Meanwhile, in present day, Olivia showed up at her father’s door the night she murdered Andrew. Now weeks have passed, and she’s still here. Her hair’s a mess, she won’t eat, and she won’t get out of bed. From all appearances, she seems like a woman who has succumbed to the effects that I assume murdering another human being can have. But we find out very shortly that it’s all an act.

She gets out of bed to appease Jake and Papa Pope, and announces she’s going for a run. In reality, she’s using it as an excuse for a covert meeting with Quinn and Huck, who are helping her figure out what Jake and her father are really up to. Papa Pope moved up the date of Jake and Vanessa’s wedding, and OPA still hasn’t uncovered why these two are getting married in the first place.

While Quinn and Huck head back to the office to dig up dirt on this wedding, Olivia decides to exploit Jake’s one weakness: his feelings for her. She turns on the waterworks, pretending to have a nervous breakdown about how she can’t go to his engagement dinner because it’s at the White House and that’s where she murdered someone and she’s oh-so-sad and torn up about it. He falls for it and tells Vanessa he can’t attend their engagement party because Olivia needs him. Vanessa takes this as well as you’d expect a woman to take finding out she’s being stood up at the last minute by her fiancé at their engagement party because of another woman. Papa Pope steps in and demands that Jake goes to the party, and so of course he does.

But Olivia has another trick up her sleeve. When Jake gets home after the party, she pretends to be drunk and demands that Jake tell her why they can’t be together, why he’s marrying Vanessa. He falls for it again (for a super spy, he sure is easily fooled by someone who’s fake crying and fake drunk). He admits that marrying Vanessa is the perfect move politically, and will position him to be the Vice Presidential candidate on Edison Davis’ ticket. So, the truth comes out. With Edison and Jake in the White House, Papa Pope will rule the world.

Once he admits this, he realizes Olivia played him and he comes clean with a few more things, like the fact he’s still in love with Olivia, and he doesn’t want to be with anyone else. They sleep together (because of course), and she vows to help him get out from under her father’s thumb once and for all. He won’t have to marry Vanessa, he won’t have to be VP, and he and Olivia will get to be together forever and ever! Happiness and rainbows and puppies will be theirs in no time.

They craft what they think is the perfect scheme: he’ll stand Vanessa up at the altar. That way it will be so last minute Papa Pope won’t be able to persuade him or blackmail him to change his mind, and it will be so cruel and cold that there will be no coming back from it in the eyes of the American people. In other words, it’s just the political suicide they need for him.

It always astounds me when these characters underestimate Papa Pope time and time again. This man was the head of B613, the world’s most elite and deadly spy organization, for decades. He has people — men, women, children — killed just for being in his way. And yet they really think they can outsmart him?

Well, turns out they can’t. Papa Pope knows what they’re up to, and when the day of the wedding arrives, he sits down next to Olivia in the chapel and informs her that if she doesn’t tell Jake she’s changed her mind and ensure that he marries Vanessa, then he’ll kill Jake dead. And if Olivia isn’t completely convincing in her conversation with Jake, then he’ll still kill Jake. How this outcome didn’t occur to any of them to begin with is beyond me. OF COURSE Papa Pope will kill Jake if he doesn’t do what he wants. That’s his MO for everything! Lots and lots of killing. And then some more killing.

But Olivia is shocked that she wasn’t able to outwit her father again and she’s terrified of Jake dying, so she goes and tells him to marry Vanessa. She tells him that she doesn’t love him, could never love him, that she will always and forever love Fitz, and Jake is just a sorry runner-up to her love for Fitz. She musters every ounce of coldness and venom she can and Jake buys it. Does it really not occur to him for a second that Papa Pope is behind this complete 180 from Olivia? Apparently not. So Jake shows up, the wedding happens, and everyone says “I do.” And Olivia is very, very sad.

I just can’t even with the place Scandal is in right now. Olivia murdering someone and having no remorse over it, everyone underestimating Papa Pope for about the thousandth time, and just the general unbelievable place all the characters have gone to. The politics are the only interesting part of this show at this point, and all the political drama was completely left out of this episode.

Gladiator Gems:
  • “You can’t take Command, Son.”
  • “I have prepared you for this life, but I cannot make you want it.”
  • “He is the talent in this family and I would rather he be dead than mediocre.” 
  • “A wedding or a funeral? The choice is yours.”


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