Sunday, May 1, 2016

Scandal 5x19 Review: “Buckle Up” (I Think It’s Time for a Heart-to-Heart) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“Buckle Up”
Original Airdate: April 28, 2016

Hurt feelings between Liv and Abby damage their political candidates in this week’s Scandal. Let’s discuss all the drama that went down.


We’ve fast-forwarded a bit it seems. As the episode opens, we’re told that three debates have occurred (we, the viewers, only witnessed the first one), and Mellie is polling at the top of the Republican pack. Vice President Susan Ross is a close second and Hollis Doyle is ranked a distant third.

Things have been heated between Abby and Olivia ever since Olivia was a wee bit demeaning to Abby about her abilities as Chief of Staff and future career prospects, and Abby subsequently went behind Olivia’s back to save the president (which then led to Olivia beating wheelchair-bound former Vice President Andrew Nichols to death with a chair). So, yeah. Tense times. Now both women are using their positions of power and authority to lash out at each other under the guise of fighting for their respective candidates.

Susan, Mellie, and Hollis are all headed to a dinner with Louise Baker, the governor of Florida, and all three are vying for her endorsement. They’re convinced that whichever one of them gets her endorsement will be handed the state of Florida and its much-sought after delegates on a silver platter. The political teams brief their candidates, stressing how much Governor Baker hates it when people are late.

So naturally, Abby stages an incident that grounds Air Force One, forcing Mellie’s plane — which is right behind the president’s on the runway — to also be grounded. Abby makes a mysterious call and next thing you know, Air Force One is grounded for mechanical issues, and Olivia’s immediately suspicious, though there’s not much she can do. ... Except go to the press and claim the White House is sabotaging Mellie’s flight with fake Air Force One mechanical issues. This causes a firestorm within the press, with a slew of reporters on both sides reporting what Abby and Olivia are saying.

Abby’s really dug herself into a hole with this one. Apparently it’s illegal to report fake mechanical issues and so to admit they made it up now would embroil the president in legal issues, in addition to subjecting him to the wrath of the media. Olivia is using this to her full advantage, talking to the press about all the stranded passengers who are in planes behind Mellie’s who also can’t get to where they need to be.

Mellie turns to Marcus for help, since Olivia is being unreasonable. Marcus encourages her to just walk out on the tarmac and have a conversation with Fitz. He’s convinced Fitz won’t leave her standing out there alone, and he’s right. Despite Abby’s protests, Fitz heads out to talk to Mellie. Naturally, the press eats it up.

Fitz and Mellie have what is a surprisingly civil conversation about the troubles between Abby and Olivia. Mellie makes a comment about how if Fitz doesn’t move his plane, then Olivia will go all “Tonya Harding” on Abby and kill her. Fitz immediately calls her out for being inappropriate but Mellie has no idea what he’s talking about. Apparently no one told Mellie what Olivia did to Andrew, so it’s up to Fitz to let her in on that secret. Mellie is shocked but admits to Fitz that she knew something was wrong because Liv hasn’t been eating or sleeping or exercising — she’s “there but not there.” They discuss their mutual concern for Olivia and talk about how best to be there for her. Which I guess is kind of touching but mostly just weird considering the fact that Fitz cheated on Mellie for years with Olivia, then moved Olivia into the White House and subjected Mellie to a messy divorce. But that’s none of my business.

Fitz walks back in to Air Force One with new determination and demands that they get the plane off the ground. Though this will get Mellie in the air, it doesn’t solve the problem of Mellie being very, very late to Governor Baker’s dinner, and Governor Baker “does not seat latecomers.” Mellie demands that Olivia figure out how to solve this mess that she helped create, and Olivia comes up with a plan: Fitz and Mellie will attend the dinner together. It works, as you can’t really refuse to seat the president of the United States at your dinner, even if he does arrive halfway through the third course.

Governor Baker seems to be favoring Hollis Doyle, though, and Susan is not doing herself any favors. She calls the governor out for having a blind spot when it comes to pollution issues and companies she favors destroying the rainforest. This certainly doesn’t win Susan any points at dinner, and yet, the next day Governor Baker announces that she’s endorsing Susan. It’s not enough, however. In a surprising turn, the voters of Florida turn out for Hollis Doyle, and suddenly it seems he could be a serious contender.


Cyrus’ prostitute-turned-husband, Michael, is being pressured into helping Alex Vargas take down Cyrus. Michael is resistant and loyal even though Alex showed him compromising photos of Cyrus cheating with Tom.

Meanwhile, Alex is also pressuring his brother Frankie to bring his kids on the trail with him to help bolster his family-man persona. Frankie’s main competition is Edison Davis, who is unmarried and childless and this would give Frankie a leg up. But that is the last thing Frankie wants to do, since his daughter Anna is currently hospitalized in a losing battle with cancer. This is a secret he doesn’t want anyone to know about, and certainly doesn’t want to use as leverage in a political race.

That evening when Cyrus gets home, Michael confronts him about cheating and Cyrus admits it. Michael wants to go to counseling and try to fix their marriage, but Cyrus isn’t having it. He says some super demeaning things to Michael, basically telling him to shut up and be a good little housewife. Michael fights back, reminding Cyrus that he’s the one who takes care of their daughter all day and night while Cyrus is off on the campaign trail or in sleazy hotel rooms with Tom. Cyrus responds in a very Cyrus way: by threatening Michael’s life. Poor Michael. Does anyone else remember when they first got engaged and Michael’s parents were so cruel to him and Cyrus defended him and said that he would take care of him and never let anyone mistreat him again?

I guess Cyrus doesn’t remember promising to always be kind and caring, which is really too bad for him. He should remember that being mean to his husband can get him in some serious trouble. After all, his first husband, James, betrayed him too — all because Cyrus was a big jerk and a bully. And it looks like Michael’s about to do the same thing. Or is he?

Michael finally agrees to meet with Alex and hands over a USB drive supposedly full of dirt on Cyrus. Alex promptly goes back to his office and plugs it into his computer, only to have an error message pop up saying it can’t finish loading. Meanwhile, Edison Davis suddenly receives an email from Alex full of photos of Frankie with his sick daughter in the hospital. Edison promptly releases these to the press, along with the email address he got them from. Frankie is furious and fires Alex, though Alex swears he didn’t do it, while Cyrus just sits there looking self-righteous. Apparently Cyrus and Michael rigged the USB drive to take down Alex.

But just because Michael didn’t betray Cyrus to Alex doesn’t mean he’s just going to let Cyrus’ manipulations and threats be swept under the rug. Cyrus gets home to find that Michael has moved out — and taken Cyrus’ daughter with him.


David is on the campaign trail with Susan, which neither of them are happy about since they’ve been broken up for a while now and are only pretending to be together for the sake of Susan’s political chances. Elizabeth North is forcing them to share a hotel room together each night to keep up the farce, and Susan, in turn, is making David sleep on the floor. I’m all for Susan bolstering her chances, and I’m also all about David paying a little penance for cheating on sweet Susan, but doesn’t he have a job to do? He is Attorney General of the United States after all, and I feel like that would give him a pretty solid excuse to bow out of campaigning with his faux-girlfriend.

But it seems David has bigger problems than sleeping on the floor each night. Governor Baker pays him a visit before the dinner and tells him that if he wants her to back Susan, she’s going to need a favor. Apparently, Governor Baker is pretty corrupt and has been taking kickbacks from all sorts of organizations and entities her entire career. A sugar company she has ties to is currently under investigation by the Attorney General’s office and she wants David to drop the case and make it all disappear. If he does this, then she’ll back Susan.

In a moment of surprising honesty, David immediately tells Susan and Elizabeth what Governor Baker is requesting. Elizabeth is all about doing anything to help her candidate win, but Susan refuses. She doesn’t want David to do anything that will compromise the oath he took as Attorney General, even if it means she might not win Florida.

Unbeknownst to Susan, David goes ahead and makes the deal, and that’s why Governor Baker backs Susan — not that it does any good since she still loses Florida. Susan has no idea what David did but Elizabeth figures it out, and I have a feeling Susan isn’t going to be in the dark for long.


Huck finally confronts Olivia about her murdering Andrew. He thinks she’s grieving over Andrew’s death, but she explains she’s not. She says it felt good and that night — after killing him — she slept better than she had in a year. Ooookay then. Even after her spiel about feeling great about it all, Huck just stands there. When she asks what he’s staring at, he says he’s waiting for the rest of it. Oh, Huck. He always knows. Olivia finally admits that her father threatened Jake’s life and that’s why she let Jake’s marriage to Vanessa happened, and that’s why she’s not swooping in to save Jake. She breaks down about it, saying that she doesn’t want to be responsible for taking another life. She wants to be better than that. Huck just hugs her while she sobs.

Huck and Olivia aren’t the only ones having a heart-to-heart. Abby finally breaks down to Fitz about Olivia killing Andrew. She thinks she drove Olivia to it because she betrayed her. She’s worried about her best friend and she feels guilty and she doesn’t know how to move forward. Fitz encourages her to find whatever way she can to get through this.

Abby goes to talk it out with Olivia, and honestly, it’s about time. Abby admits how hurt and upset she was by Olivia’s demeaning comments and Olivia finally admits what viewers have known all along — she misses the power. It’s not that she’s not happy for Abby, it’s not that she doesn’t think Abby’s capable. It’s that Olivia built that White House and that president, and she ran that White House while she and Fitz were together. And now, she’s out and she’s backing Mellie to be the next President of the United States, and she does not want to lose again. She has another chance at power and she wants it more than anything. With everything out on the table, it seems these two can finally move forward, and they agree that even though they each want their own candidate to win, they have a bigger, mutual problem now: Hollis Doyle. They agree to team up and take him down. We’ll see how that works out for them.

This episode finally felt like progress toward getting Scandal back on track. In my opinion, the show went off the rails the minute Olivia moved into the White House and hasn’t been able to get itself back on track since. I’ve hated all of the plotlines going on for the past couple months — Olivia and Abby fighting, Olivia killing Andrew, poor Marcus regulated to a corner of OPA, David being a smarmy cad who cheats on Susan, Jake trapped by Papa Pope. It’s all been so miserable and over-the-top. It’s not like Scandal has ever been all rainbows and puppies, but it has always been about the greater good — about wearing the white hat — and about hope. There hasn’t been any hope and there certainly haven’t been any white hats in a really long time. Maybe this week marked a transition back to everything I used to love about Scandal.

Gladiator Gems:
  • “I’d just as soon be shot in the face with a cannon on my birthday than be tagged as some kind of a... feminist.” I really need Sally Langston to be given her own spin-off show. Never has such a loathsome character been so loveable. 
  • “Why are you here when you could be saving Jake?”
  • “We get it, you’re a special snowflake.”
  • “You’ve been a great governor. One of the best this country has ever had. If it was up to the voters in Florida, you’d have the job for life. But everyone’s got a blind spot. This is yours.”
  • “I forgot. The kind of man you really are. I forgot. And it’s nice to know that somewhere in there, you’re still you.”
  • “I don’t regret a thing. I’m glad he’s dead and the only thing that makes it sweeter is knowing that I am the one who killed him.” 
  • “I run you, you run the country. That’s the job.”
  • “I’m rooting for you, but not if it means I lose. I’m done losing.”


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