Olivia's love life is thrown into a tailspin as she tracks boyfriend Jake to the Pentagon where his Human Rights are being violated by her ex. (But it's okay because the whole thing is just one big misunderstanding anyway!)
Last night's Scandal, was the second episode to feature one of Olivia's lovers talking about the way she feels and tastes in the basement of the Pentagon. A year ago, it was Fitz, attempting to get information about Olivia's mother from her father, Rowan. This time around, it's Jake; Olivia's current-ish boyfriend-ish, trying to rile up Fitz as he is being pummeled within an inch of his life for one of the few Scandal assassinations he didn't actually commit.
The season premiere of Scandal promised viewers a fresh start. And while the show has delivered in many ways (no umbrella conspiracy, more active roles for previously ignored supporting characters) Olivia's men seem stuck... in the Pentagon... talking about her vagina.
The show's primary love triangle suffers from essentially being two men doing terrible things for Olivia's honor/happiness without telling Olivia and leaving her a step behind in the process. Jake seeks to take down her father to free her from his grasp and Fitz's primary appeal seems to be his ability to muddle love with ownership on all Olivia-related matters, which now include an extended beating of her current beau. The excuse that he is a grieving father seeking justice for the assassination of his son wears thin, even to the man he is beating senseless.
Now, Olivia Pope is many things but certainly not a damsel in distress. In fact, much of Olivia's appeal comes from her self-assurance and hyper-competency, which make her a compelling lead; the type of character that Shonda Rhimes' empire thrives on. This episode, however, finds Olivia sidelined by the very machinations that she has (willingly or not) set into motion. She is left helpless as the three main men in her life continue to cite her as an excuse to work out their anger issues, tropical fantasies, and daddy dearest schemes.
Jake's plea for Olivia to drag him into the last is ostensibly the most heartfelt; he want nothing more than to retire to a peaceful island with the girl of his dreams. Neat. The problem is that Olivia has proven time and time again that she is most at home in the grey. Until the series finale, Jake's offer for Olivia to "stand in the light with him" remains a nonstarter. Of the two men vying for her affections, Fitz unfortunately remains the most compatible option; a man who aspires to be good despite constantly being dragged into darkness by the world.
Given my feelings on Fitz, I must therefore advocate for a third option for Miss Pope. We need a new bachelor to enter the field, stat. (And no, it can't be Papa Pope. No matter how creepily possessive of his daughter's life he is.)
Speaking of, Rowan has now fully settled into his role as Washington's smoke monster; nebulous, ostensibly evil, and constantly circling the scene while remaining untouchable. There is a thin line between writing a puppet master and writing your characters as puppets. Seeing Olivia, Fitz, and Cyrus circle the truth about Rowan (literally stating it and then dismissing it in the same sentence) is becoming a sustained exercise in stretching credulity. Joe Morton is a fantastic actor and very good at selling Papa Pope as a ruthless company man with Cosby-like affectations when it comes to his daughter.
In other ongoing plot lines, Huck is now stalking his family, David Rosen is still sad about driving a judge to suicide two episodes ago, and the First Lady took an empowering shower of pathos. Mellie remains one of the pillars of Scandal for me, if for no reason other than the fact that she is so wonderfully broken and yet makes such an effort to herself back together each time. Having learned the truth about her son's death, Mellie can now move on by framing it as "a sacrifice for the cause of their presidency." Loaded, uncomfortable language that hints at a new fervor for the First Lady.