#Gladiators, if Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr. are wondering why I showed up the American Idol auditions singing this song:
… it is because Shonda Lynn Rhimes and the entire Shondaland crew ruined my damn life with the incredible Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder winter finales. All I had left in my life were two words — bish and what — and the nominal piano skills I learned from playing "Hot Cross Buns" back in grade school. I am honestly shocked at what I just witnessed on Scandie, especially because I hated last week's episode.
With the winter finale, the show has returned to form. There were epic fights, a fierce #YesAllWomen message, a shocking revelation, and me sobbing hard like Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years a Slave when she just wanted a bar of Lever 2000 to wash the funk off her butt. (Too far? Probably. But an accurate depiction of what I went through last night? Definitely.) "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was damn-near perfect, and, dare I write, one of the best episodes in the show's five-year history. Let's discuss why.
We open with Olivia deep in her new, um,
wifely girlfriendly duties. To be honest, I'm not really sure how to refer to the White House version of Olivia Pope. After all, she and Fitz aren't married, but they are a couple, and, as we all know, he's the president. What does that make her? I think her official title has to be somewhere between First Lady and Former Side Heaux Upgraded to Main Bae. That doesn't quite roll off the tongue, so First Lady it is!
Anyhoo, Liv is knee deep in FLOTUS duties. It's Christmastime, so she entertains children visiting the White House, plans seating arrangements for dinners, and pretends to be excited when someone gives her a Christmas ornament. It's the same faux excitement I have when a co-worker brings a batch of cookies to the office, but they're oatmeal-raisin cookies. A smile plastered on the face, but the eyes are dead inside. The point is, Liv's new life is basically just entertaining and being on magazines to talk about salads — by the way, there isn't much to say about salads, other than, "They make me poop," so bless Liv for pumping out an entire interview about them — and she's not happy about that new life. She looks at all her fancy dresses while Fitz acts like she isn't the caged bird that Maya Angelou wrote that poem about. Ugh. He sucks because he cares more about the stupid spending bill than the woman he claims to love.
Speaking of the spending bill, Olitz are hosting a swanky holiday party at the White House to hobnob. VP Susan hangs out with David, but he treats her like a friend instead of a romantic partner. Abby brags that since Olivia became First Lady–ish, Fitz's poll numbers have gone up, and then someone at the party asks for Olivia's help ... on getting a cookie recipe, like Google, Bing, and Ask Jeeves don't exist.
This royally sucks for someone like Liv, who had a pretty powerful career, but at the same time, I feel like the show is oversimplifying what it means to be FLOTUS. Michelle Obama does a lot, so if Liv doesn't want to watch Rachael Ray and bake cookies, she can do something else with her time. Something better, like lotioning up ashy black babies for charity, or packing up her Victoria's Secret and leaving Fitz in the middle of the night, or skipping town because life with Fitz is hot garbage. She's clearly not happy, but I'm not sure what she thought her life was going to be like after she and Fitz went public. Sometimes the fantasy of a relationship is better than the reality. Oh, well.
Across town, Mellie meets with some senators who are pumped because they can get the spending bill passed without her help. This isn't just a blow to her ego — the spending bill won't guarantee funding for Planned Parenthood, so it could be taken away at any given moment. That doesn't sit well with Mellie, but those senators don't give a damn. I think I see where this is going! I love how Shonda & Co. mirror real-life issues in the show.
Meanwhile, at OPA, Marcus is pimping out the office with Christmas decorations and zzzzzz — sorry. That's all this story line deserves. Let's move on.
David and Lizzie are still boning on the regular in his office. They finish up and he gives her a present. Uh-oh. First rule of side-heauxing? Don't buy your jump-off a gift. Just give them a high five, or take them to Applebee's and let them order whatever they want except curly fries. (Those things cost extra, and if you get them that, then it's obvious you have feels for the person.) Second rule of side-heauxing? Don't do it if you are in your early-to-mid 40s. Side-heauxing is a young man's game. It's built for 20-somethings who don't need to stretch before or after sex, and whose hearts can bounce back when things don't work out. David and Lizzie are too old for this foolishness, and someone — [cough] Susan [cough] — is bound to get hurt.
The Senate is ready to pass the spending bill and go home for the holidays when Mellie stands up and decides to filibuster. YAAAAS! Mellie has always talked a good game about how dope she would be as a politician, but it wasn't until this moment that I finally believed her. She's standing up for an organization that helps many women, and as a bonus, she sticks it to Fitz for supporting such a garbage bill.
News of Mellie's filibuster reaches the White House. Abby thinks that they should ask Liv to help spin this to the media, but Fitz is like, "Oh, she's busy." LOL. He knows — we all know — that Liv is bored out of her gourd, watching reruns of Melrose Place and drinking wine. She would welcome this work. Furthermore, how Fitz gonna act like he doesn't need Liv when she is the reason his goofy behind is president? If it weren't for her, he'd be back on the West Coast, managing a couple California Pizza Kitchens in Los Angeles. I tell ya, when you act like Fitz, meaning #YouAintShit, you forget how wack you are and try to assert power you don't really have. I hate this dude.
Before I go any further, we should check in with Rowan. What the hell is going on with him? Well, Huck went out and got them some burgers, so I guess Huck is taking his time before he kills Rowan. I get that. Sometimes when there's a cockroach in my apartment — I'm not trifling, this kind of thing happens in NYC — I get so stressed about killing it that I put it off and listen to the Stevie Wonder Pandora station for a half-hour and vow to kill it only if reappears. Maybe that's what Huck is doing. He's not emotionally ready to kill Rowan yet. After all, he has been telling Jake how his sadistic side is locked away. But it's Rowan, who is pure evil, so Huck will have to do something to him, right?
We don't find out yet because we jump back to the White House.
Liv is watching Mellie filibuster, and you can tell that she wishes she was in on that action. Fitz, of course, thinks that Mellie is doing this to spite him. Riiiiiiiight, because she couldn't possibly want to protect the hundreds of thousands of women who use Planned Parenthood's health-care services. How can he be so obsessed with himself?
Speaking of obsessed, Jake, a.k.a. Captain Goose Down Pillow Lips, is busy tracking Secret Service Tom, who is not dead! SST meets with Russell, who rips him a new one for losing track of Rowan. I'm still not sure what all this Lazarus business is about, but I assume it'll make sense soon. Or not. Does it really need to? We're all along for the ride either way.
Back to Huck and Rowan. Huck is now on his laptop, typing. What the hell is he doing? Black Friday shopping? Playing World of Warcraft? Gchatting his friends? Scratch that last one. He doesn't have any friends. What he does have is zero patience for Rowan's b.s. speeches, especially when Papa Pope brings up Javi and implies that Kim gets around. Huck snaps, and just as it seems like he'll attack Rowan, he stops himself. He reminds Rowan that the media painted Liv as a slut, that Liv chose Fitz over him, and that he failed Liv as a father, which makes Rowan want to die. Then Huck goes, "WHICH WHITE BOY DO YOU APPROVE OF BEING INSIDE YOUR DAUGHTER?"
Wow. I don't think anyone expected Huck to go in like that! Y'all, I damn near choked on my Vitamin Water. The discarded Entenmann's box popped out my trashcan like, "Huck said what?!" My downstairs neighbor opened up my window and was like:
In lighter news, VP Susan gets David a fancy bottle of liquor for Christmas. He's on the spot, so what does he do? He regifts the bracelet he bought for Lizzie and gives it to Susan! NO! This is so trifling! Susan is makes googly eyes and hums the "every kiss begins with Kay" song all over a dude who was sexing on someone else for breakfast that morning. VP Susan doesn't deserve this. She needs a Kevin James–looking dude who wears sensible-dad jeans and has good credit. David is going to break her heart with this ignorant nonsense.
The filibuster goes on for hours and hours. Mellie is clearly feeling it. She can barely stand because she needs to use the restroom. Her hair is a mess, which is still better than my hair most days. Everyone is waiting for her to fail, except Liv, who gets an idea to help her after watching news pundits say that the only way Mellie could take a bathroom break is if someone were to ask her a long, drawn-out question. Who does that someone end up being? VP Susan! Yaaaas! Once again, she proves that she is the only good person in this place. I hope she doesn't get tainted by the devil, but she probably will in season six.
While Mellie is in the bathroom, Liv stops by and tells her not to give up. Mellie realizes that the VP Susan thing was masterminded by Liv. Y'all, mark my words. This is gonna be Olivia and Mellie next year:
These two need to run on a presidential ticket together because I am all the way here for that. Mellie goes back to the floor and runs out the minutes, so the spending bill will be tabled until the holidays are over. Meanwhile, Liv is off to the Cabinet Dinner. Only she's not there! Where is she?
Before we find out, we see that Jake has tracked Russell to a secret hiding place. Instead of killing him immediately, Jake lets Russell yammer some malarkey about how he and Jake are going to take over from Rowan. This conversation doesn't go for too long, thankfully, before Jake shoots him in the head. Russell's dead, but Rowan isn't! The kidnapping was just so Huck could test himself, to see if he could not resort to violence. That was super anticlimatic, but I guess it's better than watching Huck get a half-chub over ripping a tooth out of Rowan's body.
Back to Liv. She's watching the news report on Mellie's filibuster success, and then she goes into a room. OH. MY. GOD. OLIVIA JUST GOT AN ABORTION! WTF? FITZ WILL PULL THE SEVEN EYEBROWS HE HAS OFF HIS FACE WHEN HE FINDS OUT. Seriously, I can't believe this is happening. This is intense. She probably had to go by herself, but I'm sure someone from the Secret Service knows about this is and is going to snitch. I'm so scared! And I get even more scared when Liv storms back into the residence, then drinks her emergency stash of hooch.
Fitz wants to know where the hell she went. She can't tell him. He's mad because he feels like she's running away from the life he's given her — or the life that he forced on her, depending on whom you ask — and she's broken because she has made herself small for him. You guessed it. They're about to launch into another classic Olitz fight, but this time feels different, which explains why I'm doing this:
Except I'm watching this alone, so instead of holding a bae's hands, I'm legit holding a jar of JIF peanut butter (in honor of George Washington Carver) in one hand. The other is holding a Patti LaBelle sweet-potato pie — a.k.a. #BlackPeoplePrayerStones — because I needed all the strenf, not strength, but STRENF, to get through this Liv/Fitz scene.
First of all, let me just say that Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn did some Emmy-caliber acting in this scene. They ripped my guts out with their passion and pain. Second, the amount of truth that was said in this fight — he held her captive, she was trying to run the White House — completely pulled back the curtain on their toxic relationship. It's not all Vermont and jam and cute biracial babies. They are not right for each other and haven't been for quite some time, no matter how hard they tried to make it work in their own dysfunctional way. Third, this fight proved that neither of these grown-ass adults know how to be in a relationship. Fitz says to her, "You liked me unavailable." Duh!
She tells him that she only knew 20 percent of him. Mellie got to deal with the other 80 percent, and she was not prepared for that. They want so badly to love each other, but they don't know how to do it. As much as I've hated Olitz over the past couple of seasons, this scene had me in tears. After all the lies, the tears, and the passionate nights, they finally realized that they don't belong together. That is always a tough pill to swallow, so I'm going to pour one out for this fallen relationship while they drink from the hooch.
Also, I guess Liv is not going to tell him about the abortion. Um, okay. That's messed up. He should at least know, I think. I don't know. I've never been in this situation, but since he is the love of her life, I feel like he deserves to know the truth. Maybe there is no wrong or right way to handle this. Liv knew she couldn't bring a child into an extremely toxic environment, especially if there is any chance that child could turn out like her or Fitz.
We end on what everyone is doing for Christmas: Marcus goes to a party, Liv moves out of the White House, Mellie chills with her child, VP Susan tells Lizzie that David gave her the bracelet, and Charlie surprises Quinn with a bunch of Christmas decorations. LOL at Quinn and Charlie being the most stable couple on this show. Fitz is alone, drinking. Liv is at home when she gets a visitor — and it's not Jake or Fitz. It's a couch. YES! Finally, Liv has chosen #TeamBeByYourself. Being alone is the best recourse for her, and the only hope we have that season one's brilliant case-of-the-week stuff will return.
Finally, Huck drops Rowan back off at home. Isn't this a big mistake? Rowan's sole purpose is to destroy things. When he roams free, it's never good for anyone. Huck leaves and Jake arrives. He doesn't shoot Papa Pope, but instead, goes inside the house with him. WHAT? Jake is working with Rowan again?! All right. America, England, and Turks and Caicos are screwed.
All righty, what did you think of the winter finale? Now that Olivia has chosen not Fitz and not her work, will she finally be happy? Are Jake and Rowan teaming up for B613 2.0? Tell me what you're thinking in the comments.