vulture lists

The Most Recycled Story Lines on Scandal

Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson and Photo by ABC

#Gladiators, we are officially on hiatus from Scandal until February 11, 2016, which seems like an extremely long time (it is). However, we might need the two-and-a-half months to recover from last week’s shocking season-five winter finale (the end of Olitz, for now). Before we take a breather from the show, let’s reflect on the series. As most of you know by my very involved recaps, I have tons of feelings about Scandal. It makes me laugh (Leo’s one-liners), it makes me sad (Cyrus’s ugly cry after James died), it makes me mad (98 percent of the B613 story line), it makes me freak out (Olivia’s iconic question: “Dad?”), it makes me want to vomit (Huckleberry Quinn having sex near a pool of Rowan’s blood), and it makes me bust out my church fan to cool down my crotch (Olitz and Olake sex scenes). Point is, there are lots of moving parts, which means that over the course of nearly 100 episodes, certain themes, motifs, and story lines are going to repeat themselves. And when the show at hand is Scandal — which is notorious for its twisty, turn-on-a-dime episodes — there’s enough plot recycling to make us feel, at times, like we’re experiencing déjà vu. So we here at Vulture are taking a look back at Scandal and highlighting the show’s most used (and oftentimes overused) plotlines.

Olivia and Fitz Making Up
You know how the World Health Organization revealed that 2 percent of hot dogs contain human DNA? Well, the White House has about 32 percent of Olitz DNA because for the past five seasons this will-they-won’t-they couple have been making up all over the place. I’m talking the Oval Office, a storage closet during Ella’s baptism, a kitchen, the balcony of the White House, etc. Basically any place that has moderate to heavy foot traffic, they’re like, “This makes an excellent location to have sex standing up (which, by the way, is a position that is comfortable for no one) while someone walks in on us eating a Yoplait yogurt.” Usually, this decision to have sex happens after they’ve restated their love for each other in a classic Shonda Rhimes speech and decided that his marriage and presidency be damned, they are going to be together. Like at the end of last season’s finale, when Olivia and Fitz are determined that, unlike before, they are really, truly going to be a couple, meaning he’s going to be leave Mellie:

Of course these moments are short-lived because of his marriage, his kids, and the presidency so there’s a lot of this …

Olivia and Fitz Breaking Up
Like back in season two after Olivia had pleaded for Fitz to let her go, he grants (he-he, get it?) her this wish, which clearly breaks both of their hearts:

This sort of breakup is Olitz’s most common state. As often as Fitz professes his love for Olivia and how he will give everything up for her, she’s like, “Nah, but we’re doomed,” so they end things and then spend several weeks eye-banging each other like it’s a Jane Austen novel.

Then there is the kind of breakup that happens because one of them betrays the other. Both Liv rigging the election for Fitz without his knowledge and Fitz having Jake spy on Liv for him are the two biggest examples of this kind of breakup. These betrayals leads to a lot of this:

Fitz: “You ruined me.”
“No. You ruined me.”

He then attempts to furrow the eyebrows he doesn’t have and she quivers the bountiful lips she does have. They’re both clothed when these fights take place, so I care about them 60 percent less than I would otherwise.

There is yet another cause of an Olitz break, and that’s Mellie. Remember her? Sure you do. Remember in season two when she induced her pregnancy to break up Olitz, which I get was annoying to the lovers, but also like whether or not she did that the baby was a-coming. So it never made entire sense why Fitz got so mad. It’s not like the baby was just going to stay up in Mellie’s lady bits like a dusty-ass high-school yearbook in an attic. Nevertheless, the birth happened and Olitz were like, “I guess you should go be a dad.” MIND YOU, HE ALREADY HAD TWO CHILDREN, BUT…

Mellie and Fitz Making Amends Only to Be Enemies Again by the End of the Episode
Speaking of Mellie and Fitz, they are a very unique couple in that they mostly hate each other but are (well, were) still together because of politics. He feels trapped in his relationship with her, as Liv is “the only woman I’ve ever loved,” which is something he felt the need to tell Mellie when she signed the divorce papers. Mellie, on the other hand, loved Fitz at one point, but probably loved the idea of being married to a powerful man more. Still, she is not too happy about Fitz having an affair, so the married couple have knock-down, drag-out fights until one of them remembers they need the other for political reasons so they make up. It’s kind of like when you cuss out your older sibling and then remember that since you can’t drive, you need them to take you to the mall so you can shop at Macy’s “Back to School” sale. So Mellie and Fitz make up and then they realize they were just manipulated by the other one for that person’s personal gain and then they revert back to hating each other. Yawn.

Y’all, this is the story line that would not die. It started out okay. We learn that Rowan is Liv’s dad (WHOA!); Charlie, aka the son-in-law from Father of the Bride, is a psycho agent, but he’s hot so I would hit it; and Jake originally was seducing Liv for B613, but then he fell for her hard. Aww! This is all fine and actually was pretty exciting … until B613 took over the case-of-the-week format that was Scandal’s bread and butter. We went from seeing Liv being a boss fixer to watching Quinn’s goofy behind being recruited as the secret organization’s next super-agent, which was so laughable that everyone in B613 was like, “She’s great but I wouldn’t even trust her to switch out the cartridges in a basic-ass Hewlett Packard printer.”

Then there was the matter of Mama Pope, which was kind of cool. Her breaking out of prison was awesome, but then we learned that Fitz shot down a plane thanks to her, and then she was trying to set off bombs with her lover, whom Rowan killed because she never had feels for Papa Pope. And, of course, we can’t forget that B613 was protecting the republic and also potentially destroying it at the same time, and since Rowan was the head of B613, everyone — Fitz, Liv, and Jake — wanted him dead, but they were never successful. And why not? Papa Pope is in his late 50s or early 60s, just oversalt his catfish dinner and then when he takes a sip of water, he’ll choke and die because you will have slipped poison in there. It’s really not that hard, y’all. Finally, don’t even get me started on Huck and Jake’s former lives as B613 agents.

Anyway, the point is that B613 was the root of all these story lines that went all over the place. By last season, it got real old that a spy agency as elite as B613 somehow let everyone join like this is Girl Scouts of America. Shouldn’t they have higher standards? I mean, becoming a super-spy shouldn’t be as easy as signing up for a Gmail account, yet it was, and the B613 nearly torpedoed the entire show.

Rowan/Maya Telling Olivia How She’s a Fool for Letting These White Dudes Run Her Life
Initially, having both of Liv’s parents be baddies was a great idea because it made her pursuit of being a “white hat” that much more compelling. Then it just turned into Rowan and Maya doing a two-person show called These White Men Ain’t Shit and You Ain’t Shit for Loving These White Men. Seemingly every episode, Liv would go to them for answers or to interrogate them about some evil plot, and her parents would just change the subject and state how disappointed they were in her for getting involved with Fitz and Jake. This disappointment would actually mean something if Ma and Pa Pope weren’t killing people with the frequency of me dining at Hale & Hearty so I can get enough stamps on my H&H card to score a free salad. Still, their harsh words made Liv think about life, and just as she was going to call it off with these guys, she remembered that if she gave them the vajeen, they would help her take down her parents. And we all know how that turned out: Rowan is still alive and Maya is probably in the Cayman Islands somewhere drinking coconut water.

Jake and Fitz Fighting Over Liv
No nighttime (or daytime) soap is worth its salt if there isn’t a love triangle. There’s Dawson’s Creek’s Dawson-Pacey-Joey, True Blood’s Sookie-Bill-Eric, literally everyone on Melrose Place was involved in a love triangle at some point. So it only makes sense that Scandal would enter the fray with Liv having to choose between shady but well-meaning prez turned raging asshole Fitz and shady super-spy turned good guy and/or pushover Jake. When these two men aren’t proclaiming and/or making love to Liv, they’re fighting each other, sexily I might add, like their physical basketball game:

Or unsexily when Fitz turned into Rocky and basically treated Jake’s face like a slab of meat he’s gotta practice his punches on before facing Apollo Creed:

Whatever the case may be, them arguing over the woman they love started out as kind of sweet and understandable, and has since turned into foolishness. Not only because it is so obvious that Liv is going to end up with Fitz, but hearing Jake brag to Fitz about being inside Liv was actually gross, and if you love someone, you wouldn’t do that. But at least Jake didn’t do that to her dad; Fitz ended up going on and on about how sex is amazing with Liv in the hopes of pissing Rowan off. Maybe it’s just me, but guys really shouldn’t be Yelp-reviewing women’s vaginas.

Something Threatening the Republic, Which Requires Cyrus to Give a Speech About the Republic Being Threatened
Cy Beene is power-hungry, monstrous, highly intelligent, and prone to giving epic speeches. Most of his speeches tend to be about something threatening the stability of the republic, from an affair, to devious backroom dealings coming to light, to the mother of them all, B613. Take, for instance, when Amanda Tanner claims that Fitz impregnated her (DOES NO ONE USE CONDOMS ON THIS SHOW?!):

There’s also the time that Liv threatened to come clean about the election-rigging they pulled to get Fitz into office, and Cy wants to talk her out of it because ruining the illusion that people have a say in the political process would destroy the republic:

Photo: ABC

Apparently, every week, something is set to destroy the republic, and it takes Cy about 20 minutes to the get to point. In the end, everything ends up okay, except for a few people dying, but we didn’t care about those characters (outside of James, of course), so we all Kanye Shrug instead of pouring one out for the fallen homies.

Breaking the Law for Good Reasons
Remember last season when Liv cussed Fitz out for starting a war that killed civilians and soldiers just to bring her back to safety? She was all like, “You’re so stupid. You’re the president. You can’t do things like this.” And then she went to Pilates class because she could because, you know, FITZ DIDN’T LET HER DIE. The law was done broke for a good reason, y’all.

Or how about the time when everyone was in on rigging the election so that Fitz could be president without Fitz’s knowledge? This apparently was done because he’s an amazing politician (LOL, show me the receipts because he’s only been worthless as a president as far as I can tell), but quite frankly, I think it was partially done because Big Jerry was such a jerk to Fitz and that broke Olivia’s heart. With both these examples and many more, shady and illegal things are done all the time in the name of the greater good. And after a while, I starting to feel it’s less about the “white hats” and more about power-driven people who are kind of assholes and don’t know how to take no for an answer and cry into a tub of ice cream while watching Wings like a normal person.

Olivia Is Lied to by the Men She Loves
Let’s see. There’s the time Fitz lied to her about sleeping with Amanda Tanner, which he said he only did because he was sad that Liv dumped him. Right. To be clear, he was sad that his mistress dumped him, so instead of trying to be faithful to his wife, he finds another mistress. Men and their penises. Sigh.

Speaking of dongs, Jake was hired by Rowan to seduce Olivia, and Rowan spent his whole life lying to Olivia about who Maya really is. Guys, it’s no wonder that Liv has more issues than Highlights magazine. She loves a man and he rope-a-dopes her, so all she can do to cope is go for a swim and drink wine. Then she ends up going back to these guys who have claimed at one point or another to have changed. I mean, just last season she was ready to kill her dad, but then he was in prison for three minutes and she’s basically like, “Fitz, you and my dad just need to go on Dr. Phil to resolve this whole ‘him killing your son’ business.” It makes no sense, but I can’t stop watching, so maybe I’m a bigger fool than Olivia.

All righty, what are some of your favorite or not-so-favorite recycled Scandal story lines?

The Most Recycled Story Lines on Scandal