It was the finale watched ‘round America…ABC’s “Scandal” closed its 3rd season (April 17) literally and figuratively with a bang: terrorist (and mother to the protagonist) Maya Pope unsuccessfully tried to kill President Fitzgerald Grant with a bomb, Grant only won the election for a 2nd term because his son died (I still can’t believe they killed Lil’ Jerry), B613 was re-launched with Papa Eli Pope as command, and Olivia decided to be Vanessa L. Williams and erase herself to start a new life (shout-out to all the people who understand the “Eraser” reference). That very much of an episode summary was just the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t do the post-traumatic-stress inducing finale justice (Brava to Shonda Rimes and her writing team for providing edge-of-your-seat TV weekly; I don’t know how they do it), but that’s not why I’m here, so I apologize if you were hoping for more details.
I’m here to address my one, singular issue with the finale--how Mellie’s rape secret was handled. 15 years ago when Fitz (handsome Tony Goldwyn) was running for governor, his cold-hearted father, Jerry, raped his wife Mellie (portrayed by the talented and gorgeous Bellamy Young). Mellie never told Fitz what happened, even when she became pregnant (a recent paternity test showed that Fitz was the father). Afterward, she emotionally and physically withdrew from Fitz, leaving him to think she didn’t love him. Various incidents lead to Mellie’s resentment of Fitz, chiefly his affair with government scandal-hider, Olivia Pope (the also talented and gorgeous Kerry Washington; there’s a lot of good-looking people in this cast). The audience learned of Mellie’s assault in the 7th episode of the season (“Everything’s Coming Up Mellie”) and it was a big ‘ah-ha;’ we then understood and had a context for her demeanor and behavior. People who hated Mellie from day 1 had a change of mind. We eagerly waited for the secret to come out because surely, Fitz would have an even bigger epiphany. It would change everything, particularly between him and Olivia, right? Wrong. It all stayed ridiculously the same, to where I wondered what the point was of even putting the secret in the script.
From how it was unveiled to what unfolded after, this part of the story wasn’t executed well. When it appears that Fitz won’t win a 2nd term, he suggests to Olivia with gradual giddiness that they can finally be together. Knowing what she does (Mellie implicitly told her about Big Jerry), Olivia recoiled when Fitz spoke of divorcing Mellie and accused her of marrying him only because of his position. Olivia breaks her promise to keep quiet and after a moment of denial, Fitz goes to find Mellie. Mellie quickly gathers that Fitz knows the truth, tells him about the paternity test and emphasizes that she tried to fight Big Jerry off. Fitz kisses her on the head, they embrace and it’s on the rest of the episode. First mistake. This was Mellie’s story, this was her withholding that would affect her marriage. This was a major, intensely personal barrier between Mellie and Fitz, and Olivia was the messenger? Despite her having little to do with this colossal spot in their marriage, here Olivia was again, written in the middle. She continued to be in the middle too. Before making one his last pre-election appearances, Fitz calls Olivia and tells her they’ll have to once more put off being together because he “can’t leave her [Mellie] now.” Within the conversation, it’s confirmed he still intends to leave Mellie and he’s staying with her at present because of principle. Principle. During Fitz’s speech, Lil’ Jerry dies of a lethal strain of meningitis (it was a calculated murder by Papa Pope). The nation sympathizes with Fitz and he wins the election. Everyone celebrates, but Fitz collapses alone in the shock of all that he’s lost just to remain in power. When Mellie tries to console him, he asks for Olivia. Olivia. I was floored. Let get this straight: this is the woman you once loved and claimed to be shattered over when she retreated from you. This is the woman you created children with; one of which was thought to be a product of rape by your own father. This is the woman you are currently grieving the sudden, unjust death of a child with. This is the woman trying to catch you when the gravity of these events brought you to your knees and you asked for Olivia?! No one found this absurd?!
It’s completely unrealistic and contradictory to the story that Fitz’s feelings for Olivia would remain unmoved and unshaken in the wake of finding out about Mellie’s rape. I didn’t expect his love (if you can call it that) for Olivia to instantly evaporate, but I did expect him to be emotionally on the fence between the 2 women. Just 4 episodes ago (“Mama Said Knock You Out,” E15), Fitz was expressing his hurt, sadness and anger that Mellie detached from him all those years ago and had an affair, blaming her for the demise of their marriage, and now that he has the answer to all of his questions, he’s just staying with her on principle?! No instincts or urges to rebuild his marriage? Not even a little? No realizations that Mellie indeed loved him, so much so, she sacrificed her sanity to protect him from a devastating truth and support his dreams? Are you kidding me? As the kids say, where they do that at?! All of this should’ve brought him closer to Mellie than he ever has been, but it was still the Olivia show.
Yes, Olivia is the lead character and Fitz is her primary romantic interest, but it was just ludicrous that Mellie was a co-star in her own plot-line. Given the pace of the other surrounding stories, I’ll concede to the consideration there might not have been enough time or space to explore any changes to Fitz’s dynamic with Mellie and Olivia, so I’ll cross my fingers and hope to see it in season 4.
Thoughts on my rant?