Last week the fifth season of Scandal got under way. After a crazy fourth season of going toe-to-toe with Papa Pope, Olivia is settling in nicely between the White House sheets next to President Fitzgerald Grant. Mellie is the new junior senator from Virginia, Cyrus is unemployed, and Huck is lying on Olivia’s couch.
The fix-of-the-episode centers around the tragic death of Princess Emily of the English-speaking country Caledonia after a state dinner at the White House (that Mellie was not invited to). The whole thing feels a lot like the death of Princess Di. The Queen, the Prince’s mother, even resembles Queen Elizabeth. Olivia is hired to do what she does best: make the problems go away.
As Olivia seeks the truth in the Princess’ death, she discovers that there has been trouble in paradise. The Prince and the Princess have not been spending a lot of time together, which was just enough to spark a relationship between Emily and her bodyguard. Sound familiar?
Prince Richard becomes the number one suspect in Emily’s death. Liv takes it to Fitz, who refuses to do anything about it because he wants a naval base in Caledonia. Liv takes her information to her client, the Queen, where Olivia learns the dark truth of about Emily’s killer.
During the state dinner, Abby and Liv are talking in the restroom about how nice it would be to live the princess’ life, Emily overhears them. She tells them, “To most of the world, I’m not a real person anymore. To them, I’m not human. I’m just a spectacle. I don’t think they’d say half the things they say if they knew they were hurting an actual person.”
And there, friends, we have the sum of the whole story. In the brilliance that is Scandal, this one statement becomes the symbolism for the rest of the episode. The writer of Proverbs says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword,” (12:18a, NIV). The epistle writer James calls for the taming of the tongue (see James 3).
The message is clear. Sticks and stones may break our bones, and so do words! Princess Emily’s killer did not have to kill her in a fake car accident, she had already been pierced a killing stab from the words used against her. These are words used directly to our faces, whispers spoken in the corners of our lives, and degrading phrases about others used only to self-promote.
“Reckless words pierce like a sword.”
Olivia goes home, perhaps for the first time in months, and Huck is lying on the couch. He opened a window, he reports, suggesting that it was the first time he got off the couch. “Did he hurt you?” is the question Huck asks. He is concerned that Liv has returned to her place because Fitz hurt her. She plays it off, and wonders if Quinn hurt Huck on the inside.
Huck is hurting, no doubt. He is hurting because of what happened between him and Quinn at the end of season four, but mostly because the other Huck – the Huck who likes to torture people – has been released, and he doesn’t know how to put him back.
Others are hurting, too.
Mellie is hurting because Fitz kicked her out of the White House, and has refuses to attend her swearing in ceremony. Cyrus is hurting because he lost his job as Chief of Staff and his best friend, Fitz. Abby is hurting because her only friend, Olivia Pope, has been lying to her. Olivia is hurting because she is not ready to go as far as Fitz is with their relationship.
Olivia: “I don’t fix people… not on the inside. If I could fix people on the inside I’d be running a bake sale in Ohio right now.”
Huck begs Olivia to fix him. He feels that she is the only one who can. To Huck, Olivia is his savior, the only one who can redeem him from his past actions. Huck is one of the most complex characters on television right now. He is a deadly killer, and also, apparently, a child. The next time Liv comes home, Huck is no longer on the couch. He has gone to Jake’s seeking help.
Mellie, after being served divorce papers by Fitz (who did attend the swearing in after Olivia told him he should), runs to Cyrus to fix her and her situation. She hopes that Cyrus will be able to redeem her for her actions and return things back to the way they were. Cyrus refuses, though, perhaps for the same reason Olivia does. They cannot fix others when they themselves need to be fixed.
These are all people – real people – who are hurting, but have been treated like Princess Emily said, as “just a spectacle.” Which is exactly what Olivia fears will happen to her once she and Fitz go public with their relationship. She will no longer be a person. She will no longer be Olivia Pope.
The writer of Proverbs goes on to say, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18b, NIV). With all the wounded people in this episode, its hard to find the voice of the wise. Olivia comes close when he echoes Princess Emily, perhaps the only voice of wisdom.
Olivia: “I want our business handled. I want our problems fixed. I want to be ready before the world is watching.”
With all the piercing words leaving bloody wounds in the wake, enter former Vice President Sally Langston, who now has her own political talk show. Turns out, Sally has photos of the President and Olivia Pope in the White House. Abby, wounded by Olivia’s actions, walks in on the couple embracing to deliver the bad news. Sally’s missiles of truth are fixed on the White House.