Fitz's impeachment hearing gains steam as Liv tells her side of the story.

Credit: Michael Desmond/ABC
S5 E5

We’ve been expecting it, in some form or another, since season 1 — and now that the Olivia/Fitz affair is finally out in the open, it’s here. Fitz’s impeachment trial is really happening. While both sides prepare their cases, there’s one person in particular who seems quite thrilled about the whole thing, and that’s Cyrus Beene, sitting on his couch, shoveling brownies and sparkling wine into his mouth, and proclaiming: “This is the moon landing! The Berlin wall is coming down!” Not quite, Cyrus, especially since this happened with Clinton already. Did anyone really care about the second moon landing?

Good Guy David Rosen is trying to stay out of everything, but still ends up helping Fitz prepare a tiny bit, because he’s such a good guy. “Do you even know what an impeachable offense is?” he asks, but he’s not being a jerk — legitimately, there’s no definition of an impeachable offense. It’s whatever Congress, the prosecutor, the judge, and jury decide it is, kind of like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: You know it when you see it. Rosen recommends a slightly unorthodox lawyer to Fitz, and he hires her. Also? Fitz can’t talk to Olivia about the case.

Liv, meanwhile, realizes she can’t handle this on her own, either. So who does the top fixer hire to fix her problems? Welcome back good ol’ Leo, who we haven’t seen in a minute. And Leo has a great plan: “We’re going to take what the public views as a cheap and tawdry affair and spin it into the greatest romance ever told.” And in the montage of Liv and co. telling Leo everything she knows, Shonda buries the best bit of dialogue she’s ever written:

Leo, searching Liv’s fridge: Where’s all her food?

Huck: You mean her wine and popcorn?

To make the plan work, they need a character witness to speak about Liv on TV — someone the public trusts, and who really knows Liv. She goes to her old ex-boyfriend Edison, who only agrees to fluff her up after calling her “a criminal, a whore, an idiot, and a liar” for making him look stupid when he guessed at the Fitz affair long ago. That was a painful scene, but he eventually calls her (onscreen) “a person of the highest moral conviction,” so I guess the abuse was worth it?

Over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fitz’s lawyer arranges a document dump: The prosecuting committee wants evidence? Sure, they can have all the paperwork the White House can find — especially the pointless stuff. She also does a fantastic job cutting Liz North down after hearing Liz whine about “executive privilege” one too many times: “Did someone give you a list of buzzwords when you took this job?” (Of course, the irony here is that Scandal loves a good buzzword. Let’s play: Vermont, white hat, stand in the sun, gladiators in suits…)

Mellie obviously has to recuse herself from the investigation: Divorcing the man who’s being investigated is a slight conflict of interest. But before she goes, Mellie makes sure to leave her mark, leaking the story of the ring Fitz gave Olivia — which surely hurt a little extra, since it was a family heirloom. The ring throws Leo’s plan for a bit of a loop (“Does this mean the president is both engaged and married?” one reporter asks), so he shifts the story. “It’s time for Olivia Pope, Lovestruck Teenager,” he announces.

Let’s shift back to Cyrus for a minute: He’s still gleefully enjoying his own personal banquet and performance, with an array of desserts, cheeses, and wine on his coffee table (which part of this episode did I care about the most? Hmm…). Mellie comes over and they bond, drinking and giggling in their despair over Fitz discarding them, and their joy in seeing him potentially suffer. Eventually, Mellie asks Cyrus to work for her again, and he reconsiders their own rise to the top.

Liv is a lot more in-control than she was last episode when cruel internet strangers drove her to tears, but she still needs to pay a visit to her rock, Jake. She’s in for a surprise: He’s a little hesitant to let her in… because the wifey is here! But Elise gives him a big, territory-marking smooch and leaves them to chat. Jake realizes Liv doesn’t want to play the “lovesick” role because she’ll be tied to the White House forever, with no escape left, and Liv admits he’s right. He advises her to tell the truth.

NEXT: “I wish we’d never met”

She takes Jake’s advice — though she probably would have come to the same conclusion on her own — and when the TV host asks her if she regrets getting involved with the president, she comes clean. “I wish I’d never laid eyes on him,” she admits. “I wish we’d never met.” In a brilliant, passionate speech, Liv explains that it’s her family and friends she feels worst for, as they’ve been dragged into the spotlight along with her. But then she talks about OPA and how she’s worried that her business and all the work she’s poured into it over the years will just go to waste. Granted, she says OPA’s “only aim is to help people become the best versions of themselves,” which isn’t necessarily true… but she did build it, and it is impressive. She concludes with a magnificent flourish: “If it were a choice, who would choose this kind of love?” This is an Olivia Pope speech worth re-watching. And the media agrees, calling it a “home run”: “This is no longer about some ambitious, home-wrecking bimbo,” an anchor says. It’s the story of “co-workers that couldn’t help but fall in love with each other.” And that is how you spin a story.

But wait — just as everything seems to be turning around, we hit a snag. Newbie Marcus is approached (or, shall we say, threatened?) by the impeachment committee to spy on OPA. He agrees, and we don’t know him well enough to know if he thinks they’re the good guys, or if life with Huck and Quinn (a.k.a. “Thing 1” and “Thing 2,” according to Leo) will win out. Luckily, Marcus rules, and he pretends to spy on OPA only to actually spy on the committee! Are we watching Alias?! (Only saw one episode of Alias, so I’m hoping that reference checks out.)

Through that spying, Olivia learns that they have the CIA tape of her kidnapping — which, to be totally honest, I kind of forgot happened. It’s been really crazy with all this affair stuff, okay? — and talks to David Rosen. He explains they have to prove that Fitz watched the tape, and if they can, that is definitely an “impeachable offense.” Liv warns Fitz, and they realize that everything rests on Cyrus: He’s the only other person who knows Fitz saw the tape, and that the little war in West Angola was really about getting Olivia back. Do we think this war is going to come up again in the future? What will this show be like when Fitz’s term is up, if he doesn’t get impeached next week?

Pause for one quick scene: Liv and Jake sit at OPA. Jake admits Elise is his wife, she can’t believe he never told her, he said she never asked, she says he has a type, he says, “So do you. Married guys.” She smiles as they sit down to eat their Gettysburger. Liv asks, “Did you get extra–?” and before she can finish, he tosses her some sauce. Can Liv and Jake just be friends, or will she realize how easy things are with him and crave those firm biceps once again? (What?! Sorry!)

Fitz calls Cyrus in (and Cyrus is magically not drunk or puking everywhere from excess chocolate, even though he spent the past day or two practically comatose on the couch) and offers him a job. Cyrus is quick, so immediately he wants to know what the prosecution has. “Amanda Tanner? Remington? Defiance?” As he rattles off the list of impeachable offenses (really, jail-worthy offenses, right?), it occurs to me just how much awful stuff has gone on during the Grant Administration, whether or not Fitz knew about some of it. How about when Fitz killed Vera Thornton?

Anyway, Cyrus realizes it’s West Angola, so then he makes a marathon-length, impassioned speech about how much he loves Fitz, including all the little details about him he remembers from the past 17 years. “I dream your dreams and I sweat your nightmares,” he says. “This is what you are to me.” And what is he to Fitz but “the man you throw on the grenade”? “I can look into your eyes and tell how you slept last night,” Cyrus says. Sure it’s a little sweet, but it sounded, to me, a bit stalkerish and insane. Anyone? Maybe I just haven’t smelled whatever addictive pheromones Fitz gives off to have all these people falling at his feet. Cyrus declines the job.

But then Fitz pulls a speech of his own out of thin air, reminiscing about the packages Cyrus’s mom used to send him, and how they could lift Cyrus’ mood, and how much she meant to him. “We both made some mistakes along the way, but your mistakes were for me,” he says. “My biggest mistake was forgetting that we are family.” Fitz says he can’t do this without Cyrus, and just like that, they’re back in action. Oh, but Cyrus has just a couple of terms: 1) Elizabeth North is terminated and he gets his old job back, 2) He wants new carpet in the office, and 3) Fitz will issue Cyrus a pardon for any and all crimes committed while in office, and the pardon will be sealed, secret, and non-revocable. Wonder when this’ll come back into play…

Are you excited to see Cyrus back in the White House? What will Mellie do now? Can Liv and Fitz ever live in peace? What’s the deal with Jake’s wife? Why hasn’t there been enough David Rosen lately?

Episode Recaps



Shonda Rhimes’ political drama: Sex! Murder! Olivia’s suits!

  • TV Show
  • 7
  • TV-14
  • ABC
stream service