Eric McCandless/ABC

So this is what happens when a president wants a divorce.


S5 E1
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September 25, 2015 at 12:48 PM EDT

Well, everyone — Olivia Pope and co. are back, and we all know that when things look rosy at the start of an episode, you better believe it’s going to go downhill fast.

We begin our ride with a clip from the Sally Langston show. Is this how every episode is going to start and finish all season? Because I have to admit… I don’t hate it. She may be crazy, but she’s a compelling narrator if I’ve ever seen one. Sally’s making a speech about Fitz celebrating “betrayal,” and “skipping down the road to Sodom and Gomorrah,” all while we’re watching Mr. President and Liv set some sort of lovemaking world record. So it’s only natural to think Sally’s speech might be about them: “A commoner, an all-American girl,” who leaves her normal life for one with a prince.

But not so, dear viewers! Sally says, “It’s a story, and not a very original one at that,” and boy, is that true. Turns out Fitz is throwing a state dinner for Prince Richard and Princess Emily, of the English-speaking, Anglicized country Caladonia, which is totally not the exact same place as Genovia from The Princess Diaries (as someone on Twitter reminded me, Shonda Rhimes co-wrote The Princess Diaries 2! And Crossroads with Britney Spears, but that’s a story for another night). So it’s Princess Emily Sally Langston was talking about, a stunning, sweet, American human rights lawyer who married into royalty — and who quickly dies in a brutal tunnel car crash. If you’re keeping track, this plotline is a pretty expert braid of Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Amal Alamuddin Clooney, and, oh, Olivia Pope.

To back up for a sec, Fitz wanted to have this state dinner because he’s trying to convince Queen Isabel to let him build a naval base on Caladonia. The Queen isn’t really biting. Meanwhile, Liv is at the dinner (in a breathtaking gown), and she and Fitz smile at each other from across the room. Mellie, notably, isn’t there: Abby told the press Mellie had a flu and couldn’t attend, but of course Mellie wasn’t sick, just being kept away from the dinner. To make things more dramatic, Abby asks Liv how long it took Fitz to call her after kicking Mellie out, and Liv lies, simply and easily: “Oh, he didn’t call.” Liv always lies to Abby! This is a total one-way friendship!!! I hated season 1 Abby but now I love her and she deserves some RESPECT!

At the state dinner, pre-death, Princess Emily accidentally overhears Abby and Liv talking about how nice the princess’ life must be. She’s 100 percent classy and perfect, so she tells them she’s in there so they’ll stop talking about her. She’s not mad though: “To most of the world, I’m not a real person anymore,” she says. “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.”

This, my friends, is a glowing, neon sign that reads “SYMBOLISM!” You know who else might be “not a person anymore” and have hurtful things said to her once she’s in the public eye, involved with a prince-like figure? That’s right. Olivia Pope.

So anyway, the princess is in a terrible car crash, and the queen and prince call Liv in to make sure the photos of her dead body don’t leak all over the place. She handles it, but there’s one paparazzo they can’t track down. And why is that? Because he’s not paparazzi, he’s a hacker-assassin who sped up the princess’s car remotely and crashed it. Let’s speed through the rest of this story line quick to get back to the main event: Turns out princess and prince never spent time together, so she fell in love with her bodyguard. This gives the prince motive to enact Princess Di: Cyber, but of course, as it turns out, he was really a good guy (he married a commoner, after all!) and it was his Evil Queen of a mother who found out about the pregnancy and plotted murder to keep the bloodline pure. Blah, blah, when they go back to Genovia, she has to abdicate the throne, and Fitz doesn’t get his naval base.

NEXT: Trouble in Grant-ville

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