So this is what happens when a president wants a divorce.
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC
S5 E1
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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

Back in the “real world,” Fitz is refusing to go to Mellie’s swearing-in ceremony because he’s a monster, so Abby tells the press he won’t be there. Liz won’t try to convince him for Mellie’s sake, because she hates Mellie. (“I performed voodoo to make you somebody!” Mellie says. “You didn’t do anything for me,” Liz says. “I was your prisoner, I was your puppet… your payment was that I got you elected.”)

Little does Abby know, Liv convinced Fitz that he had to go (“How many times has she done this for you, whether she wanted to or not?”), so a reporter makes Abby look like an idiot at the press secretary podium when Fitz is AT the event she’s excusing him from. POOR ABBY! She yells at Liz, who didn’t know Fitz changed his mind and went (do you feel dizzy, or is this just me?), so they both realize they’re not totally in the know.

MORE DRAMA: Mellie thanks Fitz for attending, and Fitz turns full-on 100 percent evil and serves her with three heartbreaking words: “I’m divorcing you.” She’s completely taken aback, but he is still SO mean. He ends the speech by saying, “My bucket list is done. But you… your biggest accomplishment so far is breathing and smiling.” ARE YOU KIDDING? This is the guy Olivia wants to be with? Jake would never say something like this.

Liv, meanwhile, is not as happy as you’d think about the d-word, because Princess Emily’s saga showed her just what life in the spotlight is really like. So in the end, just like Princess Emily said, she still was more of a symbol/spectacle than a person, because she pretty much just existed to get Olivia to realize she wants to slow things down.

When Liv goes home to her dark apartment for the first time in days, who is sitting on the couch but a feral-seeming Huck, whose biggest accomplishment during Liv’s absence was “opening a window.” They have a very weird preschool conversation, in which Huck asks Liv, “Is he” (meaning Fitz) “hurting you… on the inside?” Then Liv counters with, “Did Quinn hurt you on the inside?” Give me a break. Huck begs Liv to fix him, which is very sad, and they have a big talk about fixing where Liv says, “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.” I’m actually from Ohio, and I feel compelled to say that yes, someone’s homemade brownies really can fix you “on the inside.” Especially if you’re 7 years old.

Next time Liv comes home, Huck isn’t there: He goes to JAKE’S house, of all places! The secret password to get into Jake’s apartment seems to be, “I need you to help me,” because he ushers Huck in with open arms. I’ll try that next time.

Another long-lost face? Good ol’ Cyrus Beene, who, you’ll remember, was ousted from his post as Chief of Staff by evil Liz. (Actually, she’s not necessarily more evil than anyone else. I just want to teach Portia De Rossi that “anyway” is not pronounced “en-eh-way.”) So Mellie goes to Cyrus and tries to get him to convince Fitz not to divorce her, Cyrus says, “I’m not helping you anymore,” and Mellie gives a really heart-wrenching speech: “He doesn’t want you, Cy. He doesn’t want you any more than he wants me. He hates us.” She’s not wrong.

At the White House, Fitz is brooding on the balcony and tries to whine about not getting his new toy naval base when Liv stops him and says they need to have some boundaries. Fitz is pissy because Liv wasn’t thrilled about his divorce papers, and Liv explains that they need to fix their problems in private before their scandal thrusts them into the spotlight. Of course, just as they decide to take things slow, Abby comes out to the balcony. (YEP, she figured out Liv was lying and, in a roundabout way, accidentally sabotaging Abby’s job.)

Sally Langston is back on TV (her show’s logo looks curiously like that of The Colbert Report), saying, “Something is rotten within the walls of the White House.” See how great she is at narrating?! But wait, there’s more: “I have it on good authority that trusted adviser Olivia Pope has found her way into the President’s bed. These are not merely rumors: These are facts.” Then she shows security camera photos of Fitz and Liv canoodling all over the White House. Four years, and now they finally get caught! As Sally says, “America’s truth-seeking freedom missiles are clearly locked on their target.” (Yes, she is Stephen Colbert reincarnated.)

The wine is about to hit the couch, my friends. This is going to be a fun season.

Episode Recaps


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