On Thursday’s “Scandal,” Olivia butted heads with Mellie as they worked on her book. Here are the most important things to know about “The Candidate,” the 11th episode of season 5.
The show began with Cyrus flashing back to many of his difficult moments with Fitz in the White House. It then abruptly cut to Olivia critiquing Mellie’s latest book draft and urging her to write about why she stayed with Fitz despite knowing he had a mistress, saying that’s what America wants to know and that omitting it would only lead to more questions. “You don’t know why you stayed,” Olivia realized, prompting Mellie to shoot back, “Well, do you know why you left?… You don’t know why either, do you?”
Mellie finally admitted she was “devastated” when she found out about the affair, but thought it was “just a phase” their marriage could survive. But Olivia thought she still wasn’t going deep enough, leading Mellie to lash out that Liv and Fitz didn’t have a “real relationship.” The two enraged each other, leading Mellie to call off the partnership and storm out. That night, Jake and Olivia had another aggressive hookup, but she told him afterward, “This isn’t happening again.” Not surprisingly, he doubted she would stick to that.
Abby wanted Fitz to do a profile with a respected journalist named Lillian, but Cyrus was firmly against it. As Cyrus seemed to power trip once again, Fitz knocked him down a few pegs. Cyrus still tried to set “ground rules” for the interview, but Fitz and Lillian hit it off right away, and they seemed to have some romantic chemistry and sexual tension. She swore she had no “ulterior motive” except to write a “damn good article.”
Before the three-day interview began, Cyrus urged Fitz to make the most of the rest of his presidency by taking strong action instead of spending time on what could amount to a puff piece or something incredibly damaging. Again, Fitz shot him down. Cyrus and Mellie ended up drinking together at a bar, commiserating over their attachments to Fitz and Olivia. Mellie felt they were “going down” regardless, but Cyrus was still confident Mellie could end up in the Oval. He seemed offended, though, when she said she had her eye on someone else to run her campaign. He was further insulted when Mellie said “we” made Fitz a president, sharing the credit.
Mellie ended up at Olivia’s apartment afterward, drinking and ranting about Fitz. She candidly admitted that she felt she lost herself with him, and thought his affair was her “retribution.” But she came to feel that Olivia gave her some freedom, and she stayed because she thought “the three of us worked,” and that she could still end up president. Olivia warned her, though, that she couldn’t say that publicly, which Mellie said is the “problem.”
The two ended up getting drunk together and actually bonding over their twisted connection. Olivia admitted she, too, was “happy” with Mellie around, because she was her “out.” “I left for the same reason you stayed,” Liv said. “Because I was scared.” It then dawned on to her that that’s what Mellie should write: that she was scared, and it took time to realize she didn’t need Fitz and had the power to be independent all along.
Meanwhile, Liz told Susan that she earned 93 percent in a poll about potential presidential candidates, and pressured her to run, wanting to use her to get back into the Oval. Still in a secret romance, Liz went to David to get him to help convince Susan to run, knowing that Susan is “in love” with him and she could be manipulated that way. He reluctantly agreed to try, and asked her on a date. On the outing, David played dumb about Liz wanting Susan to run, but told her she would be an “amazing” president. As she protested, he went in for a kiss, leading to a makeout.
After, David told Liz he was “out” of the manipulation game, that Susan was too good for such a thing. He was stunned to find out that Susan filed the paperwork to run, and was concerned because he knew she didn’t want it. But Liz distracted him with a hookup, telling him, “Let’s make a president together.” In the episode’s other minor storyline, Huck and Marcus clashed in the office, until Huck opened up about not seeing his son.
In a creepy scene, Cyrus woke Fitz during the night, claiming his cousin died and he had to “go.” The interview with Lillian kicked off the next day, but she admitted she couldn’t “focus,” further saying, “I have an enormous crush on you.” Fitz was obviously flattered, and suggested they nix the interview “and instead, you have dinner with me.” She agreed to the “date.”
Olivia was really happy with Mellie’s new writing, but urged her to get it out as soon as possible to aid her eventual campaign. So they leaked a few key pages, which the media of course ate up. In the final minutes, Cyrus rejected Abby’s plea to help control Fitz’s date, and it was revealed Cyrus wasn’t at his cousin’s funeral, but at a rally for a Democratic governor, clearly envisioning him as his next “Fitz.” The show then went back to Cyrus’ flashbacks from the start of the episode, with his motivation now clear.