Let's just go ahead and say it. The second part of Scandal Season 5 has not been the series' best outing. Not by a long shot.
Scandal Season 5 Episode 13 might be a game-changer, though. Maybe.
There's potential here.
First off, things are heating up for a great three-way race to the White House. Well, Mellie and Susan will have to square off against one another for their party's recommendation, and Vargas, with Cyrus Beene at the helm of the campaign, will give them both a run for their money.
If I had to pick a horse to back in this race at this point, I'd go with Vargas. Not only does he want to give all Americans free college, he's not trapped in the middle of a love triangle against his own knowledge. (I still can't with David and Liz. Shudder.)
Nor is he Mellie Grant who, while she could probably run the country, lacks the experience necessary to do the job.
She's no Claire Underwood, unscrupulous as they both may be.
Cyrus manipulated Vargas into deciding to run so beautifully I believed, for half a second, Cyrus actually did have a disabled younger brother named Oliver who convinced him to go off to Harvard and achieve his dreams of ascending to power.
Then I realized this is Cyrus we're talking about, and that man would sell his own daughter if it meant getting ahead in the game. He'd have to go through Michael who, it seems, has developed quite a fondness for little Ella.
At least she has one parent she can count on. It's not like anybody else on this show does.
Here's my theory about Jake's girlfriend-turned-fiancee before we get into the entire Fitz-Olivia-Jake discussion which, quite frankly, has been a long time coming.
Rowan is setting Jake up for a run at the Presidency.
That's why he had Jake kill to become the head of the NSA. That's why Jake is now engaged to such a pedigreed woman after such a short time. Rowan wants to be seated at the right hand of power once again, and he's doing his damnedest to get himself there.
(I'm still holding out hope that Jake is actually playing Rowan and waiting for the right time to murder the monster in his sleep...)
Even though Rowan deals in information and back-channel dealings, head of the NSA isn't enough for him. It's not enough for his "children."
The incestuous thing happening between Jake and Olivia and their late-night lust-fests is so, so bizarre. Still. Four or five episodes into seeing it.
It's moved well past a maybe-healthy sexual outlet into a straight-up obsession on Jake's part and an unhealthy addiction of sorts on Olivia's. We don't get much discussion on the show about their arrangement, so we can all argue about their hook-ups and what they mean until we're blue in the face and that won't give us any definite answers.
The best we can do is read the scenes as we see them and apply our own filters to what we're watching and then try to guess how they got here as characters and how they might get themselves out of it.
In my opinion, Olivia's trying.
Tonight, she said "stop." She forced herself, against her base instincts, to halt the proceedings and make Jake leave. I kind of wanted to give her a round of applause.
It's about time she stopped allowing herself to be controlled by sex.
And yes, that's my read on the situation. She said "this isn't happening again." It happened again. She wasn't thinking with her brain. He cannot be THAT good. There HAS TO BE another guy out there who is equally as good in bed.
But then she'd have to worry about whether or not that guy was also sent by her father to sleep with her, so what I'm saying is I guess no one can really blame the woman for choosing the Devil she knows to satisfy her sexual needs.
Anyway. It's also about time someone told Fitz to stop allowing himself to be controlled by sex, too. If a sitting President was carrying on that way, 1) there's no way it wouldn't leak to the media, and, 2) there's no way it wouldn't be frowned upon.
I hate that it had to be Olivia who pointed out to him that it's time he stop sleeping around and start being the President again, but if anyone was capable of getting through to him, I guess it was her.
I'm really not clear on whether or not there's ever been a more tense scene with Fitz and Olivia. One thing I noticed right off the bat was the lack of their music playing in the background.
Even when music did start up just as Olivia gave her "the fish rots from the head" speech, the music that began to play wasn't theirs.
I loved that because I don't want there to be hope for them right now. It's too soon. If we're going to continue to jerk them apart and put them back together every five episodes, there's no...urgency. There's no heartbreak. It's just the most boring roller coaster in America.
We all know Fitz and Olivia are end-game with about 97% certainty, but it's okay if they're not constantly flung together and torn apart. It's more than okay. It's a better story because it gives us something to long for and believe in.
P.S. I love Marcus. May he stay at OPA forever and forever.
What did you think of "The Fish Rots From the Head"? How do you feel about Jake's engagement? Who are you backing in this fictional Presidential campaign? Jump into the comments below and don't forget you can watch Scandal online!
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.