Ah, the holidays. Aren’t they great? Let’s run down a checklist of thing that make a Christmas-episode extra Christmas-y, for a brief moment.
Decorations and a large tree that sits prettily in a corner, as the main character reflects on her life choices? Check. Another character warmed by a cozy fireplace, with the spirit of choice in hand? Check. A senator ruining the day before Christmas by filibustering a law to protect Planned Parenthood? Oh, sorry—that’s just Shonda Rhimes disrupting all expectations of holiday-themed episodes with last night’s Scandal winter finale.
The women were absolutely fantastic in this heavy, feminist-themed episode. Mellie Grant, whom we continuously root for, is tired of having her back to the wall as the men around her (including the men from her political party) try to steamroll her in to submission, so she forces herself to fight against a bill meant to decrease Planned Parenthood’s funding. She proves wrong anyone who thought she was a sitting duck like her ex-husband, including the women in the committee who refuse to align themselves with “political quicksand.” Olivia and Vice President Susan Ross interfered as best they could, which gave Mellie a renewal of confidence. Susan took over the Senate so Mellie could have a bathroom break, and announced with her usual sunny-disposition, “Let’s talk about gonorrhea!” That moment made us love even Susan more than usual, as Republicans cry out in anger over the continued disruption of their holiday time.
My only hope is that Bellamy Young continues to get more episodes like this one, as Mellie climbs the political ladder. We don’t get too many scenes where she is winning favor in, well, anything, and it’s a nice change from the days of Smelly Mellie and also Hooch-filled Mellie.
Speaking of change, last episode’s eerie moment with Fitz forcing Liv’s move to the White House is one that’s still ward to watch. The scene was highly uncomfortable and spoke to a power that Fitz holds over Olivia’s head—and our protagonist seemed ready to accept her punishment without a fight. That uncomfortability continued to reverberate in this episode, as Liv started out giving the best impression of a happy first lady. However, she’s chomping at the bit to do something more. The moment another politician’s wife asks her for help with a problem, Liv is alert and ready to take action, only to find out that it’s for a snickerdoodle recipe. It’s disheartening to watch Olivia’s passion for saving the world subdued in order to be with this man.
However, Mellie’s filibuster lights a fire in Liv and it looks like Eli Pope’s lessons have finally dawned on her—the ones that don’t include murder, of course. Kerry Washington gives a strong performance as she slowly finds the strength, (after allowing Fitz to diminish her as a trophy girlfriend), to step up and get involved with Mellie’s movement. Ultimately, marriage to Fitz just isn’t part of her master plan—and neither is having a child with Fitz.
To continue driving home the point that a woman’s body, mind, and soul are her own, Mark Wilding wrote a scene that is both intimate and intense, as Papa Pope gives a monologue about the burdens of family while Olivia Pope has an abortion. It’s important that we simply see the procedure occurring. There’s no debate between Fitz’s and Liv, about whether or not she’s ready for a child, and it all circles back to the Planned Parenthood funding, while reclaiming Liv’s independence. It’s her decision. Plain and simple.
It is also a reminder that the Vermont/jam fantasy between Fitz and Olivia is just that—a fantasy between two people who truly weren’t meant to be. I know some Olitz fans might be horrified at the notion, but I’m going to be honest—I am thrilled. The fight between the two was ugly, but Olivia, with all that she has accomplished, shouldn’t have had to give up her ambitions for love. While we don’t know what’s going to happen when the show comes back in February, we can at least put Olitz to rest, hopefully, for a long time. She fought for him. It didn’t work, and now it’s time to get back to work and fix the broken mess that is Olivia Pope and Associates.
The opening sequence with Liv performing her first lady duties, including making decorations with children and choosing plate patterns for the cabinet dinner was soul-crushing. The editing in of the camera flashes (which sounded similar to gun shots) made me cringe.
Let’s not forget this weird, triangle between Liz, Rosen and Susan. Rosen is dumb for giving Liz’s gift away, but Susan should cool it. When this triangle runs its course, I’ll be much happier.
My only focus were the ladies of the episode, because they deserved the whole spotlight. However, I have to give a special shout out to Huck, who irritated the hell out of Papa Pope by asking the following: “Which white boy do you approve of being inside your daughter?” I had to rewind… so many times.
See you in February!
Iris A. Barreto is a writer for Fangirlish, freelance writer for Paste and social media intern for Pink is the New Blog. Heavily caffeinated. Forever lost in Westchester, NY & NYC; all GPS apps hate her. You can follow on Twitter.