Like the Jason Derulo song we’d all rather forget about, Scandal uses it’s 100th episode to ask, “What If?” What if Fitz was never President and Olivia kept her straight bangs for a while? What if Lindsay D never became Quinn and what if Huck was a real contender for wine nights during Bachelor season? It all comes down to one question: What if Defiance County wasn’t rigged?
Here we are in the Oval, talking about how Abby ruined everything and David is sleeping with the worst person alive and Jake wants to shoot everyone. And it all leads to the first major boo-boo of this whole disaster called Scandal: Defiance. You remember Defiance County, when everyone decided to rig an election and get Fitz in the White House and it’s been insanity ever since?
Heading back to 2010, Hollis Doyle (human trash bag) puts it to a second vote. It was Olivia who flipped to a soft yes to rig the election way back when, but guys… let’s take a moment tonight and look at what happens if Olivia never took the White Hat™ off. If she stood in the sun and kept fighting the good fight. Olivia says no, and Fitz loses by a slim margin in, you guessed it… Defiance.
Olivia packs up to leave and apologizes to Fitz for letting him down, but Fitz doesn’t see it that way. Olivia did everything she could, including keeping those 2010 bangs. But Olivia’s plan is to go back to D.C. and help Marcus pass some bills in Congress. Fitz tells Olivia he still loves her, but she departs anyway.
A couple months later, Olivia Pope and Associates ends up in a trash hole office, Huck won’t shave, and Olivia is going on a date with Leo Bergen. It’s all very upsetting, until, of course, Fitz shows up at Olivia’s apartment announcing that he’s left Mellie, but Olivia has that date with Leo Bergen, charmer of the Beltway! But Fitz isn’t in D.C. from California for giggles… he’s there to ask her to marry him. She stays silent and lets the elevator door close. Fitz is devastated, but she didn’t press the button, so the door opens back up and they make out! Thank God for non-automated elevators.
Four months later, Fitz and Olivia decide to tie the knot. Cyrus is outside with James (HEY, DAN BUCATINSKY, HEY BOY), and they’re still not out. But saddest of all is Mellie, who is outside the church, pretty heartbroken. Cyrus gives her a pretty sweet pep talk about how she is perfect, prompting her to lean in and kiss Cyrus because this world is bonkers and why not. Inside the church, Olivia is getting ready with Huck in tow. Vaguely cleaned up, he walks her down the aisle toward Fitz. Rowan creeps in the back in typical Rowan fashion. They marry to “You’re All I Need to Get By,” first used when Fitz chose Olivia over Mellie before the tell-all interview she had planned. And with that, Olivia Carolyn Pope takes Fitzgerald Thomas Grant to be her husband, and it’s so real y’all. Well, sort of real because it’s an alternate reality.
Later on, Fitz and Olivia discuss where to live, and Silver Spring comes up, like that’s an easy metro ride into downtown at all. Speaking of downtown, we flash back to Pope and Associates, where everyone is alive (well, except Harrison who apparently doesn’t exist) and ready to watch The Grant Report, hosted by Fitz himself. It’s a popular show, because newly minted couple Cyrus and Mellie catch it as well.
After the show wraps, Fitz meets up with best friend Jake to discuss how Olivia isn’t ready to move into a shared place while Huck, Abby, and David come over to watch alternate world The Bachelor and do some work. Huck is obsessed with Lindsay D, who is actually just old school Quinn. It’s all perfect and too much, since Huck watching The Bachelor is actually all of us watching The Bachelor. But even in this alternate world, problems continue for Mellie and Cyrus, because after suggesting a presidential run for Mellie, she finds a journalist to help kick off the run… in James.
The interview automatically heats up between James and Cyrus as James digs into seemingly simple questions — about decor and agreements in Cyrus’ relationship with Mellie — that start to crack Cyrus’ cover. Mellie steps out of the room, and Cyrus goes in on James, explaining that he needs a partner… not a spouse. He explains to James that he cared about him, but he can’t be with him. Of course, Mellie overhears the whole thing.
Inside the White House, Olivia is a total dork who acts like she’s never been in the White House (because I guess she hasn’t now, huh?). She’s here to advocate for the bill she and Marcus were working on. She nearly scores a one-on-one with the president, but he turns her down. This is a world where people turn down Olivia Pope, after all. She returns home to Fitz, and they jump into an argument where Olivia accuses him of losing his fire. It’s in the heat of the moment, when “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” plays, that Olivia reveals that she could have fixed the election but didn’t. Fun fact: This song was first used when Abby accused David Rosen of abusing his ex. Fitz accuses her of sleeping with Marcus, and it’s a total mess. Fitz finishes by saying, “You should have done it.”
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Five months later, there’s no more marital snuggles… just alarms. Alarms across the board. Olivia and Fitz are miserable. Cyrus and Rowan present Mellie with photos of Sally Langston’s husband having man-on-man time that will help sink her competitor’s campaign, but Mellie insists that she’s not outing another man’s husband because… if anyone knows what that could mean, it’s Cyrus.
On The Grant Report, it’s equally bleak, as Fitz has landed an interview with Lindsay D. It’s practically a joke seeing Quinn so, well, un-Quinn like. If that’s not enough, Olivia is serving Fitz divorce papers because she’s more focused on her success with Marcus and getting bills into Congress. Abby pushes Olivia on the whole situation, but Olivia insists not everyone can be David and Abby.
Backstage, Lindsay D decides to visit Fitz, and after a brief conversation about her press tour and his general sadness, they leap into action, making out in his dressing room until Lindsay D/Quinn makes her way down to the onetime-commander-in-chief’s briefs. That’s when he finally tells her to stops and pushes her off him. She calls him a sad drunk, and she’s not wrong.
Following his romp, Fitz is approached on a bench by a couple of fans, but he blows them off. Guys… Fitz looks rough. Everyone looks rough. The reality of Scandal might be crazy, but this world is just sad. Mellie is devastated when the Daniel Langston photos leak, and she calls Cyrus out for his own sexuality, but Cyrus insists she always knew. And even if she didn’t, this is an arrangement — and one she’ll never get out of because politically, she can’t take it. Mellie looks pretty devastated herself.
It’s later that Mellie takes Olivia aside to tell her she was right about Defiance. She apologizes about everything… trying to get Fitz into office and in a way, herself. She’s trapped in this political façade, and Fitz is free. She wanted Olivia to know that she saved him, but Olivia isn’t so convinced… that’s the world Olivia wants. It all wraps up with another episode of The Grant Report, with Fitz announcing the news about Sally’s husband and how a world of pretending isn’t okay.
It prompts him to walk off set and go home to Olivia to apologize, because the trend of the day is apologizing to Liv. He tells Olivia he loves her and still wants her, if she’ll have him. She hands him what are presumably divorce papers, but what’s inside isn’t divorce papers at all. She gives him information on a townhouse in Georgetown, because love matters in the real world.
We flash back to the real world, where Olivia is alone in the Oval. She jumps up from the couch and runs outside to Fitz, who is standing on the balcony. He asks if she’s made a decision, and she says that she’s in. In for the plan to call Cyrus innocent for murdering Frankie? Sure. In for their relationship? Maybe! In for going back to a world where she has straight bangs? Hopefully not.
Scandal airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.