To commemorate Scandal’s 100th episode, ShondaLand treated us to an alternate timeline that answered the question, “What if Fitz never became president?”
At the top of the episode, Jake Ballard posits to Olivia Pope that her life and Fitz Grant’s life would be “a million times worse” if she hadn’t rigged Fitz’s election. From Olivia’s distant stare, we’re transported to an alternative timeline where Olivia says no to fixing Fitz’s election—and, of course, Fitz loses.
In this timeline, Olivia apologizes to Fitz for letting him down and moves back to Washington, D.C., to open up a small, nonprofit advocacy organization where she’s working to help Marcus Walker pass a criminal-justice reform bill.
Fitz divorces Mellie and proposes to Olivia, and they have a lovely wedding where Huck, who is on Olivia’s team in any timeline, walks her down the aisle while Olivia’s father watches from the pews.
A year into their marriage, Olivia is shopping at Banana Republic, not Saks, and she’s never been to the White House. She’s still cranking along with her small, nonprofit organization, and Fitz has a political talk show called The Grant Report.
Olivia and Fitz live together in Olivia’s one-bedroom apartment because she won’t commit to buying a place with him. Meanwhile, Olivia is willing to buy swankier office space for her company, and while Olivia no longer looks at Fitz the way she did when she thought he was going to become commander in chief, she lights up when Marcus calls to tell her that they got a meeting with President Reston, who beat Fitz. Ultimately, however, Reston never takes time to meet with her because, in this timeline, she’s not the Olivia Pope. She’s just Olivia Pope.
Things finally come to a head when Olivia tells Fitz, “You used to be a big dog, and now I barely recognize you.”
Fitz replies, “You wanted the Oval, and I didn’t give it to you.”
Olivia explains that she could have rigged his election, and he tells her that she should have because at least he would have been president.
Their relationship continues to deteriorate. Olivia files for divorce, and Drunk, Depressed Fitz almost sleeps with a Bachelor-esque reality star, Lindsay Dwyer, aka Quinn Perkins (more on that below), in his green room.
At the end of the day, Fitz tells Olivia that he still has a lot of work to do to become the man Olivia deserves, but he wants her if she’ll still have him. Of course, “The Light” starts playing, and on cue, I start feeling all of the feels. Olivia responds by handing him a folder, but instead of divorce papers, it’s the paperwork on a townhouse in Georgetown that she’d like to move into with him.
Yaaay … I guess. It isn’t nearly the fairy tale of the two of them living in Vermont and making jam and babies. It was actually kind of depressing.
Cyrus Beene and Mellie get married, and it’s just as awkward and unpleasant as “Melrus” sounds. In the alternate timeline, James Novak (!) is still alive, and Cyrus is still in the closet, so he won’t sit with James at Olivia and Fitz’s wedding. Instead, Cyrus ends up having a drink with Mellie and puts the moves on her ... give me a sec ... calling her perfect and saying that any man would be lucky to have her ... gag ... and then they kiss ... barf.
The next thing you know, those two are married, and Cyrus wastes no time convincing her to run for president. One day, when Cyrus comes home, James is already there to do a story on Melrus in which she will announce her bid for president. When Cyrus sends Mellie upstairs to fetch their wedding album, James calls his wedding a sham, and Cyrus confesses that he only married Mellie because he wanted another shot at the White House.
Of course Mellie overhears this conversation, and later, when Cyrus threatens to leak photos of the husband of her opponent, Sally Langston, in the throes with another man, Mellie says she’s not in a position to out someone else’s gay husband. But Cyrus, under the counsel of campaign adviser Damascus Bainbridge (aka Papa Pope), leaks the photos anyway. When confronted by Mellie, Cyrus essentially says, cut the crap, lady, because you knew what time it was when you married me.
However, since Olivia never rigged the election, Quinn’s boyfriend never had to get killed, and Quinn never had to change her name and work for Olivia. Instead she remained Lindsay Dwyer, who became a contestant on that Bachelor-esque show. Of course, she was Huck’s favorite contestant because, even in the alternative timeline, Huck loves Quinn. This time, however, they were able to avoid all the torture and teeth pulling.
When it’s all said and done, I do feel confident that if Fitz didn’t become president, there would be no Scandal because watching the Banana Republic version of Olivia Pope—nonprofit advocate stuck in a struggling marriage to an also-ran—is way less interesting than watching Saks Fifth Avenue Olivia Pope—boss fixer and mistress to the most powerful man in the world. Shonda Rhimes knows what she’s doing.