Hearts might still be pounding after “Scandal’s” emotionally intense Feb. 19 episode. In a Feb. 20 EW interview, “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes briefly addressed the aftermath of Olivia’s (Kerry Washington) harrowing experience. She said, “She’s a very different person than we’ve seen before. It’s amazing what Kerry is doing.” Rhimes made the comment following EW’s observation that OPA might need some extra help now that it’s obvious Olivia is suffering from PTSD.
Olivia’s captivity just may be the most psychologically terrifying story arc in “Scandal” history. Yes, Huck (Guillermo Diaz) has inflicted all kinds of gruesome physical torture on various victims. How nauseating is it to see Andrew (Jon Tenney) bound in plastic wrap while Huck injects him and effectively induces a stroke? But, to see everyone’s savior, sharp, savvy Olivia Pope pushed to the point of a near breakdown it was almost too much to bear. Almost. And then a former gladiator swoops in to save her – thank God, right?
Rhimes talked about Stephen’s (Henry Ian Cusick) heroic return, saying “It was the only sensible solution when you think about Olivia’s life, where she’s gone and where she’s been. Nostalgically for her, I think she believes that he’s safety and home, whether it’s true or not. If you think about the fact that she has no family—her mother basically let her go and her father basically told her she didn’t exist anymore for him—Stephen was the last of the Gladiators who had no beef with her in any way, shape or form. She hadn’t abandoned him. There was no baggage there, so that was why.”
On Feb. 19 “Scandal” posted a Stephen fact sheet on the show’s official website to remind us Stephen and Olivia have a long history and very real friendship. He has given her pep talks and she, in turn gave him the nudge and confidence he needed to propose. Now, thankfully, Stephen has come through at the zero hour to save her life. Olivia wants her trusted friend to come back to Washington with her. But alas, he doesn’t make the trip. Will we see Stephen again? We don’t know. But, it would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Meanwhile, Olivia currently has a lot to process and it’s definitely not going to be easy. She is seized with fear induced by flashbacks while she is being questioned by authorities. She declines Jake’s (Scott Foley) offer to stay the night. Her couch is permanently stained from the night she was taken hostage and she has new, heavy-duty multiple locks on her door. She makes sure they are all engaged, until the presidential knock, of course. Returning to “normal” life is going to be a big transition. Let’s hope Olivia seeks help to cope with everything she’s endured.
Perhaps the saddest thing for Team Fitz fans is that Olivia flies into a rage with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) who was taken aback that she isn’t glad he saved her life. She is more concerned about the innocent lives that were lost in that declaration of war. Frankly, we get that. How can Fitz, Olivia, or anyone really come to terms with that? It still makes us shudder that one of Olivia’s closest friends was going to have bombs dropped on her in order to prevent U.S. secrets from falling into enemy hands.
Jeff Perry is superb in the sequence in which Cyrus envisions himself laying into Fitz for the unethical choices he made in the name of his one true love. Of course, he doesn’t really say all the things he feels. Instead, he resolves to secretly “neutralize the asset.” Thank God he’s sees Stephen’s face at the last minute and calls a cease fire. But, in addition to her PTSD, Olivia must also walk around with the knowledge of those innocent lives that were lost to save hers.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a very real disorder that can occur when someone has experienced some type of trauma. According to statistics on the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs website from the National Center for PTSD about 6 of every 10 (or 60%) of men and 5 of every 10 (or 50%) of women experience at least one trauma in their lives. And, about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives, with about 5.2 million adults suffering from PTSD during a given year.
For the purposes of “Scandal’s” story world, it’s already terrifying to think of the trauma Huck and Jake have endured being tortured and thrown in the B613 hole. They are definitely and understandably messed up. Huck’s latest bloody excursion is unfathomable and this week, Jake tries to warn him that he has to keep his “beast” trapped inside. To say these men are damaged is an understatement and Olivia represents a kind of savior to both of them. Until now. How is the aftermath of Olivia’s captivity going to affect the relationship she has with the people around her? Will she shut them out?
It’s clear that for now, she’s shutting Fitz out. Tony Goldwyn and Kerry Washington play Fitz and Olivia’s reunion with such emotional gravity and desperation. It’s so heartbreaking to hear Olivia tell Fitz she wasn’t raped. But now she’s learned there’s something worse than death. She’s carrying the unimaginable weight of all those lost lives on her shoulders. Have Fitz and Olivia reached a final, impossible impasse? Is all hope of Vermont finally lost? Gladiators at large have no choice but to wait and see.
“Scandal” airs on ABC on TGIT Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.