ABC’s Scandal is many things. It’s intense, it’s heart-pounding, it’s gut wrenching and above all it’s scandalous. For all the insane messes that Olivia Pope and Associates manage to cover up, stop in their tracks, or sweep under the rug, there is one mess that cannot be fixed as easily. Olivia Pope has a very complicated love life and that’s not just because she’s got two men vying for her hand. Fitzgerald Grant and Jake Ballard are two very different people. They want to give Olivia everything but they won’t be paying the same price for it nor are they always willing to pay that same price. Not by a long shot.
Here are 5 reasons why Jake Ballard is better for Olivia Pope than Fitzgerald Grant:
5. To Fitzgerald Grant, Olivia Pope is the ultimate prize. Winning her means winning everything. It means fulfillment in his unfulfilled life. In his unsatisfactory marriage. In his less than warm family. He desires her above all else and wants her to belong to him. He doesn’t want anyone else to have her, to utilize her, to love her. He treats her as an object that was made for his needs and him alone. He wants to be the King of the Castle and wants to make her his queen, no matter who he hurts.
Jake, on the other hand, doesn’t see her this way. He sees her as a powerful, beautiful woman who he could have a life with. He understands her job and he understands her feelings. He wants to be with her and but he also wants her to want to be with him. He wants her to love him the way he loves her. He doesn’t desire to win her. He desires the chance to be with her. The privilege to be by her side. He wants to show her off to the world and say “this incredible woman chose me!” and that truth would be something he would be in awe of.
4. An Olivia Pope that’s with Fitzgerald Grant is an aggressive, angry and explosive woman. In fact, any woman with Fitzgerald Grant is those things. No need to look further than the First Lady herself. Olivia and Fitz yell. They yell a lot. They scratch and claw and bite with their words. They are each the aggressor and they each fight back. It’s very loud and wounding and painful. For two people who supposedly love each other there is an awful lot of hurt being thrown around.
With Jake, it’s another story. They talk. They speak to one another in a calm fashion. They have their occasional heated battle but it ends quickly. And although it doesn’t usually end with them having sex in the control room in the West Wing of the White House, they find that they can walk away and still be people. People who are not hopped up on sexual desire and use that as another form of battle. Another way to punish each other. Olivia and Jake can walk away from a fight and still have their pride. They can still be the people they were when they walked into the room.
3. Jake Ballard cares about other people. As command of B613, he has to make the tough choices. But not only does he make the tough choices, he carries them out himself. When he had those reporters killed along with James Novak, he did so with remorse. He killed the two of them clean and quick and even though he couldn’t do the same for James, he still sat with him while he died. He didn’t want him to be alone. He apologized for what had to be done. He got blood on his hands in order to protect the Republic but that doesn’t mean he stops being a human being. He doesn’t care what other people think of him but he sure as hell cares about other people.
Fitzgerald Grant cares only about himself. You can say he cares about his Presidency but that is a reflection of himself. It’s how he can prove himself to others. It’s how he can show the world what he’s made of and he wants a good image. You can also say he cares about Olivia but that is also a reflection of himself. She is a reflection of his failed marriage. She is a reflection of his needs. She is the unattainable toy that he desperately desires to covet. He holds her over the heads of others and shoves her in their faces. In Mellie’s, in Jake’s and in Cyrus’. He’s a child shouting “In your face!” to Mellie, “Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner” to Jake and “I’ve found another shoulder to cry on” to Cyrus.
2. Jake Ballard would give up everything for Olivia. He once told her that he would leave B613 and would run away with her. He would leave everything behind in order to start a life with her. Fitzgerald Grant would never do that. Sitting behind that desk, in the Oval Office, is not only his life but it is also his wife. He is married to his Presidency and he would never leave it for her. Although he talks a good game about how a man who isn’t President can leave his wife, how a man who isn’t President can have a life, he’s not actually going to do it. That chair is too important to him. He has too much to prove by keeping it. Specifically with this second term, his biggest desire is to prove to the world that he can win this thing on his own. He needs to prove his own self worth to everyone around him, and above all he needs to prove it to himself. He needs to quiet the voices that are shouting at him that he’s not good enough. The only thing that Jake Ballard has to prove is how much he loves Olivia and I’d say he’s already proved that a hundred times over.
1. There is no Vermont and there never will be. Vermont only exists in the alternate universe where there is no B613 and “Grant for President” never reached our eyes. It’s the universe where Liv is just a girl and Fitz is just a boy and where love is all you need. It’s the place where Fairy Tales come true and “Happily Ever Afters” come in bottles. It’s a world that realistically cannot happen for these two people. The world they live in is one of an ill-tempered, married to his career, father of three and the woman who cleans up his messes. She is this man’s emotional maid. Who looks after him when he’s in trouble. Who does the things he has too much pent up rage to handle himself.
The world of Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant is a lie. It’s secrets and stolen moments and hard pinned emotions that add up to a dream that can never be fulfilled. They cannot have a life together, most certainly not the one that they see in their dreams. There is no Vermont.
However, there can be a Washington D.C. There can be any place, in fact, if Olivia wanted to make a life with Jake Ballard. With him, she can actually have a life. They both can leave. As command of B613, he can leave. He has that ability. He can walk away from this life. They can run away together. Olivia doesn’t have to keep fixing other people. She can toss away all the secrets and lies and start fresh. She could become Mrs. Olivia Ballard if she so chooses. She can get married. She can be married to her husband and not her career. She can have the life. The one she’s always wanted with a man she loves.
And there you have it. Now all I need is a shirt that says “Olake Lives” and I’ll be good to go. P.S. Watch Scandal tonight!