Thursday night, everyone on Scandal made some terrible decisions. Cyrus led his lamb of a husband to the emotional slaughter. Quinn's life is a continuing series of bad decisions. Mama Pope ate her own wrists and then escaped from B613. And of course, Olivia and Fitz rekindled their forbidden romance.
For a large segment of Scandal fans, this reunion was a glorious one. Fitz offering Olivia the perfect house in Vermont was reminiscent of Meredith Grey outlining her future home with Dr. McDreamy in candles on a mountaintop. It was a dream-like sequence in which I practically expected curtains to start billowing autonomously or for rain to pour down (indoors) as soon as Olivia did the Rachel McAdams run-and-kiss. The sex scene that followed was long, even by HBO standards. In some respects, it was a burst of romance some fans have been craving, but on the other hand, it was a huge disappointment for Liv lovers.
While some fans see Fitz as the white knight to match Olivia's white hat, others know Fitz is just about the worst bad habit Liv has. But Scandal did something about that this week. Just before Liv gave into his "I built a house for us" speech, Fitz lectures her. He drags her out to Vermont after she repeatedly tells him she wants nothing to do with him — as far as she knows, he killed her mother and a plane full of other civilians. When she gets there, he has the audacity to tell her she's the one who's wrong because she never told him her father was the head of B613. Sure, because withholding that information — which she is not supposed to tell anyone — from the man cheating on his wife is much worse than shooting down a plane of innocents and lying to the American people. Good one, Fitz.
Still, that conversation doesn't keep Olivia from giving in, but she gives in in spite of herself. She's furious, but her own wealth of emotion for Fitz takes over and she lets go. And it's wrong, so very wrong, but that seems deliberate.
One of the great things about Liv as a character is that while she's the saving grace with a crystalline plan for everyone who walks through her doors, she's horrible at fixing herself. Part of that is that she drinks red wine instead of eating dinner some nights, but the biggest and most pressing issue is her addiction to Fitz. Yes, she loves him, but it's bad love and deep down she knows that, but she can't bring herself to care enough to stop.
And that's why as painful as it was to watch her go back to Fitz (and break Mellie's heart all over again), it's good for the series that she's done so. Now, the relationship is different. Everything around them has changed, though her core of emotions towards him have remained. Their emotions say it will work, but our logical brains know it's doomed. This gives us the opportunity to anti-ship a TV relationship — and not even in the sense that we're hoping Fitz and Liv break up so that Jake has a chance (no matter how much Scott Foley deserves not to be the Noel Crane for once).
Fitz and Liv need to break up or stop or whatever you want to call it because it is terrible for them to be together. Fitz has a wife who's done everything to keep him where he is (sure, part of that is to keep her there too, but it was sacrifice nonetheless) and Liv has nothing but passionate rendezvous that threaten to become public, especially with an election season in the wings. Whenever she falls back into this, Liv gives herself away to the relationship as well. And that cannot happen any more.
So, in essence, anti-shipping means rooting for Liv to be free, not to run into the arms of the other romantic "team." It's a challenge to Scandal viewers, especially those who are under Fitz's spell themselves. The series is begging us to see through the bullshit and to come out on the other side, passionate and shipping another could-be "couple": Liv and her own freedom.