"It's Hard Out Here for a General"
5x10 - OPA and Mellie
Season Five
Season 05, Episode 10
Episode Information
Air Date: February 11, 2016
Viewers: 6.96 million
Written by: Severiano Canales
Directed by: Tom Verica
Character Information
Character Development:
Episode Chronology
Previous Episode: "Baby, It's Cold Outside"
Next Episode: "The Candidate"

It's Hard Out Here for a General is the tenth episode and mid-season premiere of the fifth season of Scandal, and is the seventy-ninth overall.


It's been six months since Olivia and Fitz have broken up, and they are both handling their newfound freedom in very different ways. Meanwhile, the Pope and Associates team take on a case that could lead to a national crisis.


Six months have passed since the events of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Olivia shares a meal with her father. She claims she’s happy. Papa Pope doesn’t buy it. His daughter had power. She had the Oval Office. Papa Pope asks Olivia to stop by the house more often. She can’t because Jake is there. Actually, he’s not. He’s at Liv’s place to do some kissing, caressing, straddling and a few other intriguing maneuvers.

At two o’clock in the morning, the President of the United States is wide awake and fully dressed in the Oval Office. Elsewhere, Abby is sound asleep in her jammies. RING! It’s the Fitz Phone! Well, not really. But it is Fitz on the phone. He wants to talk business. Not even Abby’s lie about a sickly Leo lying by her side can dissuade him from having one of many recent late night chats. The next call begins with how you can get Gettysburger fries, aka Freedom Fries, in a bag at the grocery store. Who knew?! Well, Abby did.

Air Force Lieutenant-General Diane Peters is the head of the NSA. She’s also the latest client for Olivia Pope & Associates. Someone hacked into her home computer to steal a file with a codename of Project Mercury. It’s classified, but Huck knows it’s all about how the NSA is spying on world leaders. Diane’s significant other, William “Billy” Torrance is the prime suspect though the general refuses to believe it. Olivia, however, does. They need to determine if Billy is a spy or whistleblower.

Cyrus needs a late-night Liv-pinion. He wants to know if Abby can handle being Fitz’s work wife. Olivia says she can, but he should be sure about this because it involves a lot of power. The next morning, a reporter approaches Abby about a whistleblower coming forth about Project Mercury. Abby grabs Cyrus to barge into the Oval Office. She suggests they appeal to the reporter’s editor in the interest of national security. Later, Cyrus clues in Abby on the fact that she’s Fitz’s new work wife. Happy honeymoon!

During a chat on the White House balcony, Fitz asks Jake to find the whistleblower at the NSA. The subject of Olivia also comes up. Both men claim they don’t talk to her, but that’s only half true. Jake tracks down Billy’s cell phone at about the same time Huck, Quinn and Marcus do. That doesn’t mean they’ll be teaming up to find the man himself though. Diane is officially put under investigation. She wants Olivia to talk to the president.

Abby swings by Olivia’s place with a bottle of scotch. They have a discussion about the president, the work wife thing and the fact that Fitz is all alone. They both know that Olivia is afraid to call him. RING! It’s the Fitz phone. Okay, it’s Abby’s phone again and Fitz is the one who’s calling—again! Olivia still isn’t ready talk to him. Time passes and Olivia finally does make the call. Fitz lets his secretary know that he’s unavailable to talk to her. RING! Fitz calls Abby. He wants to talk about new NSA candidates in the middle of the night, of course.

Thanks to an assist from Charlie, Quinn is able to deduce that Billy Torrance was set up. Olivia and team head over to the house where the guy’s cell phone was found. They pry open the refrigerator to find Billy’s dead body inside. Olivia realizes that Jake wasn’t looking for Billy. He was disposing of him. Elsewhere, Fitz lets the world know that he’s chosen a new NSA head. His name: Captain Jacob Hamilton Ballard. This was all part of the plan he developed with Papa Pope, who, once again, urges his daughter to get back some real power.

Another late-night call from the president has Abby storming into the Oval to have a chat about the whole work wife thing. She lets Fitz know that she’s not his companion; she’s the White House Press Secretary. Then she storms out. She has work to do. It other news, Marcus is in the mood for an Atlanta Burns Burger from Gettysburger. Quinn could go for some Sojourner Truth Tots. Huck, however, puts the kibosh on that idea. He knows Marcus is normal person. He and Quinn have to protect him by not being friends with him.

Mellie Grant has written a book. Olivia gives it a read. She believes it’s a total bore. Olivia advises her to write a real book that tells the people who she really is, what she’s been through. It’ll be hard, but that’s the kind of book that will make her president. That’s the book Mellie wants to write. They’ll get started in the morning.


Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast

Long Speeches & Rants

"The man needs a wife. He always has, and he always will. He can't function any other way. He is not meant to be alone. He doesn't know how. He needs a wife. It can't be Liv anymore because she's gone. Mellie was a great one for all her faults. I was brilliant at it, but I can't be me anymore. Betrayal's still there."  

 Cyrus Beene to Abby Whelan

"You can publish this, or you can write a real book that tells the American people who you are, what you've been through, what you think about, what you've been through. A book that is truthful. A book that is hard. This book was easy to write and easy to forget. The book you need to write will be hard, but people will remember it. That book will help make you President."  

 Olivia Pope to Mellie Grant


  • The table read for this episode took place on November 7, 2015.
  • Starting this episode, Olivia Pope wears more of brighter and bolder colors than her usual white colors.


Promotional Photos

→ See and enjoy 50 pictures from It's Hard Out Here for a General at Images from It's Hard Out Here for a General.

Behind the Scenes


Promotional Videos