This was the best episode we’ve seen yet this season. It didn’t touch the Kaitlin Winslow murder too much, but it delved deep into Pope family politics, sexual politics, and there was a moment when I actually gasped in disbelief. I used to do that all the time in Season Three, and I missed the feeling.
First, let’s jump right into the Pope family. Last we saw Olivia, she left Rowan speechless by the side of the pool after she wrested Jake out of his control. Olivia continued riding that wave this week, this time getting a leg up on Rowan and Fitz.
How? She wrangled a meeting with Tom in the Warden’s office despite Rowan and Fitz’s objections. Though Tom didn’t tell her anything new about Jerry’s death, she proved she can override both the President and Command’s authority. Plus, she basically told Fitz, “No more sexy phone time until I get word on Jake’s condition.” Once again we see that Olivia ultimately has a power over Fitz that Rowan can never compete with, even if he is Command.
Though Tom didn’t say anything new about Jerry, he did have a lot to say about Olivia’s control over Fitz. “What’s so special about you?” Tom implores. “Why does he revolve around you?” Tom casually mentioned that Fitz creeper-stalked Olivia’s apartment after she left and made a wailing sound that Tom had never heard before. Oh, and PS, Fitz tried to kill himself after she left. Tom continued throwing those hum-dingers: “I’ve never been able to look at your face directly before. Wow, you are beautiful. The face that launched a thousand ships. I can see why the President, Jake, Command, all want you.”
Okay, Tom, it’s starting to get creepy, especially since you’re talking ex-act-ly like Jake. (Seriously, did anyone else notice it was the same cadence? First Rowan, then Jake, now Tom… it’s like everyone went to the same acting school for dramatic monologues.) Since Tom still insists Jake ordered Jerry’s death, Olivia simply warns him that he is a loose end, and Rowan doesn’t like loose ends. Ooh Tom, you in danger girl!
When Rowan discovered that Olivia visited Tom, they had a mighty face off. Rowan reminds Olivia that he spent a lifetime taking care of her, and she should never get in his way or disrespect him again. Olivia told Rowan that he spent a lifetime doing the wrong things, to which he steadily replies, “Against me, you will lose.” So the lines are officially drawn between those two. No more Sunday night dinners and impromptu coffee dates for this father/daughter duo.
Back in supermax, Tom is stabbed. He survives and confesses to Olivia that since Rowan tried to kill him, he’s inspired to tell the truth: Rowan ordered the attack on Jerry. And Olivia got the confession on tape. Now here’s the part that made me gasp — Olivia ordered the attack on Tom. Yes. She admits to Fitz, “I handled him the way my father would have.” OMG, what?! (I wanted her to scream next, “From you dad, I learned it by watching you!”— but that’s for another generation.) Olivia’s white hat got mighty dirty this week, and I liked it. If you’re going to have a chance against Rowan Pope, you have to fight dirty like he does.
Inside the White House, there are several scandals brewing. First, Senator Lewis McDonnell from Virginia is caught on tape having “playtime” with a prostitute while wearing a sailor’s hat and giant diaper. Oh, and, “Baby made a mess.” (Shonda, seriously, what?!) The video is leaked, McDonnell resigns, and Fitz nominates Charles “Chip” Putney to fill the empty position. Does “Chip” sound familiar? It should, because it’s the name of Abby’s abusive ex-husband, the man who beat her so badly her jaw was wired shut for six weeks.
It’s cool, Abby’s a team player. Sure, she vomits in the bathroom after seeing him, but she’s good! Press secretaries can’t cry! And they need his votes on the hill. Abby is good, really! She can do this! Yeah, she pulled a gun on Chip in the parking lot after he was seriously creeping on her, but she didn’t shoot! She wanted to, but didn’t!
Nuh uh. Olivia is not having it. (I’m glad they’re friends again.) She begs Abby to go public about the abuse, but Abby shuts her down. “We did that with clients for years. We came, fixed, and conquered. They became Anita Hill, Monica Lewinsky, they told their story, but where are they now?” Sadly, Abby is correct and I’m glad she had the foresight to see it. So, instead of trying to take down Chip, Olivia puts on her white hat (and fabulous white jacket) and backs his opponent, Susan Ross, free of charge.
The only other person Abby talks to about Chip’s abuse is his campaign manager, Leo Bergen. We haven’t seen Bergen in a while, but he’s his usual sassy, brazen self. After Abby confesses Chip’s abuse, Leo leaks to the press that Chip set up the McDonnell sex video. This forces Chip to resign, and Ross wins, and everyone screams “Yahtzee!”
I don’t know, this all felt hollow for me. We’ve been watching all the Scandal women kicking ass — Olivia is whooping up all the most powerful men in the world, Quinn is getting the job done when no one else seems to care, and Mellie has her First Lady groove back. Heck, even Abby took control of the scene when she had Chip at gunpoint. Then, in the end, everyone is saved by Leo, who took pity on Abby and wanted to get in her pants. She smiles at her knight who saved the day, and they kiss in the press room.
First of all, that kiss was too easy, and Abby saying, “I can’t believe I just let you do that” didn’t save it. Secondly— what about David Rosen? He’s just starting to get interesting! Finally, don’t make out in front of all those cameras! You never know which ones are still on— that’s Press Secretary 101 Abby!
In other news this week, Cyrus finally confirmed that Michael is a snitch. He planted information for Lizzie Bear to leak but—surprise!—Mellie did it instead. I can’t wait to see what Cyrus does with this knowledge.
Also, we got to meet little Huck, AKA Javi, who tracked down Huck via his IP address and started asking all sorts of questions. Lord, that kid is adorable. I hope to see more of him.
Plus, Quinn questioned Jeremy Winslow about the folder full of Olivia pictures, and he mumbles cryptically, “You can’t stop what’s coming. I’m sorry. I can’t help you,” then shoots himself in the head. And, that’s about all we see in the episode. I’m curious about why they’re following Olivia, but honestly, I need to get more of this story to be invested in it.
Finally, Mellie is inspired to be a powerful First Lady. She chooses Eleanor Roosevelt’s china (nice touch Shonda) and has some warning words for Fitz: “I’m back baby, the real Mellie. Remember how much you hated the real Mellie?” Yeah, the real Mellie is back, and she has a vengeance: “I have been holding you up for 20 years. When I fall down on the job for two months, you rip me to the shreds. I won’t soon forget that.” Ooh, she is angry and she has an agenda. I’m scared for Fitz.
We have two episodes left before the winter break. Next week it looks like Olivia, Jake, and Fitz are teaming up against Rowan. That could be interesting, especially if it means the end of this tired B613 storyline. However, we just found out that Maya Pope (the amazing Khandi Alexander) will be appearing in the mid-season finale, airing November 20, and that can’t be good for anyone.
“When a woman becomes president, the First Lady will become a paid job. The minute a man has to do it, it’ll become a real job.”—Mellie to Elizabeth, after reflecting on Eleanor Roosevelt’s influential role as first lady.
“You think you can just walk in wearing all your white stuff, have a seat, and drink tea with Jake? This isn’t jailhousemingle.com.” —David to Olivia, who demands to be let into supermax.
“I’m in a giving mood. I’d take off all your clothes, spread you out… Once you’re begging, I’d finally kiss you, so you’d taste yourself.”—Fitz on the phone with Olivia, who got her so hot she unbuttoned her fabulous cape. P.S. that still doesn’t make me Team Fitz, and Good Lord Shonda, it’s not even 10 PM!
Emily Worden is a Boston-based freelance writer and author of Make. Sell. Repeat. The Ultimate Business Guide for Artists, Crafters, and Makers. You can follow her on Twitter.