Scandal recap: Pencils Down | EW.com

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Scandal recap: 'Pencils Down'

Olivia plays dirty (in politics and with Jake), and another candidate enters the race

(Greg Gayne/ABC)

Scandal

Season 5, Ep. 15 | Aired Mar 24

Now that presidential campaigning is in full swing in Scandal-land, it’s debate time. And the Republican candidates will have Sally Langston as their moderator. Lucky them!

There’s a lot of hemming and hawing beforehand over debate logistics — Elizabeth North is negotiating on behalf of Susan Ross (no Lucite podiums because she’s short and needs to stand on a box), Olivia for Mellie Grant (she wants a buzzer and light to signal when a candidate’s time is up — or else no Mellie), and Hollis Doyle on behalf of Hollis Doyle.

Susan, meanwhile, is deep in debate prep, talking about immigration with Fitz subbing in as Hollis. And…she’s kind of killing it. Abby even calls Olivia to tell her how well the VP is doing and tries to entice Liv to drop Mellie and join up with them, which she declines because she really does think Mellie could make a good president.

Before they hang up, Abby has one question for Olivia: Has she heard the rumors? Liv says she’s looking into it, and we get quick confirmation of what they are. She meets her ex beau Sen. Edison Davis in a parking garage and asks him point blank: “So, are you running for president?”

And, he is — as a Democrat, meaning he’s running against Frankie Vargas and not the Republican Grant-Ross-Doyle trifecta. He’s announcing the next morning but first wanted to check with Liv about something called “Meridian Terrace.” She says not to worry about it and tells him he’ll be a great candidate.

“I figure it’s about time we had our first black president,” he tells her.

Liv nods, then responds, “I think it’s about time we had our first woman president.” (Amen to that!) They wish each other luck in the election and part ways.

Meanwhile, David Rosen’s gross two-timing finally (FINALLY!) catches up with him and all because he goes to another former flame looking for advice on what he should do about being a dumb cheater. Sleeping with two women — the “good” one, he says, and the “nasty” one — is affecting his work because he’s in a “weird dirty sex trance.” Abby, smartly, wants to hear none of it and tells him to get out. 

He leaves her office only to get pulled into another with those exact two women. Elizabeth wants him and Susan to go public with their relationship at the debate by having him come on stage at the end when all the other candidates’ families and loved ones do the same. Susan says that’s a lot to ask, but he says he’ll do it for her. She looks thrilled, which makes me feel even more rage toward David than usual. (More on him in a bit.)

At Vargas’ election HQ, Cyrus is trying to rally the volunteers with a talk about the campaign message, but he’s overshadowed by a new face in the room — this guy is loud, passionate, and really rallies the troops. He’s also Frankie Vargas’ brother, Alex Vargas (Danny Pino). Cyrus, not one accustomed to being out-maneuvered, goes to Vargas to complain (Side note: To hopefully sort out confusion, when I say “Vargas” I mean the candidate, I’ll use “Alex” or “Alex Vargas” for his brother), but the presidential hopeful rebukes him. As Cyrus tells Tom later when he asks for dirt on the brother, blood is blood, and while he’s got no problems taking down someone who’s after his job, it’s a lot harder to do that when family is involved.

Meanwhile, Mellie’s debate prep includes watching focus groups discuss what they think of her, and none of it seems to be nice — people think she’s smug, arrogant, and is great until she starts talking. Ouch.

Olivia doesn’t mince words either. She tells Mellie voters think she’s out of touch and won’t vote for her if they think she thinks she’s smarter than everyone. She wants to make her more relatable, more like the woman everyone saw on the Senate floor during her filibuster. Her solution? “The Gettysburger Test.”

Oh man, what a disaster this was. It starts out fine — Mellie puts on a hat, pulls her hair in a ponytail, and goes to a local Gettysburger, where she waits in line like everyone else and orders a  “double Lincoln with cheese,” per Olivia’s instructions. She’s told to sit at a booth by a window (all the better if other people are already there), finish the WHOLE burger, and act like a woman of the people.

The press, surely tipped off to this by OPA, asks if this is her first time at a Gettysburger, and this is where things go off the rails real fast. She lies and says yes. They ask her where. She mentions a location or two, and then adds that she and daughter, Karen, used to stop in every Sunday after church. Nope. Wrong. Try again, Mellie, because apparently Gettysburger is closed on Sundays.

So the “Gettsburger Test” becomes “Burgergate” because naturally something like that would become a trending topic almost immediately. Mellie is pissed at Olivia because it was her idea, and Olivia is pissed at Mellie for lying. Definitely not a great thing to happen right before a big debate.

NEXT: Jake’s link to Vanessa, uncovered 

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