Scandal was firing on all cylinders tonight: We had some really sweet Liv-Fitz moments, some angry and compassionate sides of Mellie, some slick OPA problem-solving, two new faces, a scary Papa Pope speech, and drama galore! After a couple slow moving weeks of set-up and simmering blood, this week gave us plenty of action and a couple new plotlines to be excited — and terrified — about.
A televised Olivia Pope exposé frames the episode, as scenes from this special report play throughout the hour: The press is digging up its dirt on Liv, talking to her grade school teachers, surfacing old footage of Liv as a Georgetown Law student expressing about her White House, and displaying photos upon photos of the older, powerful men she used to date. We’re watching what the people in Scandal’s universe are ostensibly watching, and while it’s scary watching the press try to rip her apart, it’s fun being in on everything they don’t know: That Maya Pope is alive, that Rowan is the furthest thing from a Smithsonian employee, that Olivia doesn’t just date men for power moves, etc., etc.
We’re still in jail with Papa Pope and Jake at first, but fortunately this is our only scene with Rowan this week. Really not looking forward to his return, because he haunts my nightmares. Through their conversation, we learn that “Lazarus One,” last week’s Louvre fire, was Rowan’s plan. Jake is determined to find out who Rowan’s working with on the outside, but Rowan’s not showing any of his cards. “True power is never lost,” he says. “And freedom? Boy, I am always free.”
Quinn is taking OPA into her own hands while Liv just tries to keep her head above water amid the deluge of vulturish media and anonymous internet threats. Just like she was recruited to OPA, Quinn calls our old pal Marcus Walker, who you might remember from his two-episode arc last season, in which he played a sharp, honest activist-turned-mayoral candidate who wasn’t a fan of Liv’s dirty politics. Quinn gives the classic (and cringe-inducing) “Do you want to be a gladiator in a suit?” speech, looking pretty self-satisfied until Marcus is like, “No… you’re shady.” He’s not into the lying, and he knows OPA is broke, so… bye!
Fitz, like the rest of America, can’t stop watching the media tear Liv apart, so he decides to fire Abby — since she’s the one who threw Liv to the wolves in the first place (with Liv’s implicit consent, of course). Liz convinces him it’s not worth another scandal (although a scandal within a scandal would really make the show feel true to its title!), so Abby stays, but Fitz isn’t happy about it. He whines to Liv, but she’s standing firm in her choice to bring their affair out into the open, and she tells him she can handle being the media’s “punching bag” for now.
Meanwhile in the B613 camp, Jake has teamed up with our old lollipop-loving pal Charlie (who dodges death better than anyone else on this show, I swear) to try to track the paintings stolen from the Louvre, and in doing that, figure out the identity of Rowan’s co-conspirator. But when the woman Charlie’s hired to track them, who has apparently killed more people than the two of them combined (NOT POSSIBLE!), it turns out Jake knows her… well. And she’s mad at him.
Here’s what we learn: “Jake” isn’t his real name, he and this lady, Elise, used to be married (or were pretending to be married?), and she was supposed to meet him at Grand Central Station years ago. He waited for her for an hour, 35 minutes longer than the allotted 25 (after 25 minutes, you’re supposed to assume they are dead). To him, she never showed, but apparently Elise just showed up late. Really late. Jake grieved for her, thinking she was dead, and she fumed for years, thinking he didn’t wait for her. Later on in this episode, a man comes to her apartment and they both end up shooting each other, so she’s off to a really great start on this show. (She’s still alive — later, in the hospital, Jake asks her to come back to the States with her.) Welcome, Elise!
In one of the night’s best scenes, Mellie gets called to a secret Senate sorority meeting, in which a table of female Republicans and Democrats explain how the Senate really works. “A bunch of men are going to gather somewhere with cigars and scotch,” one tells her, where all the votes the women have fought for, and all the work they’ve done, can fall apart immediately, totally unbeknownst to them. “This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats,” one sassy old bird says. “It’s about peckers. Too many peckers.” I would watch an entire show about this room (the women, not the peckers). The reason they’ve called Mellie here is because they want to impeach Fitz — but, classy as they are, they want to make sure she’s okay with it. Cyrus is all for impeachment so Mellie can take the White House for herself, but she isn’t so sure.
Of course, soon after, Mellie and Fitz share an adorable parenting moment in which baby Teddy is giggling, hiding in a curtain with his little shoes sticking out, while his parents pretend they can’t find him. Classic kid move, but cute every time. I’m just sad we didn’t get to see Teddy coming out and giving them a hug — it’s always nice to be reminded, about three times per season, that Fitz and Mellie actually have kids. This scene really broke my heart a bit.
NEXT: The new gladiator on the block