We begin with a flashback – Olivia is a bespectacled middle-schooler, eating Froot Loops while reading Bridge to Terabithia. Then, Boom! It’s Liv’s mother – the fabulous Khandi Alexander. She bids Liv goodbye; she’ll be back from her trip in a few days. We know how this ends up. Poor Liv.
Flash-forward. Liv is deep in thought. Her employees are worried, but Huck and Jake are not explaining why. Harrison points out that she has two presidential candidates who want her to manage their campaigns; if she doesn’t snap out of it, they could lose both.
Liv charges out of the office, telling Huck and Jake that she is going to see one of the two people who can tell her about this. She doesn’t want to risk their lives, so rather than contacting her father, it’s Fitz who will be providing the answers.
Liv shows up at the Oval Office, to the delight of Cyrus Beene and Mellie, who think she’s going to accept the campaign manager position. Instead, she asks for a moment alone with Fitz. It’s then that I notice that Kerry Washington is already wearing big coats and carrying large purses (I think that’s an Hermes Kelly bag, so if you have to cover up your pregnancy, that’s a pretty stylish shield).
Fitz shuts Olivia down when she asks him about her mother. He. Shuts. Her. Down. Whips out his Commander-in-Chief hat, and puts it on his stupid head. This has to mean that they are over, right? Well, it is national security, and officially the mission doesn’t exist, so maybe that’s acceptable. After all, he doesn’t know her mother was on the plane.
Liv is furious, and declines the campaign manager position. She returns to her office and sics Huck and Jake on Fitz, which in this case means she asks them to dig up more information.
Do I Smell Donuts?
Quinn is busy practicing at a firing range. She’s a lousy shot, but then she meets someone who actually would be her dream mentor: Charlie! Charlie gives her some tips on how to relax when she’s shooting, which immediately changes her into a sharpshooter. Huck is completely ignoring her, even when she’s dropping the most obvious hints ever that she’s been approached by B316, so she is flattered by Charlie’s professional attention. He is acting on orders from Eli, of course.
The Sharks Circle
Sally Langston is running for office, and she is courting Leo Bergen. Bergen may be a slimeball, but he immediately gets that Sally’s good-looking husband will present challenges. The question is, will he be seen as a charming frat boy or an emasculated potential date rapist (Bergen is certainly to the point)? They sic the ministers on Fitz. This requires Sally to meet with Fitz, which she does for dinner, along with their respective spouses. Sally’s husband is such a dog that he shamelessly hits on Mellie. After the dinner, Sally executes her ultimate plan: she goes to the ministers, ostensibly to talk up Fitz, but in reality, she announces her candidacy. But they forget one important thing: Cyrus Beene exists. He has a minister informant who tells him what Sally is doing. Cyrus then confides in Mellie, who urges Cy to go for Sally’s weakness: her jealousy about her husband, Gropey Joe.
Sisters are Doin’ It for Themselves
At Liv’s recommendation, Josephine Marcus starts courting big money. It’s a fun montage, and it showcases Lisa Kudrow’s comic ease. They revamp her style, and book an interview with hard-hitting journalist James Novak, because he is known as the puppet of the rich and powerful. So what if he’s the partner of Fitz’s chief of staff? It makes perfect sense.
There is one person who isn’t happy about this, and that is Eli. He orders Cy to go after OPA to have them stop repping Josephine Marcus. He really puts the screws on Harrison, threatening that he’ll let someone named Adnan Salif back into the country. Harrison asks Huck to help prevent this, saying that he’ll be a dead man if Salif ends up in the U.S. With Huck on the case, Harrison tells Cyrus no deal. We’ll see how that ends up.
Cy continues his Marcus-crushing campaign. He works on James, who is scheduled to interview Josie Marcus, urging him to press her on adoption and her sexuality. James is like, “Exsqueeze me? Have you met me?” He says he’ll lob softballs just to spite Cy.
The actual interview turns out quite differently. Marcus sees a ridiculously sexist ad from Reston right beforehand, and it is on. She goes after James and calls everyone on their sexism. It’s beautiful. Later her daughter/sister calls OPA on the fact that they clearly did this ad. She recognizes this because Abby is wearing the same nail polish as a hand shown in the video.
Eli Reveals Nearly Nothing
Olivia pours herself a quart of wine into a wine glass the size of a fishbowl. Then the musing starts, and before you know it, we’re in flashback land. The flashback has Joe Morton wearing a ridiculous wig that almost makes the scene hard to take seriously. We see Eli teary-eyed but composing himself in order to tell young Olivia the news that her mother is dead. Interestingly, Baby Liv is stone-faced and mistrustful as her father prepares to deliver the news: things must have been pretty bad already.
Emboldened by Tuscan courage and perhaps less afraid of Eli because of his flashback hair, she calls her dad, who says he’ll answer one question. That question is whether Eli gave the order to shoot down her mother’s plane. The answer is no. That’s good to know, if she can believe him.
Fitz Reveals All (About his Character)
Fitz shows up at Liv’s door. For a second, I think he’s there for a booty call, and for a split-second, I think she’s considering it. He tries to persuade her to come with him on the campaign, so they can be them again. He is leering at her during part of this, so I think it’s pretty damn insulting for him to ask her that. She asks him again about Remington. He shuts her down. She tells him about her mother, and asks him again, and he SHUTS HER DOWN. They’re done, right? Right?
- Mellie’s changed look is weirding me out. Her hair is the closest thing I’ve seen to genuine Charlie’s Angels hair.
- Kudos for the songs in this episode. Rick James’ “Give it to Me Baby” was right on the nose for the PAC courting, and the use of The Chambers Brothers’ “Time” throughout was brilliant.
- Khandi Alexander wasn’t given a lot of closeups, and her layered hair was in her face for much of her screen time. To me that screams that she’ll be back because they are avoiding having to show that she is several decades older since the time of the flashback. They have clearly cast an actress who is age-appropriate (in her 50s) to be Liv’s mother NOW, not in the past, when the actress should have been in her 30s.
- So much else happened that I had to cut some of it out. Eli is going after Huck and Jake because they keep investigating Remington. Jake is nearly killed by someone from B316, but is saved by one of Fitz’s agents. Fitz and Jake disagree about Remington. Fitz doesn’t know why it is so important because he doesn’t know about Liv’s mom, so he tells Jake he’s done protecting him. Fitz really doesn’t like that Jake is pursuing Liv.
- Harrison, irritated at Huck and Jake’s single-mindedness: “Stupid super-spies.”
- Mellie, livid that Liv has declined the campaign manager position: “I did everything but roll your whore up in a rug and unfurl her at your feet.”
- James: “You’re a shameless monster.” Cy: “Who loves you dearly!”
Can Someone Remind Me?
Does Fitz know that Liv is Command’s daughter?