Well, we’ve waited a long time for Scandal to return, but return it did. This episode wasn’t full of bombshells, but it set a lot of storylines in place.
Low Down Sally
We are dropped right in the middle of the political fray: Sally Langston is about to announce her plan to resign so she can run against the morally corrupt Fitzgerald Grant. It’s hard to object to that characterization, considering that the first time we see Fitz in this episode is when Mellie interrupts him making out with his new campaign manager: Olivia Pope.
Liv is in her element professionally, though, even if her personal life is spiraling out of control. She crafts tough messages to counter Sally’s announcement. Sally is a “selfish quitter. Loose cannon. Endangering our troops.” It turns out that Sally isn’t a quitter, though: she plans to stay on as VP.
Fitz doesn’t like this at all, and he shows it by acting like a grownup and strategizing with his team of advisors. Oh, no, wait, he starts drinking before noon, throws a glass at Cyrus Beene, and chooses his own candidate for vice president: Andrew Nichols, who has worked for Fitz before and is loyal. Mellie tentatively suggests that Nichols might not be the right candidate, but Fitz peremptorily throws his advisors out of the room. When Olivia remains in the office after the rest of the team leaves, he is aggressively, cruelly rude, dismissing her like she is merely one of his underlings. Olivia refuses, pours herself a glass of whiskey, throws it in Fitz’s face and quits on the spot, and tells him she doesn’t care if her next job is as a professional hat blocker, she is done with him and his nonsense. It’s a wonderful moment that doesn’t happen, because Grope and Pant (our much more accurate alternative to Olitz) is true luuuuuuuuuuuv and will last forever and ever.
So back to Andrew Nichols, who is in his mid-40s, never married, and an age-appropriate womanizer. Suffice to say, he tests well with men, but not with women. Liv does a mock interview with Nichols to figure out a way to spin his confirmed bachelorhood. He deflects her questions about why he never married easily, but when Liv pushes harder, he snaps that there was one who got away, and after that, he was married to his career.
Papa Don’t Take No Mess
Liv has a heart-to-heartless with Rowan at the Iwo Jima memorial. She tells her father that she knows he’s been replaced, and offers her sympathy. Mistake. Rowan unleashes his rage, telling Liv that the man who defiled her, the man she screwed, caused all of this and that Fitz was going down. He then delivers a monster truck bullybrag telling Olivia to cut ties with Fitz and RUN. Throughout this, he mercilessly slut-shames her, including telling her that Fitz bragged about how she tasted (it’s true, but EWWWWWWWW, Rowan, why?). He concludes by saying says that Fitz is going to die, and tells Olivia to run far away.
Later we can see that Rowan is very serious, because who do we see him meeting with but Leo, Sally’s sleazy campaign manager. Leo is in so far over his head it’s almost hard to watch. He’ll find out soon enough, I suspect.
Rumor Has It
On a political talk show, Leo raises the allegations that Olivia Pope is Fitz’s mistress. Olivia is outraged and wants to push back on the Daniel Douglas issue. We know that someone is certainly pushing the issue, someone named Publius, who is sending texts to journalists asking about why there hasn’t been an autopsy released for Daniel Douglas. Who can it be? It’s not James, who is now loyal to the White House. It might be David, who is still looking at this. Maybe it’s Olivia, who is pretty angry. In any case, it’s bad news, so Cy picks up the phone and asks Charlie if he can fix the problem. Charlie is happy to oblige, and uses this job to distract Quinn from the fact that she is no longer a part of B613, and never will be. (This is straight from new agency head Jake, who tells Charlie to keep Quinn safe.)
The next thing we see is — Holy HELL, Quinn and Charlie just kidnapped a kid! What?? (Note to self: Tell son that whatever strangers offer him to get in the car, I will match their offer plus 1o percent.) It turns out that Quinn and Charlie are merely using sonny boy to make his mother, the coroner, spin a story about Daniel Douglas dying from a drunken fall to two “reporters” who visit her house. (The reporters are Abby and Huck, and they blackmail the coroner about a youthful drug indiscretion, while Charlie and Quinn listen unseen from another room.) Abby and Huck seem to buy the story, and they leave. Quinn watches them from the window. She is sad. She knows she should be on the side that is blackmailing the coroner, not kidnapping the coroner’s child. Where did she go wrong, she probably wonders. At least her new straight hairstyle looks great. That’s got to count for something.
Things are looking rough for the campaign, so of course Cyrus and Mellie turn on each other like two ferrets who have been forced to share an efficiency apartment together. He slams her for bringing in Olivia and thus exposing the cracks in her marriage. Mellie takes action on her end, having a public lunch with Liv, during which she presents Liv with a list of eligible bachelors and orders her to start dating one. Liv is upset and vents to Fitz about it later, but eventually chooses a candidate: Jake. Suffice to say, Fitz isn’t happy about it. Good. Stupid Fitz. (BTW, Jake is looking mighty fine. Clearly he has had a rapprochement with the makeup artist.)
Harrison. Danger due to past business dealings. No one cares. (I’m sorry Harrison. Please forgive me, handsome man.)
The big reveals this week:
JAMES TOOK THE PRESS SECRETARY JOB TO BRING CY DOWN. HE’S THE LEAK. HE’S PUBLIUS. He presents a recording to David Rosen showing Leo and Cy agreeing to work together to hide the Daniel Douglas Death Details. Unfortunately, James is such a generally mild-mannered character that I immediately start thinking of him as Winnie the Poohblius. (Hey, it was funny to me.)
NICHOLS IS IN LOVE WITH MELLIE. SHE’S THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY! Good, I hope Mellie gets some. Everyone else is. Even Harrison, not that it matters.
Liv, We Need to Talk
This season the scales have shifted to show Olivia as a flawed person with major issues about men, and I’m about ready for the balance to be restored and see her kick some butt in her personal life, too. Yes, it was nice to see Olivia back on our screens, but she is so profoundly in thrall to Fitz that it is painful to watch. If I found out that Fitz was exercising mind control or drugging Liv, I’d believe it — she’s lost all self-respect.
Bad news — I have just been informed that you cannot hold an intervention for a fictional character, but boy does she need one. She needs to put on some Prada combat boots and start crushing some heads. And the first head she needs to break belongs to one Fitzgerald Jitterbug Stephen Ringo Grant.