In the best episode of the season so far, Scandal gives us spot-on social commentary, a new gladiator, and some action for Jake (Scott Foley).
Let’s bitch it out…
The First Mistress: Can we talk about the amazing framing device of this episode? In the aftermath of the President’s (Tony Goldwyn) adultery scandal, a 60 Minutes-style news magazine show does a profile on Liv (Kerry Washington) that allows Scandal viewers to feel right in the middle of all the action. The profile highlights her family’s (fake) past and how her father set her up to be a social climber, her high profile partners of the past, and it is intimated that she manipulated the President as part of her master plan. That’s all before we even get to the racial element…with a Senator asking Fitz to make sure his next mistress is more palatable to the Republican base, and a reporter noting that Liv is “usually so well spoken.”
Lazarus 1: Over in former-B613 land, Jake realizes that someone initiated a B613 protocol that includes stealing priceless paintings from the Louvre to refill the spy network’s coffers. He recruits Charlie (George Newbern, how I missed you!) and the two head to Paris. There we meet fellow spy and Jake’s WIFE (!) Elise (Mia Maestro). Scandal writers obviously realized their viewership was going to significantly drop if Jake didn’t get any action this season (i.e. we don’t have a reasonable justification to see him sans shirt). Enter Elise. In the past, she and Jake were supposed to meet up after an operation went wrong. He waited an entire hour for her (which is apparently long according to spy time frames) and she never showed, which he assumed meant that she was dead. In the present, she’s hurt that he didn’t wait longer. In a somewhat confusing B-plot, the three set up a trap (conveniently, Elise’s cover is as an art buyer) that goes awry. By the end of the episode Jake and Elise are making out and he asks her to come back to the States with him. I wish Jake had a more normal friend than Huck (Guillermo Diaz) to tell him “bro, bad idea.”
Now Hiring: New Gladiators: As we know, the attrition rate over at OPA is out of control. Apparently all of the sudden they are overwhelmed (I’m not sure why, do they even work on cases anymore?) so Quinn (Katie Lowes) tries to recruit community activist Marcus (Cornelius Smith Jr) to the team. He’s no dummy. Not only are they super shady (preach), but they are also hemorrhaging clients. He says no…temporarily. By the end of the episode, he can’t stand the way Liv is being treated by the media, so he joins the team and enlists Quinn and Huck to help do interviews calling the media out for their “dog-whistle politics” – ie: using seemingly harmless but damaging terms to define Liv (sassy, overconfident, well spoken,etc). The highlight of this entire storyline is watching Huck just look into the camera over and over restating his talking point. Why did they think it was a good idea to put him on camera?
Teddy Still Exists: Over at the White House, the production team remember that Fitz and Mellie (Bellamy Young) have a toddler. Last week I begged Scandal writers to give Fitz some redeeming qualities…this week they show him playing hide and seek with his son. Well played writers, well played.
Stuck between Impeachment and a Hard Place: Just when I think I like Fitz, he does something dumb again. Let’s back up: the female senators want to impeach Fitz because of gender politics. Liv is getting the brunt of the public’s disdain, but she wasn’t the one married, sworn into office, sharing political secrets. Fitz has to go. The senators want Mellie’s support, but she’s waffling – she’s afraid it will make her look like a vindictive harpy (Also he’s the father of her children).
The Republican senate leadership will support Fitz and try to shut down impeachment discussions under one condition: repeal the Brandon Bill (passed after 4×14 ‘The Lawn Chair‘). This bill is Fitz’s legacy. In a move that is so quintessentially Fitz, he decides to make a stand…then makes the wrong one. Instead of just telling Senate to kiss off and that the bill will stand, he goes to Liv’s house and takes her on a date. UGH. FITZZZZZZ. Also, can we just take a beat and remember the fact that in addition to Teddy, Fitz has a teenage daughter? Whatever he wants to do to the American public, he’s actually parading his mistress out in front of his wife and daughter. #keepitclassy.
Cyrus is off the Rails: Now let’s talk about Cyrus (Jeff Perry). Whoa. Cyrus has been serving as Mellie’s chief of staff, which means confronting her about not impeaching Fitz. When she questions his need for revenge, he says he’s obviously more heartbroken than her because he’s given Fitz 14 years of his life and loves him like a son. Mellie has it easier because her son is safe (i.e. dead) in the ground. WHAAAAAA? Yeah, Cyrus went there. Mellie is so stunned there isn’t even a blow up, the look on her face says it all asCy walks out of the room (I don’t think he’ll be showing up to work tomorrow). That being said, after Fitz picks Liv up for a date (along with 100 reporters) Mellie changes her mind about the impeachment. This should get interesting.
- Liv is the most infamous woman in the world and she doesn’t think to close her blinds? She’s so selectively intelligent.
- Fake France is almost as bad as the fake White House rose garden. Speaking of fake, they couldn’t use some B-roll from House of Cards or Veep for Mellie’s senate office?
- I’m underwhelmed by the (lack of) chemistry between Jake and Elise. The only silver lining is the promo for next episode in which Liv knocks on Jake’s door and sees them together.
- Marcus: “I’m ready to gladiate in a suit or whatever.”
What did you think? Were you as chilled at the Cyrus scene as I was? Are you excited for Marcus to join the team? Sound off below!
Scandal airs Thursdays at 9pm EST on ABC. Please note that we’re talking two weeks off from reviews, so keep an eye on our FB group for Scandal commentary in the interim.