As all Scandal fans are aware, no one does speeches better than this show. The characters have a habit of getting verbose in the most delightful ways, and it’s always a joy to behold. These little exercises have been in somewhat short supply this season, but this week makes up for lost time. Everyone’s running their mouths: Fitz to Mellie, Cyrus to Abby, Papa Pope to Tom, Jake to Tom, and Liv to a couple of stunned parents. All let loose with verbal torrents so beautiful it reminded us how much we missed hearing them.
I eat up every damn speech on this stupid show. And damn and stupid are both said in affection. I love Scandal.
This week’s installment is called Like Father, Like Daughter, and I’m sure Olivia would love being equated with Papa Pope, who reminds us once again this week of his all-consuming evilness, in case it slipped our minds.
Case of the Week. It’s very close to home for all involved and affects everyone in different ways. Olivia gets a phone call, When this happens at the start of the episode, it’s never good for the person on the other end! If your only option you have is to call Olivia Pope, you in some trouble, girl. It’s from someone who is drunk at a party. Not only is she underage, she’s also Karen Grant, aka the President’s daughter.
It’s up to Liv to secretly get her out of the party before anyone notices her inebriated state. Remember, Liv said she didn’t want to work for the White House in any capacity any more, so she’s breaking one of her rules to do Karen a favor and lets Karen know that. But soon she’s in much deeper than she expected, Someone sends Karen a sex video she made while drunk.
That sets off a chain reaction of events.
The Fixer kicks ass, takes names. Foremost, Olivia is back in full fixer mode, and it’s a wonderful thing to witness. She wasn’t thrilled about being put on the case, but once she commits, she’s in. Since Karen doesn’t remember who she had sex with, and their faces can’t be seen in the video, the OPA wall is set up with photos of all the guys at the party, to jog her memory. Once they’re found, Quinn roughs up one of them for info. It’s a fun scene. Gladiators Quinn and Huck show up at the White House to talk with the First Family at one point, which rattles Abby (more on that later).
In the end, it all comes down to the sleazy parents of one of the guys. They have the sex video and have decided this is their opportunity to cash in. If they don’t get 2.5 million for it, the video gets released. Fitz bemoans that even with all of his resources he still can’t just make this go away, so he agrees to pay up. Liv says it’s the best way. She rationalizes that if that tape ever gets out, it will ruin Karen’s life. It will be what she will forever be known for. “She’ll be no better than a reality star, the lowest form of life.” Hee!
Check in hand, Liv meets with the parents to put it all to rest, but they’re an extra-sleazy, greedy, grasping pair, and ask for $500,000 more. You know, just to make it an even three mil. I guess they don’t know any better than to push Liv like this, but they’re about to regret it. She starts to get impatient with them, and when they make a nasty remark about Karen, that’s the last straw.
Olivia lets loose with what may be the best speech in an episode heavy with fancy verbiage. First she tells them the deal is off, then whips out her phone and takes their picture. Liv will be calling all the news organizations, and their faces are going to be all over television, along with the story of how they tried to use their son to blackmail the President and drag his teenage daughter through the mud. All of this put upon a First Family that just lost a son and brother. They’ll be shunned by their friends, harassed by the press, and never be able to leave their house again. Liv also drops in a few remarks about what despicable people they are, as well as lousy parents. Then she shoves non-disparagement agreements in front of them and says, “Sign them quickly, so I never have to see your faces ever again.”
And I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure she never gave them the check she brought, either. So their greed and despicable behavior got them nothing, except humiliated by the sharpest tongue this side of the Potomac. Exactly what those horrible people deserved.
Not Father of the Year. We’ve seen quite a bit this season of how Fitz and Mellie are handling Jerry’s death, but this is Karen’s first mention. Not only did she lose her brother, but she was standing right next to Jerry when he collapsed. That’s got to mess a girl up, but so far this season she’s been away at boarding school.
It appears that Fitz has been too busy feeling sorry for himself to notice how his daughter is faring. We also find out that his suicide attempt, to which Mellie alluded in the first episode, may have been more due to Olivia’s disappearance than to grief over losing Jerry. And we haven’t even seen little Teddy this season, for all the interest Fitz has shown toward his youngest child. Fitz has been looking like a competent president, keeping the White House running reasonably smoothly, but his home life is a shambles. Much of the blame for that can be laid at his feet, and he at last seems to be acknowledging it.
As expected, Fitz’s first reaction to Karen’s situation is to freak out. He asks how she could be stupid enough to slip her Secret Service detail, and she asks why she should trust them when they didn’t do anything to protect Jerry. Touché, girl. You have no idea how true that is! Fitz’s second reaction is to try to hide the whole thing from Mellie. That, of course, only works for a limited time. Then when all starts crumbling around him, Fitz has a self-pitying scene where he babbles to Liv about what a failure he’s been as a father, a husband, and a man. This realization, however, doesn’t stop him from coming on to Liv once they’re alone together.
Ugh. Fitz is a mess. He did nothing to redeem himself this week. Mellie, on the other hand, might finally be getting it together.
Bickering by the Rose Garden. It’s kind of painful how Mellie finds out about Karen. When Liv is at the WH to discuss things with Fitz, Mellie sees her in the hallway and flips out. She asks why Liv is there, and Liv tells her she should discuss that with her husband. Not satisfied with that answer, Mellie grabs her arm,and in return gets one of those patented death stares Liv gives to those who get up in her personal space without an invitation. After Mellie backs off, she takes Liv’s advice and clears out the Oval to talk with Fitz. He’s not happy with being ambushed and rather brutally spills the story of Karen getting drunk and stoned and having group sex. The diatribe included the term Eiffel Towering, with which I was unfamiliar, and apparently, has nothing to do with vacationing in Europe. Thanks for making me look that up, show. I could have done without that mental image.
Mellie also has to absorb some abuse from Fitz in the form of another of this episode’s speeches. After a brief respite last week, Mellie is back to her old habits, bumming around in a robe and pjs all day. Fitz lets loose about how he’s had to deal with “drunk Mellie, and smelly Mellie, and screw-everything-to-hell Mellie, and crybaby Mellie, and eat-everything-that-is-not-nailed-down Mellie.” She tells him she wants him to stay away from Karen, but he counters that she doesn’t get to play the mom card, because she hasn’t been a mom since Jerry died. Then he tells her about the sex tape and about how he’s been running a country over the past couple of months, while she’s “been sitting in booties and a dirty robe, eating chips and getting drunk at eleven a.m.” Her only response to all the insults: “A sex tape?” In the end, that’s what she cares most is her daughter’s welfare. But she does follow it up with a shot at Fitz: “She takes after her daddy.”
Ouch! Looks like that shaky truce between the first couple is officially over.
This is what a mama grizzly looks like. Then Mellie does something surprising. She gives herself some time to cool down before confronting Karen. When she does, she stresses to Karen how stupid choices made in high school can mess up a girl’s life. Then she brings up Jerry and says she knows how hard these last few months must have been for her, so she gets one free pass. This was it. Mellie says she won’t bring it up again, but it can’t happen again.
Then she does something pretty cool. She basically tells Karen that she should enjoy her autonomy but remember that it comes with responsibilities. Particularly for the president’s daughter. It might not be fair, but as a woman she’s held to a different standard. While the president’s son would get a pat on the back for a sexual conquest, all she’d get is abuse. So while dad is in the White House, it’s best to behave. Mellie admits that as her mother, the thought of Karen having sex gives her a seizure, but she realizes Karen’s growing up, and she’ll have to get used to it.
It all seems to have brought mother and daughter to an understanding. I don’t know if I could have handled this situation as deftly as Mellie did. She sure gets major mom points, regardless of what Fitz thinks.
Red can’t catch a break. Everybody’s favorite press secretary continues to get no respect. This has been shown on a regular basis all season, and this week is no exception. When she sees Huck and Quinn in the WH, Abby flips out and tells them to leave, or she’ll have them removed. Then Cyrus shows up and basically tells her to stuff a sock in it. This leads to another of those great Cyrus speeches, this one chiding Abby for trying to push her weight around when she’s just not cut out for it. “You’ll never be Olivia”, he tells her, and she should stop blaming Liv for that. He calls her Red during this little tirade. Does anyone in the WH know Abby’s actual name, or are they all just jerking her around by pretending they don’t? And how much longer is she going to endure all of this abuse?
It’s pretty condescending and brutal, but Cy does backpedal a bit. She might never be Liv, he concludes, but Abby shouldn’t be jealous, because “being Olivia Pope doesn’t seem like much fun.”
Poor Tom. And this was all going on while the B plot was brewing in the background, growing steadily more prominent. After telling Papa Pope at the end of last week’s episode that he’s washed up and will have to leave town, Jake can now see that Pa isn’t going anywhere. Jake was for some reason under the impression that Pa would shrink down from Jake’s threats and slink away. He should know by now that ain’t Pa’s style.
Pa still has Tom, the Secret Service Agent, as an ace in the hole. Tom is particularly vulnerable to manipulation, since he did the dirty work and killed Jerry on Pa’s orders when Pa was the head of B613. He’s no longer in that position, but he can still ruin Tom if he wants to. They meet on a park bench, and Pa tells him that Jake needs to go, now. Pa recently put Tom on the rubout -Jake detail, and it’s taking too long. Get it done, says Pa. There’s a clock on it.
Pa gets up and walks away. Tom draws a deep breath and out of nowhere, Jake appears and sits down. I know Tom’s hands aren’t clean, but I had to feel for him at this point. He’s merely a pawn between two powerful and ruthless men, and he knows it. I don’t see it ending well for him, whatever happens.
Jake says he can guess why Tom was meeting with Papa Pope. He takes the opportunity to remind him that he’s the only one besides Jake who knows Pa had him take out Jerry. Once Tom kills Jake, he wonders how long Pa will keep him alive. Pa’s just covering his ass, Jake says, and will end up getting both of them out of the way if Tom goes along. Tom seems to be swayed by Jake’s reasoning.
The continuing trials of Rosen. When we last saw Attorney General David Rosen, he was feeling pangs of guilt after the suicide of Judge Sparks, whom he blackmailed in order to preserve Fitz’s gun control legislation. He’s doing no better this week, sitting in his office drinking in the middle of the afternoon, a newspaper open to the Judge’s obituary in front of him.
Jake bursts in without knocking. I love David’s reaction to this: “Am I due for a good threatening?” He says Pa is trying to kill him and wants assurances that if anything happens to him, David will release those files he gave him. David reflects for a moment then says no and pauses to refresh his drink. Jake asks for the files back. David says no, because they’re too dangerous and will create havoc. David’s lack of cooperation enrages Jake, who grabs his throat and demands the files back. After being pinned on his desk by the throat for a bit, David hands Jake the key to where the files are stashed.
The thing is, David never really looked scared, even though he’s witnessed when Jake shot James in cold blood. He knows how ruthlessly violent Jake can be, but he seemed to regard having his life threatened as just a blip on the radar screen. Is the new AG already so jaded he’s past the point of caring?
Things get worse for Tom… The fallout from Karen’s escapades is an overhaul of the Secret Service. After a teenage girl managed to give them the slip and have a drunken, drugged-up sex orgy, all agents are under a microscope. Unfortunately for Tom, that includes him, and he has something to hide. His records are scrutinized, and there’s a discrepancy found in his travel schedule that coincides with the timetable of Jerry’s death. Inspector General Bixby points out the dates in question to Fitz, who immediately makes the connection and wants Tom brought in for a grilling.
Tom, in full-panic mode, calls Jak and tells him he’s about to be questioned. Jake advises him to stay calm and cut a deal. Give up Pa, and together they can take Pa down. Tom says it’s his word against Pa’s, but Jake says Tom has the advantage, because he’s telling the truth. Also, Jake says he has proof. Tom seems to go along. As he talks, Jake goes through the B613 files, rounding up evidence.
With that evidence in hand, Jake goes to the Oval Office to see Fitz, but it’s too late: Fitz is on his way out to watch Tom be interrogated. He blows off Jake but tells him he can wait there for him to return.
…and for Jake. Tom is questioned by IG Bixby, as Fitz and Cyrus watch through the glass. Tom says he was only following orders and appears to be gearing himself to give up Papa Pope, when the door opens. Who walks in but Pa himself who says, “I’ll take it from here.” Bixby gets up and gives Pa his chair. Tom looks justifiably terrified and asks to see Fitz to plead his case. But Fitz is apparently the one who sent in Pa in the first place. Pa pinned Jerry’s death on Mama Pope, who he then had thrown in the B613 hole. Fitz believed him and appears to still trust him.
Pa tells Tom that they know what he did with that missing time in his schedule and even have security photos of him stealing the virus that killed Jerry. Of course, Pa knows all this because he gave Tom the assignment. But when Pa presses him for the name of who instructed him to kill Jerry, after struggling for a moment, Tom says, “Jake Ballard.”
Fitz turns to Cyrus and says, “Do it.”
Then we see Liv, sitting alone sipping wine in her dining room. She had invited Jake for dinner, and he’s late.
But Jake is otherwise occupied. He’s been waiting at the WH for Fitz, but the President’s not coming back. Instead, a bunch of Feds walk in to take him away. One of them siezes Jake’s envelope with the evidence.
Tom is handcuffed and taken away as Papa Pope looks on.
It appears the master fixer is going to be getting the case of her life. Is saving Jake too big a task for OPA?
Incidentally, last week’s CotW, which was left hanging, barely got a mention. When telling Jake about her day, Liv says, “Catherine was taken into custody, so we’re going to try to get her out of…” at which point she trails off. I guess we’ll get back to that case at some point, but who cares, given what went down this week! Unless it’s all related?? Anything’s possible in Scandalverse…