As we close in on the winter finale, everything is a bit of a mess, as befits Scandal-land. Jake is still eating gruel in solitary, though he does have Liv looking out for him, which is always a good thing. Abby and Huck are both dealing with remnants of their past, Cy faces the truth about his present, and Fitz and Liv have phone sex.
What was that last thing? What season is this? Yes, these two are back to melting down their cell phones. Proceed with caution.
Case of the Week – Several things intersect to shape this episode’s CotW.
Abby’s past is back. Some staffers in the White House, including Abby and Cyrus, are gathered around a TV. The news shows pieces of a sex tape recently unearthed, starring Senator Lewis McDonnell of Virginia (I wonder if he’s any relation to Bob McDonnell, disgraced former governor of VA?). It’s particularly embarrassing, with the senator running around in a diaper while a woman sternly scolds him, using the episode’s title, among other condescending admonishments. Cyrus laughs hysterically at the video, while Abby looks disgusted.
Abby is particularly disgusted, since she has to answer questions about the whole thing later on in the press room. She says that McDonnell has resigned. A reporter asks if the president has already endorsed the candidacy of Charles Putney as his replacement. Abby looks taken off guard for a moment but quickly recovers and says she can’t make an official statement.
After she’s done with the press, Abby finds Cyrus and asks if Fitz is indeed endorsing Putney. He confirms it. She goes to the Oval Office, and Putney is already there, being introduced to the staff by Fitz. He turns to Abby, but she tells the president she already knows Putney, or Chip, as she calls him. He’s her ex-husband. The same ex-husband that liked to take out his frustrations on Abby’s face. The one she was lucky to get away from alive. The one Olivia helped her to escape from and rebuild a new life.
Abby calls and asks Liv to bring a change of clothes to her office, and Liv finds her hiding under her desk. Abby held it together in the Oval but got sick immediately after leaving, thus the need for new clothes. She doesn’t know how to tell Fitz that his choice to fill the Senate vacancy is a violent scumbag. All she knows is being around Chip makes her ill.
Liv and Abby weren’t even on speaking terms when the season began, but they’ve since mended fences, and it looks like their friendship has survived intact. Abby is so upset, she’s beside herself as she tries to keep remembering the Press Secretary doesn’t cry. It’s a rule. So Liv asks, “What do you want.” Something like that coming from a determined Liv is not a question, it’s a statement. After hemming and hawing and saying there’s nothing anyone can do because the Putney name is so powerful in VA, Abby tells Liv, “You can’t handle this.” Talk about waving the red cape! Liv says “Watch me.”
Cinderella Susan. In order to derail Putney, Liv pays a visit to his opponent, Susan Ross, at her campaign headquarters, which looks more like a PTA bake sale. There she goes full-on Olivia Pope. Upon seeing a big paper banner touting the candidate, she walks over to one of the local rubes working on the Ross team and tells her to take it down. The campaign will have none of that cheap, cheesy nonsense with Liv around. And she plans to be around, make no mistake. After barking orders at a few staffers, she confronts Susan and tells her that she’ll run her campaign for free and get her elected. Susan just has to say yes. Susan, looking stunned, is somehow able to answer in the affirmative. And we’re off!
It’s no easy task, as Putney has a double-digit lead in the polls. OPA determines they’ll have to tweak Ross’s imagine, and Liv adds it would also help if they could dig up some dirt on Putney. First is the obligatory physical makeover, as Susan gets the treatment in a salon, as well as considerably more-fashionable new clothes. All that wrapping can’t disguise lack of camera presence, however, so Liv instead produces a TV ad with Susan’s adorable little daughter, cutely gushing about how great mom is. It’s a hit.
Sleazy Leo returns. And there’s even some dirt dug up, but unfortunately, not the kind Liv was looking for. This week we get a reappearance of the slimy Leo Bergen, who’s Putney’s campaign manager. Leo has always been stereotypical Washington sleaze, and he hasn’t changed his stripes. He drops in on Abby with some good news: the White House’s pick for the Senate from Virgnia looks like a shoo-in. Leo’s found out that Ross, who claims to be a widow, has never been married. Once this little nugget is leaked, the “values voters” will have a pearl-clutching field day over news of the single mom. Ross will be forced to drop out, and Putney will cruise to victory.
Abby can’t take Leo’s gloating, and for the first time, spills to someone besides Liv about her history. She tells Leo all about her nightmare marriage and how Chip used to beat the hell out of her. While he seems to sympathize, Leo has always been so oily, it’s hard to believe he’ll do anything but accept a political win, even a tainted one.
Though he hasn’t physically threatened her, Charles knows he has an effect on Abby and has been taking full advantage. He waits for her in an empty parking garage and talks nonsense about making up. Instead, she gets a gun from her car and, with shaking hands, threatens to shoot him. He slowly backs away, and while she keeps the gun raised, she doesn’t pull the trigger. Later, she tells Liv about how it felt good to exercise even a little power over him, and Liv tells her to go to the press. As much as she’d like to, Abby references women like Anita Hill and how they got dragged through the mud, then faded into obscurity for having the courage to stand up to powerful men. Liv can’t really counter that argument.
In the end, Abby has an unexpected ally. Leo stops by the press room to tell her that Charles has withdrawn his nomination for Senate. It seems someone leaked to the press that ol’ Chip was the one responsible for setting-up diaper-clad McDonnell, to force him out and take his seat. It looks like Ross will be the new senator from Virginia, sparing Abby the scenario of running into her hated ex on Capitol Hill all the time.
Leo has brought along a bottle, and they drink a toast. Then he moves in for a kiss, and Abby doesn’t stop him. She even surprises herself with her reaction. “I can’t believe I just let you kiss me.” To which he answers “Have some more bourbon, and I’ll touch your boob.”
Aw, they’re so cute! I think this was just a case of Abby being relieved to be rid of Charles and grateful to Leo for his help more than anything else, but who knows? Are we being set up for Labby?
Catching up with Cy. Last week it looked like Cyrus was, at last, wising up to the deceptive ways of his boy toy, Michael. This week, he put that suspicion to the test. As they’re getting dressed after another hotel room tryst, a report comes on TV to talk about a car bombing at the US embassy in West Angola. Cy intentionally gives some false intel to Mikey, then waits to see if Lizzie repeats it in an interview, like last time. Should I even ask where little Ella is while Cy is having all this sexytime? Probably not.
This time, instead of releasing the ill-gotten info herself, Liz funnels it to Mellie. Liz says she can “help shape foreign policy.” Cy seems happy when no mention of any of his info turns up in anything Liz says over the next few hours and seems to be rethinking his suspicion of Mikey. But the next day, Mellie pops up on TV with the info, and Cy knows he’s confirmed his leak.
So Mikey has chosen to put himself in the middle of a squabble-of-the-DC-powerful between the ruthless Cy and the scheming, morally fluid Liz? Good luck, buddy.
All of Liv’s men. While Fitz continues to cling to Liv’s statement of last week that there was hope for them, she’s got her hands full with the other men in her life.
Tom. After deciding to spare his life as a favor to Liv, Fitz has sent Jake to a supermax prison. While Fitz would likely prefer to forget about the whole thing and just let the presumed killer of his son rot, Liv has other ideas. She’s been calling AG Rosen every five minutes with appeals to get into the prison for a visit, but David insists this isn’t jailhousemingle.com, and she should give up trying to see her boyfriend.
But it isn’t her BF Liv is trying to see. Her persistence pays off, and she’s granted a secret audience in the warden’s office with another prisoner: Tom. She wastes no time telling him why she’s there, but he can’t help staring at her and keeps telling her how beautiful she is. This is because he’s never really seen her before, which is an interesting viewpoint. As part of the President’s detail, Tom has no doubt been in the presence of Olivia dozens of times, but since his emphasis was on protecting Fitz, he never really looked at Liv. He’s doing so for the first time and obviously finds it inspiring.
Tom, who’s always been a stoic man of few words, suddenly lets loose about the situation he’s found himself in. He wonders what could possibly be so special about Liv that she had the hold she did over the leader of the free world. He talks about the time after she left for her three-month island hiatus. How he accompanied Fitz to her apartment, because Fitz had to prove to himself that Liv was really gone, which was followed by his suicide attempt. Tom likens Liv to Helen of Troy.
Liv listens to a couple of minutes of this before telling Tom that he’s served his purpose and gotten the dirty work done, so now Papa Pope will have him killed. She tells him there’s no reason for Pa to let Tom outlive his usefulness, but if he’ll be honest with her, she can protect him. She asks him again, who gave the order to kill Jerry. He still says it was Jake. Obviously that’s not the answer Liv wanted to hear, and she says “Watch your back, Tom” as she leaves.
When Olivia tells you to watch your back, said back is probably in grave danger. Later, a guard visits Tom and tells him he has a message from Command then viciously stabs him. He’s left badly wounded and bleeding on his cell floor.
Jake. It’s certainly a good thing to have Olivia Pope on your side. Though Jake is gone, stashed away in prison for life, he’s not forgotten. Liv has been playing cat-and-mouse with Fitz to get information. Because she does have that hold over him, he’s relapsed into calling her at home at night, but she won’t talk about anything but Jake. Is he being fed? Is he getting exercise? She asks because he’s in a prison that’s been sued three times in the last five years for inhumane treatment. Liv says she wants a full report.
Of course, she gets one, eventually. Fitz calls and gives her the 411 on Jake. He does this even though he says he knows she’s working against his administration and helping the Ross campaign. But there’s still that whole hope thing he’s holding onto. She tells him she saw Tom, and that he didn’t change his story. Then she tries to bring up the suicide, but he only wants to talk about what that hope might mean for them. Then there’s that previously-mentioned callback to their steamy past as Fitz starts in with phone sex. It’s one of those naughty conversations these two were infamous for during the first couple of seasons. I won’t get into details, but there’s a mention of Liv tasting herself, as Scandal once again pushes the boundaries of a 9 p.m. show. She begins unbuttoning her blouse, obviously finding it hot.
As often as it’s emphasized how much control Liv has over Fitz, this scene illustrates the influence goes the other way, as well. When he wants to get under her skin or play with her head, he certainly knows how.
Papa Pope: The hell and high water. Again. As is the case lately, all roads lead to Pa. After the Tom visit and the phone sex and Fitz’s assurances that Jake is being well treated, Liv gets a visit from pop. He does this in his own confrontational fashion, by letting himself into Liv’s apartment and waiting for her to get home. I’d tell her to change her locks, but it’s probably useless. If Pa is determined to see you, he will, and he don’t care about no stinking locks.
He lets her know that he isn’t happy she went against his wishes. He doesn’t intend to be disrespected by her or to have her choose one of them over him again. It wasn’t Fitz or Jake who has protected her all these years, it’s him, and he deserves respect and obedience for that. Liv says it’s clear he wasted a lifetime doing all the wrong things, but he reminds her, “Against me, you will lose.” Liv doesn’t answer, and he leaves.
Game on. His brush with death has given Tom a change of heart. While recovering in the prison hospital, he calls for a visit from Liv and spills what’s left of his guts. He says she was right and true to form, Pa did try to have him killed. Then he confesses he killed Jerry on Pa’s orders. Tom tells all about how Pa once said, “Fitz took my child, I took his.” Liv records those words and plays them back for Fitz.
Then she tells Fitz she handled Tom like her father would have. She reveals that Quinn went to the prison and bribed the guard to stab Tom, while also making sure the guard remembered to mention he was doing so on Pa’s orders. As much as she derides him, Liv has apparently learned quite a bit from daddy.
Tom’s words seem to have the desired effect. In the last scene, Jake is brought to that secret White House room where Liv, Fitz, and Mellie once fought things out. This time, it’s Fitz and Liv waiting, and Fitz is finally ready to hear what Jake has to say.
Goodbye, Felicia…er, Jeremy. The previous CotW is also touched upon, briefly. Quinn pays a visit to Jeremy Winslow, father of the murdered Caitlin. She informs him the alibi he gave for the night of his daughter’s death doesn’t wash. He claimed he was out of town, but he was actually at his office when Caitlin came by and overheard something she shouldn’t have. She took the file containing the photos of Liv that she was seen with on the security camera, and ran. Quinn wonders why he lied and what he was doing with all those photos of her boss.
That’s when he pulls out a gun, and Quinn takes a step back. But Jeremy is at the end of his rope and doesn’t intend to hurt anybody but himself. He tells her, “You can’t stop what’s coming. I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” Then he shoots himself.
Quinn and Huck have been keeping the file of photos a secret from Liv, but after Winslow offs himself, they decide it’s time to tell her.
Little Huck in training. Huck continued to play games on-line with his son, Javy, this week, without telling him who he is. Javy is impressed with Huck’s gaming skills and wants to meet up at the arcade on Thursday. After hesitating a moment, Huck agrees. But he’s not ready to make contact yet. He watches Javy from a distance for a few minutes then leaves.
That night, as Huck is working at the office, Javy shows up. Seems he tracked Huck by his I.P. address. That’s some pretty neat skills from the kid, but how did he get in? Is anyone free to wander in off the street and invade the inner sanctum of OPA? That question isn’t answered, but Javy does make it clear he knows Huck is his father. I have a feeling mom isn’t going to like this.
That’s how things stand with two episodes left before the winter finale. Next week it’s Last Supper, which features these tidbits:
Fitz and Jake continue to fight over Olivia, but Olivia needs them to focus on the real prize – taking down Command. Meanwhile, Huck longs to connect with his family, and Quinn continues tracking Kubiak. Back at the White House, Cyrus’s exploits finally catch up to him, but Elizabeth North’s plan is much bigger than anyone ever expected.
Will Liv, Fitz. and Jake be able to stop fighting long enough to defeat Pa? Will Mikey live to see tomorrow? What does Lizzie have up her sleeve? And where do those photos of Liv, that three people have already died over, fit in? And what else may be in store before the two-month winter break?