After just having gotten through watching “Run,” the first Scandal episode after a two-month hiatus, I don’t know where to start. I’m not totally sure what I just saw.
There’s no case of the week or ‘B’ plot this episode, for starters. It’s all-Olivia, all-the-time.
Déjà vu all over again. Things got dicey right away. Just in case anyone forgot where the plot left off last year, the episode is courteous enough to remind us by replaying the final scene from the previous episode. The entire scene. We see, all over again, Jake dropping by Olivia’s apartment. Jake talking about how he almost caught up with Papa Pope. Liv not caring. Liv talking about how she’s not choosing Jake or Fitz, she’s choosing herself. Jake apparently accepting Liv’s terms, and the two of them dancing to Stevie Wonder.
At last we come to the end, when they decide to have sexytimes on the piano, and Jake leaves the room briefly for blankets and pillows. Am I the only one who sees nothing enticing or erotic about pianosex? And I can’t believe Liv would have a romp on such a lovely and expensive instrument/piece of furniture. Seems out of character.
When he returns seconds later, Liv’s glass of wine is lying spilled on the couch, the front door is open, and she’s gone.
We slowly get the information on what happened next, in the form of the same scene being shown over again, from different points of view. Liv is just about to sip her wine when the door bursts open, a black-clad man rushes in, grabs her, and drags her toward the hall. She tries to hang onto the door frame, but he pulls her away just as Jake returns. Jake sees the spilled wine and the open door and takes off, just seconds behind the kidnapper.
He runs downstairs and outside to the street then looks up and down the block. A car starts, the headlights go on, and he chases it as it pulls away from the curb. He runs after it for a couple of blocks, and though he doesn’t catch up, he gets the license plate number.
I should mention that, due to how he thought he was seconds away from Steinway nookie when this started, Jake is wearing nothing but his tighty-whities throughout this scene. Okay, technically not, since those undies aren’t white, but they are tight. Yowza.
Jake goes back to Liv’s and calls Huck to give him the plate number. He says he swept the place and didn’t find any surveillance devices, so it must have been a professional job.
More déjà vu. Then we see the scene from Olivia’s point of view. The man in black busts in and drags her out the door and into the apartment across the hall. There’s a makeshift command center set up with several more black-clad men, and they’re all watching a monitor that shows Jake running down the stairs.
In the short time he’s outside, they go into Liv’s place and manage to remove all of the surveillance devices they’d set up. As this goes on, Liv is being restrained by one of the commandos who’s also taped her mouth. Jake returns, makes his phone call, gets dressed, and leaves.
The commandos high-five each other for doing such a good job and start to pack up. Then they show how brutal they are by shooting the poor old woman whose apartment they procured for this assignment. Taking over the apartment by force seems particularly unnecessary, considering they probably didn’t even have to strong-arm her. Once they told her they were going to get rid of Olivia, she likely would have cooperated. Can you imagine having Olivia Pope for a neighbor? All those weirdos coming and going all the time, not to mention having to put up with the Secret Service sweeping the place whenever the president wants a late night snack, which is pretty often. I’d want her out, too.)
It’s like Oz, but without the beatings and body-cavity searches. From that point on, it’s pretty basic captive stuff, as the kidnappers drug Liv and take her to an undisclosed location. She wakes up in a dingy cell with another prisoner. She tries to see outside, but the windows are too high. Noises can be heard which sound like the Islamic call to prayer.
The other prisoner is Ian, who says he doesn’t know where they are or how long he’s been there. He says he’s a journalist who was kidnapped in Egypt. I’m suspicious of him immediately when he tells a story that doesn’t quite make sense, about another prisoner who used to be there. He also says sometimes he goes for days without eating but appears perfectly well-fed and healthy. And, most annoyingly, he likes to bleat a lot about how doomed they are and how they’ll never get out of there alive. His helpless bitching and moaning is in direct contrast to Liv’s always-steely determination, which I also thought too convenient.
Ian tells Liv all about himself and encourages her to spill about herself. Also totally not suspicious. When he starts up again with the weepy talk about how doomed they are, Liv assures him that the president knows she’s missing and is looking for her and everything will be okay.
At least give her something to read. Much of the action of the episode is centered around the bathroom. Yes, you read that correctly. Liv is always escorted to the loo by two armed guards. Of course it’s a horribly disgusting place, but I’m surprised it was even there. When Liv asked about a bathroom, I fully expected a bucket in the corner to be pointed out to her. But trips to the powder room give Liv the chance to survey her surroundings, which she does endlessly. Time after time she’s shown glancing through doorways on her way down the hall to check out the ceiling, and the guns and keys carried by her escorts. She takes in everything, bathroom trip after bathroom trip, but does nothing.
One day, upon noticing a window in the bathroom, she attempts an escape. She pulls a McGuyver by taking the underwire from her bra and trying to pry the latch open (which begs the question, why does she still have her underwire bra? That would surely have been taken away by the brutal goons). Unfortunately, it takes too long. The five-minute limit imposed by the goons expires, and one of them comes in. She’s subdued, but not before giving him a hard kick to the crotch.
This leads to an argument between the captors, with crotch-kick guy wanting to shoot Liv, and the other one reminding him that hurting her will ruin their “pay day.” Liv hears this and taunts them. She says they’re powerless to do anything to her. So instead, they grab Ian, take him into the next room, and shoot him. Why didn’t they just shoot him in front of her? Wouldn’t that have been at least as effective? Good questions. But it works, and Liv is traumatized. The incident makes her give up for a while.
Dreamland. Then we get what turns out to be a weird dream sequence. It starts with Liv seemingly being rescued by Jake and waking up the next day in a beautiful bedroom. But when she takes a shower, who steps in with her, but Fitz. It’s the Vermont fantasy, where Liv makes jam all day and Fitz is the mayor who does all kinds of folksy country things in between sexing-up Liv. I particularly enjoyed the mention of throwing out the first pitch at a Vermont Lake Monsters game, which is a real team, BTW.
But there are weird touches, too, like Tom showing up for no apparent reason to warn her that he has to protect the mayor, from her. Then while Liv is walking the dog, Abby appears. It’s kind of jarring to see her, considering the total lack of Gladiator presence in this episode, as well as White House personnel.There’s no Mellie or Cyrus or David, or Lizzie or Andrew, for that matter.
ApparitionAbby is the only sane voice in the whole hour, when she asks what Liv is doing in Vermont, why Fitz is there, where are his kids (!), and what exactly is up with Liv, anyway? She says Liv doesn’t really want Jake or Fitz, and she has to rescue herself. Then she tells Liv she dropped something and points to a metal object on the ground. Liv wakes up then, back in the cell.
The entire sequence was nuts, which I guess fits in nicely with this episode.
Liv realizes the episode is almost over and does something=. ApparitionAbby’s little pep talk seems to have refocused Liv. The next time crotch-kick guy takes her to the bathroom, she’s determined to try the window again. When she gets there, however, she finds it bricked up. That leads her to break down, as she crumples to the skanky floor and cries. But while she’s down there, she sees a metal brace on a pipe under the sink which looks just like the object AA told her she dropped. Liv removes the brace and slips the pipe into her sleeve.
Finally, I thought. All those trips down the hall looking around and taking everything in and checking out her captors and what weapons they had and what they carried had all come to nothing, and it was so boring. I actually took to FFing those scenes, which I’ve never done during this show before, but they were so pointless. If anyone was playing a drinking game of taking a shot every time Liv took a pee break and looked everywhere at everything and did nothing, they would have had cirrhosis of the liver by ten p.m.
When Liv leaves the bathroom, crotch-kick guy gets abused again, this time with a swing of the pipe to the head. She whacks him a few times then grabs his keys and gun and takes off down the hall, to the bolted-shut orange doors that appear to lead outside. It’s an endless run which seems to take forever, and right before she reaches the door, the other captor appears and steps into her path. She points the gun at him, and that makes him laugh as he says she’ll never shoot him because women are weak cowards who can’t do the brave, important stuff the mens do. She responds by putting a bullet between his eyes.
Goons dispatched, Liv sets about opening the door, which also takes forever, since it has about seventeen locks. When she finally pushes it open, she finds herself not on the street but on a kind of sound stage. There’s a loop of outdoor noises running, and a screen showing an outdoor scene, which Liv caught a glimpse of a couple of times during those endless trips to the john. She’s not in the Middle East, she’s in a building which is likely in the DC area.
Surprise! Not… Then who appears but Ian. He wasn’t shot – big surprise. He’s the ringleader of this circus. He tells her she confirmed for him that she’s very important to the POTUS, and that he won’t stop looking until he finds her. Now that he knows he has a hot commodity, the “goose that lays golden eggs,” the rest of the operation can commence. He tells her to come with him, because they have a lot of work to do, and she does, right back through the orange doors.
So he just wanted to be sure Olivia was important enough to Fitz that he would desperately look for her? That was the reason for this whole Middle-East-dungeon ruse? All he had to do was a tiny bit of digging around the DC gossip scene to find out all about Liv and Fitz. He put a lot of time and effort into something he could have confirmed in an afternoon at home on the Internet. This episode could have been condensed into five minutes very easily. We know about as much as we did before it started, which is nothing. We still don’t know who took Liv or why.
And the two dead goons, they were just collateral damage? I suppose it’s plausible the gun shot a blank, and the second guy is still alive, though it’s a stretch. But crotch-kick dude got his noggin smashed in by a metal pipe. He’s either expired or hurting pretty darn bad right now.
A disappointing kick-off to the back nine of the season, if I may mix a sports metaphor. Next week, it looks like many of those characters we didn’t get to see in this Liv-centric episode will reappear. A preview of 04.11 from the network –
With Olivia still missing, the team comes together to do whatever it takes to find her and get her home safely.
Here’s hoping the kidnap situation is resolved quickly.