by L.T. Milroy
This week’s episode began with a warning from the network about excessive violence. There was no warning for excessive nonsense.
This episode is entitled either Gladiators Don’t Run or Full Circle, depending on where you look. The Gladiators moniker was listed on the Scandal website, so that’s what I’m going with. Not sure as to the reason for the title confusion, but it kind of fits in with the disarray of the show in general these days.
Same case of the week. Since the show returned from the holiday break, there has been no case of the week, other than the Olivia kidnapping/ransom/auction bit.
Liv engineered the auction thing as a way of surreptitiously gaining the upper hand over Ian, her captor. It worked for a while, as he removed her from “ jail,” got her cleaned up, and even entered into a sort of shaky partnership with her.
All was going according to Liv’s plan, until Gus made a reappearance. He was the guard goon whom Liv smashed with a pipe when she attempted her escape. I’m surprised to see him again. After all, he had his skull viciously pummeled, so I assumed he was out of the picture along with his fellow guard goon who is definitely gone. He was shot point-blank. Even Shonda Rhimes apparently doesn’t have the cheek to revive him. And Gus is in surprisingly good shape. I thought he would at least have brain damage after said pummeling, but apparently a few stitches to the cranium, and he’s good to go.
Gus is not happy that Liv is being treated so well after trying to kill him. Ian explains she’s working with them on the auction, while Gus insists she’s just a hostage. But Ian has everything under control. He shuts Gus up then gets a call from Andrew and does the same to the Veep. It’s no longer Andrew’s project, it’s his, and he just hangs up when Andrew says he has to return Liv.
Liv has buddied-up to Ian to the point that they’re sipping champagne as the auction is about to begin. She speculates she’ll bring in over a billion dollars. He says that when it’s down to a few bidders, he’ll let her choose where she wants to go. It’s all very comfy, considering, but just as the countdown gets down to a few seconds, Gus storms in and shoots Ian. Wow. Did not see that coming.
So Gus is now in charge of the auction, which is not a good development for Liv. She sits there in shock, covered in Ian’s blood, as the bidding begins.
Back at the office… Meanwhile, the Gladiators of OPA have been trying to figure a way to get in on the auction action. Huck is the voice of doom. He says Olivia is as good as dead, but Jake insists they can handle things and without the help of the White House.
They have to pool their money and bid. Quinn can’t contribute, as she’s still paying off her student loan (even hotshot Gladiators can’t escape that). Jake says he has about two million in offshore accounts, but that won’t be enough. Then Huck pipes up that he can contribute over two billion. When B613 went under, he helped himself to its bank accounts. He figured it was compensation for being thrown in the hole, which overall is a pretty good justification.
It’s interesting that Jake is working hand-in-hand with OPA. He seems to be a natural Gladiator, and since his role on the show is undefined at this point, is that what he’ll wind up being full-time when the cloud of this storyline lifts?
Dear Abby. I’ve been an Abby fan since the first episode. Some have criticized her as a tight-ass killjoy, particularly in season one, but I’ve always liked her. She cemented that opinion in this ep.
It’s unclear how long Liv has been missing, but Abby is getting worried. It’s easy to forget that the whole Liv-missing thing is unknown to not only the public but to most in the White House, including the Press Secretary. She calls Liv’s cell phone, and her mailbox is full. Abby goes to her apartment. No one has cleaned up since the kidnapping, so everything is still a mess, with the spilled wine glass still on the couch.
Abby goes to OPA and asks where Liv is. Huck and Quinn ain’t playin’, and they just say “Out.” Abby says they have to tell her, but Huck says she’s not a Gladiator any more and thus not entitled to inside info. She looks hurt and leaves. After she’s gone, Huck says they can’t trust the White House, and since Abby represents the White House, she in turn can’t be trusted. Quinn agrees.
Later, Abby is with Fitz in the Oval Office. She’s distracted by her concern for Liv and asks the Prez if he’s spoken to her lately. She’s so sympathetic even Fitz takes pity on her and tells her to sit.
Afterward, an enraged Abby drops in on David. She says he knew what was going on and didn’t tell her. He pulls rank and says as Attorney General, he had no legal obligation to tell her anything. She, of course, isn’t concerned with legalities and feels betrayed. Liv is her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend, and he’s just being a jerk to Abby because she broke up with him.
While he’s right that Abby had no legal right to know, David also is aware how hard the whole thing is on Abby. When she’s done ranting, he pours them both a drink. As she sips and calms down, David tells her she’s wrong about Liv being her only friend. Aw. White-hat David. Abby nods and seems to appreciate the sentiment.
You’re fired. Back at the White House, Fitz is taking back control. He’s signed an executive order that dismisses his entire traitorous Secret Service staff and replaces it with Navy SEALS. I’m not sure that’s such an easy thing to do on the sly, but Fitz accomplishes it with a pen stroke. He’s also prepared Andrew’s resignation letter. Then he tells Cyrus he wants in on Liv’s auction.
All eyes at the White House are on said auction. It’s taking place on a darknet, an Internet site that can only be accessed by invitation. Fitz’s people are trying to break in but are coming up empty. For that matter, so is Huck, who is trying to do the same at OPA. He says they need an invitation to get in this dance, and for that they’ll need the help of an “All-Star international terrorist.” Paging Mama Pope!
Mama’s house. So Ma is once again in the catbird seat as the Gladiators, plus Jake and David, visit her in prison. She wants freedom in return for her cooperation, which isn’t going to happen. But the request opens the negotiations. She asks to be transferred to medium security, which also is not happening. She wants a library, to be released from solitary, have cellmates to talk to, and access to a yard for daily exercise. David says no, no, and no.
It appears to be a stalemate, when Quinn suggests TV. They agree on a TV outside her cell with a remote, so she can watch through the bars. David says only basic cable (!), and Ma says that’s fine. She just wants the news channels, so she can watch for Olivia. She gives them a name to get into the auction. Marie Wallace.
Ma says they need to get in touch with a guy named Gustavo, a drug dealer. One of the Gladiators will have to meet with him, and she suggests Huck. David is worried about the government getting cozy with drug dealers and is wigging out about it, so Quinn kicks him out of the room. Shoves him out, more accurately. You agreed to give Ma a TV, Dave, your work here is done.
Just before he gets to the apartment to meet with Gustavo’s goons, Huck finds out it’s not a drug deal. He has to kill the three goons for Gustavo in order for Ma’s plan to work. As long as it’s to help get Liv back, he’s up for it. Jake offers his assistance, but Huck says he’s got it.
After a few minutes, Jake decides to check up and goes inside. I assume what he sees is why this episode gets an excessive violence rating. Jake is greeted by bloodbath. There’s blood all over the walls, not to mention all over Huck, and three very dead guys.
Huck, even more crazed and wild-eyed than usual, is doing some dismembering, since he says Gustavo will want proof of a job well done. Jake is shocked by the brutality (which takes some doing on this show) and asks what Liv say if she could see him. He tells Huck to get cleaned up, and he’ll finish the job. He mutters, “Animal” at Huck as he leaves, but since Jake is sawing a guy’s head off, it takes some of the bite out of the insult. So to speak.
Who’s minding the Veep? Andrew, meanwhile, is down but not out. When Cy brings him the resignation letter, he hesitates to sign it. He says he wants to work out a deal, but Cy says it’s this or prison. Then Andrew says that going to war for his mistress makes Fitz a criminal. If he’s going to prison, so is the President and maybe Cyrus, too.
When Cy brings this news to Fitz, he isn’t worried. Fitz says as far as the country is concerned, war was declared not because of Liv but the assassination attempt on Andrew. If they can prove the attempt was staged by the Veep, that means he duped the country into war, and his threats are meaningless.
Poor little Lizzie. Lizzie, who by now is totally regretting getting into bed with Andrew, both literally and figuratively, is in her office spending quality time with her paper shredder. Cyrus strolls in and sees a box on her desk, like she’s packing. She says it’s just housecleaning, and Cy says it’s good she’s not leaving, because she can’t attempt to overthrow the government then just expect to book when it all goes haywire.
Liz knows the gig is up, as Cy tells her she can’t go anywhere anyway, because he’s put her on every watch list known to US government. She asks what he wants. He tells her she’s going to testify against Andrew. That will keep her from federal prison, he says, but it won’t keep her from being his beeotch for the rest of her natural life. Liz, who’s been completely neutered from the self-confident playa she once was, agrees to his terms.
Knowing the walls are closing in, Andrew tries to consolidate his base. He sees Lizzie in the hall and tells her he’s been calling her. She shrugs him off. A chipper Cy shows up to tell Liz they’re waiting for her, as he smirks at Andrew. That sends Andrew running to Mellie’s office. He asks if Liz is going to testify against him, and Mel says, “It’s over, buddy, and you lost.” He says at least he still has her and adds that if he can’t rely on Mel’s support, then he’ll be forced to tell the world all about their affair.
Later, out on the balcony, Mellie tells Fitz of Andrew’s threat, and that they’ll have to let him walk. Fitz says they can brush it off, because everyone knows Andrew is a liar. Mel says she’ll be ruined. A man can survive the scandal of an affair, but a woman still can’t, and her reputation would never recover.
Then she asks him what he wants more than anything, and he says to have Jerry alive again. So she asks what that he can actually have, and he says for Liv to get home safe. Then he asks her what she wants, and surprisingly, she says she wants to be president. So that’s why she’s so very worried about her rep. Fitz appears to find her desire intriguing and folds. He says Andrew will walk.
The bidding. All this time, the auction has been raging on. Liv tries to swing the two tech geeks helping Gus over to her side, but to no avail. They have dollar signs in their eyes, and nothing Liv says is going to trump that.
The Huck problem. Even though when we last saw him he was doing some butchering, Jake is worried about the bloodthirsty Huck. Back at OPA, he expresses his concerns to Quinn, who says it’s no big deal. Huck goes into these dark areas but always manages to pull himself back before it’s too late. Jake says it’s worse this time, but it will take more than the sight of Huck drenched in blood to worry Quinn. She’s seen that before and writes it off to Huck just being himself.
At that moment, Huck rushes in. He’s secured the password and has logged in as Marie Wallace. They’re in the auction. Huck puts in a bid, when the screen goes blank. With no explanation, the auction that was supposed to last another few hours has been suspended.
Liv’s fate. At the White House, Cy tries to wake Fitz. Mellie says not to bother him then sees the file Cy is holding, and she goes to tell Fitz he’s needed in the situation room.
Liv had also been sleeping and is awakened by Gus, who tells her she’s been sold. She says the auction has twelve more hours to go, but he says a buyer came to him directly, offering cash, so the auction is over. Not only is Gus a dirtbag, he has no idea how an auction works. The buyer? Iran. He tells Liv she should have expected something along those lines after smashing his head open.
Fitz is informed of the sale. Transfer is believed to be imminent. He suggests extraction but is told that isn’t feasible. In fact, he’s informed the standard protocol in these situations is to neutralize the asset. The asset in this case is Liv, who should be taken out before she can spill any secrets to a hostile foreign government. Regardless of risk, Fitz will entertain no such notion. He still wants extraction.
The Gladiators patter about who could have Liv. Huck says it doesn’t matter, since she was bought to control Fitz and the US government. Then he gets all wild-eyed again and talks graphically about how Liv will be taken apart piece by piece, until she’s no longer useful. He’s basically in a trance during this gruesome soliloquy, and Quinn finally shuts him up by beating on him and calling him “sick bastard.” So maybe now Quinn agrees with Jake that there’s a Huck problem.
Perhaps Huck’s excessive behavior is to show that OPA needs a steadying influence, and again, Jake comes to mind. He hung with the Gladiators for virtually this entire episode rather than at the White House, which looks to be foreshadowing to me. But who can tell with this show these days?
Damages. Then there’s an odd scene of Mellie at Dover Air Force Base with the families of the war dead, as the bodies are unloaded. She’s there to greet every plane, Fitz says to Cy, and console the families. Is this done to make Mellie look presidential?
Then Fitz tells Cy there are soldiers never coming home, because he tried to get Olivia back. That makes their success at securing her return even more urgent, because “their sacrifice has to mean something.” We find out there have already been forty-three bodies of US service members unloaded since the war began. I wonder how they’d feel if they knew they died for Fitz’s side piece? Mellie is looking more presidential by the minute.
In the last scene, a hooded Liv is in the middle of nowhere, being delivered to the highest bidder. Her captors take off the hood, and…well, for this payoff, we have to wait until next week.
Was Iran really the winner, or is that a cover for someone who wanted to remain secret? Papa Pope seems to be the most popular conjecture. Whether Liv is better off in his hands rather than Iran’s is anyone’s guess.