Catch up on Scandal S4 Ep. 15 The Testimony of Diego Munoz

by

L.T. Milroy

Scandal takes a step toward getting back to the original recipe this week, after last week’s stand-alone ripped-from-the-headlines episode. And I won’t even mention the ridiculous veering off into crazyland of the several weeks prior.

Case of the Week. The main focus of the episode is on Susan Ross. Last week, Fitz offered her the job of Vice President. When we last saw her, she was telling the Prez  he has the worst job in the world, and should anything happen to him, she would then be the possessor of said really crappy job. Fitz was last seen doing his best to talk her around those land mines and accept his offer.

Apparently, he said the right things. As we open this week, Susan is wearing a big smile and being photographed as the official nominee for VP. She’s expected to sail to approval. Thus far she’s comported herself well in her new, very-public role, but that changes when Fitz presents his nominee to the press on the White House lawn.

She starts out fine, talking about how being the only single mom in Congress prepares her for some unique challenges. Then the cameras and reporters and intense attention seem to get to her. She pauses, babbles a bit in a silly manner, then lets out a laugh/snort that has Fitz and all of the assembled WH brass embarrassed and nervous. It’s a total I’m-not-ready-for-the-bigtime moment on her part. The media smells blood in the water and pounces.

As the news reports tear Susan apart, Cyrus goes into panic mode. Their choice for Veep is dead in the water if they don’t do something fast. Time to call the fixer! But it’s not Liv’s time yet. Cyrus meets with Abby and Leo, and Leo suggests they start over and find a new nominee. Cy says that’s not feasible, so Leo goes to leave. He reconsiders when Abby says they’ll hire Leo to coach Susan, for a fat fee. That hits his ear just right, and he agrees to take on the task.

Educating Susan. Thus begins Susan’s schooling. Leo and Abby hunker down and give the nominee a crash course in American politics, diversion style. Leo drills her with questions on how she’d react in various crisis situations, as well as the day-to-day she’s likely to encounter as VP.

They determine she has to confront her laughing faux pas head-on. To that end, she makes media appearances with people like Jimmy Kimmel who pokes fun at her lack of polish. She laughs about the errant laugh, thus showing a good sense of humor. It also resolve about what an intelligent politician she is and solid VP she’d be. She comes across with a good mix of modesty, humor, and confidence, and is a hit.

But that’s not the extent of her coaching. Last week, Ms. Ross was all idealistic about her role in Congress. She told Fitz she wasn’t a good choice for Veep, because she had unshakable principles and definite opinions on what she wanted to accomplish. It appears those principles weren’t exactly etched in stone, as she now starts to allow them to shift with the political winds.

Leo tells her that in order to be confirmed, she’ll have to toe the party line, so she does. She has no problem with gay marriage, for instance, but since she’s a Republican, she abandons that approval in favor of talk of state’s rights. When her choice of reading material is deemed too esoteric to be relatable, she starts talking about how much she loves to read the Bible. And so on.

Abby and Leo, sittin’ in a tree… If you were wondering if Abby and Leo are still an item, the answer is yes. They lock horns frequently during these coaching sessions, but it only makes things more exciting for them. They bicker at points, seeming totally at odds, only to agree later that they’re having fun.

But all fun must eventually come to an end. During a heated session when it seems she can’t say the right thing no matter how hard she tries, Susan has had enough. “This is not good governance, it’s just theater,” she says and quits. She tells Abby to apologize to the President for her and leaves.

That night, Leo just wants to put in his mouth guard and go to sleep, but Abby wants to talk. She says he was way out of line, but he says Susan has to toughen up. She calls him a bully; he says Susan is applying for a job in which she’ll have to deal with bullies and better get used to it. Then Abby fires him. Leo gets dressed and leaves. He says that if Abby had trusted him, he could have gotten Susan confirmed.

Time to call THE fixer. Abby has one card left to play. She shows up at Liv’s office with lunch and a proposition. She says Susan quit, she fired Leo, and the Senate confirmation hearing is in three hours. Liv reminds Abby that she no longer works for the White House, gut when Abby says this could kill Susan’s political career, Liv says it would be a shame and agrees to help.

Susan is brought to OPA, still disgusted with the whole VP experience. For the first time in a long while, Liv reaches into her bag of tricks. She says it’s fine if Susan wants to bow out, but she needs to do it for the right reasons. If she truly doesn’t think she’s right for Veep, that’s fine, but she shouldn’t quit because she’s afraid. That would be a fatal mistake.

Cut to the hearing. Susan is now confident and speaks with clarity in front of the Senators. They pepper her with questions, which she fields with aplomb. No snorting or laughing to be had.

Everything seems to be back on track. But that night, Liv watches a news report stating that although Susan comported herself well, she’s not expected to be confirmed. Abby calls and asks Liv to please meet with Fitz.

Liv thinks Fitz is why Susan is in trouble. The Senate is still peeved at him over the whole West Angola situation and how he said he wouldn’t go to war just before doing it. She thinks they’re going to withhold Susan’s confirmation to take a swipe at Fitz. The Democrats are particularly unhappy, and the only thing to placate them will be an apology.

The next day, Cy and Abby meet in the Oval with Fitz. Liv is also there but hangs back at first to let the other two do the talking. They tell Fitz he’ll have to apologize, and unsurprisingly, he’s not receptive. When it looks hopeless, Liv tells Fitz he made a mockery of democracy. He confronts her about why he did it. She says he has to ask forgiveness, or they’ll lose the Democrats and Susan.

The whole thing about Fitz going to war to try to get Liv back is implied but not spoken. Also, Fitz gets right in Liv’s face when he talks to her, and for a moment, it looks like he’s going to lose control and try to start making out with her. It certainly wouldn’t be a first, if mindblowingly inappropriate, given the circumstances.

But it works. Fitz goes to the Hill to meet with Senate Democrats. We don’t see the meeting or the assumed apology, but we see the aftermath, which is Susan’s confirmation.

Abby assumed when she fired Leo that their relationship was also cancelled, but it seems she was wrong. She comes home that night to find him waiting there for her. She goes into self-protective mode by telling him that if he has a problem with her doing her job and having some power, she’s fine with being dumped. He shuts her up by kissing her. Then he tells her to fire him again, but this time do it while wearing those high-heeled boots he saw in her closet. Aw, love, Washington style! Looks like Abby and Leo is back on.

Slumming. Though she’s once again doing what she does best, fixing messes, Liv is far from being her old self. Though she tells everyone she’s fine and just wants to do her job, when not at the office she sits at home alone in semi-darkness, drinking wine straight from the bottle. Eek. That’s a huge breach of protocol, as we know how much respect Liv has for good wine. It says more than words ever could.

She’s carrying a gun around her apartment with her at all times, even while making sure to secure every one of those nineteen or so deadbolt locks that Huck installed on her front door.

She also still hasn’t done anything about that wine stain on the sofa. Since OPA is notorious for cleaning up after the horrific bloody messes it makes, it’s hard to believe a little wine stain would be so baffling. But at this point, she seems to be regarding it as a sort of trophy. Not healthy. There’s got to be some sort of ex/implosion coming, but she ain’t there yet.

Rose is back. During one of those sitting-on-the-floor-drinking-vino-from-the-bottle episodes, Liv hears voices out in the hallway. Rose has returned, looking for her friend Lois, who is the woman who lived across the hall and got blown away by Liv’s kidnappers. Someone is trying to post an eviction notice. Liv gets involved and says the apartment belongs to Lois for five more days.

Then Liv opens the all of the locks and lets Rose in. She says Lois liked Liv and said if anything ever happened to her, Rose should go to Liv for help. Rose says she and Lois were in constant contact, and she’s worried because she hasn’t heard from her in three weeks.

At the office, Liv tells Huck and Quinn the grisly story of Lois’s murder, including how Liv was smuggled out to an ambulance in the same body bag as Lois. She tasks the pair with finding Lois’s body and suggests they start with the ambulance.

We get some Huck/Quinn bonding, as they go on the mission together. This is still weird to me, considering how Huck tortured information out of Quinn a mere season ago, which included the excising of a couple of teeth. I know these spy types live by a whole different set of rules, but Quinn is exceptionally forgiving.

Rose comes to Liv’s office with information on a hip replacement Lois had and says maybe the serial number on the titanium joint can be traced. She’s also brought along some paperwork and other possible clues, and it’s evident that Rose is determined to find out what became of her friend.

Then she spills on the history of their relationship. She and Rose fell in love when they were sixteen. When their parents found out, they separated the girls and forbid them to see each other. Lois got married, and they lost contact for decades. When her husband died, she found Rose, and they reconnected after all those years. Though they were living separately, at the time Lois disappeared, they were a couple again. The story leads Liv to promise she’ll do all she can to bring Lois back.

Eventually, Lois’s body is found. Liv brings Rose to the funeral home, and Rose asks what happened. Liv tells her Lois was found sitting on a park bench in Georgetown. She’d suffered an aneurysm and died quickly with no pain, like she fell asleep. Of course, that’s far from the reality, but Liv rightly figured a harmless lie was preferable to telling Rose the brutal truth. Rose is momentarily comforted then looks at the casket and starts crying. She says things will never be the same, and now she’s alone. She wallows in her grief as Liv stands by helplessly.

It seems the episode has had an effect on Liv, however. In the next scene, she’s at home looking at the couch cushion. Then she puts it in a garbage bag and out with the trash. Afterward, she sits down to her customary big bowl of popcorn and wine, which she’s finally drinking from a glass again.

It’s back like a bad rash. Meanwhile, Huck, David, and Jake have been preoccupied with the reappearance of the defunct B613.

Attorney General Rosen has been sitting through his “open office” day, which he sets aside to listen to various crazy tales from crackpots in order to keep in touch with the masses. But on this day, his assistant tells him the next person up is a woman with a story about her ex-husband, and a super-secret spy organization called B613.

It’s Huck’s ex, Kim, though David doesn’t know that yet. She tells him her ex is named Diego Munoz, and he told her all about this evil extra-governmental agency. David tries to blow her off by saying her ex is likely mentally ill, but she produces those files Huck gave her to prove what he was telling her was true. David freezes, because they’re the very files he organized after being given them by Jake, when Jake was hoping David would blow the lid off B613.

But David still doesn’t know who Diego Munoz is. He meets with Jake and Huck, and Jake says something has to be done about Munoz, as those files could bury all of them, including Liv and Fitz. Jake semi-furtively says he’ll have to kill Munoz, and David asks him not to talk about killing in front of the AG. Huck then says he’s Munoz, and he’ll take care of it.

Huck goes to Kim, who doesn’t think she did anything wrong. She says David is on their side, and he’ll protect them. She says if he gets immunity, Huck should testify about all B613 did to him. She says she now believes what he says happened to him after reading through the files. Those files contained some hair-raising stuff, so much so that it scared David off after he read them. But Kim is all gung-ho about it and says she’s going forward, even if Huck isn’t.

Huck tells David and Jake, and Jake thinks Huck should testify. If he poses as a shell-shocked soldier with a bad case of PTSD, he can say it’s all crazy, and Kim is lying. Huck says his ex will never speak to him again and will never let him see his son again, but David says it’s preferable to everyone winding up dead.

Speaking of that son, the last time we saw Javi, he was running away in terror after witnessing Huck slicing somebody to death through a broken window. But this week, Huck is at Kim’s place having a lovely dinner with the ex and kid. It’s the picture of domestic tranquility which ends with an offer of a regular dinner date for Huck with the family. Kim says she’s proud of Huck, and he’s brave for agreeing to testify. Javi looks perfectly content and doesn’t seem spooked at all that dad is a killer. More than just a minor inconsistency, I think, but it’s not addressed.

Another WTF moment is the manner of the testimony. When it’s time for Huck to talk, it’s done not before a committee but alone in David’s office, and Kim is there. Dramatically, the scene wouldn’t really have worked without her, but it’s a question as to why she’s there in the first place.

At first, Huck plays along. David asks questions about B613, and all Huck says is that he can’t remember. What was his first assignment for B613? His second assignment? Where is B613 located? Kim says it’s okay to answer, but Huck just says he doesn’t remember.

Kim insists the files are real, and she’s not making anything up. Then David mockingly asks about the hole, and that finally triggers Huck to spill his guts. He talks about the entire experience, of what he had to do to keep from going crazy while being kept for months underground in the dark. How he had to have a mental routine. He imagined being at various locations in various countries and writing imaginary letters to his wife and son, just to stay sane.

David is clearly affected by Huck’s testimony. When Huck’s done talking, Kim, in tears, nods her encouragement, and David indicates he’ll go forward.

In the episode’s final scene, Jake goes over Huck’s testimony and sees how dangerous it is. He tells David he’ll have to shut the whole thing down. But the AG has had a change of heart. He says he’ll do all he can to protect everyone, but he has no intention of shutting down. He’s dusting off that white hat and will be going after the bad guys. Jake reminds him, “We are the bad guys.” David answers, “Not any more.“

So, all in all, the return of B613 could have been a whole lot more annoying. At least it’s still dead, and we didn’t have to sit through a speech from Papa Pope. But it looks like the fallout from the death throes has just begun.

Next week, there’s a visit from Lena Dunham, gurrrl, in an episode entitled “It’s Good to be Kink.” Here’s the preview –

Olivia springs into action when she hears of a woman intending to expose sex secrets of some of DC’s most elite. Meanwhile, Elizabeth fears that Mellie’s sister could be detrimental to their political aspirations.

 Lena exposing something? How odd! And are we in for a Mellie/Lizzie alliance? After Andrew and everything else that’s happened? I’m not complaining. It sounds pretty great.

 

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