Catch up on Scandal S04 Ep. 19 I’m Just a Bill

by

L.t. Milroy

 The season is winding down, so expect lots of Scandal craziness in the next three weeks.

The setup for the takedown between Olivia and Papa Pope over Jake and Fitz and B613 is just about complete. The stakes have even been upped significantly this week in the form of the apparent elimination of a key player.

Of course, on Scandal, that’s just a matter of finding out which of the deserving-of-being-bumped-off characters actually has the honor. It’s not difficult to come up with a legitimate reason for killing off virtually anyone on this show, so the only suspense lies in seeing which of them actually winds up getting whacked. It’s like The Sopranos Goes to Washington.

Case of the Week. In a nice bit of continuity, community activist Marcus Walker is back. Olivia locked horns with him a few episodes ago, during the Brandon Parker shooting. Parker is recalled this week in a subplot. It’s a nice touch when a show remembers incidents that occurred previously and builds on them They sometimes get things wrong, so it’s only fair to point out the consistencies, when they occur.

Marcus is running for mayor of DC and is doing quite well, leading the incumbent Mayor Verrano by nine points. In the middle of this successful campaign, he’s apparently in need of a fixer. One afternoon he calls Liv and asks her to meet him…at the Mayor’s house. Liv, Quinn, and Huck find him upstairs in the bedroom with a very dead Natalie Verrano, the mayor’s wife. He said they were in bed when they heard someone downstairs. Marcus hid in the closet, thinking it was the mayor coming home unexpectedly, but instead it was three men in masks who viciously stabbed Natalie to death. Marcus watched from the closet as they ransacked the room and took some jewels, before leaving.

From the evidence, it looks like Marcus is telling the truth. Liv says he can go to the police and tell his story, but after he helped make the local PD look so bad during the Parker affair, they’re not likely to be all that helpful. Plan B is to make Natalie disappear. Remove her body, make it look like a kidnapping, and pretend Marcus was never there.

They decide to go for Plan B. The first step is up to Huck and Quinn, who have some ghoulish fun cleaning up the crime scene. It’s hard to believe that not so long ago Quinn (Lindsay?) was such a newbie at this kind of thing. Now she’s gleefully helping Huck decapitate and smash bones and fluff and fold and gently get those stubborn blood stains out of the carpet. Gal is a quick study.

Getting Poped. On the basis that they have incriminating emails, the cops pick up Marcus and bring him in for questioning. He calls Liv, and she puts a quick stop to the proceedings. After Marcus tells her he never sent Natalie any emails, Liv goes full-blown Olivia Pope on the precinct captain. She says since Marcus was never arrested or Mirandized, that means he was never actually at the station in the first place. The department is still under a microscope because of the Parker shooting, so if the cops confirm that Marcus had been brought in, that would leave them open to all kinds of questions they’d probably rather avoid.

Huck finds that Marcus’s email had indeed been hacked, and traces the I.P. address – surprise! – to the mayor’s office. It looks like Verrano is trying to frame Marcus, which means he’s aware his wife wasn’t kidnapped. Liv knows the mayor will have to make a move soon and asks Marcus if he can think of anything else that might help them. He remembers Natalie’s killer being referred to as Mickey.

Mickey is found to be Marvin O’Connor, Mayor Verrano’s personal driver. He can be traced to the scene of the crime. Liv says that leaves Marcus with a decision. They have all the evidence they need, and they can get justice for Natalie, but only at the expense of his political career. She tells Marcus he has to choose. He can’t have both.

We don’t hear his decision, but the next time we see Marcus, he’s in a limo with Verrano, and Liv is laying down the law. She tells Verrano that he’s dropping out of the race to concentrate on family matters. He’ll announce that he’s throwing his support behind Marcus for mayor, or they’ll go public with what they know about Natalie’s murder. Verrano’s not happy but agrees to the terms. There’s a throng of press waiting for a statement. Before getting out of the limo to lie about his wife’s kidnapping and how it’s totally thrown his life into disarray, Verrano kind of smirks at Marcus and says “That bitch got what was coming to her.”

That doesn’t sit well with Marcus. He stands respectfully as Verrano talks about how he’s sad to be suspending his campaign but is confident he’s leaving the city in good hands and endorses Marcus. That sets the stage for Marcus to graciously accept the endorsement, but when it’s his turn to speak, he can’t bring himself to do it. Instead, he chooses justice for Natalie. He tells all about how Verrano killed his wife, because she and Marcus were having an affair, and then tried to frame Marcus for the murder.

Later, Liv picks up Marcus at the police station. He told them everything about the affair and Mickey and the fake emails. So Natalie’s killers will be held responsible, but Marcus’s political career is over. He laments all of the years of preparation he put into building the foundation for a career in politics that is no longer to be. But Liv gives him a white-hat speech. She says he did the right thing, and he may not really appreciate it now, but doing right in these situations will save him in the end. Making bad decisions might be politically expedient, she says, but they will eventually turn him into someone he won’t recognize.

After giving Marcus those words of encouragement, Liv adds that he may not be as dead as a pol as he thinks he is.

Surprised by Susan. Speaking of up-and-coming politicians, the title of this week’s episode involves Susan Ross, the new VP.

The bill is the Brandon Bill, and it’s important to Fitz. It’s legislation drawn up in the wake of the Parker shooting. The Prez is anxious to prove he wants to do something about the police and race relations issue and not just pay it lip service after a tragedy. Things are looking good as the vote looms, and the administration is confident the Brandon Bill will pass.

There’s a complication when one of the supporters goes into labor and won’t be able to vote. That leaves it a tie at 49-49, with another senator missing due to Susan’s VA Senate seat being vacant. They’ll need the new veep on their side, and Cyrus pays Susan a visit to tell her they need her support with the bill. She says she’ll be glad to help them after she reads it…all twelve-hundred pages.

And she means it. Susan sits down to read the bill while a vote is stalled. Doesn’t the VP have a staff to help out with stuff like this? It’s hard to believe the vice president would have to close herself in her office for hours and page through an endless bill, but that she does.

One by one, Susan is visited by Fitz’s minions who try to light a fire under her, but she won’t be rushed. David Rosen, sent in to convince her to play ball, is instead so impressed by her dedication and intelligence that he winds up encouraging her to not give up and keep asking questions.

Susan also proves she’s not as politically obtuse as everyone assumed. When Mellie visits and tells her she has to support the bill, because the country needs it, Susan observes that Mel as a candidate sure needs it. Susan has figured the whole thing out. How Mel is going to run for the VA Senate seat with an eye on the White House. Susan even knows that she was picked for VP because she’s not considered to be a threat to Mellie’s plans. Mel tries to hide her shock that Susan has all of this figured out, but it’s obvious she’s pretty surprised.

Mellie’s also impressed by the whole thing, and it may be a little uncomfortable at the reveal, but the veep is presented as someone who is totally altruistic. Susan seems content to play her bit part in the Grants’ plans, provided she can get a few things accomplished along the way. Like on this bill, for instance.

Where’s the staff? After everyone strikes out at moving Susan along, it’s finally up to Fitz. He drops by her office where she still has the massive bill spread all over her desk. He wastes no time in telling her that her job is to support the president, and it’s time to stop stalling and do her job. But she says she can’t vote for the bill as it is. It’s just a bunch of compromises that are unenforceable and totally meaningless. She lays out her case, convincingly, and Fitz goes from ticked off to intrigued.

When Cy comes by to see if Susan’s at last ready to deliver her yes vote, he’s greeted by the sight of Fitz and Susan hard at work, hammering out the details of a whole new bill. That the POTUS and VP would, on the spur of the moment and alone in an office, take the time to debate and write up a bill by themselves seems pretty far-fetched, but there’s real-world DC and there’s Scandalverse. In the latter, the president can take such a detour in his tightly scheduled day, and no one even notices he’s gone.

Fitz tells Cy the old bill is dead, and this new one will instead be scheduled for a vote. Cy says they’ll get killed in the press, but Fitz says the press is going to get something else to write about. Then we see Mellie on TV, officially declaring she’s a candidate for Susan’s vacated VA Senate seat.

Pa is back. Liv also saw the stakes get ramped-up this week in the quest to take down B613. Papa Pope returned at the end of last week’s episode, and this one picks up with him dropping by Liv’s place for a chat.

Of course, with Pa, there’s always wine…and speechifying. I love how he avails himself of a bottle from Liv’s formidable vino collection every time he makes an unscheduled visit. On this occasion, he’s sipping on a glass of red as he tells her he has a problem and needs a fixer. Seems some people have decided he’s a criminal and want to take him down. He doesn’t understand why they’re coming after him, since he’s just a paleontologist at the Smithsonian, but they’re being persistent. The last time we saw Pa, he was off fishing somewhere, but apparently he’s back to using the paleontologist ruse. Whatever tickles your fancy, Pop. He says he needs someone to get these people to back off.

But Liv won’t take his case. Pa talks about the consequences involved with an investigation and how many people would get hurt, implying that those affected could include the president. Pa wonders if Liv hates him enough to not care about taking Fitz down, as long as she’s taking Pa down, too. Yes, Pa reliably plays the “why do you hate me” card with Liv, again. His self-pity is incredibly annoying, particularly since it’s phony, anyway. Pa doesn’t give a damn why or if Liv hates him, but pretending to is just another weapon in his mind-games arsenal. The whining is still tough to sit through, though. A Pa speech is enough, but a Pa speech sprinkled with self-pity? Ugh.

But things are a bit different in Pa’s rant this time, as he realizes that Liv is indeed ready to go ahead with the B613 investigation, even if it means leaving Fitz exposed. It’s the first time he’s ever seen Liv not be totally protective of the POTUS, and he’s overjoyed by it. He wonders what Fitz did to disappoint her, and then gives her an “I know you” speech about how Liv always feels compelled to the do the right thing for the republic at all costs. He says all of this with a heavy dose of condescension, of course.

Pa’s rant is interrupted by a moan from behind the couch. In case anyone was wondering what happened to Russell, he’s back there, tied up on the floor. Pa says he’ll be okay, he just gave him a sedative. Liv says he didn’t have to do that, and Pa says his only choices were to sedate Russell or kill him. Then he gives Liv a phone and forty-eight hours to figure out that the investigation must be stopped.

After Pa leaves, Liv cuts Russell free and tells him that they got drunk. Like, blacked-out drunk, and that’s why he doesn’t remember anything. He seems to buy that excuse, but it may only be because she starts making out with him.

The next day, Liv assembles Huck, Quinn, Jake, and David at OPA and tells them about Pa. David says this means they’ll have to fast-track the investigation process. Then Jake reverses his previous decision and says he’ll testify. David says Jake testifying will expose Fitz to risk and asks if everyone is okay with that. They all nod.

Later, Jake stops back to check with Liv and offer his support. He tells her he’ll always be there for her and will be there through the B613 investigation process. It’s significant, considering all that’s happened and what is about to happen, but Liv is preoccupied with the Marcus case and seems to only partially hear him. It’s funny that when Jake walks in, the TV is playing a report of the mayor’s missing wife, and he says to Liv, almost as an afterthought, “I assume that’s yours, somehow.” Hee! Say what you want about Jake, he knows Ms. Pope pretty well.

The testimony of Jake Ballard. In preparation for his testimony, David asks Jake some questions. He focuses on something he read about in the files, and brings up Operation Remington. He doesn’t know the significance of that mission, but he’s about to find out.

Jake is hesitant to talk about it but says it involved Rowan giving an order to shoot down a civilian plane with 329 people on board. David thinks he’s hit on a particularly dastardly deed by Pa and asks who the pilot was who followed Pa’s shoot-down order. Of course, this is the very thing that could sink the Grant presidency, because we know that pilot was Fitz. It happened long before he entered politics. He was just following orders.

Upset about what might happen next, Liv gives Russell a call that night. She wants a diversion, and he fits the bill perfectly. But he’s not really in the mood for sexytimes. He comes over to make sure she’s okay but says he’s not coming in. He knows he wasn’t all that drunk the other night, and that something strange happened. He’s had enough with Liv’s weirdness. He just wants a nice, stable, boring relationship, along with lots of hot sex, and she can’t provide that.

But Liv won’t be turned down. She tells him that yes, her life is weird sometimes, but that’s why she needs him. When things get complicated, she likes having a different life to turn to. When she’s with him, when she’s being Alex, things aren’t so complicated. Then she insists he call her Alex, and proceeds to prove she is up to the hot sex part of the relationship by seducing him. His constitution is not quite strong enough to resist that, and he decides he will come in for a few minutes, after all.

Your time is up. When Liv goes the forty-eight hours and doesn’t get in touch with Pa, he pays her another visit. She says again she won’t take his case and gives another white-hat speech, this one about how she wants justice for all the people Pa wronged. Because justice is “the point of the Republic.” Pa responds by being patronizing

This conversation is intercut with scenes of the gang gathered at David’s office. David raises a toast to Liv, Quinn, Huck, and Jake and says their part in the investigation is going to help change the world. What they’re doing isn’t easy, but it’s the right thing, and they should be proud of that.

Pride is a big theme, as Pa tells Liv she’s become the woman he always hoped she’d be, standing on her own two feet and doing the right thing. He’s particularly surprised how she’s apparently willing to sacrifice Fitz. They may be on different sides, he says, but she’s now a worthy opponent.

So it’s come to a showdown between father and daughter. Liv has no problem with a fair fight but expresses a desire for no more bloodshed, a prospect basically laughed at by Pa.

That blood is shed much sooner than anyone expected. Later that night, Jake walks into a seemingly deserted OPA, calling for Liv. He says he got her text message and asks what she wants. But she didn’t call him. It was a setup. A masked man jumps out of the shadows and attacks Jake. After a tussle, he has Jake pinned down and removes his mask. it’s Russell, Liv’s suddenly complicated boy toy. Turns out, he’s B613 and working for Pa. He starts stabbing Jake, all the while saying he’s unimpressed by what a weak foe Jake is and how easy he was to take down. He expected more of a fight from someone Pa had always spoken so highly of. He leaves Jake a bloody mess on the OPA floor.

So, is Jake actually dead? We don’t know for sure, but that was a pretty vicious stabbing. If he can survive that, it would be quite impressive, indeed. But if this is the end of Jake, it was rather anticlimactic. After all, the guy has been through a lot. He was the president’s right-hand man when it came to dirty-problem solving. He did who knows how much shady business and snuffed out who knows how many lives as a B613 agent before taking charge of the brutal organization. He endured a stint in the hole and has been beaten-up and tortured so many times it barely gets his attention at this point.

Yet after all of that, he always emerges ready for the next challenge. He’s the textbook example of a survivor, and he’s going to go down…like this? Falling for the phony fake-text and showing up, unarmed at a deserted locale, strolling into danger like a total amateur? Wow. Totally anticlimactic.

We’ll have to wait until next week to see if Jake’s really gone to join Harrison in that big OPA office in the sky. The preview for 04.20, “First Lady Sings the Blues” goes like this –

The team taking down B613 is in serious danger and forced to take drastic measures to ensure their safety. In the White House, Mellie is mortified when the nation turns against her, and Cyrus is forced to come to her defense. 

If anything can be classified as strange bedfellows, it would have to be the prospect of Cy defending Mellie! That has the makings of quite an entertaining alliance.

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