Catch up on Scandal S5 Ep. 3 Paris is Burning

by

L.T. Milroy

Last week left off with Olivia Pope finally copping to a public confession of the affair she’s been having with the president for the last five years. This week, there’s the fallout from that announcement.

And there’s an ominous portent in the episode’s opening credits. See if you can spot it…

Interview abort. We’re back where we left off last week, with Fitz and Mellie about to be interviewed about how the rumors of Fitz and Liv are nonsense and how their marriage is rock solid, after we just saw Liv confirm to the press that she and Fitz are bone buddies.

Abby is doing what she does best, running in severe panic mode through the White House halls. That’s what she’s doing ninety percent of the time we see her these days. C.J. Cregg, her TV counterpart on The West Wing, almost never did this, but for Abby it’s the main part of her job.

At least she’s starting to delegate her panic. She runs into the office of someone named Charlotte and starts haranguing her about calling Secret Service. Then she runs out. As Mel is smilingly denying the Liv rumors and talks about her and Fitz’s awesome marriage and partnership, Abby and the Secret Service bust in, mumbling something about a security breach at the White House. The president is whisked out of the room, and the interview is over.

In the next room, Fitz and Mellie watch a clip of Liv’s “Yes” on TV. Mel is horrified and just shrieks “Yes??” several times. Fitz raises his eyebrows slightly and doesn’t appear upset at all. As Mel raves on about what they should do about Olivia, Fitz gives a small, furtive smile. He’s definitely not upset. I would think I would be, in his position. I can’t even guess what he’s thinking.

Meanwhile, Abby tries to get the tape of what little of the interview did take place, but the smug asshole reporter knows what he’s got and is holding onto it. Abby will apparently have to work on him some more. Lizzie is now also in on the hysteria and is seen subjecting her staff to the appropriate amount of yelling.

This should be fun. Liv is ushered into the Oval Office where Fitz, Mel, and Abby await. Mel, of course, is in no mood for diplomacy and refers to Liv as “the woman who can’t shut her legs or her mouth.” Hee! She does have a way with words. No wonder she got elected senator. Abby says there has to be an interview, or the network will run what it has. While Abby tries to spin the situation, Fitz tells Mel to go wait in her office, and he’ll get her when it’s time for the interview. She leaves. Fitz says to Abby that they’ll go ahead with the interview, which just panics Abby more, and she runs out.

Alone, Liv apologizes to Fitz, but he says he loves what she said to the world. And they kiss. Ugh. A couple of horny fifteen year olds have nothing on these two adolescents.

The monster returns. Abby is in Mel’s office to tell her exactly how this interview can benefit her, when who strolls in but Cyrus. Abby is obviously a bit jarred to see him. He introduces himself as the new chief advisor to Senator Mellie Grant. He smugly says that if Mel agrees to do the interview, there are things she wants in return. He tells Abby they’ll be in touch and rushes her out.

Alone with Mellie, Cy asks what she wants out of this situation. Mel immediately answers that she wants to destroy Liv and to see Liv and Fitz suffer. But Cy is trolling for bigger game than a little payback and humiliation. He looks disappointed in Mel’s tiny ambition of revenge and tells her to think like a champion. He asks again what she wants, and this time she says, “I want the Oval.” That’s more what Cy had in mind.

Liz brings the news about Cy’s return to Fitz and Liv. Liz says that at this point Fitz can’t be involved in the negotiations for the interview, but Fitz thinks he can handle Cy and insists on talking to Mellie. Liz is resolute about Fitz stepping aside and says Fitz will have to fire her before she changes her mind. Liv steps in and agrees with Liz. It’s best that Fitz get out of the picture and let his staff deal with Cy. As always, Fitz listens to his wise mistress and agrees. So Lizzie’s job is safe. For now.

Part-time Gladiator. Back at the OPA offices, Quinn and Huck are deluged with attention from the press, with questions about Liv. As they’re going nuts dealing with the chaos, Jake walks in and calmly disconnects them from the world by turning off the TV and unplugging their computers. He says Liv doesn’t need their help, since she has a plan, and they’re not part of it. Her “Yes” proclamation was just Liv sticking by her mantra to never lie, he says.

Sure, Liv never lies. Whatever, Jake. Saying this guy sees Liv through rose-colored glasses is a bit of a glib understatement. I’m not sure exactly what Jake is doing these days, anyway. Is he working for OPA, or the government, or something else entirely? Is he even ‘working’ at all? They apparently want to keep him on the show but haven’t yet figured out in what capacity he fits best. He does manage to make himself useful by producing a bottle of vodka, announcing his intention to get really drunk, and inviting the others to join him.

I did like how Huck was going to handle the crazy press situation. He claimed to be preparing to “erase the Internet.” That’s the kind of fun stuff we used to get out of Huck, before all of the dark, brooding, torture pron of the past couple of seasons took over. I like Internet-erasing Huck a whole lot better.

Cy’s demands. The newly cocky Cy meets with Liz and Abby to lay out Mellie’s demands. She will agree to a divorce, he says, but she intends to run for president, and Fitz must support her unequivocally in that endeavor. He’s to be on call for any campaign event at any time. Also, Liv and Fitz can’t be a couple in public until after Mel is elected. Liz agrees to the demands.

Then Cy has a demand of his own. He says he doesn’t want to negotiate any more with Liz, the beeotch who stole his job. In the future, Abby will be the go-between as the link to Mel’s and Fitz’s offices. Liz apparently agrees to this, because the next we see of Abby, she’s delivering Mel’s demands to Fitz.

Predictably, Fitz says what Mel wants is out of the question, and predictably Liv disagrees. It’s best to keep Mel happy, she says, and the best way to do this is to make her feel like she’s won. And, predictably, Fitz changes his mind. Good thing his side piece is around, otherwise the leader of the free world would be effing up left and right.

Then Abby brings up Cy’s demand to speak only to her and not to Liz. Liv speculates that it’s a power move, and is also meant to drive a wedge between Liv and Abby. Like there could be any more of a wedge there these days. Abby is angered by that obtuse statement and walks out of the room.

Liv follows Abby to her office, where Abby tells her that Liv doesn’t make Abby’s job any easier when she lies to her face. Liv says she only lied to protect her, but Abby ain’t buying that excuse. She lets loose and says Liv lied to her, because she doesn’t have any professional respect for her and doesn’t trust her to do her job well enough. It’s obvious this has been bothering Abby for some time, but Liv seems totally blindsided by the accusation.

Spies gettin’ hammered.  At OPA, the vodka is flowing as Jake, Quinn, and Huck do shots and talk about what wacky lives they lead. All that skulking around and torturing and killing. It’s all so nutty. As they’re yukking it up, Jake’s phone rings; it’s Liv checking up on the office. She tells him she thinks she made a mistake with the way she’s handled the whole Fitz situation. He tells her that if she needs him to do anything, all she has to do is ask.

This, after the way she already used him last week. Liv can lie to him shamelessly, use him to service whatever need arises, and abuse him however she sees fit, but Jake will always come back for more. Sweet setup, Liv. I need a Jake in my life. As for needing help, she tells him she’s ‘good’.

What Cy really wants. Abby is negotiating with Cy, who’s tacking on lots of petty little demands to Mel’s agreement. Abby brings the demands to Fitz, and predictably he’s not happy at first, but Liv gets him to come around. Again.

Abby fills Liz in on what’s going on. Liz has been keeping busy in her absence from these negotiations, digging up as much dirt as she can on Liv. Abby doesn’t like the prospect of getting dirt on Liv, and Liz just hopes they’re never forced to use it. No, I don’t see how that could ever possibly happen, surely not with this bunch…

Feeling victorious in getting everything they asked for, Cy presents Mellie with an agreement to all of their demands, signed by Fitz. All it needs is her signature. But surprisingly Mel hesitates and says she won’t sign. She wants more. Cy reminds her they got everything they wanted, and what ‘more’ could there be? That question angers Mel. If he doesn’t know, she says, it’s because he’s lost his edge. He’s gone soft during his time away, and maybe he can’t play with the top dogs in DC anymore. The old Cy wouldn’t ask a question like that. Cy looks genuinely affected and says he’ll see what he can do.

ASIDE: I should mention that I’m no slave to fashion, but Mellie is wearing a horrid dress in this scene, IMO. Distractingly bad. But what do I know? It’s probably some designer fashion that’s obscenely expensive.

Cy goes to the Oval, where Fitz and Liv are waiting. He tells Fitz he’s sorry, but Mel won’t budge. Liv asks what Mel wants. Cy says she’s lonely and feels lost without any support. Fitz needs to take her back and put the whole thing with Liv on hold. Fitz doesn’t know what to say and dismisses Cy. Liv also leaves.

FLOTUS gettin’ hammered. Liv wants to be by herself to think, so she wanders into a bedroom closet in the White House. That’s what it looks like she did, though it’s not a very discreet choice, considering. Of course, given where she is, this closet is huge with plenty of room to move around. And who else is in there but Mellie.

Mel isn’t very happy to see her but is rather distracted right now. She’s on a booze hunt, searching through the closet for some hooch hidden away long ago for a moment such as this. She comes up with a jar of moonshine-looking stuff that no doubt could peel the paint off the walls and takes a gulp. She offers it to Liv, telling her she’s the one who’s going to need it, what with the life she’s signing up for. Once she’s with Fitz, her life will be all about him. She won’t have any privacy, but at the same time, all anyone will care about is him. She hopes Liv knows what she’s fighting for.

Mel is at her best when she’s a little tipsy when she makes her speeches, and she really gets the point across here. Liv hears her loud and clear.

Abby is with the smarmy reporter who tells her she has fifteen minutes to produce the first couple for an interview, or the network will air the footage from earlier of them lying and saying everything is great.

After her encounter with the looped Mel, Liv goes to see Fitz and tells him to take Mel back for the rest of his term. Fitz wants to know what Mel said to her. Later, Mel is on one of those White House balconies that sees so much action on this show. Fitz joins her and apologizes. He tells her she’s going to be the first woman president. Elsewhere, Liv apologizes to Abby and tells her she thinks she’s very good at her job. Abby says she learned from the best.

The monster rises. Sensing himself out of options, Cy goes to see Fitz and shifts into full grovel mode. He wants his job back. Fitz knows how great they once were, he says, and they should still be a team. Cy keeps stating his case for how much he believes he should have his old job again, but Fitz won’t even look at him. When Cy’s done groveling, Fitz just curtly dismisses him.

Bad move on POTUS’ part. A now desperate and wounded Cy heads for Mel’s office. He agrees with her about how he doesn’t think she has enough. She got played by Fitz. He really got what he wanted but masked it as giving her everything she wanted, and she bought it.

Actually, Mel kind of got played by both Fitz and Cy, in different ways. And by Liv, too. Pretty gullible for a future president. But then, Fitz is no prize, either, and he got two terms. So who knows?

When Fitz goes to get Mel for the interview, all has changed. She backs away from him and says “You almost had me” and leaves. That jerky reporter ain’t gonna be happy about this.

Mel and Cy, partners in crime politics, are in a limo together, making their getaway from the White House. Inside the WH, Fitz says he needs to talk to Mellie, but Abby says she’s gone. Whatever’s wrong, Abby says she’ll fix it and leaves. Liv knows what is about to happen and tells Fitz that Abby is going to go in front of the press and throw Liv under the proverbial bus. Fitz protests, but in a callback to early in the show’s run, Liv tells him to “sit back and watch me choose you.” He does. Abby fields a question about Liv by basically saying she’s a big ho who has been involved with a whole lot of powerful DC men and ruined many of them.

Say it ain’t so. At OPA, Quinn and Huck are watching Abby’s press conference on TV when Jake walks in. Quinn remarks about how Liv is the biggest story right now. Even though the Louvre is on fire, it’s been relegated to secondary status. Jake hears this and rushes out.

When the name of Joe Morton popped up in the credits early in the episode, it gave me a sinking feeling, which was justified. Jake visits Papa Pope in prison and tells him of the Louvre fire. Pa’s question upon hearing the news is “Lazarus One?” which undoubtedly has something to do with the assumed gone but not forgotten B613. It seems rumors of its death as a storyline have been greatly exaggerated.

And unfortunately, that’s how we’re left, with the stench of B613 rising from the ashes. Why else would Jake go to see Pa? A whole two episodes without it, but now it’s back, like the zombie apocalypse. It’s very depressing. Let’s hope it’s brief.

And let’s hope it doesn’t figure too prominently in next week’s episode, “Dog-Whistle Politics”. A preview of 05.04 –

Jake unexpectedly crosses paths with someone he thought he’d never see again. Meanwhile, Huck and Quinn recruit a familiar face to help smooth over the media storm surrounding Olivia, and Fitz quickly finds out the true cost of mercy when he discovers not everyone fully supports his actions.

Familiar faces are always fun on this show.

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