Things are heating up in Washington for the president, and not just because he’s making out with his side piece in the White House, which he still is. It might not be smart, but he’s still doing it. That side action has attracted enough attention that impeachment hearings may be looming, which is the theme throughout this week’s episode.
There’s also the return of two familiar faces, though not for long enough. Let’s hope they come back and stay awhile.
Mikey lives! Yes, in the episode’s very first scene, for the first time this season, there’s an appearance by Michael, the ex-business student/call boy who is now Cyrus’s husband (and who was supposedly going to look after little Ella but as usual, she’s nowhere to be seen). Cy is doing his best unemployed couch potato thing, after having been recently fired by both Fitz and Mellie.
Michael is worried because all Cy does is eat and drink and sit in front of the TV like a zombie. Cy says Mikey isn’t a Washington insider, so he doesn’t understand how big this whole impeachment business is. The Senate Judiciary Committee is going to vote on whether to open an investigation on Fitz and Olivia and possibly drag a whole lot of stuff out into the open. This is big and exciting. Mike says Cy should at least acknowledge the outside world and opens the curtains.
I’d like to know what Mikey has been up to since we last saw him, but alas, he makes his exit and is gone for the rest of the episode. He must be off tending to Ella in invisible-plot-device-character land.
On TV we see the committee voting. Mellie votes yes. The measure passes unanimously, so there will be an investigation.
Fitz gathers his troops together. He complains that the whole idea of an investigation is ridiculous. He hasn’t committed any impeachable offenses. AG David Rosen asks him he thinks an impeachable offense is. It’s not a rhetorical question. No one knows what it is, David says. It’s indefinable. It’s whatever the committee and the Congress think it is. They’re going to set the standard, and they’re going to decide. David tells Fitz he needs a lawyer and recommends Patty Snell.
Welcome back, Dustbuster! Liv thinks over her situation, and the fixer decides she could use a fixer herself. She calls Abby and tells her she needs a loan. But she’s not talking about cash. In the next scene, the Gladiators are all on hand at OPA, including new guy Marcus, when who strolls in but Leo Bergen! That’s the “loan” Liv wanted. Her man. On a professional basis, anyway.
Leo’s his usual charming self and manages to insult everyone in the room, telling them how lucky it is for them he’s finally there to save them. They reluctantly go over the case with him. How Liv has been getting flamed in the media, with ‘whore’ being one of the more benign monikers thrown her way. Leo tells them that they’re going to change the narrative. The public is going to hear the great love story of Liv and Fitz. The tawdry affair is going to be replaced with the tale of a great American romance.
Liv doesn’t like that suggestion and shoots it down. She asks for other ideas. Quinn suggests spinning Liv as a woman of the people, a philanthropist. It worked for Angelina, after all. Liv likes that suggestion a lot better. Leo doesn’t all that much but says he can work with it.
That sends Leo off on his quest to make Liv appear ordinary. She has to come off as a person everyone can relate to, so the great American romance is also relatable. He goes through her house to make sure her stuff passes the test. And of course, it doesn’t. All of those fancy designer clothes in her huge closet, she’ll have to get rid of those. It’s off the rack for the stylish Olivia Pope from now on.
It’s amusing when he checks her refrigerator, and it’s virtually empty. Liv lives on take-out. All she has in the house is wine and popcorn. “Who has time to shop?” she asks. Well from now on, Leo says she does, because that’s what normal people do. Then we see some tabloid photos of Liv trolling through the supermarket. Yikes, it just doesn’t look right, Liv so out of her habitat like that. I’d love to know what’s in her cart!
Another face from the past. Leo has another suggestion to help rehabilitate Liv’s image. He says the public needs to be told by someone they trust that Liv is ‘human’. Quinn and Huck know just the person: Edison Davis, the senator and Liv’s old boyfriend. But there’s the matter that Liv turned down his marriage proposal twice, and they didn’t exactly part on great terms. I don’t know whether the Gladiators are aware of all that, but Liv is still apparently convinced it’s worth a shot, because she goes to Edison’s house.
It’s quite a contentious meeting. He reminds her of how she denied she was seeing Fitz back when he asked her, and if she wants his help now, she has to be honest with him. She has to admit she never loved him and basically just used him. He busts out that “a criminal, a whore, an idiot, and a liar” mantra and repeats it several times. I’m surprised it wasn’t the title of the episode. It seems he just wanted to see how insulting he could get before she gave up and left. But she doesn’t leave. She stands there and takes it, and he tells her again she has to be honest with him before he’ll help her.
We don’t see her fess up, but she apparently did. The next we see Edison, he’s being interviewed on TV, slavishly defending Liv. He bitterly decries the racism and sexism of those attacking her and goes on about what a good person she is. Mellie is watching, and she’s not happy. Cy is watching, reclining on the couch stuffing brownies into his face, and he’s laughing like a loon.
It’s Pat. Patty Snell, the lawyer Fitz hired, makes a brassy entrance into the Oval Office. She obviously pulls no punches and isn’t in the least intimidated by her surroundings. She insults Liz a bit and reminds Abby that her job in the immediate future consists of nothing but reminding the public that the Grant Administration has nothing to hide and intends to fully cooperate with the investigation. She needs to say that a lot. Then Pat says that Fitz will testify to the committee. Liz doesn’t think that’s a good idea, but Patty blows her off.
The committee has requested some information, and Pat thinks they should, again, cooperate fully. She decides to mess with them a bit by sending them everything on paper. Boxes and boxes of bits and pieces and paper files. They’ll never slog their way through all of that stuff, right?
Predictably, the committee is not happy. Senator Gibson from last week and a Senator Moskowitz, who head up the committee, are rummaging through the boxes, when Mellie shows up. She talks to them about the hearings and makes a suggestion, when they tell her that she’s going to have to recuse herself from the investigation and resign from the committee. There’s no way that the FLOTUS who’s separated from her husband can be on the committee looking into his impeachment. She won’t seem impartial, just angry and bitter, and that won’t help them. They’ll find her some other committee to sit on, but she’ll have to pass on this one. Mel isn’t happy.
Sweet baby, revisited. Liv has no idea just how unhappy Mel is, but she’s about to find out. In the middle of thte night, Liv is summoned to Abby’s office by Leo. On TV is a report of that ring Fitz gave Liv long ago. The ‘sweet baby’ ring. The one she’s worn pretty much constantly ever since. It’s a family heirloom, so it doesn’t look good that Liv has it instead of Mel. Leo had previously asked Liv if Fitz had ever given her any gifts, and Liv had said no. This is something mighty big to have forgotten about, Leo says. It doesn’t look good that she’s wearing a diamond ring from the president. It could come off as gold-diggerish.
They have to try a new tactic. Instead of great love story, Liv is going to play the lovestruck teenager who fell for the president. From now on, says Leo, that’s the tack she has to take when talking to the media.
Hangin’ with Cy. Back at Cy’s mancave, he’s eating and watching a news report. The gist of it is if Fitz is separated from his wife but not yet divorced, and he gave his GF a diamond ring, does that mean the president is both engaged and married?”
Mellie walks in. Did Mikey let her in the house and then slip away before we could see him? Maybe Ella let her in, right before changing her own diaper and making her own dinner. And possibly baking those brownies Cy continues to pound back with prodigious abandon.
Cy tells Mel that Liv has gone from a slut to everywoman to being Mel’s sister-wife in under forty-eight hours. Hee! But Mel isn’t in the mood for banter. She tells Cy she was the one who told the committee about the ring. He approves, saying it was a ‘big girl’ move. He invites her to sit down and indulge with him. He’s got sparkling wine and five kinds of cheese. Sounds like the makings of a pleasant evening to me. He doesn’t offer her any brownies, however. It looks like those don’t get shared with anybody. Mel smiles and sits.
Dirty politics. Marcus is walking along the street, looking fine, as usual. For all that’s been said about his having fallen on hard times and becoming a Gladiator because he needed the job, I must say, the guy always looks impeccable. He suits up in nice threads, and he wears the hell out of them. Damn.
A limo pulls up beside him. Inside are Gibson and Markowitz, the senators from the committee, and they tell him to get in. Before they even start talking, he says he knows nothing. He just started working at OPA two days ago. They say it’s not what he knows but what he will know. He’s going to find out some secrets while he’s working there. and he’s going to report it all back to them. They want Marcus to be their spy, or they’ll make his life miserable. For good measure, they threaten his family, too.
Shortly after, Marcus shows up for a secret meeting at OPA with Huck and Quinn. It seems Quinn is worried about how Leo is handling this whole situation. He thinks they need to have an alternate plan ready for Liv, just in case. They might have to play dirty, backroom dealing and all that. Whatever’s necessary to keep Liv out of trouble.
The senators on the committee think the president may be corrupt, so they’re opening an investigation. Only the senators are corrupt, too, and the people at OPA keeping an eye on the senators are also corruptible, themselves. Marcus has seen all of this up close and personal in a very short time. His head must be spinning right now.
He appears to make a decision. He meets up with Gibson and Moskowitz and tells them he’s on board. He’ll spy on OPA for the government.
That old feeling. Liv turns up at Jake’s door. I like how, even after all that’s gone down between them, she just shows up when she needs someone to talk to. But instead of his customary automatic invite inside, he’s hesitant. Then Elise, to whom we were introduced last episode, is seen in the background. The proverbial cat out of the bag, Jake lets Liv enter.
Liv introduces herself, but Elise already knows who she is. Elise then says they must have a lot to talk about and leaves them alone, but not before giving Jake a sweet, and somewhat territorial, kiss. Jake tells Liv she’s an ‘old friend’. Guess he’s not ready to come clean yet.
That distraction out of the way, Liv launches into a diatribe on what a farce this lovestruck thing is. Jake tells her to just be honest. Then he says, the real problem is, if Liv is honest about her feelings, she’ll have no exit left. She’ll be tied to the White House and Fitz forever, and maybe she’s not ready for that. Liv admits that might be the case. Jake repeats that she should tell the truth.
Tainted love. And so she does. That night, Liv gives her first official TV interview since making her dramatic “Yes” statement. It’s with that smarmy guy who interviewed Fitz and Mellie a couple of episodes ago, and he starts off like his snarky self, but gradually Liv’s obvious candor subdues him. She manages to gush a bit at the start, according to Leo’s plan, and talk about how romantic it was when Fitz gave her the ring.
But the light mood begins to shift when she’s asked if she regrets what happened. Liv takes a long pause before saying she wishes she and Fitz had never met. Other people have gotten hurt because of their relationship, and she never meant for that to happen. She feels bad about how others have suffered. She also has spent years building her business and reputation, and now all of that is threatened, because of this relationship. “Who would wish for that?” she asks If she could fall out of love, she would.
It’s all honest and powerful and goes over very well with the public. Pundits are calling it one of the greatest political interviews of all time. Mel and Cy look numb as they watch a news report gush over the whole thing. After sitting in silence for a while, Cy tells Mel he’s sorry for bringing Olivia onto the campaign all of those years ago and setting this whole thing in motion in the first place. He seems to be sincere in his apology, and it seems to make Mel feel a bit better. This is a weird alliance, considering their rocky past, both distant and recent. Wonder how long it will last.
Stuff, meet fan. When Liv shows up at work, there’s a problem to deal with. Marcus apparently did not switch alliances, and he tells all about how the senators approached him to spy for them. He shows Liv a photo he covertly took from Moskowitz’s email of the committee’s evidence log. Liv sees something she obviously finds alarming and runs off to the attorney general’s office.
She tells David that it looks like the committee got the video made when she was kidnapped and ransomed in that plotline we’d all like to forget about from last season. If they have that, Liv says everyone is going down. But David says that’s only true if the committee can prove Fitz saw the video. In it, Liv said she was being held for ransom. Fitz did see it, and it ultimately led to him declaring war. Since going to war to save your mistress would definitely be seen as an impeachable offense, if it could be proven Fitz saw the video, then yes, says David, that’s big trouble. But did he see it, and if so, does anyone else know he did?
It’s interesting how Liv handles this newest roadblock tossed her way. That night when Fitz walks into his bedroom, she’s there waiting for him. In bed. On the record player is Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. They start to make out, and then Liv pauses to turn up the volume. She whispers into his ear, “They know about West Angola and the tape.”
They talk about impeachable offenses and how if they know he saw the video, it’s over for Fitz. He says he’ll deny he saw it. We all know how convincingly Fitz can lie when he wants to, so that wouldn’t seem to be a problem. But there’s a huge snag in his plan: Cyrus. He’s the only one besides Liv and Fitz (and Andrew, the former VP, but he’s not presently a problem) who knows Fitz saw the tape, and he’s the only one who can hurt them.
Some monsters never die. Mel and Cy are still hanging out together, eating what I assume are five very fine cheeses and tossing back sparkling wine. Cy says he’s never had this much fun spending the night with a woman. It’s kind of cute, but of course, temporary. Cy’s phone rings. It’s the president, calling him to the Oval for a meeting.
When Cy arrives, Fitz wastes no time telling him he wants him back at work. He lies through his teeth, telling Cy how much he misses having him around. He wants him back in the administration, maybe not as chief of staff, since he already has one, but in a high-level position.
Cy takes all of this in and appears to be humbled at first before he sits down and gets reflective. He wonders if the committee has something that on Fitz that has him worried. Cy ticks through the possibilities until he gets to West Angola. Now he realizes Fitz is only offering a job to buy his silence,. Cy says, based on that, he has to turn the job down.
But there’s more than that. Cy previously told Mellie all about how Fitz was like a son to him and how badly his betrayal felt, and he brings that up again. He tells Fitz about all of the years he dedicated to Fitz and proves his devotion by rattling off a litany of facts about Fitz, from his habits to his food preferences.
He talks about all of the guidance he gave on the campaign trail and claims Fitz not only threw him overboard at the first sign of trouble, but never even bothered to get to know him. Cy talks about how close he was to his own mother and how Fitz didn’t know that and didn’t even know her name. Cy says he doesn’t need this anymore and dusts off that old mantra about the band never getting back together. He turns to leave.
But Fitz has apparently been paying some attention. He immediately busts out how Cy’s mom was named Helen and relates a story from years ago. When Fitz was campaigning for president, she would regularly send Cy books to read. He noticed Cy opening those packages and how it seemed to be a highlight of his time on the campaign trail. Fitz proves he didn’t entirely have his head up his butt and did notice many things about Cy and did appreciate all of his hard work. He apologizes for what happened to them and asks Cy again to come back.
Cy seemed touched by Fitz’s mom story, but that sentimentality doesn’t last long. He accepts Fitz’s apology. He says he’ll come back to work, but only as chief of staff. He won’t accept any other position. And as for Lizzie bear, it’s straight to the unemployment office for her. Cy also throws in that he wants new carpeting for his office, as well as a full presidential pardon for any crimes he may have committed while serving in the administration. Fitz agrees to all of the conditions.
Having gotten his former life back, and then some, Cy sits down. He solemnly relates to Fitz his belief that Fitz went to war for solely political purposes. That’s his sincerely held belief, and he’ll stick to that, always. They stand and shake hands. As Cy leaves, Fitz yells for his secretary to go fetch Liz for him.
So, what’s Fitz going to say to Lizzie? He can’t tell her the whole truth, obviously. If he could, he wouldn’t have to fire her in the first place. She’s going to be pretty shocked and humiliated and likely seeking some sort of revenge. What kind and against whom is an open question.
Also, it needs to be mentioned that in a short but amusing scene, Jake told Liv that Elise is his wife. Yes, is, as in, currently. Looks like after she abandoned him that day in Grand Central Station, they never bothered to get divorced. Liv takes the news rather well as they eat the take-out Jake brought. She even manages to laugh when he tells her she has a ‘type’. Married guys. They seem to get along pretty well as friends. Maybe that’s the capacity in which Jake is going to stay around.
In the meantime, it all picks up again with next week’s episode, “Get Out of Jail Free”. A preview –
Fitz and Olivia are presented with a shocking plan that might just make all of their troubles disappear, and Mellie is put through the wringer when confronted about her troubled marriage. Meanwhile, the Gladiators continue to defend Olivia, and Susan Ross turns to David for advice.
Whatever could the erstwhile Veep want with the AG? Don’t tell me she’s not what she seems to be, although that would just make her like everyone else on this show. I suppose it’s just a matter of time.