This week we learn that four prison walls can’t contain Papa Pope. As if we didn’t suspect. He always seems to have an ace up his sleeve and a new plan in his back pocket, and he doesn’t disappoint. Or does, depending on one’s tolerance for his invincibility and general BS. Cyrus is back in the White House, just in time to cook up a plan to save the Grant Administration’s collective butt, and Gladiators always tell the truth, except when they have to lie to save their butts.
Oh, and Mellie! She gets to read the riot act to more than one character, and it’s a thing of beauty. Like her or not, the first lady sure has an impressive way of getting her point across. And she’s looking to swap that FLOTUS moniker for another bit of letter salad in the not-too-distant future…
The Liberty Report. Sally Langston gushes on her TV show about how the Senate Judiciary Committee impeachment hearings begin today. Sally takes so much glee in everyone’s dirty laundry while conveniently ignoring the smelly piles lying around her own house. This is a woman who secured an abortion on the sly for her teen daughter, even while publicly trying to get laws passed to deny the same choice for everyone else. Then there’s the staying married to a gay man for years as a beard for her political career before killing him when she grew tired of the arrangement. This is the woman who can’t wipe the smile off her face over the prospect of Fitz’s impeachment? She seems quite smug that all of her own indiscretions will never come to light. Not a safe bet on this show.
Sally’s reports are seen throughout the episode, and she’s never less than thrilled. She does love her work.
With friends like this… Mellie is due to be questioned by the committee. Before that happens, she meets with Moskowitz and Gibson, the two senators heading up the committee, and seems to get their assurances that everything will go according to plan. They even give her a list of the questions they’re going to ask her.
Quinn, Huck and Liv are all at Liv’s place, watching the hearings on TV. Mel is asked when she found out about Fitz and Liv’s affair, and she lies that it was along with everyone else when Liv gave that “Yes” heard ’round the world. Liv immediately calls Abby, who’s watching at the White House with Fitz and Cyrus. She says Mel is about to get ambushed, and Cy guesses that it’s about Jeannine Locke, which it is. The committee has found out that Mel paid Locke off a couple of years ago (in Season 3, to be exact) to say she was having an affair with Fitz when Mel knew it was Liv and wanted to keep it quiet. Mel is, indeed, sandbagged and starts giving “I don’t recall” answers, but it’s clear she lied.
The press goes nuts. Fitz’s lawyer says he can’t testify now. They’ll be invoking executive privilege. But what about Liv? Fitz asks. She can still be questioned, and with what she knows, if she goes down they all do.
That leads to Fitz and Cy calling Liv to the Oval Office for a meeting. They have a proposition, as it were. If Liv were Fitz’s wife, she wouldn’t have to testify. So maybe they should get married…like, right away. Liv says a wedding is a crazy idea. Cy says she can’t risk testifying, and this is the best way out. Besides, he says, he had a forced marriage to a ho, and he’s doing just peachy! Liv still doesn’t like it, so Fitz says they’ll have to think of another plan.
Spy vs. Spy. Elise visits Papa Pope in prison. So she’s working for the dark side after all? It can be hard to keep one’s score card up to date in Scandaland. She tells him everything is set. His passports and bank accounts are all ready, as is his escape plan.
Pa is supposed to escape with the prison laundry, but things go wrong. He winds up scrapping with a guard and killing him, while getting hurt himself in the process. He was double-crossed, apparently by Elise, who maybe isn’t playing for the bad guys. Be sure to keep that score card in pencil…
Indeed, when Jake drops by the prison for a chat with Pa, he’s informed that Pa is rather popular and has already had a visitor. When Elise gets home later, Jake is waiting with her gun for an explanation. She tells him that Pa is the reason she came to the U.S., but not because she’s B613. She came to kill him. She paid off the prison guard to do the deed, but of course, something went wrong, and the guard ended up dead while Pa landed in the infirmary. So she’ll try again. Practice usually makes perfect, but since she’s dealing with the nine lives Teflon Papa Pope, she’d better have a pretty good plan. Pa has an annoying habit of coming out on top.
As Pa recovers, he lays plans to never go back to his cell again. He calls Liv for help, but she hangs up on him. He summons Quinn to his bedside. She also refuses to help him, but she does address him as “sir” before leaving. Interesting.
Can I get a witness? The Gladiators are huddled together, devising a plan for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both Huck and Quinn have been subpoenaed to testify, and as they’re discussing it, Abby walks in and says she’s been subpoenaed, too. Liv simply informs everyone to tell the truth. Yeah, that’ll work.
There’s a video of Locke that’s been leaked, and the committee asks about it. But the Gladiators and Red are ready. None of them were the culprit. It was the dear, departed Harrison. So the person they really need to talk to just happens to be dead. How convenient. The trio just shrugs.
Later, Liv tells Abby about the whole marriage-to-avoid-testifying plan. Abby likes it. She says it will do what it’s intended to do, which is to keep Liv off the stand, and that’s a good thing, considering with what she knows she could basically bring down the republic.
Not exactly a Harlequin romance. Fitz knows this, too. When Liv comes by the White House, he’s waiting for her on the balcony, which is all decked out in romantic rose petals and candles and Champagne. He’s decided the quickie marriage plan is a good one, and he’s ready to pop the question, but properly this time. He even starts to get down on one knee, and that’s when Liv stops him. She can’t go through with it. They’re not ready to get married. He says that maybe she never will be. She doesn’t argue with that.
As usual, when Liv needs some advice, she calls her bestie, Jake. But he’s tired of being used as her emotional suppository. When Liv starts whining about her life, Jake simply tells her he’s not interested and hangs up. Yes, he straight up hangs up on her. It’s pretty awesome. As she’s bumming out about her bestie letting her down, Quinn shows up. She tells Liv that if she doesn’t want to marry Fitz, there may be another plan.
It involves Pa. Liv goes to visit him, and he tells her he needs to get out of prison or he’ll get killed in there. She couldn’t care less and goes to leave, when he says that he can help with her situation. Specifically, he can make it go away. He, of course, has dirt on every member of the committee, and if she’ll help him, he’ll take care of the hearings.
A tunnel meeting. Liv seems to blow him off, but the next we see she’s set up a secret meeting with Mellie somewhere deep in the bowels of a White House basement. Liv tells her there’s a way out, but Mel ain’t in no mood to scheme with her husband’s grrl toy. She says she’s already ‘out’. That is, out of the committee, out of her marriage, and probably out of a job. And it’s all thanks to Liv. But Liv forges ahead and says if she has to testify, everything will just get worse, and they’ll all go down. There’s a prisoner in Virginia who can help them. If he’s released, it will all go away. Liv says Mel can get him out. Mel asks who this prisoner is, and Liv gives her Pa’s file.
Mel immediately recognizes Pa as Damascus Bainbridge, the presumptive donor to her campaign who instead blackmailed her and got all of those grand jury members killed. She wants to know what’s going on. Liv didn’t know about the Bainbridge persona and tells Mel that the man is actually Eli Pope, her father. They trade information, with Mel telling Liv all about Bainbridge and what he did, and Liv telling her about B613.
Mel doesn’t see why she should pardon Pa just so Liv and Fitz can be together. She goes off a bit on the Pope family and how appropriate it is that Pa is a murdering scumbag and wants to know exactly how many people he’s killed. Liv, for some reason, accommodates that request by telling Mel it was Pa who had her son Jerry killed. Not sure why she spilled the beans about that at this moment, but she does. Mel has no idea how to deal with this new knowledge and starts hyperventilating. She’s still doing that as Liv leaves.
That night, Liv is with Fitz and apparently feels out of options. She asks to see the engagement ring he had tried to give her previously, an heirloom that once belonged to Betsy Ross. She puts it on and simply says “Okay”. She’ll marry him. It’s not exactly the height of romance, but Fitz seems happy.
Afterward, Liv tries again to air things out with her bestie. She calls Jake and tells him of her marriage plans. She says she wanted to tell him personally before he hears it on the news. He thanks her and congratulates her, then hangs up on her. Again. As he gets off the phone, Elise is on her way out. She’s leaving to continue with the plot of trying to kill Pa. Jake says he wants to go with her. They agree to meet at Union Station the next day.
Mic drop, Mellie style. Mel and Fitz get together to hammer out divorce arrangements. They bicker a bit but manage to come to an agreement. Mel looks it over, says she doesn’t think she’s forgotten anything, and signs. Fitz mutters that there’s nothing left for her to take and goes to leave.
But Mel doesn’t intend to let him have the last word. Especially when that word is ‘take’. She asks what he meant by that, and he tells her all about how everything is on her. He pretty much blames her for all that’s wrong in his life. He brings up the grand jurors’ deaths again and how she has blood on her hands.
Really, Fitz? You’re going to play that card? The man who declared war and had thousands killed to save his side piece? The man who killed Verna Thornton with his bare hands? That guy is going to moralize? Does Fitz really lack self-awareness to that extreme a degree, or does he just hold himself to a different standard?
Regardless, Mel won’t accept blame. She says everything she’s ever done has been for him and his career, to prop him up and accommodate his “pathetic mediocrity” (ouch on that one, even though, after watching Fitz for five seasons, it appears to basically be true). She could have done something and been someone if not for him. Her life would have meant something. Fitz just stands there and takes it as she flames him. When she’s done, she says goodbye to him for good and stalks out, leaving the door open.
Give the first lady a hand, everyone! That was quite the performance. She’ll be here all week! And don’t forget to tip your waitress.
It’s a nice day for a white wedding. Liv is due to go in front of the committee in four hours. Of course, she’s made alternate arrangements. She shows up in the Oval Office for the no-frills wedding she’s requested. She wants everything to be low key, though she has worn a stunning white dress.
The Secret Service briefs Liv on everything she’ll need to know as the new first lady. She doesn’t look very happy as she’s told how pretty much her every step will be monitored from now on, and she’ll have someone shadowing her at all times. She’s told to hand over her cell phone, as she’ll be getting a new one. Before she can do so, it rings. It’s Mel, requesting a meeting. Liv tells the room she’ll be right back.
Things happen quickly after that. Jake walks into Union Station and sees Elise sitting on a bench. He makes a remark about how she decided to show up this time, but she doesn’t answer. He touches her and she falls over, due to the bullet in her back. The committee calls Liv to testify. At that moment, the committee members are delivered manila envelopes, all of which contain incriminating information on them.
Mel is in a lot better shape than Liv left her in previously. She’s smiling as she says she’s changed her mind. She’s had a realization about Liv, that Liv is actually Mel’s freedom.
The Senate Judiciary Committee announces it’s dropping its investigation. Instead of Liv coming back for the wedding, Abby shows up and returns the Betsy Ross ring to a confused Fitz.
Mel tells Liv that her plan worked perfectly. Mel sprung Pa from prison, so Liv won’t have to testify. Mel says she got Liz out of trouble, so now Liv owes her in that she’s going to help Mel become the first female president.
As Mel smiles maniacally, who steps out of the shadows but Pa. Surprise! And he has someone with him. Tom, the Secret Service agent who killed Jerry at Pa’s orders and has also been languishing in prison. I’m not sure why Mel wants to cozy up to these two, but they’re flanking her at episode’s end, as she grins like the Cheshire Cat.
Davey and the Veep. There was also a bit of comic relief in this week’s ‘B’ plot. Vice President Susan Ross turns up in David’s office, as there’s a matter she must discuss with the attorney general. She gets right to the point: She wants to know what the complications would be if she resigns.
David looks into it and tells her there are no legal impediments to stepping down. She can do that if she likes, but he wants to know why. Apparently Susan needs to be a bit greased up before she can discuss the matter and asks for a drink. David offers water. She asks for a wine cooler. This is one wild woman.
So the VP and AG tank down what I’m sure are some premium tropical coolers and talk turkey. Susan is disgusted by the goings on in the White House. She can’t watch Fitz run around with Liv under Mellie’s and the American people’s noses anymore. It’s all so undignified. David counters that the real problem might be that if the committee succeeds in forcing Fitz out of office, it means she’ll be president, and that scares her. At first she denies it but then admits she doesn’t want to be president.
And David tells her that’s exactly why she shouldn’t step down. All of those people confident enough to think they’d be great presidents scare him, he says. Maybe her insecurities and uncertainty would be good for the office. Besides, he says, unlike the current president, she “wouldn’t snag everyone around her in her zipper.” Hee! Though they may get a contact high from those wine coolers.
At episode’s end, Susan was thinking the matter over, and it looked like she would take his advice. So the hard-partyin’ Ms. Ross is still VP.
And that’s where we stand, with Pa out of prison and his would-be assassin dead, while Mel gives aid and comfort to the men who killed her son and gloats over how she’s going to use Olivia, who didn’t marry Fitz or testify for the committee.
I’m sure it will all make sense in next week’s episode, 05.07 “Even the Devil Deserves A Second Chance”-
While Fitz is focused on winning back the American people, he makes a shocking discovery. Meanwhile, OPA takes on a new client, but Olivia seems preoccupied keeping her own secrets, and Elizabeth North sets her sights on a new agenda.
Lizzie’s back! I was wondering where she was this week. I knew she wasn’t going to just slink away to never be heard from again. Can’t wait to find out her agenda…