We’re almost to the winter finale, so things are getting pretty crazy in the world of Olivia Pope. She seems to teeter on the brink of disaster this week, with seemingly nothing that could save her hide after her secrets come to light. But much like her daddy, she always seems to find a way out. The apple not falling far from the tree and all that.
A flash forward. The episode opens with Fitz striding purposefully down to the infamous White House basement room where in the past we’ve seen people like Jake and Pa get worked over by the prez. So who has the honor this time? It’s Olivia, sitting handcuffed to the table, looking bedraggled, her fine designer outfit rumpled and bloodstained lying next to her.
In the next scene, it’s forty-eight hours earlier. On the news is a story about the U.S. reaching a disarmament agreement with the (fictional) nation of Bandar and how the leaders of the two countries are on the brink of signing an historic treaty. There’s a big party at the White House for Bandarian dignitaries, and Liv ends up charming the guests, much to Cyrus’s chagrin. He’s quite miffed about losing his favored place at Fitz’s side to Liv, and seeing Liv be so popular schmoozing with the foreign guests, just puts him more on edge.
But Liv has problems of her own. She’s chatting through an interpreter with a Bandarian government official, when the interpreter slips into the conversation that he wants to defect. When he gets Liv alone, he gives her some inside intel about a nuclear facility in his country no one knows about. He’ll tell all he knows if he’s guaranteed political asylum.
Later, Liv brings the info to Fitz. Cy and Abby are also there and Cy, of course, persuades Fitz not to grant asylum. The accord will be signed the next day. It’s a huge deal and can’t be scrapped now. Liv says she’ll have the interpreter checked out, and Fitz says to hurry and report what she finds to him immediately. After Liv leaves, Cy asks how the search for Papa Pope is going; Fitz basically blows him off with a quick “It’s being handled.” Cy asks by whom and gets silence from Fitz for several seconds, followed by a dismissal. The prez, whose inner circle Cy was formerly a part of, just flat out refused to tell him some vital information and curtly dismissed him.
In the hallway, Abby sees Cy looking a combination of upset, ticked off, and confused and asks if he’s okay. Cy says it’s a brave new world with Liv in charge at the White House. Then he says he’s going to call David Rosen and put him in charge of the Pa investigation.
The Return of Pa. After being MIA from last week’s episode, Mellie is back, briefly. She calls Liv to remind her of their deal. She helped get Pa released, so she and Liv are working together now. If she doesn’t get Liv’s cooperation, she’ll tell Fitz everything. Liv signals her displeasure with this as she’s getting on the elevator to go up to OPA. She’s shocked when the door is held open and Tom, the disgraced Secret Service agent who was released along with Pa, gets on. He brings her up to an office where Pa is waiting.
Being Pa, he must give a little speech. He tells Liv that he’s being hunted, that “my sons have turned against me.” When Liv says she doesn’t care, he says that while he’s alive, he can protect her. But even if he dies, which he seems to think is a real possibility, he says with all he’s taught her and all she’s learned, she should be able to take care of herself. He says he did his best for her and he’s proud of her and who she’s become. She looks both horrified and confused.
Back at the office, Liv asks Huck if he’s heard of Lazarus One, which she thinks is a plan to kill Pa. Huck says he hasn’t heard of it, but if it exists, he wishes it the best of luck. Marcus breaks down what they’ve found out about Navid, the interpreter. We have a bit of a subplot here involving Quinn. She apparently feels like new guy, Marcus, is speaking out of turn by giving this rundown, to the point where Liv tells her to chill. Quinn gives Marcus a hard time throughout the episode, after making that snarky remark last week about how frustrating newbies are. Who knew she was the jealous type?
Marcus says Navid is always paired with government bigwigs, like the minister of energy, whom he was with when he told Liv he wanted to defect. Getting him alone to talk is a problem. Huck says he’s got it covered. Then we see Navid in a meeting, looking unwell. He keels over and is rushed to the hospital. Huck slipped him something to incapacitate him, so Liv could speak with him in his room. If this is a country worried about people defecting, would they let him be alone with someone like Liv, who has such close ties to the White House? Probably not, but in Scandaland, it’s all good. Liv tells him asylum is a possibility, but he must talk before he can be protected. Navid gives the intel on the secret nuclear facility, which the government says is a soda factory.
Meanwhile, Fitz knows he must delay the treaty signing until he finds out more about the Navid case. He calls on always-eager VP Susan Ross for help. He needs her to stall the process by saying something that will tick off the Bandari delegation and give OPA time to verify Navid’s intel. The spunky Susan has no problem getting the job done.
Cy is also getting things done. He earnestly tells David about how Pa was mistakenly released, and David is incredulous. Cy says he should create a task force to find out why it happened. David says the FBI should be handling this, and he’ll inform them right away. After David leaves, Cy can hardly contain his glee. That was almost too easy.
POTUS Pope. Liv continues to wield her newfound power by apparently summoning Jake to the Oval for a meeting. He thinks he’s going to meet with Fitz and isn’t happy to find Liv there. Doesn’t she remember that he’s not on speaking terms with her anymore? He says he doesn’t care what she wants, and she says it’s not about her. Then, amazingly enough, she tells him how someone is trying to kill Pa and how afraid he is these days. Like Jake would care. He said just last week that his mission is to find Pa and put a bullet in his head. Does she think a little pouting from her will make him change his mind? It doesn’t. Perhaps she’s forgotten that Pa once had Jake thrown in the hole and just had his wife killed. He’s in no mood to humor her. He scoffs and says she’s getting played by Pa, again.
They insult each other by bringing up past dirty deeds, until Liv cluelessly talks about their relationship. It seems to only now be dawning on her that back at the end of last season when Jake told her to go to Fitz, he really wanted her to choose him. Duh, Liv. Jake’s, like, you are really one slow-witted moron when it’s convenient, and he adds that the whole time they’ve known each other, he always thought that she was too good for him. It had never occurred to him that he might be too good for her. At that moment, Fitz walks in and breaks up this little pity party. He’s surprised to see Jake, who says there’s no new info to report on Pa.
It bears mentioning there’s a Christmas tree already in the Oval Office in this scene. Isn’t it a bit early, show, two weeks before Thanksgiving? The joyful season is definitely long enough as it is. Don’t rush it.
Liv is still stewing that night in Abby’s office. Abby tells her she has to tell Fitz about her role in freeing Pa. The FBI is on it, and it’s just a matter of time before they uncover the whole plot, so Liv has to tell him first. Liv says she will, but she’s hesitating because she knows when she does, it’s over, all of it, and she’s not ready to be done. Later, in bed with Fitz, she clearly tries to tell him but can’t bring herself to.
Lazarus rebirth. The Gladiators, minus Huck who’s occupied by other things lately, have determined that Navid’s intel is bogus. There’s no indication the factory is a nuclear facility. Liv visits him in the hospital and shows him photos that she says prove he made the whole thing up. He says he didn’t lie, but she tells him his application for asylum is denied, and he’ll be sent back to his country when he’s ready to be released.
Huck is away from the office, having a secret meeting with Jake. Contrary to what he told Liv, he knows all about Lazarus One, which has been activated. Jake wanted some info Huck dug up for him and hands it over. Jake is pretty intense over getting what he needed, because it will allow the project to move forward so much so, that it puts Huck off. Jake asks for more help, but Huck turns him down; he’s trying to get away from that kind of life, and if he stays around Jake, that bloodthirsty intensity will rub off, and he’ll be sucked right back in. Huck tells him he’s on his own.
Dizzy Bear lives! Everyone’s favorite new Scandal couple is back! David is walking through the White House halls, where he’s swept up by Lizzie. He seems hesitant, but she pulls him right into a closet for a bit of furtive government nookie. It doesn’t seem like the first time this kind of thing has happened, so it looks like Dizzy Bear is on! As they get dressed afterward, Liz starts bitching about her new job as VP Susan’s chief of staff, or as she calls it “being an overpaid babysitter for the queen of the nerds.” David still has a soft spot for his partner in wine coolers and tells Liz to give it some time.
Davey better be careful, though, as it looks like the Veep is still awkwardly making a move on him. Later, she “accidentally” runs into him in the hall after hanging around waiting for him to show up. They have a bit of stalled conversation which clearly thrills her, nonetheless. Poor Susie. Hate to tell you, honey, but David’s getting nasty closet sex from your CoS these days.
Diplomacy interruptus. Having tended to his side activities, Huck shows up at OPA, where he’s informed that the case of Navid has been solved. He was lying, which was proven by the photos they have. Huck takes a gander at the photos and it takes him all of about two seconds to spot something that looks really obvious but that everyone prior had missed. The place may not be a nuclear facility, but it’s clearly not a soda factory, either. ASIDE: in this scene both Quinn and Marcus say ‘nucular,’ which is both annoying and unbelievable.
Given that the intel wasn’t bad, Fitz must be informed.
But he was already told to go ahead with the treaty signing, which is where he is right now. Liv makes an urgent call to Abby, who’s standing a few feet away from Fitz and the Bandari president, and tells her she has to stop the signing. Red says it’s too late, but Liv tells her she has to do something. So at the last second, Abby runs over and whispers the information into Fitz’s ear. The press is everywhere, and cameras click furiously as Fitz deliberates for a moment on what to do. He slowly puts the cap back on his pen. At the same time, Liv has rushed to the hospital where she finds Navid bleeding on the floor from a suicide attempt. Abby cheerfully informs the media that the president is putting the treaty on hold, briefly, just to be sure it’s the right one.
Liv got to Navid in time and goes to see him later as he’s recovering. She tells him that when it looked like he might not make it, they wanted to inform his family, but he has no contacts. Turns out Navid is gay, which is the real reason he wants asylum. Liv then tells him that he was right about the facility being shady. It’s not nuclear, but it is a covert operation, and they’re continuing to investigate. And since he told the truth, asylum will likely be granted.
From defacto prez to prisoner. David calls Cy to tell him that everything the FBI has found points to Liv being the mastermind behind Pa’s release. They’re going to pick her up. Again, things seem to be falling exactly the way Cy wants, and he looks like he wants to do a little victory dance as he hangs up the phone. Remember when Liv and Cy used to hang out at Liv’s place and drink wine and eat popcorn and shoot the breeze? Yeah, that was a long time ago…
Liv is taken right off the street and put into custody by the FBI before she’s taken to the underground White House bunker. We’ve reached the point where we were at the beginning of the show, forty-eight hours later, and Fitz confronts her. But he’s not as stern as he seemed in the opening scene and immediately uncuffs her. He tells her what the FBI told him, but he knows it’s not true. She wouldn’t do those things. It’s impossible and insane. He says to tell him it’s not true. We don’t hear her answer, because music plays over their whole ensuing exchange, a nice version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, which I guess is the question here. Will Fitz even be able to stand the sight of Liv after learning this information? It doesn’t seem so right now, as they do a bit of yelling at each other. Liv breaks down crying, and Fitz storms out.
Cy gets Poped. Cy goes to see Fitz, who is pacing and drinking in the Oval. Cy feigns shock that Liv would do what she’s charged with and starts laying out a plan as to how to handle her from here on out. It goes without saying that she’ll have to cooperate with finding Pa. But then, Fitz stops him. He wants Liv released and the charges dropped. Cy can’t believe what he’s hearing. Nor can I, for that matter. Fitz says Liv told him about the plot to kill Pa. Then Fitz takes out the surveillance photos of the factory and says it was red hot but not because it’s nuclear, but because it’s full of servers that have been staging cyber attacks. Liv was right about this, so maybe she’s right about Pa, too. I don’t know why Fitz cares, given all of the animosity between him and Pa over the course of this show, but it appears his soft spot for Liv overwhelms everything else. He tells Cy to have Liv released and brought to the White House.
Cy seems stunned that everything that seemed so perfect for him a moment ago is all falling apart. Just when he thought he was regaining his place at Fitz’s side by getting Liv out, it seems she’s rebounding as strong as ever. Cy reminds Fitz that by doing this he’s helping Pa, who killed his son. Fitz answers with, “I forgave you, didn’t I?” Yeah, but he didn’t kill your kid, Fitz, and Cy has a point. I’m not sure what Fitz’s motivation is here, other than being whipped. Or maybe gaining the upper hand in this relationship and reclaiming the presidency? It seems out of character, but one never knows.
The next day, Fitz and the president of Bandar sign the agreement. As they shake hands and cameras go off, Fitz whispers in the prez’s ear that his little ‘soda factory’ is currently being blown up. Ooh, snap!
Getting Lazarus done. Jake is intensely loading his gun as his computer does a search for Pa’s whereabouts. It finally chirps with some info. Jake gets on the phone and calls Fitz to tell him Pa has been located. Fitz says to let him know when it’s done. So even though he had Liv released, he hasn’t called off Jake’s mission to kill Pa.
Jake enters an apartment, gun drawn. Pa isn’t there, but Tom is on the floor, dead.
Back at the White House, Liv is hanging around in Fitz’s bedroom wearing a fabulous white robe bearing the White House seal. I want one of those, badly, although I’d never look as great in it as Liv does. Her phone buzzes. It’s Mel, in her second brief appearance this week, again via phone. She’s pissed that Liv’s been ducking her calls and says she’s going to spill to Fitz. Liv says she already did. Mel looks shocked and distressed and hangs up.
Despite what we just saw, Fitz walks in and tells Liv he called off Jake. He says Pa won’t be killed but will be brought in alive. Throughout this scene, people have been going by in the hallway outside, with boxes. Liv finally notices they’re also wheeling in her clothes. Fitz tells her he sent for all of her things to be sent over. She’s going to live at the White House fulltime, now. He’s getting her a Secret Service detail, so she’ll be safe.
So after all of the manipulations Liv went through to keep her own life and autonomy, it looks like she’ll have to sacrifice it anyway. How can she say no to the guy she just screwed over like that and who just saved her butt?
As for Pa, Jake may not have him, but as the episode ends, we see Pa tied to a chair in an abandoned factory. It turns out the person who has him is Huck, who apparently is one of those ‘sons’ who has turned on his Pa. Huck says he has some questions. So much for that mayhem rehab he was practicing.
This whole mess sets up the winter finale, next week’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” –
Olivia is feeling more and more frustrated as she takes on “First Lady” type responsibilities at the White House. Meanwhile, Mellie proves just how powerful she can be, and Jake and Huck continue the hunt for Rowan.”
Continue the hunt? Unless it was a dream sequence, it sure looked in that last scene like the hunt was over and the prey captured. So are we to glean from this that Pa gets away yet again? That would be such a shock…