Catch up on Scandal S5 Ep. 12 Wild Card


L.T. Milroy


Wow, how things can change around Scandaland in just one week.

Last week, everything seemed to be getting set up perfectly for some fun on the campaign trail, and now this week… I’m not sure what to say. My most overriding thought after sitting through 05.12 was, What was that I just watched? So much WTFery, I’m not sure where to start.

But I’m a brave recapper, so I’ll try to make some sense of it all. That will be a challenge.

Fitz, still the worst.president.ever. Let’s take this by individual disaster. First up, the president’s nads. Fitz’s libido has always been front and center on this show, and that’s still the case, it’s just that it doesn’t involve Olivia at the moment. Instead, we have the Fitz/Lillian/Abby triangle.

Lillian is the supposed Pulitzer Prize -winning journalist who talked her way into a one-on-one interview with the president, only to crumble like a little fangirl once alone with Fitz and tell him she’s liked him since the first time she saw him on the playground and thinks he’s really neat and wants to go steady. And never got the interview. A true professional, my friends. Of course, this kind of behavior works on Fitz, who is with Lillian as this episode opens, making out in a limo. They’re not alone for long, as the car door flies open. It’s Press Secretary Abby, who must discuss something with the president. It’s merely the first case of Abby interruptus he’ll be suffering this episode.

After Lillian tactfully leaves, Abby informs Fitz that if he’s going to wild card a reporter, she’s going to have to know in advance. ‘Wild card’, incidentally, Abby describes as “when a president has a female friend who is not ‘regular’.” What is ‘regular’, compared to the president? He’s in a pretty unique situation. So Lillian isn’t regular. Is she a Martian? Does she need a laxative? If they’re referring to the fact that she’s a reporter, I don’t think that will be a problem. Her journalistic ethics are obviously quite flexible.

Abby rattles off all of the reasons it’s difficult for the commander in chief to conduct a personal relationship. She goes into some detail about how Fitz getting laid is complicated, and it grosses him out. He tells her so and basically kicks her out of the car.

Later, she apologizes but stresses again that if he wants to date someone, plans must be made. He answers by taking out his phone, calling Lillian and asking her out for tonight. Abby looks frustrated, which is pretty much a permanent look on her these days.

When one of the episode’s other plotlines flares up later on, Abby must again interrupt the president and again, he’s with Lillian. After she leaves, Abby and Fitz argue. He thinks it’s as simple as the fact that she’s her being upset, because he’s moved on from Liv, who’s still Abby’s friend. That seems overly simplistic, but Abby agrees. Yes, Liv was family and she was trusted, so yes, she is missed. Who is this Lillian person, anyway? Abby asks. She doesn’t even know who Lillian is? Fitz merely growls at Abby to mind her own business. And threatens to fire her if she doesn’t. Not the first time that threat has been issued.

Finally, a victory for Red. After going through all of this stuff with Fitz’s not-so-private life, Abby is pretty exhausted. She finally tells him that it’s her job to keep tabs on him. He still has a few months left as president, and while he’s in office, he’ll have to put up with her. He doesn’t have to like her, but he does have to accommodate her, and he has to stop threatening to fire her every time she does something he doesn’t like and understand that she’s just doing her job. If he’s going to fire her, she says to do it now and get it over with.

Instead, he softens and tells Abby, who has always addressed him as Mr. President, to call him Fitz. If she’s going to be policing his sex life, he says, they should at least be on a first-name basis. Then he thanks her. She answers “You’re welcome….Fitz”, in what is I’m sure the most awkward fashion he’s ever heard his nickname pronounced. It’s a start.

Dizzie for Susan. Speaking of triangles, Dizzie Bear continued Project Susie this week. And no, David doesn’t come off looking any better.

As VP Susan Ross announces she’s running for president, Lizzie and David watch it on TV from bed. A bed, guys, really? Getting bored with floor and closet sex? After the announcement, David’s phone rings. It’s Susan, wanting to know if he was watching and basically seeking his approval. They have officially had a date now, so his opinion is important to her. After he tells her she was great, Susan invites him over to her place for dinner the next night. She shyly adds that her daughter will be gone for the evening, Wink, wink.

David hesitatingly accepts, though Liz isn’t nearly as hesitant. She encourages this relationship. Anything that will help get Susan to the White House. But David is still uncomfortable with the having nasty sex with Liz while Susan is in love with him situation. The next day he tells Liz that he and Susan are likely to sleep together, and she thinks that’s great. It will make Susan happy, and anything that makes Susan happy and more pliable to them, is good. David is still skeptical.

The dinner date does indeed end up in bed. The next morning, Liz calls David to hassle him about his big date and gets an unexpected result. She starts to needle him, but soon realizes he’s not home, or alone. He’s still at Susan’s, and they’re still in bed. He cuts the conversation short and hangs up. Lizzie again has the gall to look miffed, just like she did upon discovering David gifted Susan with the bracelet she callously turned down. She really needs to knock it off. She’s much too ambitious to act so jealous.

It appears David genuinely likes Susan, even while having the dirty sex with Liz and conspiring with her to get Susan elected president, and even when Susan was dubious about the concept. Remember last season when we learned that David had taken up with Lena Dunham’s DC dominatrix character when he was at a low point in his life, before becoming attorney general? Back then, he was reduced to seeking out a little anonymous attention from a kinky stranger. Now he has two powerful Washington insiders vying not only for his intellect, but for his body, as well. Just one more way for Scandal to reemphasize that power is a powerful aphrodisiac, in case anyone missed the point the first million times.

David’s certainly not comfortable with his situation at the moment, but let’s see how he adjusts. Tune in next week for the latest chapter in the life of David Rosen, AG Studboy.

No, Quinn, Charlie would not make a great dad. Another subplot concerns Quinn and Charlie, who’ve made plans for a fun getaway weekend, whatever that means in their case. At the last minute, Charlie has to back out. An old friend calls and asks if he’d watch his son for the weekend, and Charlie can’t say no. Quinn is disappointed but says she’ll come along.

There are some scenes where the three look like a normal family, as Quinn and Charlie, those two wacky torturing spies, bond with this kid. There’s miniature golf and watching movies and fun stuff like that. Charlie seems to be having a good time, as does the kid, and Quinn appears charmed by the whole thing. When back at the office, she tells Huck and Marcus what a great father Charlie will be some day. Sometimes Quinn seems so intuitive about things, and then she busts out an obtuse statement like that. Very confusing.

The monster returns. Of course, all of that apparent normality is a fraud and intersects with the episode’s main story, which still only makes marginal sense to me.

Last week, we saw Cyrus scoping out the governor of Pennsylvania, Francisco Vargas, as possible presidential timber. He liked what he saw and this week, set out to discover all he could about him. Cy’s assistant, Ethan, dives into the assignment and finds out that everybody loves Francisco. Ethan reports to Cy that the guy seems to be perfect. He had a successful military career followed by a successful political career, and along the way apparently gathered no enemies. Vargas is a squeaky clean honest pol and a true family man. Cy says he wants to hear the dirt, but Ethan says there is none. He literally couldn’t find anything bad about Vargas.

Cy thanks Ethan for his efforts and dismisses him. This would seem to be Cy’s dream come true. A prime candidate all ready to exploit. But nothing is ever simple with Cy. This is just the first WTF moment in this particular storyline, but they come fast and furious. As soon as Ethan is out of the room, who walks in but Tom, wearing nothing but a towel, no less. Yes, former Secret Service agent Tom, who killed Fitz’s son while secretly working for Papa Pope when Pa headed B613 and was sprung from a life in prison along with Pa by Liv and who it looked like had been killed earlier in the season but miraculously survived. That Tom. So he’s back and apparently working for Cy now and is also Cy’s lover? I mean, he’s almost naked here, so is that the implication? What about Cy’s graduate student/rent boy husband and invisible child?

Whatever the case, when Tom walks in, Cy tells him he’s going to make a president. That wouldn’t seem to be a monumentally difficult task, given that king-making is what Cy does and he seems to have a model specimen in Governor Perfect from PA. But just having a sit down with the guy and laying out for him why he should seek the highest office in the land is apparently just too simple for Cy. He’s got other plans.

A rough way to make a president. When we next see Tom, he’s sitting down in a diner booth across from a guy waiting for his son. The guy, whose name we learn is Wayne, is a white supremacist and generally unsavory type, so it’s hard to work up any sympathy for him, even if Tom does immediately start to threaten him. Tom’s there in place of the son, against whom Tom makes some not-so-subtle threats if Wayne doesn’t cooperate with him. Wayne says he will and after he leaves, Tom calls Cy and tells him, “We have our man.”

That sets off an elaborate plot to propel Vargas into the national consciousness. The only thing the gov doesn’t have as a potential presidential candidate, Cy figures, is nationwide recognition, so that’s what he intends to get him. His method seems an improbable, high cost, and risky way, but no one ever accused this show of thinking rationally.

Wayne sets things in motion by walking into the lobby of the capitol building in Harrisburg, PA. He sets off the metal detector, and as a security guard approaches him, Tom bursts in, shooting and killing the guard and the two others in the room. He then gives the gun to Wayne and tells him it’s his turn. Wayne heads straight for the governor’s office where he takes Vargas and his staff hostage.

Now is Quinn convinced Charlie isn’t dad material? Cy is monitoring the TV news in his office at the White House, waiting for some mention of the situation. He jumps with joy when there’s breaking news from Harrisburg. After spending the day having fun, Quinn and Charlie and the kid are watching TV when the hostage report comes on, and Charlie switches it off. It’s at that moment we’re supposed to realize the kid doesn’t belong to some old friend of Charlie’s but is Wayne’s kid. I figured that out almost immediately, but what I didn’t put together until later is that if Wayne failed at his mission, it may have been up to Charlie to ‘take care’ of the kid, and not in a good way. Still think Charlie would make a great dad, Quinn? Yikes.

A badly laid plan. The hostage standoff drags on, with Wayne eventually releasing everyone but Gov. Vargas. The freed hostages all gush about how brave the guv is and everything seems to be playing into Cy’s hands, but he’s not happy. In an Oval Office meeting about the situation, Fitz says it looks like it will be over soon since sharpshooters are in place. That makes Cy place a frantic phone call to Tom. Everything’s falling apart, he says. Government sharpshooters are going to take away the governor’s chance at hero status. Tom reassures Cy that Wayne will get the job done and make sure that Vargas kills him, not some sharpshooter.

So that was Cy’s plan all along? Seems a rather extreme way to get Vargas on the national radar. Things could have gone wrong at any point, and many more lives could have been lost. And what about those three security guards? Is he just writing that off as bad luck on their part for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Pretty disgusting, even for a self-proclaimed monster like Cy.

There’s more implausibility. To prevent government snipers from killing Wayne, Tom somehow gets inside the capitol building and gets close enough to get a shot off. But he doesn’t shoot Wayne. He shoots Vargas in the shoulder and is directly behind Wayne when he does so, but in the shadows, so on the later-released video footage , it looks like Wayne fired the shot. Or maybe not. I guess we’ll find out how the show is playing it in the next episode, but right now it looks like everyone is assuming Wayne shot Vargas, which made Vargas rush and disarm him, ending the siege.

It seems pretty clear on the security video footage that Wayne glances over his shoulder just after the shot and just before he’s rushed by Vargas. It will be interesting to see if that’s even mentioned in the future, but as of right now, the governor is wounded and a hero.

And don’t even think of asking how Tom, without being noticed, got into a capitol building that had to be on lockdown.

More bad dad. Afterward, Charlie calls Tom and tells him the package he wanted delivered has been sent. That presumably was Wayne’s kid Charlie dropped off at a police station. He says for him to go inside and tell the cops who his father is. Tom tells Charlie his money is on the way. It’s just babysitting payment. Yeah, that’s right.

It’s complicated. There was no sign of Pa Pope last week, but he’s back this week and having lovely dinners with Liv. Lots of them. He has the time now that he’s retired, a line he likes to spout and looks like Liv has chosen to believe. She also still has Jake in her life so, yeah, Liv is even more of a hot mess than usual.

First, Pa. He’s palling around with his daughter, chatting with her on park benches and during dinners at her place while pouring wine from a ridiculously huge carafe. I thought he was going to dislocate his shoulder maneuvering that monster. The main theme is how happy he is about her alliance with Mellie. His girl is getting herself some power, blah blah blah. He also at one point lets it slip that he thinks Jake is seeing someone. Liv says Jake can do whatever he wants, she doesn’t care.

But she does care, because she and Jake are still having hate sex. That also complicating her life, and Pa’s revelation snarls things further. She brings up the subject to Jake after one of their marathon sessions, and Jake readily admits he’s been seeing someone for a while. But he adds that Liv is ‘safe’.

As Jake is leaving Liv’s one night, he runs into Huck, which results in more complication. Huck can’t believe Jake was there, he tells Liv, unless Liv is trying to find out what Jake and Pa are up to. She says they’re not up to anything, and Pa is retired. Huck doesn’t believe it and says he’ll be there to talk things over with her when she returns to reality.

The encounter bothers Liv enough that she tries to discuss Pa with Jake, but he denies knowing anything. She says Pa must be planning something, and that’s why he told her Jake was seeing someone, to drive a wedge between them and isolate Jake who still denies knowing anything before saying he has to get to work.

Ho hum. After getting nowhere with Jake, Liv confronts Huck. She tells him it’s pointless to fight Pa, because he always wins. Yeah Liv, except when you set him up and actually do manage to get him in prison and then spring him, not to mention Tom, for selfish reasons. Remember that? Ugh, this show, sometimes. She insists that no matter how evil he may seem, Pa is still her father and will always look out for her. Huck does his usual eye-bugging thing and tells her Pa is her ‘guy’ and he’ll devour her. I don’t know if this will turn out to be significant, but it’s boring me, as does just about everything Huck-related does these days.

Checking out the new girl. Episode’s end finds Liv back at OPA. She tells Huck and Quinn she needs a complete background check on a Vanessa Moss. She’s Jake’s new gal.

Quite a photo op. Abby arranges for Governor Vargas to come to the White House. His arm is still in a sling, and he gets all kinds of praise for his heroism from the president. He has a bunch of photos taken with Fitz, after which Abby introduces him to some others, including Chief of Staff Cyrus. Kind of a weird scenario, Vargas unwittingly being introduced to the guy who engineered his hostage ordeal. The two shake hands, and it’s shown from above as they’re standing in the Oval Office on the carpet bearing the presidential seal. Foreshadowing, perhaps? Cy smiles. The monster certainly got his way on this day.

After that little mess, Scandal has decided it needs a rest. I could use one, too, actually. The show will return on March 10 with 05.13, “The Fish Rots from the Head”. A preview –

As the president keeps acting like a horny teenager, something which concerns Abby, Olivia will confront Fitz as they face off for the first time since their split; Olivia can’t refuse the temptation to sleep with the enemy, but at least now she keeps her eyes open for what Jake may plan behind her back.

Use the time off wisely, Gladiators.

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