Another week, another whiplash-inducing episode of Scandal.
This was a strange episode. It was two episodes, really, with two different plots. Liv is still preoccupied with her private life and Jake so much so. she often seems oblivious to the political madness playing out around her. But play out it does, and if she’s not yet giving it her full attention, Washington will go on without her. The players don’t stop scheming just because Olivia Pope has a BF obsession.
With a president to elect, the players are, in fact, in full scheming mode. We know the candidates. The republicans, Mellie and Susan, and the democrat, new guy, Governor Francisco Vargas, and they’re all desperately scrambling to make a good showing out of the gate. Those around them are scrambling, too, trying to figure out how to best exploit their positions.
The behavior of some of these DC players this week is very surprising. Suffice to say those white hats are falling at an alarming rate. Maybe I see you, but I don’t necessarily recognize you.
Guess who’s coming to dinner? Might as well begin where the episode does, with Liv and her stalking of Jake and his new lady, now his fiancee.
The three of them, Liv, Jake, and Vanessa, are all at Papa Pope’s place having dinner. That’s right, a cozy dinner party between a stalker and her stalkees. Nothing wrong with that. And with Pa thrown into the mix, just to make things really insane.
As the happy couple makes small talk about how they met cute when Vanessa dropped her cell phone, Liv gets a call on hers. It’s Quinn. She and Charlie have finished their mission, which was breaking into Vanessa’s place and planting cameras. So maybe the dinner was just arranged by Liv, so she could get Jake, Vanessa and Pa together and in her sight while having Vanessa’s place wired up. It’s still the dinner party from hell, though, and Liv cuts it short as soon as Quinn calls. She says she has business to attend to and leaves.
Later, Liv watches on the monitors in her living room as Jake and Vanessa arrive home. Extreme flashback to when we were first introduced to Jake who was sent to spy on Liv and had monitors in his living room displaying her place.
But Jake is head of the NSA for a reason. Does Liv really think it’s that easy to spy on a professional spy? He discovers the cameras almost immediately and lets Liv know by staring directly into one of them while making out with Vanessa.
Speaking of issues… The next day Jake’s at her door with a box of her recording devices to return. He asks why she’s so jealous. She says she’s not jealous, she’s just wondering what he and her father are up to with Vanessa. What are they planning, and why did they choose her? Jake denies that he and Pa are planning anything. He tells her she has daddy issues. As for Vanessa, he happened to meet her and fall in love. and Liv should be happy for them. She’s seeing conspiracies where there aren’t any.
Look who’s back. While tending to her private life, Liv is also still getting calls when Mellie needs some advice. The senator found herself in need of counsel this week when an old character made a reappearance. And it looks like he’s back to stay a while.
Mel heard from Hollis Doyle, who wants to discuss her campaign with her. We haven’t seen Hollis since back in Season 3, where he figured so prominently when the Defiance mess hit the fan. He comes roaring back with plenty of bluster, not to mention cash, to spread around.
He wastes little time getting to the point with Mel. He’s willing to hand over some serious dough, but she has to give him something in return. He’s an oilman, and he’s sick of the Environmental Protection Agency getting in his way. If she’ll promise to seriously consider abolishing the EPA after being elected, he’ll throw half a billion her way right now. But Mel can’t promise that on the spot, so Hollis says he’ll go to Susan and see what she says.
Mel places a worried call to Liv. She says Hollis might wind up giving Susan a ton of money, and maybe she should have agreed to his terms. But Liv tells her not to worry. She can always get money somewhere else.
Fun in the Oval. Hollis meets with Vice President Ross in the Oval Office, with Fitz also there. The president stays in the background as Hollis sits down with Susan. He brings up his pet project right away by complaining about his EPA problems. Susan is surprisingly sympathetic. She comes from a family of coal miners, so she’s pro-environment, but she’s pro a strong economy as well, and the coal industry provides jobs.
Hollis likes this talk, but Fitz doesn’t. He speaks up and tells Susan she doesn’t have to tell Hollis what she thinks he wants to hear. She can be honest. Hollis lets Fitz know he never had much use for him and makes a veiled reference to Defiance, which Susan, of course, knows nothing about. At that point, Fitz cuts the meeting short.
But Hollis is undeterred from spreading his influence. He goes back to Mellie, and the two have a much more productive meeting. They discuss a variety of topics, with Mel also giving out a few details of how she’ll run her campaign. They seem to come to a consensus.
Don’t forget about Red. Abby also figures prominently this week. The press secretary is apparently seeking a promotion.
Abby is watching Sally Langston lace into Governor Vargas on her TV show. She’s not happy that he said on her show he definitely wasn’t running for president, and then came out shortly after and said he was. Abby is standing next to Cyrus’s assistant, Ethan, who lets it slip that Cy might run Vargas’s campaign. What a big mouth this guy has. How hard could it be to not mention that one thing? But he does, and it gets Abby thinking.
She goes to Quinn and asks for help digging into the situation, but Quinn says she’s too busy running OPA in Liv’s frequent absence. So she turns to David. He’s able to confirm that Cy has been“cheating” on Fitz with a democratic candidate.
This is when Abby starts showing a side of herself we’ve never seen before. She takes this information and goes to Cy’s office. She tells him she knows about Vargas. He plays dumb. She says she has cell phone records showing he’s spoken with Vargas twenty-seven times in the last two weeks, so he might as well stop lying.
Cy gets angry at being accused. He threatens Abby, and then gets defensive. He can explain everything and shouldn’t have to listen to her accuse him. She pulls out her ace in the hole, which is a photo of him and Vargas secretly taken during one of their covert meetings. Abby really came to this little soiree prepared.
The sight of the photo gets Cy contrite. He says Vargas came to him asking him to run his campaign, but it never went any further. It’s all very innocent. Abby says he’s lying and goes to leave. He blocks her way and gets desperate and grovels. He says he made a mistake and is sorry and will make it up to her. He no longer has any contact with Vargas and begs her not to say anything to Fitz.
Wow, it’s not easy to make Cy into a groveling, humble mess like that. Abby sure pushed some touchy buttons. He became compliant pretty quickly, even going from calling her the usual derisive Red to addressing her as Abby, once it was apparent what she had on him. It doesn’t happen often, but the guy knows when he’s beat. And it’s so obvious how much Abby was enjoying the whole thing. The tiny smile she couldn’t quite keep off her face as Cy implored her not to tell Fitz. She had Cy where she wanted and was loving every second of it.
Bloodthirsty Abby. Literally. Abby seeks guidance in this situation and goes to see Liv. The press secretary has never been shown to be excessively ambitious in the past, but suddenly she’s laying out her plans, and they include bloody conquest. She’s in a position to take down Cyrus, the chief of staff, and she feels like she should go for it. She thinks this is her golden opportunity to “slit his throat and bathe in his blood.” Abby looks a bit maniacal when saying this and I think scares Liv a little. It made me nervous, and I was just watching on TV from a safe distance.
Abby knows her window of opportunity won’t last forever, and if she wants to do something she has to do it soon. Liv cautions her to be sure. Once she buries Cy, there’s no turning back. That white hat will be gone forever, and she’ll necessarily be a different person. She should fully appreciate that before she does anything. Liv doesn’t mention it, but there’s also the fact that Cy is a nasty enemy and not the kind of person it’s pleasant to be on the wrong side of.
But judging from the look in Abby’s eye, none of this is really getting through. She tastes blood in the water, Cy’s blood, and she’s decided she likes it. Abby has always been played as a somewhat befuddled but good-natured person who did her best to navigate the sharks swimming around her in DC. Who knew she was secretly a great white?
No going back from this… Despite Liv’s warning, Abby wastes little time forging ahead. She goes to Fitz and tells him that not only is Cy playing kingmaker behind the president’s back, he’s doing it with a democrat. Fitz isn’t happy but says he can’t really do anything. Firing his chief of staff would look bad at this point, and besides, that would just put him in the position of having to mount a search for a new CoS, which would take valuable time that would be better spent doing more useful things in his final months in office.
Abby, of course, isn’t deterred that easily. Fitz won’t look bad for firing someone disloyal, she says. And it may mess up Cy’s new job. Vargas is so into honesty, so when he finds out why Cy was fired, he might not want that kind of person running his campaign. As for a new CoS, well, Abby says, she’s right here. She’s watched Cy and knows what’s involved in being CoS, so she can step right into the job. Fitz’s choice is simple, Abby says: fire him, hire me.
Fitz counters with an offer. She has to do the deed and fire Cy herself. Abby looks a little taken aback by that, but Fitz asks, “You want the job? That’s the job.” She quickly recovers and says she’ll let him know when it’s done. Then she turns around and walks out of the Oval with a huge smile on her face. It looks like she’s warmed to the idea of axing Cy in record time.
Abby goes to Cy’s office, where he greets her as Red. So he’s back to being casual and snarky with her, but it doesn’t last long. She tells him she’ll need his badge. He has fifteen minutes to gather his stuff together before officers will arrive to escort him out of the White House. Cy doesn’t look all that surprised that she ratted him out.
Later, Abby swings by the Oval to let Fitz know. He’s there talking with Susan. Abby doesn’t want to interrupt, so when Fitz sees her in the doorway, she just nods at him to acknowledge the job has been done. Fitz nods back, and then invites her in for a drink. Abby gracefully accepts, and walks into the Oval Office to have a brandy with the president and vice president.
A new candidate. Susan was talking with Fitz due to the most recent twist on the campaign trail.
After her meeting with Hollis, Mellie was pretty certain he and his big checkbook were going to come aboard. Imagine her surprise when there’s a breaking story on TV, and he’s shown announcing his own candidacy. He does so by stealing everything Mel talked about, including what she was going to use as her campaign slogan. Mel practically has steam coming out of her ears as she watches.
Susan isn’t happy about this development, either. She and her chief of staff, Liz, go to speak with Fitz. Susan is very upset and says Hollis could have been kept in check if they had played ball with him a bit. Now he and his big mouth and his millions are going to turn this campaign into a circus. Gee, I wonder who Hollis’s parallel in American politics is supposed to be? I just can’t guess.
Susan says Fitz shouldn’t have picked a fight with Hollis. Things get rather heated, so she kicks Liz out of the room and pours herself a drink. Fitz says he doesn’t like people yelling at him in his house, so Susan suggests they go somewhere else, where she can yell at him. Hee. Susan has gotten rather cheeky, rather fast. She says this is her campaign, and she’ll run it how she sees fit, not how he would like. She tells him she has respect for him and the Oval Office, but outside these walls, “It’s the Susan Ross show.” She’s gotten rather confident, rather fast, too.
Through the past darkly. And yes, as well as the political stuff, there’s also some more Jake stuff this week. And some Huck stuff.
Huck is still cyber-stalking his son by watching his soccer games on his computer at work. While watching with Marcus one day, he gets a glimpse of his ex and her new boyfriend in the crowd. Huck is upset by it, but it’s not jealousy. He tells Marcus he thinks he recognizes the guy as someone he and Charlie once tortured. Maybe he’s back for revenge. Huck shows the guy’s photo to Charlie, who isn’t sure but thinks it might be Six Toes, a guy so named because Charlie and Huck removed the other digits. Ah, old times.
This “maybe” is good enough for Huck, who sets off on a mission to save his family. The next time we see the BF, he’s pulled over to the side of the road with car trouble. Huck, in disguise, just happens to show up and offers a lift.
Marcus doesn’t know Huck well enough to be aware of what he’ll do, but Quinn does, and once she finds out about Six Toes, she starts tracking Huck’s car. Huck is driving the guy to a remote location to get to know him better. When Liv gets to the office and finds out, the three of them set out to find Huck.
When the car is found, it’s empty. At that point, everything Quinn has been feeling about the work situation comes to a head, and she starts venting. She blames Marcus for not knowing what Huck would obviously do, but Liv says it’s not fair to expect him to know that, since he hasn’t been family long enough. The use of that word really sets Quinn off. She says they haven’t been family for a long time. She accuses Liv of abandoning OPA and the Gladiators and asks her why she hates them so much. That sets Liv off, and she says she was kidnapped and went through a terrible ordeal not long ago. She could have let the whole thing beat her down and kill her, but she fought her way back. She says she now feels entitled to be a little selfish once in a while.
As Liv and Quinn scream at each other, they don’t even notice that Huck has appeared. He’s carrying the BF, who seems to still be alive, but it’s hard to tell with Huck. He says it’s not Six Toes.
Finally Hucking off. Fortunately, Huck determined the guy wasn’t Six Toes before he started torturing him. He’s none the worse for wear. Huck says he gave him something to knock him out, and all he’ll remember when he wakes up is that he has car trouble. As they take him back to his car, Huck tells Liv he seems like a great guy who loves Huck’s ex and kid. He says his family deserves some happiness, and if this guy gives them that, then they should have him. Huck says it’s time for him to let them go.
He’s said this before, more than once. But it looks like he’s finally accepted that it’s how it has to be. The next time we see Huck watching his son play soccer, he gives a rueful little smile before turning the monitor off. It looks the cyber-stalking is over. I’ve said that if Huck sincerely cares about his family and wants what’s best for them, he’ll leave them alone. He seems to finally realize that.
Jake the snake. He’s not the only one facing reality. After Jake returns Liv’s cameras and tells her how happy he is with Vanessa and that she should be happy for him, it looks like she’s finally decided to take him at his word. At episode’s end, she meets him in a restaurant and says she wants to call off all the craziness. She seems to finally accept that Jake just wants to have a normal marriage and be happy.
Then Vanessa arrives. She drops her cell phone again and laughs again over how she and Jake met. Hearing that story again finally gets through to Liv and she realizes Vanessa met Jake exactly the same way Liv did. And Liv and Jake’s meeting was no accident. It was a setup, and Jake was following her. So is Vanessa his latest mark? And if so, why?
After dinner, Liv gets on the phone to Quinn and tells her they’re going to step up the surveillance on Jake. So for about five minutes Liv stopped being so conspiracy minded and thought maybe Jake just wanted to be a regular guy, but now things are back to normal. Liv is again convinced that Jake and Pa are up to something, and she’s determined to find out what it is.
Where do things go from here? A preview of 05.15, “Pencils Down” –
When Mellie makes a very public faux pas, Olivia must decide how far she’ll go to fix it; the Gladiators learn valuable intel about Jake’s new love interest; David seeks advice about his love triangle with Liz and Susan.
I wonder from whom David the studboy AG will seek this advice. And what of that valuable intel? Is Vanessa not as she seems? Is anybody on this show?