Catch Up on Scandal S6 Ep. 2 Hardball


L.T. Milroy


Welcome back to the return of Scandal, week two!

After being set up in the present day last week, this episode occasionally jumps back in time to explain what’s taking place now. It’s just after election day, the new president-elect has been assassinated, and Washington is scrambling furiously to fill the power void. What took place on the campaign trail in the campaign’s closing weeks leads to many answers to questions in the present. More secrets are about to be revealed in another action-packed episode, so strap in!

Convention night foreshadowing. In a flashback to the Republican Convention, Mellie has been officially nominated for president by her party and is onstage making her acceptance speech. She’s spouting the usual platitudes that politicians trot out on such occasions, but her minions are smiling and happy. Marcus is particularly touched by the whole thing and gets a little choked up, for which he gets abused by Quinn.

Afterward, everyone is congratulating Mel for her great speech. Marcus gives her his enthusiastic approval, gushing about how inspirational she was. Mel coyly accepts his praise, and it’s obvious these two have some major chemistry going on. Liv sure notices and takes Mel aside to caution her. It’s fine to have a friendship with a staffer, she says, but she need to make sure that’s all it is. Liv also refers to Marcus like he’s some impressionable, naive youngster, which is perplexing, since we know his background: successful community organizer, ran for mayor of DC, and even had that scandal where he was having an affair with the mayor’s wife. So while Mellie might have a few years on him, it’s not like Marcus is some inexperienced college kid. It was weird for Liv to characterize him that way, when all she wanted to do was emphasize a certain truth: the Republican nominee can’t run for president and have a Black boyfriend.

Liv specifically warns Mel against sleeping with Marcus. Mel laughs off the prospect as preposterous. She clamis the two of them is not a possibility and even if it were, it’s still not a problem, because, “I am not you…or Fitz. So you have nothing to worry about.” Oooh, nice burn, Mel! Let’s pick at that old wound again. And it’s also uncomfortable, because, with Mel so adamant about her and Marcus hooking up being such a ridiculous idea, it’s incredibly obvious that’s exactly what’s going to happen, likely sooner than later.

Case closed? Back in the present day, Liv is pursuing her crusade against Cyrus. She plays the voicemail message for Fitz Abby and David that was left by Jennifer Fields, in which she implicates Cy in Frankie Vargas’s murder. Abby finds it hard to believe Cy was involved, because he was too grief-stricken to be guilty. Liv asks why Nelson McClintock, who was arrested for the shooting, hasn’t been charged with anything. David says he’s working on it. Liv is frustrated by their refusal to immediately take her side against Cy and accuses Fitz of dragging his heels. She says he’s not taking the investigation seriously and even sent a bunch of ‘scrubs’ from the FBI to search the site of Fields’ blown-up cabin.

As Liv is saying this, in walks Angela Webster, FBI director. She’s obviously not happy with how Liv was just speaking about her agents, and Liv apologizes. Fitz asks Webster if Cy is a suspect in the Vargas case, and she says no. McClintock is their man, and they have his fingerprints on the murder weapon. They just have to get a confession out of him. Fitz says he doesn’t want to waste his time with red herrings, and as far as he’s concerned, the investigation is over.

After a frustrated Liv leaves, Fitz tells Abby that Vargas’s funeral is the next day. and he wants this whole affair wrapped up by then. Abby says it doesn’t matter that Fitz said the investigation of Cy is over, if Liv is still convinced of his guilt, she won’t give up. Fitz says he’ll worry about that, but it’s Abby’s job to get a confession from McClintock, and the sooner the better.

Cocky white nationalist. Getting that confession is easier said than done. Webster and David grill McClintock, but he appears uninterested in the whole thing. The FBI director and attorney general tell him they know he’s guilty. Those fingerprints don’t lie, so he might as well come clean. Not only do they have the murder weapon, they have McClintock’s history as an outspoken racist who hated Vargas. They offer a deal: the death penalty is off the table if he cops to a guilty plea.

McClintock isn’t going to make it easy for them. He denies his guilt while sprinkling in some nasty words about Vargas’s Hispanic heritage, Webster’s Black heritage, and David’s Jewish heritage. He’s a lovely man. Then he says there’s no way he’s going to confess to a crime he didn’t commit.

Liv is, indeed, not ready to give up. She goes back to OPA and tells Quinn to get any evidence she can from the cabin site before the FBI does.

Washington nastiness. Mel goes to a meeting at the White House she thinks is with Fitz, but when she gets there, Fitz and Cy are waiting for her. She’s not happy, but Fitz says they have to talk. Cy and Mel have to come up with a plan for a smooth transition to the new administration, for the country’s sake. As the leaders of their respective parties, they must be seen working together. Fitz orders them to come to some sort of resolution and leaves the room.

Once alone, Mel wastes no time taking control of the awkward situation. She says she knows Cy well, and this is the point where he would kill Mel, because that’s how he gets rid of people in the way of what he wants? Cy is still looking bedraggled after the events of the last couple of days and is still numb enough to basically let that slide. Instead, he tells her of his idea of how to handle what’s happened and asks her to be his VP. The ‘unity ticket,’ he calls it. He wants to try to heal the country through unity, and the two of them governing together would be a great stride in that direction.

It’s a surprising offer but one Mel has no use for. She says she still wants the presidency. She fought for it, and she earned it. She thinks Cy doesn’t deserve it, because he wasn’t even running. Then she drops the accusation that he was behind Vargas’s murder. Cy seems to sincerely deny that he had anything to do with that. He knows he’s often been the bad guy, so it’s not hard to see why Mel would think that, but he’s not. This time Olivia is the bad guy. He says he knows Liv has been poisoning Mel against him, and she’s wrong.

The FBI never comes off good on these shows. The FBI sifts through the remains at the site of Jennifer’s cabin. Among those on hand are Quinn and Charlie, who have managed to obtain FBI jackets and none of the real agents seems to notice they don’t belong there. So observant of them. Maybe they are those ‘scrubs’ Liv talked about. The lovers and partners in torture are bickering about their impending marriage, when Quinn comes across a charred laptop, basically the holy grail of crime scene finds. But when they to leave with it, an agent notices it and says they can give anything they find to him, so Quinn cooperatively hands the laptop over.

Back at the office, Quinn is mixing her professional duties with the personal these days, trying to dig up any dirt on Charlie she can. She wants to know everything she can about him before marrying him. Huck thinks it’s pointless. He doesn’t know what else she could possibly find out after all they’ve been through. Each of their dirty laundry has pretty much been on display to the other for a long time now, and they know each other pretty well. But Quinn is still hesitant.

Liv walks in and says they have to find out all they can about Jennifer Fields. Everything they want to know is probably on that laptop they were forced to give up, say the Gladiators. Liv says they need to find a way to get it back.

Leave the dirty work up to Jake. Jake visits Abby in her office. She’s been tasked with getting McClintock to confess to killing Vargas, and she’s going to need a little muscle on her side. She says McClintock had to have worked alone, but until they can prove that, the case stays open. He must admit to hatching his own plot and carrying it out by himself. If Jake will help her get that confession, Abby says she’ll make sure the election is over, and everyone can move on. Jake asks what she needs him to do.

Finally, it’s Melcus! The flashbacks aren’t going back in time that far and can sometimes be hard to discern in this episode, unless Marcus is involved. His flashbacks are easy to spot, because flashback Marcus has facial hair and current-day Marcus is clean-shaven. So we know it’s present day when Mel, upset after her meeting with Cy, runs into a hair-free Marcus in a White House hallway. He looks concerned and asks if she’s ok, but that only gets her more upset, and she whispers that he needs to stop doing this.

Then we see a goateed Marcus, so it’s flashback time. He’s on the pitcher’s mound at Nationals Park, giving Mellie pointers on the first pitch she’s been invited to throw out. It’s after hours, and they’re alone. Mel is nervous. She knows nothing about this kind of thing and only has two weeks to learn. Marcus is happy to help, even though she says he must have better things to do with a rare night off. He’s eager to lend a hand, so to speak, that when he starts giving Mel tips on her throwing form, he gets quite handsy. They get real close and start to kiss, when Mel stops the action and hastily leaves.

Two weeks later, they’re watching the news, where there’s a clip of her throwing out the first pitch. She did a good job, she was charming, the crowd loved her, and she’s getting positive words for it in the press. It was a gamble that paid off, says Marcus. She came off really well in front of some people who might not be all that familiar with her. Mel is overjoyed and wants to celebrate, so she gets out a jar of that unlabeled homemade hooch she’s so fond of. They share a gulp and a look at each other, and it’s obvious what’s happening, so Marcus goes to leave. But this time, Mel gives in. She asks him not to go, and that’s all the encouragement he needs. He quickly comes back and they immediately start to devour each other. They rip each other’s clothes off and go at it right on Mel’s desk. Melcus is on!

No sisterhood bonding for Ms. Pope. Liv is out having drinks with Angela. Seems they have a history together, though it isn’t spelled out what that is. It looks like a couple of chicks hanging out at first, but really, how often does Liv do that with no ulterior motive? Like, never. It soon becomes evident she’s making sure Webster is preoccupied while Quinn, Huck and Charlie steal her identity to get into the FBI and retrieve Jennifer’s laptop. This involves somehow lifting Webster’s fingerprint, so Quinn can use it to gain access to restricted areas. She gets a low-level lackey to fetch the laptop for her, and then scares him into leaving it with her without any kind of authorization, as he literally runs out the door. Quinn rolls her eyes at him and leaves with the laptop.

Back at the faux bonding session, talk has turned to Fitz. So these two powerful DC women can’t manage to have a conversation for more than five minutes without gossiping about men? That’s disappointing. Angela admits to being attracted to Fitz, but she knows his and Liv’s history and doesn’t want to intrude on that. Liv tells her it’s not a problem and that if she wants to date Fitz, she should go for it.

The chick session is interrupted by Angela’s phone. Duty calls. Liv also gets a message. It’s Huck telling her their operation was successful.

Nelson is Jaked. Webster was called, because her suspect, McClintock, was being interrogated without her knowledge. When she arrives to speak to him, Abby is there waiting, barring her entrance, telling her she can’t go in yet, because the room is occupied. Webster starts blustering about all id the obstruction charges she’s going to bring against Abby, when the door opens and Jake walks out. He hands Abby a paper, which turns out to be a signed confession,, then leaves. Webster goes into the room to find the formerly cocky and self-assured McClintock crying, looking terrified, and having peed on himself. Jake not only got the confession he wanted, he did so while literally scaring the piss out of his victim, who will likely be real cooperative from here on out. Whatever did Jake say to him? That Jake can be one scary dude when he sets his mind to it.

Stuff, meet fan. Huck looks at the laptop and has to build a new hard drive to get it working. Once he does, he finds it contains over 5,000 hours of footage from the campaign trail he has to go through.

Mel arrives, and Liv pours them a glass of wine. David strides in, grabs Liv’s wine, gulps it down and says, “The Constitution is going up in flames.” Believe me, here IRL, we know, Davey, we know.

Liv goes to the White House and tells Abby that she needs to see Fitz. Abby stonewalls her. She says McClintock confessed to the shooting, and he acted alone. The investigation is over. Liv says Cy won’t get away with this. He’ll go to prison, and Mel will be the next president.

More Liv faux bonding. Meanwhile, Mellie goes to see Marcus. She tells him she hears there’s a confession in the Vargas shooting, and she also mentions Cy’s VP offer. She’s not sure what to do and still thinks she might have a shot at the presidency herself. He tells her he misses her. She says he chose his job over her, but he says he did choose her; she just has to choose him.

What exactly that means starts being explained in another flashback. Mel is alone with Liv and fesses up to her affair with Marcus. She’s far from embarrassed about it. Quite the opposite. She’s downright giddy as she tells Liv about sex so good she was crying tears of joy during it. She’s in love, she says, for the first time in her life. It’s ironic, of course, because Mel fell in love with a staffer during her campaign the same way Liv, who was Fitz’s staffer, fell in love with him during his campaign. Only now Mel is saying that even though she married Fitz, she never really loved him, and she adds that if what she’s feeling now for Marcus is what Liv felt for Fitz, then Liv should have him. Even now, even after all that’s happened. It’s a weird moment, but Mel doesn’t notice. She’s too high on luuuv.

Liv says she’s happy for her and makes an offhand comment about what Mel knows about Marcus’s intentions and if he’s ambitious or not. But then she says again she’s happy for her and hugs her.

Abby the mercurial. Abby pays Mel a visit. Mel says she hasn’t made up her mind yet about the VP offer, and Abby says they need to have a conversation.

Flashback time. After having the sex talk with Mel, Liv goes to Abby and tells her she thinks there might be something going on between Mel and Marcus. Their relationship is no good for Mel’s campaign, and Marcus is working for said campaign, so that’s a problem. Liv needs him out of the way. Is there a job Abby could offer to get him away from Mel? And that’s how Marcus becomes the White House press secretary. I was bitching last week about how Marcus in that role was just thrown at us with no explanation, so at least it’s explained, although a week late. And, wow, high level government jobs come pretty cheap and easy in Scandalverse. It’s the waning days of Fitz’s administration, so I guess he doesn’t care who’s speaking for him at this point.

Back in the present day, Abby spills this story to Mel, who had no idea Liv had set up Marcus to leave the campaign. That leads Mel to show up at Liv’s door, angry and wanting to talk. She asks flat out if Liv was responsible for getting Marcus the press secretary job, and Liv doesn’t deny it. Mel is furious, calling it a ‘new low’ in their relationship. Considering all that’s happened between them, that’s saying quite a lot. She accuses Liv of destroying all her relationships. Liv counters that Mel asked Liv to make her president, and that’s all she was doing. Getting Marcus away was in the best interests of the campaign. Mel could have Marcus or the presidency, but not both.

Liv is right about that, and what she did in this case wasn’t anywhere near among the worst things she’s done. It made sense and, as stated, it was only for the remainder of Fitz’s presidency, which is a matter of weeks. At that point, Mel would be president, or not, and she and Marcus could decide where to go next in their relationship based on those circumstances. It was a good solution, actually.

But Mel isn’t thinking that clearly. She’s just angry. She tells Liv they’re through. Mel says she may still get to the White House, but if she does, she won’t be taking Liv with her. Not after this betrayal. Mel was Liv’s last chance at the access to the presidency she craved so badly, and now it’s gone. Then she strides out of Liv’s apartment and onto the elevator, certain she’s won this round, but as Liv watches her go, she doesn’t seem like she agrees.

It’s not over. There’s more to this story. In another flashback, Mel goes to see Marcus, who’s all excited with the news that Abby offered him the press secretary job. Mel hears this and that seed Liv planted about knowing what Marcus’s intentions were suddenly sprouts. Mel thinks she’s figured this whole thing out. Marcus was never interested in her, only in what she could get for him. In this case, the press secretary gig. Liv was right. He says that’s not true, but she just congratulates him on a well-earned promotion.

Whew. So that’s why there’s so much acrimony between Mel and Marcus these days. Their relationship has devolved to the point where his inquiry about her health was met with her accusing him of invasion of space. It’s obvious there’s heaps of unfinished business between these two, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re having it out, one way or another (I think more hot desk sex is on the way, but that’s just speculation, not a spoiler).

Reading Quinn the riot act. A tired Liv arrives back at OPA and tells Huck and Quinn to stop looking at laptop footage. They no longer have a candidate, so their involvement in this case is over. “Just like that?” Quinn asks But what if Cy is guilty, and he can’t be allowed to get away with this. What about truth, justice and the American way, blah blah blah? Liv is barely listening. She can see Quinn has again been spelunking on the ‘net, looking for disgusting facts about Charlie, and she’s had enough. She’s tired of all of these doubts. She wants to know why Quinn won’t just marry the person she loves and be done with it. Some people never find what she has, and all she does is complain and stress about it. Liv gets more upset as she talks, culminating in the line of the week: “You’re being offered normal, maybe even happy, and the fact that you’re questioning whether you should take them? Frankly, it’s annoying.”

Quinn looks sufficiently cowed by this unexpected outburst. I expect a perfectly bizarre wedding between the two bloodthirsty torturing spies to take place in the not-too-distant future. Bring your own chainsaw. To cut the cake, of course.

Liv doesn’t know the word ‘quit’. At the Vargas funeral, Cy is still looking tired and drawn, but Liv still locks eyes with him and shoots him a glare.

Second thoughts. Mel is at the White House to see Fitz. She also asks if the press secretary is available and goes into the Oval Office to wait. She looks around and wanders over to stand on the presidential seal on the rug. Nothing is said, but it looks like she may have decided to take the VP job and maybe also start things up with Marcus again, but the lure of her surroundings was too much. She wants this office to be hers. Marcus is told Mellie wants to speak with him, but when he gets to the Oval, she’s gone.

Instead of keeping her White House meetings, Mel goes to OPA to patch things up with Liv. She seems to realize Liv made the best of a bad situation, and the pair settles down for a drink, but they’re interrupted by Huck, who bursts in to tell Liv there’s something she has to see.

This week’s shocking ending. What she sees causes Liv to head straight for the White House. She asks to see the president, and it turns out, he’s not alone. Liv is led out to a courtyard where Fitz is sharing a cozy drink with none other than FBI Angela. It’s obvious this is a personal meeting, not a professional one. Liv gave her the go-ahead with Fitz, and it seems she wasted little time doing so. Liv says she hates to interrupt, but she has something important to show the president and produces Jennifer’s laptop.

On it is a video, a bit jumpy but of good enough quality, which shows Cyrus and Frankie Vargas having a heated argument. Vargas is furious with Cy, telling him that what he did was reprehensible and he regrets ever trusting him. As soon as he’s president, Vargas says, he’ll make sure Cy ends up in prison. It’s never stated what Vargas was referring to. It’s likely the Harrisburg incident, but who knows? Cy is capable of pretty much anything, so this could be concerning something we don’t even know about. Whatever it is, it angered Vargas enough for him to threaten to send Cy to a federal prison when he got the chance.

Fitz watches the video. It’s obvious he’s not happy his date was interrupted for this, a matter he thought was closed. It’s also obvious he knows he can’t ignore it. He calls for Abby and tells her to get him the attorney general.

So, did Cy have a hand in the murder or not? I have a feeling we’re going to be jerked back and forth on this matter for a good part of the season, if not all of it. There are still way too many other possibilities to call him guilty, and those other possibilities will likely start popping up in the next episode, 06.03 “Fates Worse Than Death”. A preview –

In the midst of a national crisis, Cyrus’s fate is sealed; Olivia and the Gladiators will stop at nothing to get to the truth.

Couldn’t that last thing apply to just about every episode? Those crazy Gladiators, always in search of the elusive truth. Though he’s not mentioned, I caught a glimpse of Tom in the TV preview, so there’s the return of his remorseless murdering ways to look forward to. I wonder what VP Ross and her lovely chief of staff Liz have been doing. So many burning questions. Anxiously awaiting answers…

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