So, the final season of Scandal is upon us.
A recap on just where things stand as the last set of episodes kicks off: Mellie Grant, the former first lady and senator, is now the president, and Cyrus Beene, a former chief of staff, as well as death row inmate, is VP. Fitzgerald Grant, the former POTUS, is gone after two terms, living in Vermont, and basically in retirement. For now. Frankie and Luna Vargas are both dead. (Those poor Vargas kids. Talk about collateral damage). And Olivia Pope is no longer heading up her own Washington fixer business. Her former business is now in the hands of Quinn Perkins and the other Gladiators. Liv is now Mel’s chief of staff and also commands the newly reconstituted B613.
So Liv is in command, as well as being the new president’s chief of staff. She’s large and in charge.
Kiss my ring, dude. Season 7 opens with a graphic example of Liv’s comfort with her new role as the president’s right-hand woman. To the strains of “Fight the Power”, she strides confidently through the White House halls to her lovely new office. Waiting for her is a Senator Michaels, who’s there to get an earful from Liv about the president’s college bill. It was the idea of the dear, departed, dead Frankie Vargas, who’s only mentioned and not seen in this episode. This is good, because every time we saw him last season his brains or guts were on display. So, RIP Frankie, but glad you’re finally gone. Anyway, he had a plan for free college for anyone who wants it. Liv knows Sen. Michaels doesn’t support the bill, and she’s trying to get him to change his mind.
When it becomes clear Michaels can’t be persuaded, the S7 version of Liv swings into action. She whips out an envelope which she says contains lots of sleazy stuff about the senator. She doesn’t go into detail, only saying that what’s in the envelope could ruin his career, his marriage, and his life. It’s a good old fashioned blackmailing, my friends!
The college bill is a tribute to the late President Vargas, says Liv, so it’s important to Mellie, and she intends to honor his memory by getting it passed. Liv asks if Michaels is on board, and he just looks shell-shocked by the whole thing. Apparently, he’s never been Poped before, but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing this from Liv a lot this season. As Michaels looks stunned, Liv smugly wants to know if he’s going to ask in what world this kind of thing happens. Then she says, “In what world? My world,” and she smiles, as the music swells again. “My envelope-filled world.”
Cut to Liv walking into the Oval Office and informing a pleased Mel that they can count on Michaels’ vote. It’s good to be king. Or at least, chief of staff.
The new QPA. Meanwhile, back at Liv’s old office, things are looking a bit dire. It’s now Quinn Perkins & Associates, and though there’s only a one-letter difference between that and the old OPA, the new QPA is having trouble attracting business. David Rosen, who’s still AG, is there and is being brow-beaten by Quinn: can’t he steer some clients their way? David says OPA had earned a certain amount of trust that QPA doesn’t have and points out that it takes a while to gain a reputation. At that moment, a woman walks in looking to hire them. Well, that was easy. Quinn dismisses David and tells the woman to sit down. It’s the first Case of the Week for Quinn and our spy friends!
The woman, Madeline, says her father is a professor currently at a symposium overseas, and he’s disappeared. He’s in (the fictional) Bashran, a volatile country on the brink of attaining nuclear capabilities. It can be a dangerous place, but she says he’s been there before and is familiar with the terrain, so the fact that he’s stopped calling is troubling. Something must be wrong.
Look who’s still hanging around. Speaking of disappearing, Pa said at the end of last season that’s what he would be doing, now that Liv would be working in the White House. But here he is, having dinner with his daughter. He’s complaining that Liv has cameras on him, and he’s being watched constantly, which she denies. He’s in no mood for a pleasant meal. He gulps some wine and tells Liv she has a reckoning coming, something about a crisis of power and good vs. evil. She’s still new to Washington, Pa says, and she’ll find out she can’t have it all. But S7 Liv is as smug as she is ambitious. She just smiles and says, “Watch me.”
Smug vs. smugger. Speaking of obnoxiously smug, as if the new Liv weren’t enough in that department, the new season introduces the love-to-hate-him character of Curtis Pryce. He hosts a political show called The Pryce of Power, which looks a lot like Sally Langston’s The Liberty Report, only not with the fun Sally at the helm. Instead there’s Pryce, who’s really smarmy and know-it-all and irritating. When we first see him, Liv is his guest, and the two try to out-smug each other, which is annoying to watch. As Liv tries to make a point about the Vargas college bill, which he doesn’t support, he cuts her off saying their time is up. So he handles an opposing viewpoint by claiming to be out of time? Smooth.
After the show, they’re still trying to out-smug each other, but it’s also evident that Liv feels some chemistry with this sleazebag. It’s not surprising later when he asks her out. She toys with him, neither accepting nor declining, but it’s clear she’s intrigued. Ick.
CotW, QPA style. Back at the office, QPA is looking very much like the old OPA, as the Gladiators go over what they’ve found out about Madeline’s father, Joshua Stewart. The professor has always been well-traveled, sometimes taking his daughter with him to various spots on the globe as she was growing up. Huck does some poking around, and it’s looking less and less like Stewart was a traditional “professor”.
It leads Quinn to show up at Liv’s place that night. Liv looks a bit disheveled as she opens the door a crack to ask what she wants. Quinn fills her in on the CotW and says the Gladiators think Stewart might be a government operative, maybe CIA, and he may have been captured. She hands Liv some papers and asks for her help. Liv reluctantly takes what’s proffered, as Quinn asks if she can come in, because she really has to pee.
Then I remember that Quinn is pregnant; it’s easy to forget, because it’s been a long time since the end of last season, and she’s not really showing yet. But she is with child and needs to use Liv’s bathroom. But preggers or not, Liv ain’t having it. She doesn’t want any guests, so she takes the papers and closes the door in Quinn’s face. Then she asks, through the closed door, how Quinn’s doing. Her concern is touching.
We find out why Liv was so averse to having guests. She’s already got one. She returns to her bedroom where Jake is waiting, removing his pants as she walks in. So Liv and Jake are a ‘thing’ again? What about his significantly less than storybook marriage? No wife is mentioned as he gets undressed. But Liv’s all business right now. She’s looking through the papers and tells him there’s work to do. He doesn’t much like being ordered around and starts getting dressed again. She relents, climbs into bed and tells him to stay. With a bit of persuasion, he does, as he gets undressed again and gets into bed. He’ll take sex with Liv over no sex, even if it’s on her terms, as most everything seems to be these days.
Government intrigue. The next day, Jake stops by Liv’s office. He tells her QPA was right; Joshua Stewart isn’t a professor but a longtime CIA agent, a valuable asset in the Middle East. This information can’t get out. They can’t tell Quinn, or even Mellie. He also says Joshua knows a lot of covert information and could be a danger if captured, which he probably has been. This is a guy who isn’t used to torture, so if he’s faced with such, he’ll probably talk pretty quickly. That’s why he’s a danger and the best course of action, Jake says, is for the U.S. to take him out before he can do much damage. Jake says he can accomplish this with no one knowing, with the help of the new B613. All he needs is Liv’s go-ahead. She says she needs to think about it.
The temptation of Cy. Cyrus is meeting with Senator Diane Greenwald, who’s another opponent of the Vargas bill. She’s a hard sell to change her vote, because it’s not that she disagrees with the substance of the bill – she doesn’t – but she believes it shouldn’t be Mel’s legacy. It was Frankie’s idea, who’s a Democrat, and Democrats should get the credit. In fact, says Greenwald, if they can put it off for four years, maybe Cy will get the credit. Then she kisses his ass about what a great candidate he’d make and how he should be the one to give the White House back to the Democrats and how free college could be his legacy. He says no, but he’s clearly intrigued by the idea. She tells him to give her a call when he’s ready to talk about his future.
Liv goes rogue. At QPA, Quinn tells Madeline that Liv is working with them, so it looks good for finding her father. Madeline thanks her and leaves. After she’s gone, Charlie berates Quinn for not telling Madeline that her father is a spy. He sees it as part of an overall problem that’s sure to come up when raising their own child; Joshua didn’t tell his family what he was doing, Charlie says, and wants to know how honest they’re going to be with their kid. Quinn isn’t ready to address such weighty matters yet and blows him off. She says right now all they should be concerned with is finding their client’s father. Huck asks if she’s spoken to Liv, and Quinn says not recently.
Huck has unraveled what’s going on and is waiting outside Liv’s door when she gets home that night. He tells her that Madeline deserves to see her father’s body and give him a funeral. He says he knows that Liv’s planning to covertly have him killed, and it’s not right. His family deserves some closure.
The next day when Jake walks into the Oval, Liv is waiting there, along with Mel. Liv says she just brought Mel up to date on the rescue plans for Stewart. Mel’s interested and asks if Jake has any news. Outside the office, Jake is none too happy about Liv’s end run around him and lets her know. She doesn’t care. She says Stewart is a patriot who’s served his country his whole life, and patriots get rescued, not killed. Not in her White House. Jake says it’s not about the White House, it’s about B613 and protecting the public the way Liv sees fit. Liv says she’ll be command in her own way; it’s not Pa’s B613 anymore.
The temptation of Cy, part II. Liv runs into Cy and tells him that something has been added to his schedule. Mel was supposed to meet with a group of young girls visiting the White House, called the Rangerettes, but she won’t be able to make it, so he’ll have to step in. He’s not happy about the assignment and thinks someone else should do it, leading Liv to remind him that his job is to do what he’s told. After the encounter, he calls Senator Greenwald and tells her he wants to talk. My, these people are sensitive. This reminds me of Abby last season when, after a mild dressing-down from Fitz, chose to take someone’s offer of going over to the dark side. Such fragile egos in DC. One would think they’d have thicker skins.
Spywork. Jake has a reasonably thick skin, after all the torture he’s been through. But he’s not being tortured now; merely humiliated as he does some surveillance to find out where Stewart is. He’s been listening for a while, but has found out nothing. Liv drops in to see how it’s going and he says it’s pointless. Stewart has been missing for seventy-two hours now and was likely being tortured the whole time. He’ll never make it anyway, Jake says, we have to get in there and take him out before he can spill any vital secrets. Liv just says to keep listening.
The temptation of Cy, the final chapter. Mellie meets with the Bashrani ambassador, hoping to come to some consensus on the Stewart matter, but comes away disappointed. He’s a bit of a condescending dick and no headway is made. Mel cuts the meeting short in frustration.
She catches Cy just as he’s about to greet the Rangerettes. Now that some time has been freed up, she’ll be happy to meet with them. Probably a leftover from being first lady, Mel isn’t too jaded to enjoy giving a White House tour to some wide-eyed little girls. Before she does so, she tells Cy how much she’s appreciated his help on the Vargas bill. It’s important to her, and he’s really stepped up his game to help out. She says she envisioned the two of them as a unity ticket, and it’s really turning out that way. They work well together, and she’s looking forward to what they can accomplish.
Mel seems sincere, and it catches Cy off-guard. By the time that meeting he’d scheduled with Senator Greenwald rolls around, he’s had a change of heart. He tells her that as much as he’d like the college bill to be his legacy, it can’t wait four more years. The country needs it now. He can’t in good conscience stall it just to serve himself. He’s going to keep pushing for its passage.
Payback from Jake. Liv walks into the Oval where Jake is with Mel. She says Jake has brought good news: Stewart has been located near the Turkish border. Liv says a SEAL team can be sent in for a rescue, but Mel says after talking with Jake, she’s changed her mind. A rescue is too risky, and a surgical strike is the best option. Liv disagrees, but Mel and Jake overrule her.
Liv, quite ticked off as she strides out into the hallway, takes out her phone. She makes a call, asking the person on the other end for a favor.
In the Situation Room. Mel and her staff are gathered to watch the strike get carried out. Meanwhile, Liv goes to see the Bashrani ambassador and tells him about it, adding that, unbeknownst to him, he’s involved. Or rather, his son is involved. Then we see that Huck is watching a playground from a distance, his rifle trained on a little boy on a swing. Unless the ambassador agrees to help get Stewart freed unharmed, Liv says, she’ll give Huck the order to shoot his son.
Wow, would Liv really follow through on this, the murder of a kid who looks about five-years-old? Even Huck is hesitant, asking if she really wants to do this, and we know how bloodthirsty Huck can be. We’ve seen him kill adults he doesn’t know and has no quarrel with, so he has no problem killing innocent people. Apparently, he might draw the line at kids. How nice. But we don’t find out, as Liv is counting down to the trigger-pulling, the ambassador stops her and says he’ll cooperate.
Liv goes to the Situation Room and hands Mel a phone. It’s the Bashrani ambassador, who tells Mel that Stewart is safe and has been taken to the embassy. He’s coming home, unharmed.
The fallout, a surprise, and of course, Liv comes out on top. Later, Jake shows up at Liv’s door and apologizes for going to Mel behind her back. Instead of giving a matching apology, Liv grimly says he’s sleeping with the boss, which is her mistake. He got too comfortable, and that’s on her. She says it won’t happen again, because it’s over between them. They can’t both work together and be lovers, so it’s over. He goes to kiss her, but she backs away and tells him to go home to his wife. So he is still in that marriage from hell. He reluctantly leaves.
After he goes, Liv’s phone rings. It’s Senator Greenwald, who says that Cy didn’t take the bait. It looked like he was going to, she reports, but then stayed faithful to Mellie. She says it appears he’s on team Mel all the way and can be relied upon in the future. So it was Liv behind the temptation of Cy. And he passed.
Then Liv goes to the Oval to have it out with Mel and it’s Scandal speech time. Mel is angry that Liv did those things behind her back and against her wishes, but Liv says she did it because the office belongs to the people. Mel doesn’t own it, she’s temporarily leasing it, and she should appreciate that. Mel is still angry, wanting an assurance that in the future, Liv will be working with her and have her back instead of skanking around behind it with her own agenda. It seems to dawn on Liv that Mel hasn’t quite grasped how things are will go around the Olivia Pope White House, so she decides to lay down the law.
Liv says Mel needs to remember three things: 1. You do not ignore me, because, 2. I am right, always; it may be annoying, but get used to it, Liv says, because, 3. There is only us. She and Mel are a team now, and if they work together, they can have it all. Liv says the men around them want to take it all away, because they’re terrified and feel threatened, which is why Mel shouldn’t listen to them. Liv doesn’t seem so much angry that Mel sided with Jake over her, but that Mel sided with any man over her, and it can’t happen again. She says for the remainder of Mel’s presidency, Mel’s success is Liv’s only agenda. “Put your faith in me,” Liv says, “and you’ll become a monument.”
Mel listens intently and says she’s all in. She says she wants to be a monument.
There you go. It’s Liv’s world, we just live in it. And try our best to survive.
There’s also a little bit at the end with the smarmy Pryce, who’s apparently going to be around a while. Looks like Liv took him up on that date, as she shows up in a restaurant where he’s waiting. She sits down, but just long enough to, again, lay down the law. She tells him she’s going to , and he should follow about thirty seconds later and meet her in a hotel room. She tells him exactly how to get there. It looks like that’s as close to “dating” as it’s going to get for the two of them, but he doesn’t appear to mind. He merely gives a slightly lascivious smile as she leaves. He probably already realizes, it’s her world, and he’s just living in it.
And that’s where it ends. Welcome to a new season and a new Olivia, the madly driven, power-hungry version who plays international politics and threatens five-year-olds. What’s next for our no-longer white-hatted heroine (if she ever was one), is in a preview for 07.02, “Pressing the Flesh” –
President Mellie Grant hosts a state dinner for President Rashad of Bashran in a first step toward peace in the Middle East, and in case Mellie’s charm alone doesn’t work, Olivia secretly puts Jake to work, so that they are armed with a back-up plan; the team at Quinn Perkins & Associates attends the party in hopes of gaining more high-profile clientele.
I wonder how Liv will react to her former mates skanking around her party looking to drum up business .They’d better remember who’s in charge…