What to do about Cy? That seems to be the big question around Scandaland these days. The former political power player turned death row prisoner, who’s now the popular VP, is proving to be quite a handful in the waning days of this series. Cyrus Beene has sure worn many hats during its run. Where exactly he’ll end up has turned out to be a key question that’s affecting the fates of many of the other regulars. At the moment, he’s on top of the world and controlling his destiny, but we all know how fast things can change in Scandalverse. It’s been whiplash-inducing at times, and I expect nothing less as the program careens to its conclusion.
Case of the Week set-up. In the opening scene, we see a young woman in a store, talking on the phone to her father. She appears to be some sort of government worker and seems fine and happy until she says goodbye and hangs up with dad. That’s when she goes to the store’s gun department, wanting to buy a gun.
Meanwhile, Olivia shows up at Abby’s door. Abby, of course, says she doesn’t want to see her, so Liv gets to the point immediately and tells Abby she thinks the hacking of Air Force Two was done by Cyrus. That intrigues Abby enough to let her in. Once inside, Liv says “we” have to figure out what to do about the situation. Abby finds her word choice interesting; “‘We’ aren’t going to do anything,” she says, because the Gladiators have no intention of working with Liv. A contrite Liv says she’s not asking for their forgiveness, just for their help. Abby still looks doubtful but says she’ll think about it.
At the White House, Mellie is concerned about the new federal budget plan. She needs the votes to get it passed and asks Jake for help. She does this while lying on the floor of the Oval Office; her back has gone out, and apparently the doctor’s only advice for when this happens is to lie on the floor. She suggests enlisting Cy’s help with this task. He’s popular right now, after coming out of the AF2 incident, and should help rustle up votes for them. Jake isn’t happy about that idea, but agrees.
Jake then drops in on the B613 lair, where a computer nerd is working on finding out who hacked AF2. She’s studying the virus but hasn’t yet determined its origin.
Case of the Week. Liv visits Marcus at the Fitzgerald Grant Institute. She asks him out to dinner, and he says she must really have no friends. Hee! Liv smiles, but they’re quickly interrupted by a guy wanting to speak with Liv. He’s looking for his daughter who seems to have disappeared. He tells Liv about her, and it’s obvious she was the young woman buying a gun in the opening scene. He hasn’t heard from her, which is strange, because she keeps in regular touch. He wants help finding her.
Liv tells him she doesn’t do this kind of work, but the guy says his daughter, Alisha, came to Washington because of her. Alisha idolized Liv and wanted to work in DC to be like her. She’s an intern because of Liv, working in Congressman Beard’s office. He says he hasn’t heard from Alisha in a week, so something must be wrong. Liv and Marcus talk to Fitz about the case, and he agrees to take it.
At QPA, Abby tells the Gladiators about the theory of Cy being behind the AF2 hacking. Since she can’t tell them she got the idea from Liv, she says she heard the attorney general, aka her BF David, talking about it. They debate looking into it. Charlie says they shouldn’t rush into anything, and then speaks with Quinn alone. He seems a bit off-center, which is understandable, and says he’s still getting used to the fact that she’s still alive and around to speak to at all. He’s also concerned that she came back to work too quickly, but Quinn says she’s not the type to sit around at home. She has to stay active and wants to work this case.
Liv’s minions. Trying to track down some info on Alisha, Liv goes to her apartment. Alisha’s roommate, Megan, answers the door. She recognizes Liv immediately and gushes a bit before letting her in. They go to Alisha’s room, which has some pictures of Liv on the wall and looks vaguely stalkerish. Megan says Alisha’s been gone for a couple of days, ever since she lost her job. They were both interns in Congressman Beard’s office, but the internships recently ended. At that point, all the interns were either offered a fulltime position or told they could leave; Megan got the first option and Alisha the second. Megan then tells Liv she has to get to work. On the way out of Alisha’s room, Liv takes her laptop.
At FGI, Liv and Fitz are going through the laptop and find out about Alisha’s recent gun purchase. They also find a note Alisha wrote to her boss, a guy named Waterbend, just before she was fired. They’re reading it as Marcus walks in to inform them the police have been notified about the disappearance. In the note, Alisha says she won’t tell anyone ‘what happened’ and asks him not to ‘GFV’ her. Liv and Fitz are confused, so Marcus shows them a website dubbed “the fresh meat list”, which is The List of the episode’s title. It’s all about female interns on Capitol Hill and is as lurid as you’re probably thinking. Marcus says that GFV stands for gluten-free vegan, meaning Alisha was one of the interns who wouldn’t cooperate with the sexual requests of her boss. Once the list labeled Alisha as someone who wouldn’t ‘put out’, she not only wasn’t hired in Beard’s office, but couldn’t find a job anywhere on the Hill. She looked around, but no one in DC would hire her. Then she bought the gun.
Tracking Cy. Mel is meeting with Cy, telling him they have to get more votes for their budget. He says he’ll talk to some Democrats about it. Mel thanks him and adds that she’s so glad he’s okay. Then she starts to apologize for almost shooting down the plane and killing him, but he says it’s not necessary. He totally understands what she did, and he would have done the same thing. It’s hard to believe Mel is really sincere about this and believes Cy acted in a heroic and selfless fashion, but who knows what she suspects? At this moment, it appears she’s being honest. She also promises him they’ll find out who’s responsible for the hacking and hold them accountable.
At QPA, Huck and Charlie are doing their own work trying to crack the plane virus. Abby is watching Cy on TV being interviewed in his office about the federal budget, when she notices something and asks aloud where the Cezanne is, the painting Fenton Glackland gifted Cy. It was hanging in Cy’s office, and now she doesn’t see it. Abby says that it was worth enough to get a hacker to write a hijacking virus. That gets the attention of Huck and Charlie, since they hacked Cy’s bank accounts and were frustrated to find no big withdrawals had been made. Maybe this is how he raised the funds.
Then we see the man in question himself, as Cy enters a secure room. There awaits Lonnie, the hacker, with the Cezanne. I’m a bit confused by Lonnie, because the actor was a semi-regular on The West Wing and played a good guy, a Secret Service agent who served in close proximity to President Bartlet and once took a bullet meant for him. He’s working with the evil-these-days Cy here, so is decidedly not a good guy. He tells Cy he’s getting nervous. He knows Liv met with Abby about her suspicions, that all kinds of people are looking into the plane hacking, and he thinks it’s getting too dangerous. He loves the painting but says he won’t be able to enjoy it in prison. Cy tells him to calm down. Nothing can be traced to him. He was paid with the painting, so there’s no money trail. He just needs to keep doing his job, Cy says he’ll worry about Liv.
A piggish pol and a corpse. Liv and Marcus go to speak with the Waterbend guy, who’s responsible for having Alisha branded a GFV and ruining her life. He has this conversation while walking briskly, as if he’s just so busy he can’t keep from rushing around for two seconds to address the disappearance of a former congressional staffer. He’s also a huge turd and says it’s not his fault if Alisha didn’t want to ‘play the game’. She knew what DC was like, so he’s not responsible for her choices. What she did was up to her. This angers Liv, who starts laying into him as Marcus’s phone beeps. It’s the morgue calling to say Alisha’s body has been found. It was a suicide; she bought the gun to use on herself when she was distraught that the career she’d fantasized about was over before it began.
Alisha’s grieving father is brought in to identify her. Afterward, he has a few choice words for Liv. He says he knows who she really is and what she did to get there. She’s on top of the heap, but she screwed Fitz to get what she wanted, and who knows what else she’s done? Liv is someone who’s played the game to the hilt, while his daughter was a good person who just wanted to make an honest living. She didn’t stand a chance in this town. She idolized Liv, but Liv is not a role model, and Alisha couldn’t see that. He says she was just a nice person who’s dead before her time, because she looked up to Liv.
Liv takes all this in, a bit stunned at the outburst. She’s probably heard much of it before, but considering the source, it’s obvious she’s affected by it.
It leads her to visit FGI, where she’s spending quite a bit of time these days. She tells Fitz they can’t just let the case end here. They have to do something for Alisha and all the women on the list. She wants to bring down Waterbend. Fitz says the existence of the list should be enough to do that, but Liv thinks they need something more, so she pays Megan a return visit. Since Megan was classified by Waterbend as ‘prime rib’ and still has a job, it’s safe to assume she made a different decision than Alisha. Megan is uncomfortable but confirms it and says it was easier to just put up and shut up about it. She didn’t know Alisha had killed herself. Liv says they want to build a case against Waterbend using the website and asks if Megan can help. Megan looks hesitant.
Like old times. Marcus has a meeting with Mel in the White House and shows her the fresh meat list. It was apparent that Liv and Fitz didn’t know about the list, and now it seems Mel is surprised, too. Why is Marcus the only one in this circle of DC luminaries who knew this thing existed? That isn’t addressed. Mel is horrified and agrees that something should be done, but says for a variety of reasons, new legislation at this time would be impossible. Politically, it’s just not something she can do right now. She says she’s sorry she couldn’t give him what he came there for, and he answers that when it comes to her, he never gets what he wants. It was then that I remembered the torrid affair these two had. That was last season, after all, an eternity in Scadaltime. Marcus obviously remembers, and the two have a loaded moment staring at each other. I was thinking Mel might attack him, rip his clothes off, and they’d go at it right on the desk, like in their first hook-up, but no such luck. She says she’ll take his proposal for legislation into consideration and thanks him for coming.
Busted. Abby brings David dinner to his office. As she walks in, he’s texting with Cy, which concerns her. Are they buddies now? David says no, but they faced death together, so they have a bond. She starts talking about Cy and the plane hacking investigation, but David says he doesn’t know anything. He tells her that since he’s so close to the situation, he’s recused himself from the investigation.
Things get more complicated at QPA. Huck has found the Al Smith Dinner speech Cy wrote. He says it makes no sense that he was writing a speech for a dinner he knew he wouldn’t be going to. If he had planned the plane hacking in advance, he’d know he wasn’t going to the dinner. This seemed to be evidence that he was sent to the summit and put on AF2 at the last minute. Charlie says none of it adds up. Quinn agrees and asks Abby if David told her anything more. Abby hems and haws a bit before coming clean and telling them the theory about Cy masterminding the hacking didn’t come from David but from Liv. Quinn, as expected, doesn’t take that admission well. She doesn’t trust anything about Liv and shuts down the investigation immediately.
That night, Abby meets clandestinely with Liv. She tells her that Quinn found out the Cy intel came from Liv, and they’re no longer investigating the case. Liv is frustrated and insists that Cy is guilty of this. Abby says that might be true, but it can’t be QPA that proves it.
Really, Jake? In the Oval, Mel is also frustrated. Jake tells her he’s having trouble getting enough votes for the budget. Even though she shut Marcus down over it, she brings up sexual harassment legislation. Jake says to wait for the whole budget mess to be over. Until it’s passed, they really can’t concentrate on much else. Mel agrees, and in another callback to her past, she orders up some fried chicken while she and Jake burn the midnight oil discussing their options. Remember back when Mel was first lady and she’d deal with her problems with a mess of fried chicken from the White House kitchen? I love fried-chicken-eating Mel.
The POTUS and CoS have their pow wow on the floor, where Mel is still mostly confined after throwing out her back. Her prone position, though, doesn’t interfere with her ability to wolf down fried chicken, which I love and respect her for. They get a little silly after a while, and Mel admits that she hurt her back doing happy baby, a yoga pose. They laugh about that, and Jake says they make a good team. Then he puts his hand on hers and they have an intimately awkward moment as they look at each other. It doesn’t last very long. She says she thinks he should go, and he reluctantly does.
Ugh. I have to admit that Mel and Jake is new, if rather creepy. Is every possible combination going to be pimped out as a couple before this show is through? I mean, why didn’t they get Pa and Quinn together when they had the chance? Is it too early to pair Robin up with someone? (Where is Robin while Quinn and Charlie are working all the time, anyway? Should I even ask? Probably not.)
Bitter Chuck. At QPA, Huck is still working on tracing the plane virus. Charlie reminds him that Quinn told them to drop it, but Huck says it doesn’t feel right. So what if they’re following a lead provided by Liv? What if the lead is legit, and the old Liv is back? Charlie says that will never happen. Liv, now and forever, will be their adversary and is not to be trusted. He adds angrily that he won’t ever work for Liv or anyone in the White House ever again.
Like old times? Liv is meeting with Fitz at FGI and looks rather dejected. Fitz tells her that they’re not defeated; all they need is for one woman to come forward and help them. So far, that hasn’t happened, and Liv is thinking it’s not going to. This whole matter has also apparently gotten Fitz thinking. He asks Liv if in the past he was ever inappropriate with her. Wow, that’s quite a question to be asking, at this point. Liv says no, she doesn’t think he crossed a line but that they crossed it together. She also says she has no regrets about it and that she’d do it again. They’re kind of bonding for the first time in a long time, but before they get too close, and the thoughts and prayers of Olitz fans everywhere can be fulfilled, Megan appears in the doorway. It looks like prime rib gal isn’t happy wearing that moniker, and she’s decided to come forward and speak out.
The next day, Megan goes before the press. She looked kind of bubble-headed and willfully naive when we first saw her, but now she looks confident as she talks about the atmosphere in DC. It’s too late for her friend Alisha, she says, but she wants to do something in her memory. The reaction to her words is immediate, as others come forward to talk about how they were victimized by the list. Before long, an alternative list surfaces online of Washington’s worst predators.
It was a job well done for Liv. As she leaves FGI (for now), she thanks Fitz for all his help. They shake hands while inspirational music plays, and it’s hard not to see this as a redeeming undertaking for Liv, as well as a possible step toward an Olitz reunion. For the moment, however, a handshake is just a handshake.
Things aren’t going so well for the faux couple of the episode. Jake walks into the Oval. and Mel tells him about legislation she’s going to introduce on workplace harassment. He takes that as his cue to apologize for last night. She doesn’t mince words and says she has no interest in playing Liv and Fitz with him. Having lots of secret nookie with staff is not something on the agenda for her administration. He says he didn’t assume it was. What he did was the result of being attracted to her in that moment, nothing more. She says she thinks it might have been a power play on his part. He denies that and says again it was an honest reaction to the moment. Mel looks doubtful.
More old times. Liv is at home watching the news when Abby knocks at the door. She compliments Liv on Megan’s press conference. Liv accepts the compliment and asks her in. She tells Abby she doesn’t blame the Gladiators for not trusting her or wanting to work with her. She can understand that. Besides, she says, it’s not their fight in the first place. Liv says it’s all about the promise she made to Mel back when they first began working together, which was to do all she could to protect her from the men who want to take her power. Even after all that’s happened between her and the POTUS, Liv says she remembers making that promise, and she intends to keep it. Abby is impressed and won over. She doesn’t care what her coworkers think; she wants to be on Team Liv.
One last thing… At B613, Jake’s computer nerd says she’s tracked down who made the computer virus. At QPA, Huck has hacked into Charlie’s laptop and discovered something disturbing: the laptop had the virus the day before it infected AF2. Huck tells Quinn about it. He says it unfortunately kind of makes sense, with Charlie being so angry about anything government related lately. Quinn then confronts Charlie with the evidence, accusing him of working with Cy again and writing the virus. This was another callback, as I’d forgotten Charlie once worked for Cy; way back in the first couple of seasons, when Cy was Fitz’s CoS, Charlie did all his dirty work. Quinn says he’s back in cahoots with his old boss. Charlie denies this quite vigorously. He would never work with Cy again and says someone must have put the virus on his laptop. He’s so adamant that Quinn reconsiders and starts to look panicked. She tells Charlie to GTF out of there, but it’s too late. As he rushes toward the door, FBI agents burst in and put him under arrest.
Later, AG David makes an announcement to the press that an arrest has been made in the AF2 hacking. He says he’s had to recuse himself from the case, but an able and trustworthy person will be taking his place. Then he introduces this pillar of virtue who will be prosecuting Charlie for the hacking: none other than Lonnie the art lover! He’s apparently an underling of David’s in the AG’s office. David seems to genuinely trust the guy, but Davey also dated the obviously unwholesome Natasha last season, so his powers of judgment may be a bit skewed, Abby notwithstanding.
Cy watches this announcement on TV, happy with what he sees. At Liv’s place, there’s a knock on her door. It’s Quinn, looking desperate. With Charlie under arrest for a federal crime and things seeming hopeless, she has no one else to turn to but her old mentor, the one she threatened to kill just a couple of episodes ago. Things can change fast in Scandaland.
The clock is running out, though. There are only four episodes left in the series, the next being 07.15, “The Noise”. It airs on 3/29, as the show takes a break next week, and is directed by Darby Stanchfield, aka Gladiator Abby Whelan. Ms. Stanchfield putting on the director’s cap is a Scandal first, as the regulars continue to branch out. It looks like the remainder of the eps will be focused on the comeuppance of Cy. The CoS has, of course, behaved in a shoddy fashion many times in the past, but now, in the series’ final-stretch eps, he’s basically being portrayed as the evilest evil that ever eviled. He will have to be dealt with, and if Liv can atone for some of her recent bad behavior in the process, all the better.
Hard to believe the whole circus is winding down. C U in 2!