'Scandal' recap: 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'
This episode is going to fill in some gaps and answer some questions, and if that takes a mess of flashbacks to do it, so be it. As we know, Fitz's grand plan to tell the world about his affair with Olivia has been effectively (and pretty brilliantly) derailed by Mellie. Now the poor, innocent girl who's been stuck in the role of White House mattress back has hired Olivia to save her bacon. What happens next requires further explanation, so the story kicks off five years ago with Olivia hanging with homeless Huck. Yeah, I was wondering about how that progressed, too.
It turns out Olivia always talked to Huck as she was on her way to see her Dad for Sunday dinner. She's bored and pissed off, as he sent her away after her mother died, and she doesn't care to discuss his boring job at the Smithsonian (oh, Olivia, you poor duck).
Heading home, she gets mugged -- and Huck springs into action like the killing machine that he is. This, of course, has Olivia thinking. Maybe he's not just a sad homeless guy? Huh. When she later asks him if he has some kind of, um, background, he gets that crazy look in his eyes and babbles about B613 and Wonderland and the Commander named Commander and she does that thing we all do when we discover someone's hella crazy. Oooohhhh… okay. Want a cheeseburger?
In the present, the President calls Olivia and tells her about playing basketball with the Dalai Lama and how he misses her sooooo much. Olivia tells him she intends to rip the White House a new one over what's being done to poor Janine, and he tells her to bring it on. He also tells her about the other reality in which they have four kids, they live in Vermont, he's the mayor and she makes jam. At this point, I would tell Olivia to hang up the phone or at least tell him he's a cheating cheater who cheats, but she laps it up like a cream cheese cake pop. Then, they have their version of foreplay: "I'm going to go for blood!" she says.
"Go for the jugular," he purrs. Yeah. Kinda weird, but it works for them.
Meanwhile, Eli (Olivia's dad) is working behind the scenes. He wants the President to admit to having an affair… with Janine. So do a lot of people, so this is not particularly important. But it does give us an excuse to go back five years to another daddy/Olivia storyline, in which he introduces his baby girl to fine wine and writes down the information for a particular seller for her. With a pen. This is important. Later, she will realize the fake pen comes from the fake company which is the front for Eli's job teaching people how to kill. I'm wondering if it isn't a bit of overkill for the fake company to make branded pens for exactly this reason, but maybe I'm thinking too much.
Olivia, for the rest of the episode, keeps bumping up against the truth of who Huck is and, of course, who her dad is, while her dad keeps trying to say, ooh, look! A penny! Shiny!
Meanwhile, Olivia and her gladiators are trying to salvage Janine's reputation. When Mellie slips documents showing times when Janine could have theoretically been with the President while she was out of town, the media goes wild with the slut shaming. Olivia, meanwhile, gives Janine a nice makeover and makes impassioned speeches and the gladiators track down IMs between Janine and her friend Ethan that prove her innocence. There are a lot of chess pieces getting scooted around the board, and it seems that Mellie and Cyrus always have one ready to block Olivia's queen.
Cyrus and Mellie order the President to confess to banging Janine, and Fitz just tells them to go spin. To complicate matters, Olivia is passionately interested in Jake Ballard, as she doesn't know if he's alive or dead and she's pretty sure if he's not dead now, he will be soon. So, she tells Fitz to go get him. Yes, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to having an affair with the President, but one of the advantages is theoretically he can get anyone. Except, it seems, Jake Ballard.
As Cyrus explains it, there is a complete division between the White House and B613 so Fitz will have plausible deniability. There's no way to ask for Jake. Fitz tells Olivia this, and it's her cue to have one of her loud, impassioned speeches in which her expression doesn't change but her volume goes way up.
In the flashbacks, eventually Olivia sorts out who her dad is, which spurs him to explain how things are going to go. She's going to shut up, order a meal, and not push, because if she pushes, "you will know me well, and that will break my heart." Personally, after this speech I wouldn't be able to get up to stomp out of the restaurant simply because I'd have soiled myself, but that's exactly what Olivia does.
Next, we see Olivia try to stand up to Dad, which is almost cute. When Dad makes Huck disappear, she demands he be returned to the Metro station. You know things at Wonderland must be bad if living in a subway station is preferable. Anyway, she brings Edison home to meet Dad and shows off her shiny engagement rings, which results in Edison ending up in an "accident" and Olivia getting orders to let him down gently. When Olivia tries to break up with Eli, he purrs, "We are family, sweetie. We are never done" in such a way that it sounds more like a threat than a promise.
Olivia knows that if Janine tells the truth, it's likely that Jake will get it, so she tells Dad she wants him handed over. She's even offering to put Sunday dinners back on the table! I'm hoping she doesn't plan to stash Jake in a subway station or make him grow a beard, as I think Scott Foley looks better clean shaven. Anyway, Fitz tells Cyrus that he's going to walk into a live press conference and tell the world that he's having an affair with Janine IF Jake is handed over. Otherwise, well, it's going to be a big reveal about the scam Cyrus and Mellie tried to pull. Gulp.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because Dad calls Olivia and tells her top open her door, behind which Jake is bleeding and gasping. Oh, and Eli wants his Sunday dinners back. "Sunday, my house, I'll choose the wine," he says, which sounds perfectly civil except it's kind of like getting a hand written invitation from an ax murderer.
A smaller story line is devoted to Quinn snooping around on the Internet and finding out that Olivia's e-mails to her dad ended about the time Huck disappeared. Huck finally confronts Olivia -- did she make a deal to help him? I don't know, because my Slingbox cut out at EXACTLY THIS MOMENT. Anyway, when I get a signal back, Huck clearly feels betrayed. I would argue that, hey, Huck, things worked out, you're a gladiator! But as we know, it's now a little harder to wear that white hat if you know too much. Not that I do in this instance, at least.
In other news, while Janine seemed flustered by Fitz "confessing" to an affair with her, she'd already agreed to blab this herself, as Mellie had offered her $2 million in a Cayman Island bank account. Olivia tries to explain to her how this will kill her soul, but I'm not sure Janine cares. Or if she does, it doesn't matter, as I'm thinking we won't see her again. Olivia's full up with gladiators, isn't she?
Do you think Fitz made the right choice? Do you think Olivia and Eli will have many dinners together before things fall apart? What do you think will happen between Huck and Olivia now?