I'm happy to report that, after last week's shaky episode, this week's "Scandal" bypassed the "Law & Order: SVU" true crime theatrics and dug deeper into the storyline that I hope will drive the rest of the season -- re-election. Everyone is digging for dirt, and everyone has secrets. Welcome to Washington D.C.! What I appreciate about this episode is that the secrets come in a rainbow of flavors (did I just reference Skittles? I blame the Halloween candy), some innocent and others far from it. I would say things are getting dark in the Fitz White House, but the reality is they've always been that way -- we just didn't realize how bad it really was.
Initially, it seems Olivia has succeeded in, if not blotting out the reality of who her father is, at least come to a passive, beaten-down detente. She's suffering through dinners with her dad every Sunday, and she doesn't toss back her head and laugh when he tells her that as long as Huck and Jake leave him alone, he'll return the favor. Of course, Olivia doesn't know exactly how passionately Huck and Jake aren't leaving her dad alone, either. If she did, she might have passed out at the table.
It was nice to see Paul Adelstein ("Private Practice") back in a Shonda Rhimes series this week. As Leo, he brought a bouncy sense of humor to delivering some hard truths to Cyrus and Mellie. When they ask him to run Fitz's re-election campaign, he rattles off a list of things that are wrong with the P.O.T.U.S. (including Mellie being a "frigid shrew" and then hammers down the ugly truth -- Fitz looks like a loser. "It smells like Nixon in '74," he says, explaining he has a meeting with hot ticket Josie Marcus (Lisa Kudrow) in 20 minutes. Ouch.
Olivia beats him to it, though, and after her pitch Josie hires her on the spot -- then reveals her big, ugly secret. She had a child at 15 and gave it up for adoption. The problem is that she doesn't want the child (now an adult) to have to face the prying eyes of the public. Later we'll learn why -- Josie's little sister and campaign manager is actually her kid, and she has no idea that Josie ever had a baby, much less her. It's Operation Cover-Up, so Olivia puts the gang on the case, shipping them out to Red Springs, Montana on the double.
Though Huck, Baby Huck, Abby and Harrison start running around handing out suitcases full of cash, Cyrus has feet on the ground in Red Springs, too -- though Cyrus is giving a big boy's job to dorky Ethan for some reason. When Abby and Harrison realize Ethan has pulled up outside the baby daddy's home with a news crew, it takes only seconds for Huck to find out that the guy has a twice a week date at a hotel he may not want his wife to hear about. Just like that, Billy Bob Joe Jim whatever is talking about what a nice first kiss he had with Josie, and gee, she's a really great Congresswoman!
"We got Poped!" Ethan mewls to Cyrus over the phone. While I realize there's only one Olivia, I do wonder why Cyrus hasn't put more effort into finding someone worthy to fill her shoes for small jobs like this one. Yes, Olivia can't be beat, but there has to be more seasoned people than Ethan in Washington D.C. Nothing against the guy, but he didn't even realize he'd made a major find when he stumbled across evidence of Josie's pregnancy. Sorry, but that's just dim. He'll always get Poped, and Cyrus will always be trying not to have another heart attack.
Meanwhile Huck and Jake are playings super spies, trying to sort out what big secret Fitz and Command could be hiding. Fitz invites (well, if inviting involves sending out a bunch of Secret Service guys in black suits to drag a person off the street) Jake to play basketball. This is fun, though it drags on a little long, as if someone thought we all might need a break from all the politics and stuff. While they trade a few pointed barbs, and Fitz is clearly on to Jake, how he tries to deal with what he must realize is a growing problem isn't all that wise.
First, Fitz calls Command and demands he lay off of Jake. Command hangs up on him, as only a truly stupid person (even the President) would think Command takes orders from anyone in an elected office. Then, Fitz asks Cyrus how he can get rid of B613. Cyrus is actually, momentarily struck dumb by this. I can't think of anything else that might render poor, sputtering Cyrus mute except maybe Fitz asking where the big red button is so he can let the baby play with it.
Cyrus informs the President that B613 will get rid of him with a sniper on a grassy knoll first. "Just ask Kennedy," he whispers. I'm thinking this is just a topical reference for the 50th anniversary, but then, I'm not up on all of my JFK conspiracy theories, either. I would think after so many years in the White House, Fitz might know that what he's asking isn't even logical, though. Even his years in the military might have clued him in. Fitz is grasping at straws, yes, but his grasping is getting sloppy and his belief that he's truly the leader of the free world instead of a man with many masters is bordering on hubris. I will say, though, that one of the things that makes Fitz interesting is that he's unpredictable and impetuous. This would definitely put him on the border of suicidal as well, but then, it's more fun when Fitz lives on the edge, isn't it?
Though Ethan finds himself blocked when it comes to getting any factual back-up about Josie's baby, Cyrus leaks the information to Reston. A rumor is just as damaging as the truth, after all, which is something any teenager who uses Facebook can probably confirm. Olivia warns Josie that she's going to be ambushed during the Democratic hopefuls debate, but Phoebe, I mean Josie says she's not going to blab about the baby. She has a change of heart when Reston implies she's not morally fit. Following a pause and a stutter, the truth spills out -- and even though Cyrus growls that the honest approach has "won the hearts" of the nation, Josie still goes backstage and fires Olivia. I hope Olivia invoices for the full amount, by the way.
On the spectrum of white lies and massive secrets, Abby's wishy-washiness about going to the Correspondent's Dinner with David falls on the mostly innocent end. David is furious with her for lying about being in Montana, but when he goes to the dinner he realizes the truth -- her ex-husband was there, too. All is forgiven, and I'm happy to see Abby and David back together again. Though she tends to betray him whenever Olivia needs her to, I'm hoping that might not happen again for a long time. Abby and David deserve a little happiness, don't they?
Less innocent on the secret spectrum is Sally's confession to Leo that she might want to run for President as an Independent. Leo seems intrigued by this, but I wish he wouldn't. Sally always seems like an annoying little kid who, when not invited to play with her bigger siblings, deflates the tires on their bikes just to be petty. She never accomplishes much, and it seems Fitz usually has to come in with false promises and warm handshakes to calm her down.
The Correspondent's Dinner does have some surprises in store. Olivia, who takes Jake as her date, is beckoned to go backstage. There she finds not Fitz, but Mellie. What does Mellie want? She wants Olivia to run the re-election campaign. And, it seems sleep with Fitz. Okay, I'm reading between the lines here, but when Mellie says Fitz needs Olivia and "he's not alive when you're not here," I'm thinking she's not honestly expecting Fitz and Olivia to hold hands and read the Constitution to one another when they're together. Mellie seems to have come full circle about her husband's affair. Was it really so many weeks ago she was stomping around and calling Olivia "his whore"? I guess the possibility that she might have to leave the White House is far worse than handing her husband over to his mistress, tied in a bow. Mellie is nothing if not steely, and while there's pain in this confession, I have to think it must be freeing, too. On the Kubler-Ross model, maybe Mellie has reached acceptance.
Someone who hasn't reached acceptance? Jake with Olivia's Fitz obsession. After the dinner, he says he's done -- he realizes he wasn't her date, but a dummy to give her an excuse to see Fitz. Olivia doesn't even have time to explain she was called back by Mellie instead before Jake is stomping off into the night. I think Jake's sudden realization that, despite having thrown away her secret Fitz phone earlier, Olivia isn't getting over Fitz any time soon seems a bit off. He's been so patient, to suddenly go from a slow simmer of irritation to a boil doesn't ring entirely true.
So, Olivia and Fitz forever with no obstacles (Jake, Mellie) in their way? Not so fast! Josie, having accepted the fact Olivia gave her good advice and feeling a weight lifted from her shoulders, wants to hire her back. Olivia says no, but Josie insists she sleep on it. I suspect this waiting period will be significant, don't you?
Huck has pieced together more intel. He thinks Fitz was in Iceland during this strange window they're investigating, and it just happens to be at the same time a passenger jet crashed. Jake thinks it's just a coincidence -- until Huck reveals that one of the passengers was Olivia's mom. Yes, Command had Olivia's mom killed -- and more than that, Fitz did it.
So, Fitz killed Olivia's mom. Possibly. And Jake and Huck knock on Olivia's door to break the news.
Yeah, I do not think all is going to be well in the White House very, very soon.
I don't quite know how it will tie in, or if it will, but we also learned that Baby Huck got a gun this week (store credit for the cables she returned in Montana). It's an ominous development, though, especially given that Huck and the rest of the team have "suspended" her for her "drill, baby, drill" moment. More unnerving is the thought that Baby Huck might take a gun to the office someday, especially when a certain someone may want to use it in a pique of anger very soon.
Do you think Fitz really shot down the plane? Do you think Command tricked him? Do you think Fitz even knows that Olivia's mom was on the plane?