'Scandal' recap: The mole is revealed in 'Snake in the Garden'

Hollis asks Olivia for help and Jake wears down her defenses

"Scandal"

 "Scandal"

Credit: ABC

I haven't always liked Mellie. In the last few weeks of "Scandal," she's been particularly annoying, tiptoeing around the Oval Office, inducing labor to pull Fitz closer, and generally meddling in matters about which she doesn't have all the information. But tonight, Mellie won me over, at least for a little while. Instead of wheedling and manipulating, she finally stood up to Fitz, calling him out on his pouty, cranky behavior (and comes awfully close to calling him a drunk to boot). Honestly, it's news he doesn't want to hear, but I have to think that a moment like this one -- in which his wife serves up the straight, uncensored truth -- may be the only way for him to find respect for FLOTUS again.

But let's get to that in a moment. Most of this episode revolved around a fairly straight forward kidnapping plot. I wonder if the writers are saving the "crazy twisty good" stuff for a later episode, or they suspected viewers could just use a break from the backstabbing and power playing. In any case, Hollis comes to Olivia for (shocker!) help. His drug addict daughter Maybelle has been kidnapped. Possibly. Not that he believes it. He suspects Maybelle and her ex-boyfriend Justin are just shaking him down for money. As he puts it, "It will be a cold day in hell before I pay one red cent for that girl's heinie." But getting an ear in the mail turns out to be pretty convincing, and that cold day in hell arrives lickity split. 

If you haven't had a lot of sympathy for Hollis (which is entirely logical), it's pretty hard not to feel for him when Quinn finds him crying in the office. He can't understand how his little sidekick became his enemy. "I let her down. I let my baby down," he sobs, and for just a minute we see the wizard behind the curtain of bluster. 

Leave it to Olivia and her gladiators to negotiate a successful exchange ($20 million for a one-eared girl), and leave it to them (well, Huck, really) to realize Maybelle (sans her ex, who was sitting in a Thai prison during the whole mess) abducted herself, just as Hollis suspected. 

It's a horrible moment when Maybelle, having been caught by Huck before she could head to the airport, faces her parents. Even though Olivia has reversed the wire transfer and returned Hollis' money to him, he tells Maybelle she can have it -- but if she takes it, she can never come back. If she doesn't take the money, she can come home and have a second chance. Maybelle, of course, takes the money. I would think after Olivia lectures her, declaring that such a decision would make her not just spoiled and selfish but stupid, she'd turn into a puddle of shame-goo and simply ooze out the door, but go figure. 

The continuing story of CIA Director Osborne being the mole in the White House continued toward what seemed like an inevitable resolution. Osborne realizes Huck and Quinn have been following, he threatens Olivia at her apartment, Cyrus fires him, and he commits suicide in his car. So sad. But this is "Scandal," so nothing is ever this predictable, and if we believed it for just a minute it was only because we lulled ourselves into thinking this was, say, an old "Law & Order" repeat or something. No, Osborne is not the mole. Too easy by far.

So, who is the mole? JAKE. I know! Weird, video-stalking Jake, who has gotten so close to Fitz thanks to his little inside scoop from Olivia he's now positioned to take a Meaningful Role at the White House. I knew he was odd, but I was hoping he was just bad boyfriend material, not poised to bring down the U.S. Worse, Jake has a hot and sexy kiss with Olivia, who has no idea he's hunted through her apartment to find goodies to pass along to Fitz (or at least pretend to pass along to Fitz, or alter and pass along, or who knows what; the guy is bad, okay?). Olivia knows she isn't very good at reading men (which is honestly a little shocking), but I think any woman would have a hard time resisting Jake after he comes to apartment. She tried to cancel their date, but he wasn't having it (his persistence is romantic until you realize he's a creep, honestly). "Close your eyes. I might be the worst guy in the world, or I might be the best. I like you. I like you a lot… but you seem sad." He just wants to help her forget about the bad man who hurt her. So he can hurt her in an entirely new way, I guess. Poor Olivia. 

The only positive in the whole Jake mess is that Cyrus, who has him investigated, finds out that he and Fitz were involved in something called Operation Remington in Iran. Most of the file is redacted, but Cyrus has just enough to make an impassioned speech to Fitz. Fitz Did Stuff, and Cyrus Did Stuff, and so they can bond over having Done Stuff. Cyrus talks about being a patriot, and how sometimes the most patriotic acts can't be publicly known, and a lot of things that I can't believe for a second Fitz is going to buy, but you know, POTUS has been drinking a lot, and it takes an awful lot of energy to defend against Cyrus and Mellie's ongoing pleading for inclusion, so Fitz just breaks down and tells Cyrus that Osborne is the mole. Or so he thinks. 

In other news, I get the impression that David Rosen, who moves into gladiators' office, is becoming part of the Scooby gang. As it's getting harder to find ways to incorporate him into the plot, I hope this is the case. If anyone is up to firing off fast dialogue and playing the voice of reason, it's Josh Molina

But let's not forget Mellie's big moment. At first, it just seems as if she's meddling again. She tries to fill up Fitz' weekend when their kids Jerry and Karen are coming to visit. Of course, Fitz finds out and suspects cold, heartless Mellie just wants to punish him (of course). But then, she tells him the truth: the kids didn't want to come. And they didn't want to come because Fitz doesn't act like the dad they remember. He's mean and he yells and he reeks of Scotch. Bellamy Young has done an excellent job of being a nervous, high-pitched flibbertygidget in previous weeks, so this honest moment is a nice return to the tough cookie we've been missing. "You're not Fitz anymore," she tells him. "You're big Jerry. You're your father." Mellie does blame Olivia for this, at least indirectly. Fitz has discovered she's simply human and uses him the way everyone else does. Watching Tony Goldwyn's face turn into a giant scowl is a powerful moment. Fitz may not want to hear this, but I'm glad someone finally had the guts to say something to him. Maybe now he might be able to put down the Scotch bottle and, finally, turn things around.

 

What do you think of Jake? Were you happy to see that Huck found a family for Quinn? Do you think Fitz will find out about Jake before it's too late? 

 

 

Liane-bonin-starr-sm
Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for EW.com. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.
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