This week on ABC’s Scandal, in the wake of President Grant’s shooting, Olivia flashed back to the day Fitz was sworn into office — smack dab in the midst of their torrid affair. And while Liv dealt with that drama and a possible leak about Defiance, in the present day she and Cyrus labored to keep an antsy, ambitious VP Langston at bay.
NOW…. | Ambling about the ER in a daze, Olivia finds Fitz’s blood-splattered 48-star flag pin, which launches us into the first flashback segment.
THEN… | Liv gifts Fitz with the Eisenhower heirloom, as he gets a bit handsy. Mellie interrupts, and asks about the pin — a question Fitz doesn’t answer quite as completely as he could. After Fitz is sworn in, Olivia sets up shop at the White House, where she overhears Cyrus and James fight about the former not taking the latter to the inaugural ball. (“I am not your dirty little secret, I am your boyfriend!”) After watching coverage of the ball on the telly, Liv gets summoned to the Oval Office by Fitz, who’s had his fill of dancing not with the person he wants. “We can’t…,” Olivia says, as Fitz draws close. “This can’t happen anymore.” Fitz argues, “I think it can happen… right there on that desk.” And, after Fitz avows that Liv is “the most important person in my life,” it does happen right there on the desk, as Olivia hikes up her white dress and Fitz… etcetera.
NOW… | Stephen Collins guest-stars as a news anchor guiding us through the aftermath of the shooting (using dull-as-dishwater title cards), sharing that POTUS suffered three or four bullet wounds, and that press secretary Britta was shot also. Cut to VP Sally Langston ignoring the directive to go to her residence at the Naval Observatory and instead takes a copter to the South Lawn of the White House, where she declares to cameras, “I am in place, and in charge.” As Quinn, watching TV with the rest of the gladiators, marvels, “Did that just happen?,” Cyrus storms into the Oval Office and slams the veep. “Do you know who lands on the South Lawn? The President of the United States! You are not in charge” in absence of Fitz’s death, removal from office or resignation… or her securing enough signatures form the cabinet. Elsewhere, Olivia rounds up the troops at 1600 Penn to declare, “Yes, I’m back, for as long as you need me.” Cheers!
THEN… | We start to get wind of why Sally is so power-hungry and out for herself, as she launches her VP term by reminding Fitz that she gets to name who fills the first Supreme Court vacancy. This news visibly irks Verna, who had a deal of her own with Cyrus and Olivia, as part of the Defiance scheme. Fitz, meanwhile, gets the 411 from a Secret Service agent about the camera coverage in the White House — including (ahem) the Oval Office. Not quite chagrined, POTUS asks, “So what are my options? Where aren’t there cameras?” We launch into a montage of Fitz, Liv and Cyrus hammering out the State of the Union speech, intercut with Fitz and Liv (minus Cyrus) going at it like teenagers here, there and everywhere (with policy discussions sprinkled in between heavy breathing). And then.. .Mellie shows up, pooping their party.
NOW… | In her first press sesh since reclaiming the press reigns, Olivia states that President Grant is in surgery and critical, as is Britta the press sec. The First Lady is unharmed, and “the president is still the president” (despite Langston’s shenanigans thus far). Watching, Harrison says, “It’s a wonders he ever left the White House.” So why did she? Well….
THEN… | After Mellie’s recent intrusion, Liv has been avoiding Fitz. As she explains, “I am not this person…. I’m feeling a little like Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.” Later, Verna tells Liv and Cy that she doesn’t care what Grant promised Langston, “I whored every ounce of my integrity to get that man elected…. Make it happen!” Speaking of the “Quinntet”: When Liv gets word that a guy at Cytron named Jessie Tyler (aka Lindsey Dwyer’s beau) has been whispering about voting irregularities in Ohio, she loops in Hollis Doyle, who says he’ll handle it. That night, outside the White House, Fitz takes Liv to task for playing the Hemings/Jefferson “race card,” saying, “Don’t belittle us like that…. Don’t drive me away.” Liv launches into a great bit, saying, “You are away. I smile at [Mellie] and I take my clothes off for you. I wait for you, I watch for you…. You own me, you control me.” Fitz counters, “What about me? You control me, I belong to you. I’m in love with you, you’re the love of my life, I can’t breathe without you.” (Seriously, he covered every single 1980s pop song lyric.) “I wait for you, I watch for you, I exist for you…. There’s no Sally and Thomas here…. We’re in this together.”
NOW… | Press secretary Britta is pronounced dead, as Liv gets word that Langston is lobbying for signatures. Liv and Cy decide that Mellie must address the press. FLOTUS at first won’t even let Liv sit beside her at the hospital, but then sees the bigger picture and sends her rival to her closet, where Liv, clutching Fitz’s Navy sweatshirt, flashes back to their visit to the U.S. Constitution, where she first declared, “I’m in love with you too.” Then, in the closet, she breaks down sobbing. Later, speaking to the press, Mellie makes clear, “America has a living president, and his name is Fitzgerald Grant. He hasn’t given up on you, so please don’t give up on him.”
THEN… | Looking to sink Langston’s Supreme Court nom plan, Cyrus tips off James, and soon enough dirt is dug up on Sally’s boy — and she suspects Cy and his peeps did it. “I am in this for me now,” she growls, explaining her present-day power play. When Liv learns about the Cytron bombing, she confronts Doyle, who reminds, “We all done what we done — can’t get yer cherry back.” Olivia storms away, repulsed. Even when she goes to loop in the newly engaged Cyrus, he says there’s zero to do, especially 90 minutes away from the State of the Union. “Those seven people gave their lives in service to this country, Lindsey Dwyer too. That makes them patriots. And the best way to honor their sacrifice is to move on.” Shaken, Liv suffers another blow when Mellie returns the flag pin Fitz lost at the Constitution, and makes clear she knows what’s going on. “We got him in the White House and we are going to keep him there,” the First Lady says. “We just go about it… differently.” Taken all she can take, Liv places her resignation and the pin on the Oval Office desk, as the president delivers a SOTU promising, “It will be different this time.”
NOW… | Having secured enough signatures form the cabinet, Sally is sworn in as Cyrus tosses his office in frustration. And with Fitz still in critical condition — “He’s lucky to be alive,” the doctor tells Mellie — Liv returns the bloodied pin to the First Lady, who sets it at Fitz’s bedside. We then close with news coverage, where as they play back the shooting, we get the sniper’s POV, and see that the suspect — a guy of average build with a possibly shaved head, in a red hoodie — is…. Well, you saw who. But we’ll omit that here for the West Coasters.
What did you think of this week’s massive backstory download, and the shooter reveal? (And yes, I realize Fitz wasn’t necessarily shot in the heart, but it’s a good headline.)
But wait, there’s even more! In Scandal‘s weekly iTunes podcast, Bellamy Young (aka Mellie) teases the 10 additional minutes excised from this episode that will be included on the DVD. Listen to the podcast here.