Scandal Recap: Smile! You're on Candid Camera

Scandal Season 2 SpoilersAfter leaving us with a rare “meh” outing, ABC’s Scandal returned strong on Thursday, serving an episode that revisited the wounds Olivia and Fitz both are nursing, shed further light on Jake Ballard’s agenda/capabilities, gave the White House a big “W” in the wake of a loss, and ended with a gladiator in the crosshairs.

CHEATERS NEVER WIN | The Case of the Week — involving CEO Sarah’s long-ago affair with Fitz’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Randall — offered no massive twists, save for the fact that the indiscretion wasn’t as “long ago” as originally seemed, but it was well-cast with House‘s Lisa Edelstein and The Shield‘s Jay Karnes (last seen making waves on Last Resort). The main conflict here came from the fact that it put Liv on the opposite side of Cyrus and the White House, in that she was laboring to spin her client’s tale as a brief lapse in judgement while Cy’s mission was to paint Sarah a crazed stalker.

Meanwhile, Sarah’s employer angled to sack her by citing a morality clause, setting the stage for a fun face-off between Harrison and their in-house counsel. In the end, Harrison and Abby bluffed the company’s board of directors into submission (brandishing an empty box “full” of dirt on every one of them).

EXPLORING THE RUINS | The damage done to Sarah’s marriage was not so easily squelched, however, as husband Phil went from understanding to betrayed, as more details about the affair — including how it cast aspersion on their daughter’s paternity — played out in the public arena. The sad saga played out, literally at one point, against Liv’s unexpected “reconnection” with Fitz, when he rang her one night to express his disappointment over (among other things) her torpedoing his nominee.

“You didn’t think I was good enough [to be president],” the slightly buzzed Commander-in-Chief started. Then: “I trusted you, you know…. You were all I had. You ruined me. I’m ruined.” Olivia retorted, “I’m ruined,” only to get back a dismissive, “I don’t care.”

Hey, at least they’re talking…?

‘DRINK THE DAMN WINE’ | After that sobering confab, Olivia found herself sharing with Sarah a $300 bottle of wine — OK, two, one for each of them, no glasses — as they commiserated over issues each could relate to. “How do you fix betrayal?” Sarah wondered. Olivia was cold comfort, saying, “Betrayal always has a price…. You did what you thought was best at the time.”

Elsewhere in the hour….

TO THE RESCUE | Olivia delivered to Jake the intel her team dug up on the CIA mole — namely, a damning fax that would ultimately lead to the rescue of the three American hostages in Kashfar. A huge win for Fitz, at Olivia’s doing — though he doesn’t know it. Along the way, Jake got snapped by a pap while with Liv, so at episode’s end he invaded the shutterbug’s home, pinched the memory card, and when confronted beat the photog to a pulp. Afterward, he showed up at Liv’s to celebrate the hostage rescue, smiling at his own hidden cameras as she fetched the “mugging” vic some ice.

STARCH ENEMY Huck and Quinn had a not merely enjoyable but relatively significant B-story, as he taught her the art of stalking, all Jedi/padawan-like. (Rule No. 1: Don’t go to a dry cleaner if you don’t have a shirt to offer up!) Though their efforts paid off — CIA boss Osborne is using said dry cleaner as his drop — at hour’s end we saw that Quinn is now on the stone-faced mole’s radar. Ruh-roh.

THIS ‘N’ THAT | Mellie grew curious about Fitz’s mysterious thrice-weekly late-night meeting, assuming he had started snogging Liv again. In the end, she ID’d Jake as the person her husband was confabbing with, suggesting to a newly insecure Cyrus that it’s he who is being “cheated” on…. Prior to their bluffing of the board, Harrison and Abby had a heart-to-heart about how things are different between them ever since she learned that he can be “a gladiator first, and a person second.” For her, it’s not so easy.

What did you think of this week’s episode, “Top of the Hour”?