This week on ABC’s Scandal, Cyrus, Leo, Olivia and Fitz conspired to keep Sally from spilling the beans, while B613 boss Jake enacted his own extreme measures to protect the Republic.
MURDERERS’ ROW | The first presidential debate is nigh, and while Fitz is “killing” (well, not literally — but good question!) during his prep against Mellie, Andrew and their eye-sex, Sally is wayyy too full of fire and brimstone, God-fearing and elaborate pig metaphors. (“Yum-yum, crispy piggy!” Yum-yum!”) Leo calls in her hometown clergyman to “show her the way,” but all that gets Leo is a confession-happy candidate — if only so that she may hear the Lord again.
Meanwhile at OPA, Olivia is processing the news that Daniel Douglas was murdered — and also a bit miffed that her team wasn’t called in to cover it up. (As Abby notes to David, “We are the best. You chose us.” This is true!) Confronted, Cyrus maintains that he has things “under control,” at which point Olivia does 10 times more laughing than she has done in the previous two-and-a-half seasons. Once up for air, she observes of the debate panel, “They’re all murderers…. Reston, Sally, Fitz…. It’s literally murderers’ row!” Liv then turns serious, chiding Cyrus for robbing Fitz of his chance to run clean: “You huffed and you puffed and you blew his house down!” Refusing to be dragged “back into the dark,” she tells Cy he’s on his own with this hot mess.
Thrown for a loop by it all, Liv retreats to Jake’s place (which all but gobsmacks him), saying that all she wants to do is drain a bottle of wine (by herself), “eat too many fries” and have a relaxing evening with her fake boyfriend. Sharing a bit of his own day (1,500 reams sold! Weight of the covert spy world on his shoulders!), Jake invites Olivia to “run away with me. Save me.” But for right now, all she’s down with is him taking advantage of her.
SALLY DODGES A BULLET | Fretting that he might be (gulp) “fired” by Rowan, Leo strongly advises Cyrus to get the debate pushed — or go to jail mere moments after Sally’s confession. Cyrus first turns to Jake, ordering him to kill the veep, but Jake wants no part in this “petty White House squabble.” Cy, though, counters that it is very much in the Republic’s interest to not believe that elected officials can be murders. For good measure, he taunts that Jake’s predecessor would have done what needed to be done by now.
Cyrus’ next stop is Olivia, to whom he admits, “I screwed up royally, repeatedly, making a series of horse ass-sized mistakes.” (Like when I left The Mentalist off this bubble show list!) Liv takes her own crack at soothing Sally, but when she has no luck she makes an appeal to her Lover-in-Chief: Throw the debate. Sally needs a sign. Fitz says, “It’s not happening” — yet once the debate gets underway and Sally begins to confess on live TV — with B613 sleeper agent Tom in the rafters with a rifle trained on her — Fitz interrupts, then goes on to make a verbal blunder, saying he’s “proud of [his] personal failings.” Smelling blood in the water, Sally goes to school on POTUS.
Afterward, Olivia explains to Fitz the nitty-gritty of what “no more lying” entails, the “sins and sacrifices” that are committed to protect him. “There is no ‘clean,’ just like there is no Vermont,” she says. “This is what it is, so stop pretending and just be here.” She then pulls him into a kiss (by, duh, the one break in the Oval Office drapes. C’MON.)
BURYING THE LEADS | As the hour closes, Cyrus — having discovered the bug in the photo frame James gifted him — goes to his husband aka “Publius” not to yell or condemn, but to apologize. “I did this,” he says, holding the frame. “I used you. You were right to lie to me, to be angry.” He invites James to what he will with him, with them, affirming, “Just know that I am so very sorry, and I love you — more than anything.”
James later meets up with David, reporter Vanessa and the NSA lady to reveal he’s bailing on their mission of justice, but David says he’s done with burying stories. Then, just as they realize they’ve all been duped into this rendezvous, shots ring out, popping each of the ladies fatally in the bean. Jake emerges from the shadows, then trains his pistol in the gents’ direction, and just before we go to black, a shot fires from his gun.
THE REVIEW | All told, a much stronger, more cohesive episode than last week. (If I’m ever in doubt, the ease, or lack of, in writing the recap confirms my instinct.) The debate seemed a little low-wattage compared to the spectacle we see transpire on TV every four years (like only Liv and Cy would be in the wings?), but I enjoyed Sally’s change of intent, that “flip of a switch.” I also felt some better character work was done on Jake this week (aside from, you know, all the killing). His wine-and-fries scene/monologue with Liv didn’t ring false and the “mouse on a wheel” retort to Cyrus did the character some favors — while on the other side of the triangle, it was great to have Olivia school Fitz on what it invariably takes to get the leader of the free world elected. (Bonus points that she initiated the kiss.)… Yet again, not sure what we’re doing here in the long-term with Quinn, who basically abetted in those two shootings. But hey, she got in jokes about fake-selling paper!…? Lastly, fun fact: The logline for this episode included, “[T]he Gladiators work with a powerful CEO accused of murder,” and there were even episodic photos with a guest star. Cut for time?