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'Scandal' recap: 'Gladiators Don't Run'

The auction for Olivia Pope takes an unexpected turn.

Posted on

Mitchell Haaseth/ABC


TV Show
Drama, Thriller
run date:
Kerry Washington, Tony Goldwyn, Bellamy Young
Current Status:
In Season

Here we have the one and only lot up for auction today, Olivia Pope, Washington D.C.’s premier fixer, former White House Press Secretary, suspected/known lover of the sitting president, and expert-level white-coat-wearer. Let’s open the bidding at 1 million. Do I hear 1 million? 

That’s right, the auction for Olivia Pope, engineered by Olivia Pope (via her captors turned partners), gets underway at the top of this episode. She’s up for sale on the Darknet with a whole host of terrorists and unfriendly governments ready to spend precious millions for some leverage on the US government. Before tonight’s episode, a warning popped up about graphic violence. “At an auction?” you think, imagining stuffy old folks bidding quietly. This is not your grandma’s auction. There are really three parties in tonight’s action, as far as we’re concerned.

The first is the White House itself. Fitzgerald Grant is cleaning house, replacing his Secret Service and prepping to oust his weaselly VP. He decides he also wants in on the bidding for Liv. “We can win this. Who has more money than the United States of America?” he asks, only for Cyrus and Mellie to rattle of a string of countries who are way richer than us. Sometimes I wonder how Fitz ever got elected, or what fantastical America he think’s he’s in charge of. Of course, it’s not seemly for governments to be seen negotiating with terrorists, so the White House gets one of their old terrorist buddies to front for them.

Meanwhile, Andrew refuses to go gently into political obscurity. He threatens to take down Fitz, Cyrus, and everyone with him—if they accuse him of treason, he’ll make sure the whole world knows the West Angola action was done for Liv’s sake. “Going to war for your sidepiece doesn’t just make you an unpopular president,” Andrew sneers. “It makes you a criminal of the highest order.” Real talk, Andrew, these people have been criminals of the highest order for a long time. Like, since the inception of this presidency. Cyrus flips Liz North, whose first-half-of-the-season cool has been irreparably shattered by the left turn her conspiracy has taken. She’s still got the blond power-helmet-hair, but Lizzie Bear is a shadow of her former domineering, party-controlling self.

Andrew plays his last card, and it turns out to be a good one. He threatens Mellie with revealing their affair, asking, “How’s that for your husband’s legacy?” It’s the wrong question. Mellie is much more worried about her own future. A tender talk on the Truman balcony between Fitz and Mellie reveals that she wants to be president some day. It’s a nice moment, the couple interacting as partners, if not lovers. Fitz has clearly tired of the whole political circus, but Mellie’s as ambitious as ever. She’s supporting Fitz in getting Liv back (“We sleep better when she’s lying between us”), and in return he supports the career she wants to pursue. Andrew gets his get out of jail free pass.

NEXT: Bidder No. 2