My jaw hurts. It took a full minute, maybe two, to fix once it dropped open and hung there after the last scene. We’ll get to that tragic, shocking death in a bit, but first let’s talk a little bit about justice. This episode saw the Gladiators’ “white hat” principles—justice, truth, and the like—play out in three different ways, with three vastly different consequences. Shall we start with the good news first?
The White House has finally found someone other than David Rosen who isn’t so caught up in his or her personal life or power plays that they throw their principles to the wind, and that person is Vice President Susan Ross. The new Veep is sharp, and serious about helping the country—so serious, in fact, that she spent countless hours reading the 1,200-page “Brandon Bill,” proposed to keep the police force in check. This bill is a nice continuation of the wish-fulfillment we saw in “The Lawn Chair”; not only did a corrupt cop finally go to jail, but now we’re passing legislation to protect against it. The only problem? It’s basically just a suggestion to the cops, as Vice President Ross realizes that there’s no plan in place to actually enforce the bill.
She refuses to cast the bill’s winning vote until every single one of her questions gets answered, wearing Cyrus, Mellie, and David Rosen down before Fitz finally storms in. “You are a fetus in the world of Washington politics!” he says, reminding Ross that she has no real power. Ah, but she does: the power to stand up to the ol’ Commander-in-Chief without a moment’s hesitation. Soon enough, she’s convinced Fitz to rework the entire bill with her so they can affect real change—one of the few times we’ve actually seen Fitz do anything related to actual politics. And to distract the public from the dragging legislative process, Mellie gets to announce her Senate run (which Ross totally called, by the way), so everyone’s happy. Justice score: 10/10.
Now, onto Olivia Pope and Associates’ new case. No, not the one that Papa Pope asked her to consider (his own, against David Rosen’s B613 charges). We’ll get to that shortly. This one involves the two poles of the Mayoral race: Mayor Verrano versus Marcus Walker. Olivia gets a call from Marcus, who you’ll also remember from “The Lawn Chair,” and she, Huck, and Quinn (don’t you wish their names were Huck and Finn?) head to the Mayor’s house to find a panicked, shirtless Marcus next to the Mayor’s wife’s bloody corpse.
Apparently, as the surprise couple was in the throes of an affair, someone came home who they thought was Mr. Mayor himself, and the Mayor’s wife ushered Marcus into a closet to hide. Though it wasn’t the Mayor after all—it was three masked men, who not only robbed the room of its jewelry, but also killed the Mayor’s wife, stabbing her repeatedly with a little too much ease.
To save Marcus’ political chances, Olivia decides this will be a missing persons case, not a murder. Huck and Quinn sterilize the crime scene, and we learn what a “classic fluff-and-fold” is—beating the corpse with hammers until it’s soft enough to fold into a suitcase. Those two always know how to make your dinner crawl right back up into your throat! Marcus feels a bit weird about this dirty business, but he goes with it. “This is what I do,” Olivia says. “You call me, and I save your life.” He remembers one name from the bloody bedroom scuffle: Mickey. They set out to look.
Later, another call comes in, and Liv finds Marcus being questioned at the police station after some incriminating emails have apparently surfaced (don’t worry—he was hacked). Thank god for this scene, because I’ve been missing some old-school, early Olivia Pope, where she would cut bad guys down to size with one razor-sharp speech. In this case, the police hadn’t read Marcus his Miranda Rights because they weren’t really allowed to arrest him, and Liv gets another chance to yell at the evil police chief from a few weeks ago.
Mickey turns out to be Mayor Verrano’s security guy (he has big ears… like the cartoon mouse) who he paid to kill his cheating wife. There are two ways this can go, Liv tells Marcus. They can put the Mayor away with Marcus’ witness testimony (since the forensic evidence is gone, whoops), or they can blackmail Verrano into stepping down, and Marcus wins the Mayoral race. Marcus chooses the latter, the smarmy Mayor says, “That bitch got what was coming to her,” and makes his resignation speech. But when it’s Marcus’ turn, his passion for justice (“Dr. King said a lie cannot live forever,” he says) forces him to confess to the affair, and to Verrano’s murder. “He killed her,” he says. “I’m sorry I’m a sinner, but he is a murderer. That is the truth.” So now no one is the Mayor… but at least Marcus feels better. Justice score: 7/10
NEXT: Secret identities… and an unexpected death
Remember last week, when Rowan showed up at Liv’s quintuple-bolted door with her poor new boyfriend Russell? Unfortunately, that wasn’t one of Liv’s PTSD-induced flashbacks. That was real… and this is the point where justice (as sane people know it) just flutters straight away. Papa Pope casually drugs Liv’s man and pitches his case to her. She’s a fixer, and he has a problem. “These people have decided I’m a criminal,” he says of the B613 case. But “I’m just a paleontologist at the Smithsonian.” He laughs a lot in his manaical, Batman villian-type way, and asks Liv if she wants to “dig into some Freud, baby”: “No matter how white the knight,” (see what he did there?) “all men are just like your father.” She has 48 hours to pick a side and handle the situation. Papa out.
Russell’s been given a “very light sedative,” so as he gurgles back to consciousness, Liv explains his lethargy by pretending they’ve been drinking all evening. “You do remember the dancing, the singing?” she asks, and they shuffle to bed.
The next day, Liv meets with Jake and David to talk strategy: They’re going after Rowan, and Jake will testify. Later, Jake shows up at OPA, green eyes glittering, to give one of his nice guy speeches. “I’m here if you get scared or nervous, which you should,” he says. “We all should. I’m here. You can call me.” He invites her to his meeting with David to go over testimony, and while they’re there, an old secret comes up in the practice questions: “What’s Operation Remington?” David asks, thinking he’s just honing in on a random detail in a footnote. Eventually the truth everyone else knows comes out—poor David, he’s always the last to know!—Rowan ordered a plane carrying 329 civilians shot down, and Fitzgerald Grant was the one to do it.
On her way home, Liv’s red door flashbacks are flickering back. She calls Lover Russell for comfort, but when he comes over, he’s got some problems with the other night: “I’m not a heavy drinker, and I never sing. Or lose time. And there’s a whole piece of the evening that’s gone.” He’s looking for something more stable and Liv’s life clearly isn’t—why else would she pretend to be her anti-Sasha Fierce alter-ego, boring, uncomplicated Alex? All seems forgiven… for now.
As David Rosen and company are toasting to “not what is easy, but what is right” and gearing up for their case, Rowan is checking in again: Is he an OPA client yet? Of course he isn’t, but he’s proud of his baby. “Look at what you’ve become,” he coos. “Choosing to be a warrior instead of merely a person. No longer running after that man to shine his boots.”
“I will come after you,” Liv says.
And then we come to Jake. Beautiful, sweet, sometimes murder-y Jake, wandering through the empty OPA offices, telling Olivia he got her text. Suddenly, in a terrible, eerie mirror of the earlier scene with Marcus and the Mayor’s wife, a masked man emerges and the two begin to fight. He takes off his mask. “I know you…” Jake says, pinned to the ground. And so do we—it’s Russell, wielding a knife. He’s disappointed in Jake. “Rowan always went on and on about how special you were,” he taunts. “You’re not even making this a challenge.”
Jake’s bleeding from the stomach, but before he can fight back, Russell punctures Jake’s gut over and over, just like what happened earlier, in a foreshadowing I, for one, did not see coming. Not only was he, as a former Command, the linchpin of the whole B613 trial, but he’s Jake! No longer will our muscular protector be lurking in the shadows, ready to put on Liv’s “white hat” whenever she asks. Now, it’s up to everyone else to see if justice is even possible in such a demented world. Justice score: 1/10