Woo, Shonda! I think this episode was Scandal’s best feminist victory yet, with Olivia, Mellie, and even psycho Sally Langston stealing scenes, while Fitz and Cyrus both stepped up and stepped aside to help Mellie’s Senate run.
We also need to talk about the other obvious victory here: JAKE IS ALIVE. When Quinn stumbles onto his punctured body, she’s sure he’s dead, but Huck gives Jake’s chest a good B613 pound, and he unleashes a zombie yell. Can they take him to the hospital? No, of course not, because that would create a digital trail, Rowan would find out Jake’s still alive, and “he’ll kill all of you,” Liv says.
Charlie calls a Russian doctor who sets up a makeshift hospital bed—but he won’t help Jake unless Liv promises to help his KGB assassin pal, Black Sable. After some hesitation, Liv agrees, since it’s the only way to save Jake. This doctor, terrifying though he may be, provides some pitch perfect humor for the episode: He calls David Rosen “scared man with glasses” (and isn’t that pretty much always appropriate?), and his instructions for Rosen to help move Jake’s body are, “We flip. He screams. We flip anyway.”
Liv and Huck investigate Black Sable, who turns out to be a nice, cookie-baking grandmother who goes by Mary Peterson. This is her new life, though. In the life she left behind, she was a KGB assassin. “All I had to do was learn English, go to America, and murder people when asked,” she explains. Oh, that’s all! Anyway, she’d left it all behind, but yesterday found a “death drop” (a.k.a. instructions for a new kill job) under her windshield wiper. As is the trend du jour with every television show from House of Cards to The Americans, Mother Russia is the bad guy, and Putin wants the KGB back in business.
Let’s lighten up for a minute and visit the White House, where they’re dealing with the problem of Mellie running for a Senate seat in Virginia, while First Lady. Mellie tells the voters that it’s no big deal: First Lady is a title, it’s a privilege. It’s not a job. Then here comes Sally Langston, crying about a lack of patriotism, and worse: “Does it sit right with you,” she asks her viewers, “to a have a member of the legislative branch share a bed with the head of the executive branch?” I hate that woman, but she sure knows her audience.
The American people are outraged, and the White House is flustered. Sure, it’s a conflict of interest to have the President sleeping with a Senator, but is it illegal? As Fitz asks, um, “Has anybody checked?” Abby calls David to ask, who says, “Well, yes. It’s legal, because nobody ever considered a First Lady would run for Senate.”
“So Mellie’s senate run is legal because of misogyny, is that what you’re saying?” Abby asks. Yep. That’s exactly right, and they’re going to make sure every reporter in town knows it. The only problem is, if they’re trying to convince people who are already a bit averse to the idea of feminism (e.g. Sally Langston’s audience), they need to have a man explain it first, so a sulky Cyrus agrees to appear on Sally’s show to be the mouthpiece.
Cyrus vs. Sally was a fantastic sparring session: Scandal’s writers need to remember sometimes that they can create great dialogue that doesn’t involve lofty speeches and beating catchphrases to the ground. This face-off was a battle of words and wits. Cyrus says the First Lady has no sworn duties to the country, Sally says she’s renouncing her marriage vows, Cyrus says it’s sexist to tell a woman she can’t have a job, Sally says she has a job and being a mother is the hardest one in the world, Cyrus says you can’t quit being a mom like you can quit a job… like Sally did. Then Sally flips the tables: I can see it in your eyes, you think you should run for Senator, not Mrs. Grant. There were a few minutes there when I really thought Cyrus had lost it, because Sally clearly could see right through him, and hey, she had the home court advantage (I don’t watch sports, but I think that’s the right phrase). But then, Cyrus RE-flips those same tables: If we were talking about the First Gentleman, we’d obviously let him have a job. And here comes the kicker: “Would you have stopped Daniel Douglas, rest his soul, from working outside the home?” (If you’re just joining us… Sally killed her late husband, then called Cyrus from the crime scene. So this was the ultimate trump card.)
NEXT: Papa Pope lays down the law… well, the opposite of the law