We’re three episodes in, and it’s unclear where this fourth season of Scandal is going. Fitz’s second term White House is focused on governing, as opposed to soapy affairs and shadowy spycraft. Although this is a good thing for Scandal‘s America (they’re getting comprehensive gun control!), it doesn’t make for compelling television. No one is watching Scandal for its rigorously accurate depiction of the legislative process. Give us clandestine make-outs, and give us death! Looks like we’ll have to depend on our peripheral characters for those lurid thrills. But first, the case of the week, or more truthfully, the case of two weeks, as this one ends in a cliffhanger.
An old law school friend of Olivia’s comes to her to find her runaway daughter. Katherine married into some serious money, but that doesn’t stop her from arguing with her high-achieving teenage daughter. Pretty straightforward, you’d think. But no, you Scandal-watchers, you know better than to think anything is straightforward in this world. And right you are. Turns out Katherine was getting naked and naughty with her daughter’s 17-year-old boyfriend. The daughter is found dead, and even though Olivia eventually comes around to believing Katherine didn’t do it, her law school pal still ends up in cuffs on the evening news. Time for Pope and co. to prove she’s innocent.
Olivia drops by her dad’s house with coffee, ostensibly just to say hi. There’s nothing traditionally healthy about the Pope family’s relationships, but they are weirdly protective of each other. Olivia knows Rowan is a bad dude, but she still accepts an invitation to bring her boyfriend over for a family dinner. Jake, unsurprisingly, is less than thrilled about this. “If you were my girlfriend, I would come and meet your dad,” he tells her. “Even your dad who threw me in a hole and tortured me. But you are not my girlfriend, so no.” On the one hand, Jake needs to stop harping on this boyfriend/booty call distinction, as he’s trending away from sympathetic toward whiny. On the other hand, his willingness to dine with his monster of a former boss perfectly fits the generally screwed up dynamics of the Pope family.
Jake does eventually relent and join the family Pope for pork roast (Rowan’s secret: coffee grounds in the rub). Small talk is made as Papa Pope carves the meat with a distressingly large knife. Until Liv leaves the table to take a phone call. Then Jake delivers his ultimatum: Get out of D.C. or Olivia sees all the incontrovertible proof that her pops killed Harrison and the president’s son. “Trust me, I will be the one standing over you when you die,” Rowan hisses back, while lodging that carving knife neatly between two of Jake’s fingers. We’ll just have to see who yields first (or ends up six feet under).
NEXT: Everyone else wrestles with some moral gray areas.