It appears Shonda has heard and heeded the call to bring the salacious back to Scandal. Last week’s mini-cliffhanger (is it a cliffhanger if it’s with a newly introduced character no one really cares about?) is mentioned and then promptly ignored for the rest of the episode. “Like Father, Like Daughter” was swapped in for a different episode, so perhaps we’ll pick back up with law-school buddy Katherine at a later date.
Things kick off in high gear right from the start as Olivia is summoned to a happening party. But she’s not there for sweet glowstick necklaces and Jello shots. Turns out President Grant’s daughter slipped her Secret Service detail (seems plausible, given the Keystone Kops standards of our real-life agents). After all those social-media-obsessed millenials have their phones conveniently shut down, Liv and Quinn get a very drunk and high Karen Grant to her helicopter evac—very discreet. Just when they seem to be in the clear, Karen discovers that there is some evidence of her evening’s activities, namely a rather explicit video of a ménage à trois. Liv dials up Cyrus, breathlessly declaring, “I just saw the dirtiest sex tape I have ever seen in my entire life, and it stars [the President’s] teenage daughter!” (That can’t possibly be, true, right? She’s a fixer in D.C. You just know there’s some seriously nasty stuff she’s had to sweep under the rug.)
Liv’s call interrupts Cyrus in his own little transgression, as he and Michael are indulging in some postcoital pillow talk. He abandons his paid paramour to meet with a President giving his delinquent daughter the “what were you thinking?” talk. When Fitz reaches the (honestly not improbable question) of whether the sex was consensual, Karen unleashes on him, taking what seems to be a cruel glee in telling her father that she stole a jet, got drunk, smoked, and “shot up something awesome” (color me surprised: that party looked more like a Molly scene), and mocks his assumption that it must be rape, hissing out, “How lame are you?”
Pope and her remaining associates get to work finding that video, going through a lineup of possible sex partners—scored, oddly enough, to Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out.” Scandal, I don’t quite know what message you’re trying to get across with this. Meanwhile, Abby is feeling left out of the loop and attacks Cyrus for letting things go on over her head. He reminds her that, yeah, a lot of the things that go on in the White House will be above her clearance, and she should maybe stop comparing herself to Olivia Pope if she wants to remain sane.
Everyone’s taking pieces out of one another, it seems. Our next argument setpiece comes courtesy of a deranged Mellie, who runs across Olivia in the corridors of the White House and completely flips her s—. She storms into the Oval to berate Fitz, only to find herself on the end of a dressing-down. “I have dealt with drunk Mellie, Smellie Mellie, and screw-everything-to-hell Mellie, and crybaby Mellie, and eat-everything-that-is-not-nailed-down Mellie, and I have not complained,” Fitz tells her, before unleashing a lot of complaining about how she has abandoned their family in her grief. This is a bit rich; historically, neither Grant has spent a whole lot of attention on their children. They had the last baby as a political stunt to distract from Fitz’s affairs! No one’s in danger of getting a gold medal for their parenting skills. Mellie does get the last word, though, noting, “A sex tape. She takes after her daddy then, doesn’t she.”
NEXT: Naturally, it’s handled.