There’s no way Scandal could keep the same momentum we left last episode with. People died! Children were scarred! And, oh yeah, Rowan Pope cast out his only daughter. So, it’s only fair that this episode opens with everyone taking stock of where they are after the very exciting revelations of last week. Liz North, for one, is exceptionally pleased with having rumbled Olivia’s covering up for Cyrus Beene. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women,” Liz tells her. “There’s a special place in hell for women who spout that tired quote to justify their bad behavior,” Olivia fires back. (Does this mean Liz is taking her girl-code lessons from Taylor Swift? Does that make Olivia Tina Fey? I’m okay with this.) This is all prelude, of course, to those saucy pictures of one Cyrus Beene and his paid paramour being leaked to the national press. The country, predictably, doesn’t take it well.
“America will forgive anything for love,” Liv tells Cyrus and Michael as she tries to broker their contractual, face-saving marriage. Let’s pause for a moment to parse that. On one hand, if Olivia Pope actually believed that wouldn’t she have let Fitz make their epic love public ages ago? America will forgive them! It’s all about love! On the other hand, maybe Olivia suspects that what she and Fitz have isn’t that same forgiveness-granting, capital-L luuurve? Is there somewhere deep down in Ms. Pope that wonders if what she and Fitz share is maybe more white-hot sexual chemistry as opposed to grow-old-together love? Or, option three, Olivia Pope is a master operator and will say whatever is required in the moment to persuade her clients toward their best interest.
The other prong in Liz North’s White-House toppling plan is to get war declared in West Angola. This goes, mostly, nowhere. Despite attempting to blow up a Vice President, the White House is hesitant to engage in a war that will sour, as Cyrus says, “two months down the line, when the first shipment of body bags are unloaded for something that at best vaguely resembles democracy.” Cy makes some poor choices in his personal life, but he’s definitely learned a lesson from the last Iraq war (which is even more impressive since it’s unclear whether that one happened in the Scandal-verse).
But Liz is invested in getting her war on, and so she goes to Mellie. Bellamy Young doesn’t get much to do this episode, but she knocks this scene out of the park. Liz has come to think of Mellie as her pearl-wearing inside man, a tool to be manipulated at will. And to be fair, Mellie’s naked ambition has often made her that tool, in this season and the ones past. But apparently all it takes is knowing that literally everyone is out to screw her (literally and figuratively) to put some steel in Mellie Grant’s spine. “When the next election rolls around, I’d make damn sure you bet the right horse,” Mellie warns Liz. “Because when it comes to screwing someone, I’m not nearly as gentle as Andrew. From me, it will hurt.” Mellie 2016!
Meanwhile, former B6-13 agents better watch their backs. Jake spots and handily dispatches the assassin sent for him. An assassin who is dressed in almost the exact same outfit as Jake—I guess the B6-13 guys all have similar taste? The killer’s carrying a playing card emblazoned with Jake’s face, a kill card. B6-13 is cleaning house, and while Liz North was channeling T.Swift, Rowan must have just watched The Dark Knight. Not that Command couldn’t be an excellent supervillain, but specially-made cards seem a bit over the top when you could, y’know, just tell the guy who to kill. This tying up of loose ends leads to Quinn and Charlie reuniting. The emotionally challenged assassin love triangle has historically been my least favorite part of this show. (It is responsible for the icky Huck-licking-Quinn’s-face foreplay! Never forget.) That said, Charlie and Quinn are weirdly alright together. Dysfunctional, homicidal tendencies aside, you can sort of see the seed of their twisted little romance. I’m glad neither one of them kills the other, which is helped considerably by Charlie revealing he has some of those secret files stashed away.
NEXT: Catching up with the family Pope.