Overall, this week’s episode looked a whole lot like last week’s: Liv and Fitz are frozen between giving up and giving in, Mellie is in pain but trying to spin it into professional growth, Abby is frazzled, and Quinn, Huck, and Jake are half-goofing off, half-working back at OPA.
But despite a lack of external change so far, some our fair characters are undergoing quite a bit of internal growth — they’re learning to make decisions and stick to them, to go after what they really want, and to try saying “yes” to things (looks like Shonda Rhimes may have used her own Year of Yes as inspiration… Wait, was last week’s conclusion just a really subtle book plug?).
So let’s get to it. Mellie (and Bellamy Young, who plays her) was the clear star of this week’s episode. We haven’t seen monologues this good or hooch this strong since the days of Smelly Mellie! At the start, Mellie and Fitz are sitting down for their big, exclusive interview — you know, the one in which they deny the Olivia Pope rumors and pretend everything’s all hunky-dory in the big house, just as Liv is confirming to the press that she is, in fact, the president’s mistress.
Abby and her troops burst onto the scene to pull the Grants out of the interview room, but not before the reporter has some great footage, rife for blackmail, of the first couple lying about the situation on camera. In the oval office, Fitz and Mellie watch Liv’s statement on TV: Mellie is horrified, but Fitz’s smile is so giddy, he almost melted my Jake-loving heart. Eventually, Mellie goes to her office, and Liv comes into the Oval and apologizes for not warning Fitz about what she’d say. “I loved what you said,” he says. They smooch. It’s very cute.
Meanwhile, Abby is trying to convince Mellie that there’s a way to spin this: The Grants have grown apart after Gerry’s death, it’s amicable, etc….but she’s not having it. Who does Mellie call to save the day? Her old pal, Cyrus Beene, who is Fitz-and-Liv levels of thrilled to be back in the White House. What does Mellie want, Cyrus asks? “I want to destroy Olivia Pope. I want her to suffer like I have suffered. I want to make them bleed. I want their every breath to reek of poison,” Mellie intones like she’s possesed. Her rage, while understandable, is a little belated. Mellie, you’ve known about this affair for years. Some of those years, if I recall correctly, you even supported it because it kept Fitz docile.
“This is a very important moment,” Cyrus warns. “Don’t waste it being human.” Then, Mellie remembers her true desire: “I want the Oval.” The Lady is on a mission.
Team Mellie and Team Fitz commence with the negotiations, with Cyrus and Abby acting as go-betweens. If they can reach an agreement, Mellie will do the exclusive interview with Fitz and the reporter they bailed on before, or else the reporter airs the footage of them lying on camera. So…Mellie gets the house, the kids, Fitz’s full support for her presidential run, Liv and Fitz can’t get married, can’t be seen together, Liv can’t ever take the Grant last name. Oh, and half a million dollars per annum to use at her discretion. What does Fitz get? Just Liv. But that’s enough for him.
As it turns out, it’s not enough for Mellie: She’s hurt. She doesn’t really need the Santa Barbara house. What she does need? Some hooch…and she’s been saving a jar full of it in a shoebox in the First Closet.
There are other souls drinking their pain away in fair Washington: Jake, Quinn, and Huck are holding down the fort at OPA and drinking vodka (brand: vOdKa, according to the bottle). They tried to help Liv first, obviously, before Jake turned off the TV and unplugged the wires, much to Huck’s chagrin, who was working on some big hack. “You were going to turn off the Internet?” Quinn asked. “I was going to erase the Internet,” Huck said. They high-five. If you take away the face-licking and torture turn-ons, they’re pretty cute.
Jake, on the other hand — my poor baby Jake — is stuck deeeep in the mud of the Friend Zone. Liv calls him to see what’s going on over there, then confesses she might have made the wrong decision. He seems weirdly okay with the whole Fitz thing for now…but maybe it’s the vOdKa? I don’t know. We’re in love, but I can’t read his mind or anything, you know?
NEXT: Mellie shows Liv her “prison”