It’s always impressive how much drama Scandal can pack into a brief time, and within the first five minutes of this week: Mellie gets blindsided into admitting that she knew about Liv and Fitz’s affair and helped cover it up by paying Jeannine Locke, Cyrus tries to talk Olivia and Fitz into a quickie marriage so she can avoid testifying, and Papa Pope kills someone without even thinking about it. Where could they possibly go from here? Well…seems like everywhere.
The OPA gang (Abby included!) has to testify, too, and they jump through various loopholes to avoid actually lying while not being totally open in court. The Jeannine Locke video leak, for example? It was dead Harrison! Olivia doesn’t want to lie, so she’s trying not to testify altogether. The only option anyone can think of is spousal privilege — meaning she’d have to marry Fitz, and fast. She’s not too keen on the idea, and Fitz can sense it. So he plans an elaborate, romantic scene on the balcony, complete with rose petals and an engagement ring that used to belong to Betsy Ross.
But that isn’t what Olivia wants either, “not some fake storybook romance,” like they’ve been trying to sell to the public. They’re not ready for marriage yet, she says. Fitz, both confused and upset, tells her she isn’t ready — and she never will be. She tells him that’s not fair, which it isn’t, but doesn’t have another answer for him.
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Meanwhile, Papa Pope has landed himself in the prison hospital on purpose by faking a heart problem. Yes, this guy is such a master manipulator he can literally control his own heart rate. I don’t know where we go from here because at this rate, the series finale is literally going to be Papa Pope in the White House and everyone else dead. The dude is invincible. After Eli calls Jake, Liv (who hung up on him), and Quinn, he finally somehow convinces Liv to hear him out. And as always, Papa has a solution. He’s got dirt on every member of the senate committee, enough for them to throw the entire trial away. All Liv has to do is get him out of jail. Looks like this is her get-out-of-jail-free card: No jail-like marriage for her, either, if she goes along with it.
So Liv appeals to the only person besides Fitz who could get him out: Mellie (because she can sign Fitz’s name like an art forger). Mellie obviously has no idea why she would help Liv, who is just trying to live happily ever after in the White House, as she sees it. She’s even more furious when she realizes who this prisoner is… Damascus Bainbridge? The guy with the bus of dead jurors? Oh, Mellie, how little you actually know. Liv eventually explains that this is her father, Eli Pope, and it all makes sense to Mellie. “Your father is a murderer,” she says. “How sick is that? How sick are you? I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… Who else has he done this to? Who else has he hurt?” I don’t know if Liv says this next bit just to twist the knife or to try to be honest or what, but she tells Mellie, “My father killed your son.”
Since this plan clearly doesn’t seem to be working, she goes back to Plan A: In bed with Fitz, she tries Betsy Ross’s ring on one more time and says, “Okay.” It’s such a sad contrast to the confident “Yes” she gave to the reporters to start this whole thing. That’s how she should feel about the marriage — defiant and enthusiastic. Instead, it’s a resigned, “Okay.” She says she wants no wedding dress, no flowers, no vows, and she’s keeping her last name. Too bad, because I really want to see what Olivia Pope would have worn to her wedding.
Liv calls Jake for the second time this episode — the first was to try to get him to convince her she could be a married person, and this one was to tell him the news. For the second time, he hangs up on her. Jake will be friend-zoned no more. He decides to go with his wife Elise, who’s admitted that she’s not in the States for Jake. She’s actually been hired by some unknown person to kill Eli Pope. They’ll meet at the train station tomorrow to figure out their mission.
NEXT: Fitz and Mellie divide their assets
Fitz and Mellie are signing their divorce papers: Well, Mellie is signing papers, and Fitz is standing around with a half-full glass of whiskey, whining and pouting. Things are mostly split 50-50, but Mellie wants Jerry’s foundation because, well, she’s going to need a job after losing her senate seat. Under his breath, Fitz says there’s nothing left for Mellie to take. Which is ridiculous, of course, because he’s about to marry a living goddess. Maybe he’s stressed about, I don’t know, getting impeached. They have a huge fight that’s worth watching again on DVR because the acting is so great. Fitz tries to say he’s blameless, and Mellie completely turns the tables. Not only is he not “blameless,” but everything he’s blaming her for, she did to protect him. The jurors wouldn’t have died, she wouldn’t have been raped by his father, she wouldn’t have had kids, and the kicker: Her life would have meant something, if it wasn’t for Fitzgerald Grant. I can already hear the Emmy nominations…
To lighten things up a bit: The show’s most angelic two characters, David Rosen and Susan Ross, are bonding over some wine coolers and the fact that Susan wants to resign. David tries to convince her otherwise, going full therapist and explaining that she only wants to resign because she’s nervous she might actually end up president and it’s not a job she wants. “I don’t know if you’d be a great president,” Rosen says, “but I know you wouldn’t be worse than the one we have now.” Burn! And also, as the only person besides Rosen with an intact moral compass, she probably would make a great president.
Olivia is in the Oval Office, getting prepped for her new First Lady security detail, which is pretty intense. Her family and friends will need background checks, she has to get a new phone… The agent explaining it all to her even compares the Secret Service to those vet cones that pets wear around their necks after surgery. “We’re the cones,” he says. “We’re annoying.” Really making a case for yourself, bud. Luckily (well, maybe), Liv’s phone gets a call just before she’s about to hand it over. It’s Mellie.
Liv goes to meet her in the same dark hallway as before, but this time, things are different. Mellie is grinning ear-to-ear as she explains to Liv that she’s been hating her all these years without realizing that Liv was actually her white knight. “You are going to make me President of the United States,” she explains. And as news spreads that the bipartisan investigation into the Grant affair has been dropped, who steps out of the shadows but Papa Pope — with Tom behind him. He’s back, folks. Let the nightmares commence.
Oh and Elise? Jake found her dead at the train station. She’s not going to be able to kill Pope…but maybe Jake will. Thoughts, everyone? Can you fill in the blanks of my recap with your theories? Does this mean Olivia won’t marry Fitz after all? Will they stay together? Will it be a Mellie-versus-Susan Ross run for the White House? Will David Rosen be Susan Ross’s vice president? Who will Papa Pope kill next? Who will Jake kill next? Where has Charlie been? Does Charlie get cavities?