Olivia Pope is torn in her work and love lives -- but one bombshell could change everything

By Katie Atkinson
Updated November 01, 2013 at 03:25 AM EDT
Richard Cartwright/ABC


S3 E5
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Knowing that Kerry Washington is about to be a first-time mom paints tonight’s episode of Scandal in a whole new light. The opening scene of Olivia contractually eating dinner with Rowan is no doubt inspiring the actress to espouse the exact opposite parenting philosophies of Liv’s dear old dad. You know: Don’t run any nefarious government agencies, don’t lock your kid’s love interest in a hole, don’t force your kid’s friends to kill people — the basics.

Rowan, for his part, thinks things are going swimmingly with his daughter, seeing as she got through a whole meal without hurling accusations at him. “I’ve learned that accusing you of things means nothing,” she says. “It leads to power games and moves and you making my friends kill people.” But he continues his quest for Father of the Year by taking full credit for his daughter’s success, disparaging her late mother, and threatening two of the most important men in her life: Jake and Huck. Bad-dad hat trick!

Speaking of the B613 refugees, Jake and Huck are taking advantage of Rowan’s night out by sneaking into his place and stealing his computer files. They almost get caught, but these guys are professionals (when they’re not getting put into holes), and the mission is a success.

Cyrus and Mellie have their own joint mission afoot: Luring in a new campaign manager for Fitz. (EW readers will recognize this juicy scene, featuring Private Practice alum Paul Adelstein, from earlier in the week.) Adelstein is Leo Bergen, and Mellie and Cyrus are desperate to work with him, but he’s not so convinced. After a dose of tough love (Leo says Fitz has a “his wife is a frigid shrew” problem; subtle), the campaign manager says he doesn’t work with losers. Burn!

Fitz is going to need all the help he can get, since his former campaign manager — and mistress — is sleeping with the enemy, so to speak. Lisa Kudrow’s Josephine Marcus has enlisted Liv’s help, and she’s not treating the congresswoman with kid gloves: “You feel like a high schooler visiting college for the weekend — I can change that.” Funny that Liv should mention high school… The real reason Josephine hires her is because she has a problem that needs fixing: She had a baby as a teenager. While Josephine thinks the story is under wraps, we know that Cyrus is already well aware of the youthful indiscretion.

NEXT: Cue the Tom Petty for a Pope & Associates road trip!

So what does this mean for Pope & Associates? Field trip! The gang hops a flight to Red Springs, Montana, to bury Josephine’s past deep in the red clay. While the team sets up shop in their hunting lodge/hotel room, Huck works on his side-mission with Jake — and Quinn is sniffing around his business yet again. (A restraining order might be required. Actually, Harrison agrees and grounds Baby Huck. Ha!)

One of the files Jake and Huck got off Rowan’s computer was a video of his conversation with the president, who’s up in arms over Pete Foster’s death. (Some readers were confused last week about who Pete is, so a quick recap of what we know so far: Pete Foster was listed as the pilot on Operation Remington, but was it actually Fitz flying the plane? Jake and four other men were on the ground for that mission as well, so they should probably watch their backs. Rowan set up Huck to kill Pete in episode 3.) “Who else has to die to protect a secret that no one else on this planet is looking for?” Fitz asks Rowan. Well, actually, someone is looking — two someones. And just as Huck is explaining all this, Jake is approached by an ominous black SUV and instructed to get inside.

But it’s not Rowan/Eli/Dad who sent for Jake; it’s the president himself. And we now know how Fitz has stayed in shape all these years since terrorizing Patrick Swayze in Ghost: Basketball! If things are getting a little too heavy for you in Washington, D.C., it’s time for a lighthearted (albeit passive-aggressive) game of hoops between Fitz and Jake, set to the strains of Average White Band’s “Pick up the Pieces.” (Scandal does not win the award for best use of this song, however; that prize goes to Swingers for the Tarantino-inspired slow walk scene.) Jake also gets another one of Fitz’s “you were just supposed to watch her” speeches, but maybe he should have thought about that before putting his hottest friend in charge of stalking his mistress. Food for thought.

Cyrus, meanwhile, needs a little stalking of his own: He calls up Liv to dig up dirt on Josephine — or Josie (thanks for the brevity, Cy; “Josephine” is a mouthful). Olivia declines the job with a smirk on her face, but smartly doesn’t show all her cards to her old coworker. Instead, she gives her Montana team a heads-up that the White House is also sniffing around, allowing them to head off all Cy’s attempts to blackball Josie. In the words of Cy’s Montana lapdog: “We got Pope’d, sir!”

This week’s drama isn’t contained out west: Vice President Sally Langston and Mellie are both preoccupied with getting turned down by Leo Bergen (he might have a little more free time, now that Josie chose Liv over him), and Fitz knows that Jake has a renewed interest in Operation Remington (though he cautions Rowan to leave Captain Ballard alone). Cy — recalibrating after his brutal Poping — thinks his best course is to leak Josie’s baby secret to her Democratic rival, Governor Reston, and let him do the White House’s dirty work.

NEXT: Thank you, Shonda Rhimes, for shirtless phone calls

*Gratuitous shirtlessness alert!* In the grand tradition of Game of Thrones‘ sexposition comes the Shonda Rhimes shirtless-yet-informative phone call. We’ll call it Grrrr-izon. (Or maybe we won’t.) Jake’s shirt was clearly getting in the way of all of Huck’s information, so it had to go. The pair’s current goal: pinpointing Fitz’s exact location during Operation Remington. Jake puts his shirt back on (boo!) so he can break into Huck’s office at Pope & Associates and process the data from Rowan’s computer.

Jake gets caught leaving the office by Liv, but he just tells her he was worried and came to check on her. She claims she forgot her phone, but she’s holding it. “You forgot your secret Fitz phone…” Jake realizes. She’s waiting for the prez to call so she can vet his jokes for the White House Correspondents Dinner, but she’s done waiting: She throws the phone (which looks like it was manufactured when Bill Clinton was in office) in the trash and goes out for burgers with the available — though no less complicated — Jake.

Meanwhile, back in Montana, Harrison and Abby find Josie’s nurse, who reveals that the baby was never put up for adoption; she was raised right there in Red Springs — as Josie’s sister, Candice, her now campaign manager. Liv tries to convince Josie to tell the truth, but she says that area is “off-limits.” Fitz is all too ready to go outside his limits, asking Cyrus how he can get rid of B613. Cy says questioning the agency will lead to “a lone gunman on a grassy knoll. Ask Kennedy.” And Quinn, well, she’s trying to trade in computer equipment for a gun. Montana suits her.

At the first Democratic Primary debate, Liv realizes that Josie is going to get ambushed about her teenage pregnancy and tells her to come clean. She hesitates, but ultimately tells part of the story to the American people — and indirectly tells the whole truth to her sister/daughter. Cyrus realizes Josie just won “the hearts of America” with Liv’s help, but the congresswoman is torn up over tarnishing her relationship with Candice. “I’m glad you found that beautiful,” Josie sneers to Olivia. “You’re fired.”

Olivia retreats to a wine glass and a dark office when her Fitz phone starts ringing from the trash. She, of course, digs it out and answers it, and they banter about his Correspondents Dinner jokes — but Fitz is too ashamed to make jokes because he fears he is the joke lately. Liv goes into Fixer mode, telling Fitz to mock his image and offering up some Roast-worthy lines (Kerry Washington got some practice for her SNL hosting gig this weekend). Fitz even drops the L-word on Liv, and he doesn’t awkwardly wait for her to say it back. One person who doesn’t find this Olitz back-and-forth adorable: Mellie, who’s been watching through the door all along.

Abby and the rest of the team are back from Montana, but for some reason, she decides to lie to her sometime boyfriend David Rosen (who, you know, investigates things for a living as a U.S. Attorney) and says she’s still out west. Of course, he’s standing at her door and catches her in this completely pointless lie. Like I said last week: I’m ignoring their dramz and just assuming they’re always sleeping together. Because they are.

NEXT: A grown-up date with Jake

Despite Fitz’s very recent declaration of love, Olivia hasn’t given up on Jake. While Huck and Jake make an Icelandic breakthrough in their Operation Remington investigation, Liv calls and asks Jake to take her to the Correspondents Dinner. He stupidly accepts. Actually, scratch the stupid part: We get to see Captain Ballard in full military regalia and a striking black-and-white gown on Olivia, so carry on, you two. Keep looking way too hot for D.C.

Sally Langston has ulterior motives for the night’s festivities. She corners Leo Bergen in the men’s room — while he’s otherwise occupied at the urinal — to try to pin him down as a campaign manager. But she’s not working on Fitz’s behalf; she’s courting him to run her Independent campaign for president.

Liv, meanwhile, is summoned by Secret Service to the Presidential Suite, and she struts all the way there, thinking Fitz will be waiting with open arms — only to find Mellie instead. But if you were expecting a catfight, Mellie only gets in one zinger (“I like your new boyfriend. Is he married?”) before proposing that Liv run Fitz’s re-election campaign. Come again now? “He can’t breathe when you’re not here,” she tells her onetime nemesis. “He doesn’t have the will to run, let alone win, without you. You’re everything to him, Liv. He needs you, so I need you.” Wow.

Abby surprises David back at his place, in a green satin gown, and it turns out she didn’t want to go to the dinner because her abusive ex-husband was there. What does this all mean? It means Abby and David are sleeping together again. Just like we knew they would.

In other relationship drama, Jake has had enough of the Olivia love triangle and is taking a taxi home. “I don’t play second fiddle to anyone — even the president,” he tells her (a much manlier statement than when he yelled “more wine” last week so Fitz could hear). Liv can’t hang around much longer anyway. Harrison summons her back to the office, where he’s waiting with Josie. Looks like another triangle is entering Olivia’s life, and this one also includes Fitz: Josie wants Liv back as her campaign manager. She declines, Harrison says “WTF,” and Quinn unpacks her Montana gun. Never a dull moment at P&A.

Huck is lurking in the shadows at Jake’s place when he gets back from the dinner, and he’s had a Remington breakthrough. Fitz was in Iceland to shoot down a plane that day, on behalf of the U.S. government. Who was on that plane? Maya Lewis, a.k.a. Rowan’s wife, a.k.a. OLIVIA’S MOM. Follow that, Gladiators? If Huck is right, Fitz killed Liv’s mom. Can she trust no man in her life ever? To make this even more heartbreaking, Huck’s revelation is juxtaposed with images of Olivia all pumped up about getting the Fitz team back together, complete with her Grant for President T-shirt and a photographic walk down memory lane.

So, a LOT happened in this episode: Montana trips, sisters/daughters, debates, off-the-grid investigations, fancy dinners — all capped by one hell of a bombshell. I’m sufficiently scared for Halloween. What did you think, Gladiators? Is the Operation Remington mystery finally paying off? And even you Jake opponents have to admit he looked pretty good in uniform…

Follow Katie on Twitter: @ktatkinson.

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