Scandal recap: How We Met Her Mother
Olivia's mom is revealed, but Fitz refuses to reveal anything about Remington
When it was announced this week that Scandal had cast the role of Olivia Pope’s mom, there were plenty of people who thought the news confirmed Gladiator conspiracy theories that Maya had never really died in that airplane crash — you know, the one that Liv’s sometime boyfriend Fitz allegedly caused. But when the latest episode kicks off, we see the young Olivia Pope and her mom in the earliest Scandal flashback yet, so maybe Khandi Alexander was hired strictly for background. (Though we really hope she’s around for much more than that. Remember her on NewsRadio? Or CSI: Miami? Or There’s Something About Mary? Or currently on Treme? Or any number of other awesome things?)
This is Scandal we’re talking about, so don’t rule anything out just yet. When we’re introduced to Maya, she’s on her way out the door for a business trip. And it looks like it’s the trip, given her ominous goodbye. On a happier note, we see where Adult Liv gets her fashion sense from, as Maya sashays out the door in a chic white blazer and black pencil skirt.
When we return to the present, we learn that Jake and Huck have already let the cat out of the bag about Fitz’s involvement in Maya’s death — remember, last we saw Olivia, she was getting ready to rejoin Fitz’s campaign and reminiscing about the good old days. Now she’s sitting dumbfounded, alone in her office. But her name isn’t Olivia Mope, so she heads out to ask Fitz point-blank about her mom’s death.
Meanwhile, over at the Bizarro White House (a.k.a. the vice president’s residence), Sally Langston is reuniting with secret campaign manager Leo Bergen, who’s assessing the likability of Langston’s husband, Daniel Douglas. (“If I’m Joe Voter, is he the charming frat boy or the emasculated potential date raper?”) He also lays out a devious plan that will help turn the religious right against Fitz once and for all.
NEXT: Cyrus’ big fat Greek analogy
Mellie is convinced Fitz is back on track since Olivia is on her way to the White House. This is unsettling to Cyrus, who refers to the whole situation as a Greek tragedy and likens Liv to a “winged mistress flying too close to the sun.” Never change, Cyrus. But Olivia isn’t here to strategize Fitz’s campaign; she’s here for answers on Operation Remington — answers he can’t give. Fitz plays the president card, reiterating that Remington is a classified mission. Olivia responds to his secrecy in the only way she can: By refusing to work for his campaign.
“I did everything but roll your whore up in a rug and roll her at your feet,” Mellie spits at her husband when she hears Liv is out. We’re not even 10 minutes in, and Olivia is already the Icarus of mistresses and a whore in a rug. What could possibly be next? Earlier in the episode, Liv thought only her dad and Fitz knew about Remington, but we learn Cyrus is also in on the deception. “She knows, Cy,” Fitz says. “She knows everything.”
On her way to pick up the morning coffee, Quinn makes a stop at the shooting range (totally normal pre-work activity) before the Gladiators assemble in the office. Their first order of business? Processing the news that Pope & Associates is working for Congresswoman Marcus, not Fitz. “This is a chance to make history, to change the world,” Liv argues, lying to her team (and herself) about her true motivations. “White Hat, people!” So there’s no more cooking shows and morning chat-fests for Josie; she needs to get serious. “We need more Eisenhower, less Aunt Bee,” Liv says (although she probably could have gone a little more current than an Andy Griffith Show shout-out). But to get serious, Josie needs to get money, so it’s time to “line up the fat cats.”
Olivia heads home to her action-hero housemate and tells him she needs more information on Remington. Jake is in full Jason Statham mode with his fitted T-shirt and Michael Bay-inspired one-liners like this gem: “We’re only digging up dirt on the most powerful man in the world — how dangerous could that be?” Get this man a franchise!
NEXT: Cyrus honestly doesn’t know who Rowan is
This episode gives us definitive proof that Cyrus has no clue Rowan is Olivia’s dad. Who refers to someone by their full name — Olivia Pope — in front of his or her dad? No one. (Side note: How can Cy know so much about so many things and not know this crucial fact?) Cy is worried Liv will take the Remington intel to Josie to use it against Fitz (how small-picture that is). But Rowan plays along, opting for a divide-and-conquer technique with their common foes: “You shut down Marcus; I’ll take care of Ballard.”
Ballard is taking care of some business himself, lining up a coffee date to dig up some more info on Remington. Sorry, Kate, Jake only wants you for your security clearance. He has a really awkward live-in, non-dating situation with the president’s mistress right now, so he’s not available. Olivia, meanwhile, is back to work for Josie, lining up a hard-hitting interview to toughen up her image. Naturally, this interview will be with Cyrus’ husband, James. It has to be.
*HARRISON BACKSTORY ALERT!* Sure, it’s a retread on some things we already knew — before he was with Pope & Associates, Harrison was a high-end car salesman who got caught in an insider-trading scheme with his then-boss Adnan Salif — but Cyrus’ threats could lead us to even more on the most mysterious of Pope’s associates. Please follow through on this, Shonda!
Back at home, Liv is torturing herself by watching YouTube footage of her mom’s plane crash, complete with — you guessed it — a ginormous glass of red. To continue the torture, she calls her dad. “There’s so many questions I want to ask you, but I’m afraid you’ll kill my friends if I do,” she says. Rowan allows his daughter a single question about Remington. Make it good, Liv! “Did you give the order to have my mother killed?” When he says no, she tries for another, to no avail. “Did Fitz shoot down the plane?” Ahhhh, why couldn’t that have been question No. 1? Rowan’s words of wisdom: Leave the past in the past. Click. Olivia hangs up.
Cy grills James about what he’s going to ask Josie — yup, James landed the interview! James isn’t biting and storms off (in a fetching plaid jacket with checkered tie, no less), while Cyrus gets distracted by restless Tea Partiers going after Fitz. He calls up Sally to have dinner with the president and first lady, but while the Veep is patting herself on the back for the stunt, we wouldn’t count Cy out of this one just yet.
NEXT: The not-so-Friend-ly side of Lisa Kudrow
P&A are hitting some speed bumps in their quest to toughen up Josie. First, Cy scared off Harrison, so they’re short a teammate. Second, the congresswoman doesn’t want to take any of Liv’s advice, barking at the fixer about trying to change her. We have never seen Phoebe Buffay so cranky! Harrison goes to Huck for help in stopping his former employer, Adnan Salif, from re-entering the country. It’s happening. We’re learning more about Harrison…
I guess I overestimated Cy. The dinner with Fitz and Sally seems to be exactly what she hoped it would be: a request for her to firm up the base — for herself, of course. The meal also came with a side of lecherous husband, as Daniel volunteers to say grace only so he can check out Mellie while everyone’s eyes are closed. Well, almost everyone: Sally’s eyes are wide open.
Baby Huck is back at the range, and she still can’t connect a single shot. But guess who’s here to help? Good old Charlie, a.k.a. the dude who kills everyone and locked Huck in a treasure chest last season. Run, don’t walk, Quinn. Instead, she accepts shooting pointers from the trained killer. If this turns romantic, I just can’t.
Right before Josie is set to begin her interview with James, a negative campaign commercial pops up online, and it’s a riff on the 3 a.m. phone-call ad Hillary Clinton directed at Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary. Instead of a middle-of-the-night phone call from world leaders, a woman’s hand is shown poised over a door handle with those leaders waiting on the other side. “Does America really want an inexperienced hand opening this door?” Oof. Josie doesn’t have any time to wallow in the ad: It’s time for the interview.
But she doesn’t break — far from it. She goes majorly on the offensive, taking her opponent, Governor Reston, to task for using the code word “inexperienced” to mean “female,” and James to task for his network’s “Cinderella story” intro and iced-tea set piece. Josie’s chief of staff/sister/no, scratch that, daughter wants to stop the interview, but Olivia and Abby couldn’t be prouder.
Wait, wait, faith in Cy restored! He finds out from the good reverend that Sally is intending to run against Fitz. So what are he and Mellie to do? Attack Sally’s weakness: her handsy husband.
Jake takes a pause from his workout sesh (why do we ever doubt you, Shonda) to meet Kate for the Remington intel. But Jake’s not alone: A gunman has been following close behind, and when Kate goes to pull the files from her purse, he shoots her in the head. Turns out, she had more than files in there: She had a gun, and the sniper just saved Jake’s life.
NEXT: Don’t ever question Olivia Pope
Back at Josie’s campaign HQ, it’s a celebration — for everyone but the congresswoman’s sister-daughter, who rightly calls out Pope & Associates for making the dirty campaign ad themselves. BRILLIANT. I know some commenters have questioned Liv’s professional abilities as of late, since she’s been pretty wrapped up in the personal drama with her dad, the president, and Jake. But here’s all the proof you need that Olivia Pope’s still got it.
Harrison goes to meet Cyrus and politely ignores his threats to bring Adnan back to the country. But Cy doesn’t go quietly: He gets a new visa in the works for the criminal. This means trouble for Harrison, but it also means more screen time for Columbus Short, so…
Charlie and Quinn have another meet-cute at the range (Nancy Meyers spin-off movie!), but like any good rom-com, there’s a twist: Charlie is working for Rowan (of course). And it looks like the late Kate was, too. But the sniper that took care of her? He was sent by the president to protect Jake. The bromance lives — sorta. Jake starts asking questions about Remington, but Fitz won’t budge. “It may be the only chance I have of sleeping with both eyes closed ever again,” Jake argues. “Or is it the only chance you have of sleeping with her?” Fitz counters, before setting Jake loose once and for all.
Fitz then heads straight to Liv’s apartment (TMZ would be all over that, btdubs). She still wants answers, and he wants her back on the campaign trail so they can be “us” again. “One of the bodies in the ocean was my mother,” Olivia finally admits. “Do you still not know what I’m talking about?” Can we all agree that Tony Goldwyn deserves an Emmy for his facial expressions when Liv reveals that her mother was on that plane? And after that initial horror registers on his face, he goes completely blank and robotically repeats: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” COLD.
Where does this leave Olitz? They recovered from one breach of trust (Defiance); can they do it again? It was a relatively quiet episode, but that ending scene packed a serious punch. Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Follow Katie on Twitter: @ktatkinson.