An extended flashback reveals Huck's origin story; Olivia and President Grant argue in the hospital

By Lindsey Bahr
April 26, 2013 at 04:15 AM EDT
Ron Tom/ABC
S2 E19
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An anxious repetition of a series of numbers and an extended flashback and origin story? Scandal took a little bit of a break from intense action and suspense and ventured into Lost territory this week, giving viewers a few Olivia and Fitz moments and an emotional look at who Huck was.

In “Seven Fifty-Two,” we finally get some insight into why Huck is the way he is. In order to do that, Scandal needed to answer a few questions. What does it take to break Huck? And how do you bring him back from the brink?

I’d like to say that these three weeks between new episodes of Scandal just flew by unnoticed, but that would be a lie. This has been agony. That three-week gap really ate at the momentum Scandal had earned by the end of Episode 18. So, for our collective sanity,  let’s just go over a few key plot points. In Molly, You in Danger Girl, Huck was captured and tortured by someone (we assume Charlie) and awesomely rescued by Quinn. Olivia spent the night with Jake, found his security feed of her apartment (where she saw someone — again, probably Charlie — breaking into her apartment), and ended up in the hospital after a struggle to get away from Jake. And Jake, well, Jake and Mysterious Park Bench Man continue to bewilder us.

Now, let’s dig in.

Once upon a time when Olivia Pope had bangs, she and her lovely pleated trench coat and Goyard purse were taking the Metro. (Side Rant: I lived in DC for years. I understand that Scandal is shot in Los Angeles, but the DC Metro Union Station stop — and most of the Metro stops there — are so, so distinctive looking that anyone even remotely familiar with that public transportation system would know that what we’re seeing here is not DC. Not that this is totally unforgivable, but we do get accurate shots of the monuments in the background occasionally, so I’m just a little surprised they’d let this one slide. End Rant.) A friendly homeless stranger explains to her that they’re fixing the Green Line at Petworth and that’s delaying the connecting Red Lines, and then he gives her a highly specific (down to the second) and accurate estimation of when the delayed train will arrive. She thanks him and drops a few dollars into his cup. And that’s how Olivia met Huck, the relationship that makes this entire show possible.

But we already knew that Olivia befriended Huck in his homeless days. How he got there is another story.

NEXT: Postcards from the Hospital

Back in the present day at the hospital, a doctor is explaining to Olivia that she’s almost well enough to go home. But they’re not alone. Fitz is still there. It took almost three minutes for the show to pick back up with these two after he surprised her by showing up in her hospital room at the end of the last episode! Anyway, based on what happens in the rest of the episode, this intro back into the Fitz and Olivia story sets up the fact that he’s there to stay. He’s not the type to just come by, give his former mistress a hug and then turn right around and go back to his job and his wife. They need to have it out. And they do. Twice. We’re going to focus in on both.

In the first talk, Fitz stars. He says “I love you,” she responds, “I hate you,” and he says, “I know. I was hurt and I was wrong.” Liv, however, is having none of it. She scolds him for treating her like a whore. When he tries repeating “I love you,” she shuts it down. She doesn’t believe him anymore. The “anymore” comment is key. Remember, one of the last times they were together, they had crazy angry closet sex (which he initiated) and then Fitz told her in no unclear terms that although he might be attracted to her, they were over. So, Olivia’s “whore” comment is not completely out of bounds. When Olivia says she doesn’t believe him “anymore” and that his declarations of his love mean nothing, it sounds like she believes it. You might only hurt the ones you love, but Fitz has been unconscionably awful to her since he found out about Defiance. So, like a man who knows when he’s lost an argument, Fitz retreats. Surprisingly, he just retreats to the waiting room, where he tells Jake to find out who attacked her.

In the second argument, Olivia explains that his surveillance of her is not love, and that she participated in Defiance because of him. But Fitz explains that he didn’t want her to fix him. This makes sense on one level, but in reality, Olivia was promoted on the campaign because of her ability to “fix” situations. Defiance was a step too far, and we all know that, but still that was a surprising emphasis of Fitz’s argument. He regains his stance when he says that, but then the talk shifts from the details of Defiance back to love. Because that’s the subtext of all of their fights. Is love enough?

Olivia admits that she still loves him, Fitz gives an epic speech, and they share a passionate moment — but she holds her ground. In her eyes, they’re done.

At OPA, Huck is huddled up against the radiator, muttering, and our Gladiators are feeling a little out of sorts. They’ve just found out where Olivia is, and they’ve already pieced together that baseball hat guy is somehow connected to Albatross. And when Harrison goes to visit Olivia in the hospital, he spots the same baseball hat guy. Charlie really needs a new outfit.

For the rest of the episode, each of the Gladiators attempts to reach Huck in some pretty epic monologues. Quinn goes first. She tells the story of her dream life as Lindsay Dwyer with Jesse and how it breaks her heart when she thinks of it now, but that to move on, she had to let it go. Girl knows how to give a monologue. Still, it didn’t work.

Abby tries next and takes another angle — perhaps it’s the job, it’s too many secret missions from Olivia. And she even confesses her wrongs with David and that she knows that he’ll never love her because of that Cytron card. That fails too. And then Harrison stops by and basically admits that he doesn’t really understand Huck, that he doesn’t know how to get through to him. Personally, I might have structured these monologues in the opposite way. Huck has been getting so close to Quinn that perhaps it would have been more impactful for her to fail third. But, at the same time, maybe that’s why she went first.

NEXT: The story of Huck…

Huck, the man who can break into any computer, track any person, murder without regret, and torture without hesitation, was once just a sweet marine with a lovely kindergarten teacher for a girlfriend. He wasn’t an outcast from the start and he hasn’t always lurked in the margins of society. A secret offshoot of the government made him the way he is now, and he had no choice in the matter. He has to become a shadow killer or go back to Kosovo.

In the flashback we find out that this secret organization noticed him based on a test he took as a Marine. He had the “skills” and “potential” and “a series of personality traits” that they were looking for. And so Huck meets with a man who talks him up and offers him a lot of money. Charlie’s standing in the back for the whole meeting, sucking on his signature lollipop (I wonder what flavor he likes). Their only question to Huck is whether or not he’s married with kids. He says no, and it’s the truth.

And from that point on, Huck begins to lead his double life. He learns the art of torture and contract killing from Charlie, and at a certain point, he starts to love his new profession. On the home front, he’s becoming distant and distracted, but when his girlfriend informs him she’s pregnant, they decide to get married and have a kid. And for a while, things are better than ever. We see Huck gleefully chopping off toes and fingers and collecting the watches of his victims while playing the happy family man at home. But then, his employers find out about his family. He tries to escape with his wife and child — at that moment he makes them his priority — but B6-13 gets to him first and locks him in a cell until they torture the memory of his wife and child out of him.

But that’s not enough for the B6-13. Mysterious Park Bench Man, the leader of this sinister group, decides that Huck has to die. Charlie spares his life. And so Huck takes to the streets, traumatized by his experiences and stripped of his ability to grasp reality or the truth of his memory. That’s when he meets Olivia.

Present day Huck is still in trouble. Though the other gladiators did their best to get to the heart of why Huck was broken, this was always going to be a problem that Olivia had to solve. Because of her lovely speech, because she tells him that he actually saved her and explains how they’re alike because they’ve both seen dark things, he comes back to life. And in one of the more poignant “a-ha” moments of the show, we finally find out why Huck kept muttering “seven fifty-two.” One day in the metro, his son, now significantly older, ran over to give him money. As Huck tells Olivia, he can’t remember whether or not he has a child. But at that moment when this child, at 7:52, ran over to Huck, he remembered something even if he didn’t understand what he was remembering. This most recent capturing triggered the memory of that moment because of the nature of the torture. Charlie put him in a crate and closed the door, which was almost identical to what B6-13 did to him to get him to deny his memory of his family.

NEXT: This is where I leave you…

Back in the White House we find out Mellie’s leaving Fitz. Her Secret Service Agent spy tells her exactly where Fitz is, and visiting your ex-mistress in the hospital is a deal breaker for her. She tells Fitz she’ll keep it secret, that they’ll use the tunnels to prevent the press or anyone from knowing they’re no longer sharing a bed or a house, and that she’s taking little Teddy with her (by the way, Teddy’s so big! Also that plaid shirt was some kind of cute). And she gives Fitz an ultimatum. If he doesn’t choose her, she’ll start talking publicly. (How deliciously devious was Mellie’s voice when she says “good luck getting re-elected once I start talking”?)

Now, on a personal level, I’m glad Mellie made this choice. I don’t know why this was her breaking point as opposed to everything else, but she’s finally taking a stand. Her leverage against Fitz is questionable though. She says that he won’t win the Presidency again without her. While that may be true, she’s also forgetting that Fitz was the one who wanted a divorce from her originally. He was even willing to give up the Presidency for Olivia, as he said a number of times. Now, since Defiance, his goals seem to have shifted, but I still don’t think he’ll really care. And perhaps that is Mellie’s main flaw. She’s lost the ability to determine what he does care about and, because of that, doesn’t have any leverage.

And back in the land of Albatross confusion, Cyrus (who met Jake earlier in the episode with Fitz) tasks Charlie with getting “proof” of Olivia and Jake’s relationship. And Jake tries to opt out of the mission with Mysterious Park Bench Man when he realizes that he intends to use Olivia as Albatross bait. But reassignment is not an option. “Remember who we are, Captain Ballard. There’s no such thing as ‘out,'” he says. Creepy.

MVP of the episode has to go to Huck, right? His rapid, Walter White-style devolution into a murderer with a double life was pretty excellent to watch, and sort of crazy that we got to see it all happen in one episode.

So, all you Scandalites, let’s start off with Huck. First off, which speech got to you? Did any have you tearing up? What about the Olivia and Fitz moments? Was she too harsh? Was she right? Is Fitz’s love too little and too late? And, seriously, who is MPBM (Mysterious Park Bench Man)? Talk to us!

Shonda Rhimes’ political drama: Sex! Murder! Olivia’s suits!
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