Olivia spends the night with Jake; Fitz and Mellie tell the story of their first date

By Lindsey Bahr
Updated April 05, 2013 at 04:30 AM EDT
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S2 E18
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It’s quite the Scandaliciousweek here at EW, wouldn’t you say? It feels almost too decadent to have such a great episode as well. Not that we’re complaining.

In one of the most suspenseful episodes of the season, “Molly, You In Danger Girl” raised the stakes for nearly everyone, and closed the door for some. (Sorry Molly, we barely knew you.) And in 44 minutes, our entire understanding of the Scandalverse may have changed forever. Who the heck are we supposed to trust now?!

So, Scandalites, let’s build up to that bananas reveal.

We didn’t leave the Osborne thread dangling for long. Even CIA directors have spouses and spouses know when to spot a fake suicide. Osborne’s wife Susan went straight to Olivia Pope to try to get more definitive proof that her husband was set up. So, for the first time in a while, the Scandal of the week actually related to the mid-season arc. Albatross has now completely consumed the show, and will probably continue to do so ’til the end of the season. It’s kind of funny how everybody and nobody knows who Olivia Pope is. I wouldn’t doubt that the CIA director’s wife would be aware of her, but Olivia’s “fixing” business seems to run along the edge of being public enough that folks in distress can just storm in with a problem whenever they want, and private enough that it’s not so immediately suspect to the press when she’s around managing a crisis.

OPA didn’t believe Susan (or Suzie, but that’s just for Graydon) at first. They saw a grieving widow who didn’t want to accept that her husband couldn’t handle the shame and public disgrace of being exposed as the mole in the CIA, responsible for endangering the lives of American hostages and leaking confidential information to the highest bidder. But perhaps Olivia’s gut is back. After a few minutes with Mrs. Osborne behind closed doors, she decided to take the case and the gladiators started digging back into Albatross. Which is all fine and well except for the fact that OPA made a mistake! They made the wrong call and Osborne may have died because of it. It was kind of all Molly’s fault, though. She led them on the wrong path willingly and all the pieces fit perfectly. But, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed that they’re not always perfect.

NEXT: Fitz and Mellie’s pretend time….

Back at the White House, things are as rotten as ever between Fitz and Mellie. In a delightful change of pace from seeing surly, scotch-soaked Fitz snapping at Mellie and Cyrus, we got to see President Fitzgerald Grant as the country does. He gave a public address regarding the death of Graydon Osborne and then did an interview with Mellie to remind the public that they’re still everyone’s favorite first couple. Of course it’s all artifice, but boy was it great to be reminded that he is, probably, a great and beloved President. Public Fitz is charismatic, eloquent, and commanding.

And as if we needed further reason to feel creeped out by Jake Ballard, Scandal overlays the press conference audio with footage of Jake removing the security cameras in Olivia’s apartment in anticipation of Huck’s routine sweep of the place. So, while we’re watching close-ups of Jake’s face all up in the security cameras, we’re hearing Fitz say: “It’s unfortunate for me to say that a man I appointed, a man I trusted, was secretly and actively working against this country in hopes of destroying it. But he did not succeed…our intelligence community is stronger than ever.” More than a little chilling, right? (Also, random aside: I love that Huck does a sweep of her apartment and that he’s teaching Quinn how to do it too, but are we surprised that he doesn’t randomize his schedule?)

Fitz and Mellie have a heartbreaking episode. Their unhappiness is so all-consuming, Mellie can barely even sit up straight let alone look Fitz in the eyes with any of the earnestness she used to be able to fake. In prepping them for their “we’re a happy couple” interview, Cyrus describes it perfectly: “They don’t want you. They don’t want this. This is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, this is Macbeth. They want the fairy tale.” And, so it’s a fairy tale they give. In the interview, Fitz and Mellie laugh and touch and remind us all that they have chemistry lingering somewhere. Of course Olivia’s watching it all on television with her signature glass of red wine. She seemed fairly poker-faced during the charming, sweet first date story that they tell — probably because she knows it’s apocryphal — but it can’t be easy to watch the man you love even pretend to be so enamored with someone else.

When the performance interview is over, Fitz finally says something real to Mellie. It’s hurtful, and cruel, and obnoxious, but he must believe it. He reminds her that he basically married her for his father because she was well-bred. But when he realizes that Mellie truly believes that marriage is all pretending anyway, he shows her some of his humanity. It’s a gorgeous moment, but they stop short of reaching any sort of revelation.

In a great contrast to the somewhat public (at least to the staff) misery of Fitz and Mellie, we finally get to check back in with Cyrus and James after the big confession and almost murder. And things are not good. Cyrus is still living in a hotel and James basically wants nothing to do with him. But, in the same way that Mellie and Fitz let their emotions consume them and spill over into their professional interactions, Cyrus is clearly the better one at compartmentalizing his anguish. Mellie doesn’t even know things are remotely bad for them. This might actually be more of a testament to her selfishness, but Cyrus is a pro. He’d never cry to FLOTUS. But somehow Fitz knows, and actually says something unselfish, helpful and thoughtful to Cyrus about love being the thing that matters. Is Fitz himself again?

And Cyrus uses Fitz’s advice and confronts James about what is really going on. He recognizes that perhaps James isn’t just simply mad that Cyrus is a liar who rigged a national election. James is broken because he willingly perjured on behalf of his family and he can’t reconcile that decision with himself. He betrayed his own moral code. James admits that he wishes Cyrus had lied. His own journalistic instincts demanded the truth, but as a man and a husband, he recognizes that he’d just rather not know. Cyrus does a pretty good job of entangling decent people into his own web of ethical complexity and convincing them of its merits, but it seems like James cannot handle it. It makes you wonder who James thought he was marrying, and how aware he was of Cyrus’s manipulative side, or the Machiavellian aspects of his personality.

NEXT: The Ballard Offensive…

Ballard is still monitoring Olivia’s every move, so he unfortunately is the first to hear about it when she and Cyrus have their phone and wine date and she reveals that Osborne was set up. So, like a good soldier, Jake goes straight to Mysterious Bench Man (played by the wonderful Joe Morton) who tells him to take care of it. And because nothing says “taking care of someone who knows too much” like a home-cooked meal, he invites himself over to Olivia’s apartment for dinner. Jake slips up and mentions her beautiful kitchen that she never uses, which is enough to give her pause. He gets out of it pretty quickly, but as far as “only xx would know xx” scenarios, the kitchen one is pretty lame.

Olivia decides to pop in on Jake anyway with some GettysBurger (awesome name), right after he’s stashed his electrical tape and gun away in a bowling bag. And…well…we’re happy to report that Sex Watch is over. All it took was a little sip of light beer and some spontaneity. Too bad it was with Jake and not Fitz, but thankfully they had a little more chemistry this time. That said, it’s still hard to root for them while it’s happening knowing that Jake is planning on “taking care of it.”

And then, finally, Olivia finds out what’s going on, and we find out that we never had the full story. In the morning, Olivia grabs a glass of water for herself and decides to turn on the television, only to discover that she’s not watching GMA. She’s looking at a feed of her apartment. When Jake realizes what’s happening, he asks firmly to sit down and explains that he can’t let her leave. And they fight. She struggles to get away, but she’s no match for a military man. In the struggle, she’s pushed back and hits her head on the table, but before she passes out due to the concussion, Jake tells her that he’s protecting her. And at that moment we see on the security footage there is a masked man wandering through Olivia’s apartment with a gun. Maybe Jake is a good guy!

At the hospital, Jake gives Olivia very specific and very stern advice that she needs to not let on that they know each other just as Fitz (!!) walks in to her hospital room. Oh. My. God. Their. Chemistry. And all Fitz had to say was “hi” and give her a hug. But, Jake saw it too. And judging by his face, he’s surprised and a little unhappy.

NEXT: Huckleberry Quinn to the rescue!

Abby and David continue to circle around the truth of their feelings and the disappointment of past betrayals. When Abby realizes that the mole is still at large, her first instinct is not only to fear for David’s safety, but to immediately run to his side and get him back under the protection of OPA. But even when she admits that she has feelings for him, he shuts her down because she won’t admit that she stole his Cytron card. And he echoes the sentiment of basically every lover in Scandal in this episode. He can’t love someone he can’t trust.

Quinn and Huck have a pretty intense episode, too, but in a completely different way. They’re still sleuthing around trying to find out as much about the real Albatross as possible, which brings them to a large warehouse when they discover the fact that Albatross rented a storage unit only a few hours ago. Huck makes Quinn wait in the car while he goes to scope it out. It’s a bit of a contrivance that sets up what happens later. Again, I don’t think Huck would be that careless, but I did like Quinn’s petulant, Matt Damon-in-Ocean’s 11-type reaction to being left behind. When Huck goes MIA in the warehouse, Quinn finally gets to do something. On her own. And she nails it, eventually figuring out that the security feed has been altered and finding a battered, shell-shocked Huck locked in a wooden crate.

And then, we get a glimpse of who did this to Huck — the person who wrecked him more than the waterboarding. We should have seen it coming from a mile away. It was Charlie. And Charlie does whatever Cyrus tells him to. Which just throws everything into question! Again!

Fitz won MVP for this episode, purely because of Tony Goldwyn’s ability to shift emotions and complexities on a dime. He even confessed to Cyrus that he killed Verna! It’s the first episode in a while where Fitz hasn’t been purely awful, and I wonder if it was Mellie’s monologue from last week’s episode that helped him snap out of it.

So, Scandalites, who ARE we supposed to trust? What is Cyrus doing with Charlie? Who are they working for? Is Jake really there to protect Olivia? What did you all think of the relationship stuff? Mellie and Fitz and James and Cyrus had some really amazing and complicated moments. Is Mellie still invested in Fitz or is it past the point of reconciliation? Do you think Cyrus and James will recover? Finally, what do you think of Cyrus’s advice about the truth? Is it something that should be kept from the people they love?

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