Scandal recap: 'The Key'
A lot of hard truths (and harder lies) are revealed.
Killer Catherine and her dead daughter are back as our case of the week after last episode’s detour, and it’s a bit dull given all the skulduggery, murder, and blood involved in it. Rightly, Quinn is taking point on this one, surveilling, tailing, and slicing open corpses. She does eventually find the literal key they’re hunting for, but this is all secondary to everyone’s deep emotional problems this week. Buckle up, it’s a roller coaster of feelings this week (at least, for the characters—it left me a little cold).
First up in the feelings parade are Liv and Jake. Well, in this case, Liv and Jake’s voicemail. She’s worried that something ominous has happened to her boytoy. This means a lot of calls, and a lot of wondering, as she says, if “I’m turning into one of those people I hate, who wanders around going, ‘Oh, my boyfriend, why doesn’t he call me?’ Or if this feeling I have inside is actually right, and something bad happened to him.” After delivering a voicemail ultimatum that goes unanswered (which, honestly, five minutes? I don’t check my voicemail for days, let alone within minutes), she has Huck track him down. His last time on the grid? The White House, which is how Liv finally figures out that Jake is in custody.
But her feelings about him take a sharp left turn after her father convinces her that Jake is responsible for both the death of Harrison and Jerry Jr. Shockingly, Liv just accepts her father’s explanation at face value. The Pope family has a blind spot, and it’s their fellow family members. Rowan Pope can’t help but want the best for, and to help, his daughter—even when that means he has to get a little murdery. Olivia Pope can’t bring herself to disbelieve what her dad tells her. Despite all evidence that he’s always, constantly, for the entirety of her life, lying to her. Early in the episode, Rowan makes solid efforts to give an impersonation of a good father. He drops by to drink wine (not the cheap stuff!), talk about Jake, and give his conditional approval of him. And Liv drinks it up! For such a savvy person, she’s completely hoodwinked. And so, when she confronts Rowan at work, she absolutely buys his condemnation of Jake.
Which, to be fair, the content of Rowan’s speech to her is totally true. He has just conveniently used Jake’s name in every instance where he should use his own. Rowan did kill Harrison on his own. Rowan did kill Jerry Grant so that Olivia could have the election she so desperately wanted to win. “I just wanted you to be happy,” Rowan says, and it is a completely and utterly true statement. He also wants ultimate behind-the-scenes power, but Liv’s happiness is a close second.
NEXT: Fitzgerald Grant gets in touch… with Jake’s face.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald Grant is too busy warding off feels on two fronts to give Olivia her due. On the first, Jake Ballard, possible son-killer and definite lover of Olivia. After much brooding and Scotch sipping, Fitz finally breaks and goes to see Jake to try and force a confession. They share a tender sing-a-long moment to Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” but it’s not to be. Jake hits the nail right on the head, telling Fitz, “It doesn’t matter what the truth is, does it? The only thing that matters is that I put my hands where you think they don’t belong, and now I’m in chains.” Apparently fasting does a lot for Jake’s clarity of mind, because he just said what we’re all thinking. Does anyone think President Grant is this peeved just because his son is dead? Fitzgerald Grant has some long-simmering jealousy issues going on. Which he proceeds to take out in fairly physical fashion upon Jake. He might not be such a bad guy that he’s going to put him in an anonymous grave, but he’s not above a little run of the mill brutality.
There’s a lot less relief in Fitz’s other emotional trial, which is his ongoing arguing with Mellie. Their bitter sniping continues unabated until Fitz misses their daily date with Jerry Jr.’s grave. It all comes out then, and Fitz gives his wife the whole truth about their son’s death. He unleashes on her out of anger and frustration, but this is transformative information for Mellie. “It wasn’t random; it wasn’t senseless. It had meaning,” she says. “I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel, on some strange level. How much order that brings to things.” Viewers, I think we’re on track for a Mellie resurgence. This is the information that looks to permanently bury Smelly Mellie and bring back the consummate political player we saw in the first three seasons. I can’t wait. Mellie Grant is at her best when she is striving for power, to take control. Thank goodness. Dressing gown diva was fun, but this is the First Lady we need.
This episodes minor players had their beats as well. Cyrus believes that Jake is the man behind the deaths of Harrison, Jerry Jr., and his husband, James. He’s right on one third of that, at least, and it’s the only third he needs to be right about. Lest we forget, Jake killed James, and he killed him brutally, sitting beside him as he bled out. As much of a patsy for Rowan as he is right now, Jake is still an awful person.
Abby finds her way back to Olivia. David Rosen is slowly going crazy over the death caused by his B6-13 blackmail. Abby tries to shoo him off as a drunk. “Many of my predecessors were distinguished alcoholics,” he tells her. Probably true. If television has taught me anything, it’s that most of our government must be functional alcoholics just to deal with all the intrigue that goes on. But his confessions send Abby to Liv’s door to rip her a new one for tarnishing the last good man standing. Instead, the news that Jake killed Harrison brings them together and buries the jealous hatchet.
And finally, Huck is stalking his ex-wife. Were you wondering what happened after last season’s reveal that his old family was still humming along happily? Well, turns out Huck has been harassing them to the point where his ex has called the police on him. She wants him to leave them alone. In a probably unwise move, she tricks Huck into coming into her home where a doctor is lying in wait. He doesn’t take it well. Perhaps this time he will take her at her word and leave her and his son alone.