Shondaland delivered a good episode this week. It wasn’t action-packed, but it had all the standard Scandal gems: strong characters, a twisted subplot, a wicked monologue by Eli Pope (Joe Morton), and a big ol’ swipe at sexual politics. There was a lot happening this episode, so I’m going to break it down by category. First the boys:
Fitz vs. Jake: Oh these two. Fitz still believes Jake killed Jerry, so he’s got Jake locked up in the Pentagon with a big, swollen face. Not only is Jake beaten, but he knows he’s defeated. If Fitz doesn’t kill him, Eli will, and Jake is just waiting out his death sentence, and giving Olivia his dying wishes.
I’ve never been on Team Fitz or Team Jake, but this episode made me dip my toe into Team Jake. Why? Because he’s stuck between Fitz, Olivia’s jealous ex, and Eli, the vengeful Command. One is the most powerful man in the world and the other one thinks he is. And they’re both fighting over Jake while he’s trapped in a small concrete cage. Honestly, I just feel bad for the guy.
And here’s the thing—do you think Fitz is totally, utterly, 100% certain Jake killed Jerry? Or could there be a part of Fitz that is jealous of Jake’s relationship with Olivia, and it’s clouding his judgment? Let’s recap: Eli tells Fitz that Mama Pope killed Jerry. Fitz orders her dead. Then, Eli suddenly says, “Oh wait, never mind, it’s Jake!” and Fitz doesn’t ask any questions? Like, “What about Mama Pope?” and, “But Jake was my best friend?” It doesn’t connect.
Now I’d like to focus on the ladies, because they were killing it this episode. This week Shonda brought us smart, sassy women delivering gender politics realness and it was fun to watch.
The episode started with the death of beloved former president Edward Randolph Cooper and the arrival of his widow, Bitsy Cooper. Bitsy immediately puts Mellie in her place: “Since us bitches have got to get through this dog and pony show, I’m going to need you to sit down, shut up, and follow my lead.” YES SHE DID. You guys, Bitsy Cooper is my spirit animal.
We learn that beloved President Cooper was really an adulterer with ADD, and it was Bitsy who ran the show. Who strengthened the military? Bitsy. Who pushed the tax code through? Bitsy! Who negotiated the friggin’ Baltic peace accords? I don’t have to tell you it was Bitsy. She got all those men in the room, and made them act like adults.
But who is going to be remembered for all that? President Cooper! And how will Bitsy be remembered? “As the wife of a man who did something with his life.” Ain’t that a shame. No wonder she says to Mellie after the funeral, “I have a joint in my purse and it’s not going to smoke itself. Care to take a tour of the balcony with me?” I hope Mellie left some fried chicken stashed up there, because the ladies will need it.
But Bitsy gave Mellie something else, besides the giggles. She gave Mellie a new perspective: while Fitz is distracted by Olivia, Mellie can focus on running the country. We always knew Mellie was seduced by power, and she just figured out a way to harness it all for herself. Grab the popcorn folks, because Mellie is out of the bathrobe and ready for business.
?Abby was on fire this episode. First, she talks to Fitz not as the President, but as the “married man who used to sleep with my friend” about what exactly he has done with Jake, “the man [Olivia] is currently sleeping with.” Sure, Abby was hella out of bounds, but that needed to be said! Well done, Abby! Besides, it worked—Fitz visited Olivia, and she got to see Jake.
Then, Abby closes down the episode by snatching Cyrus’ wig. (I mean metaphorically, of course. Though seriously, they need to do something about Cyrus’ hair situation.) Cyrus has been threatening to fire Abby unless she finds the White House leak, and Abby’s research uncovers the new apartment and cell phone Cyrus got for his boy toy Michael. She warns Cyrus, “Before you start a witch hunt, take a closer look at your own back door.” Oh that was so good. It wiped the smirk right off his face.
Does that mean that Cyrus now realizes Michael is the leak? And he honestly didn’t know before? Cyrus is usually so smart, so strategic—I had hoped that he knew Michael was hired by Elizabeth and that ultimately Cyrus was using Michael to play her. But is really he just figuring everything out now? Well, now that he knows, I hope he plants some information next week to ruin Lizzie Bear’s game.
Now, I’m happy to say Olivia is back. She spent the first five episodes of this season feeling “outside of the bubble” and inadequate. Not anymore. I don’t know if it was the sexy dream featuring Jake and Fitz that got her going, but she left Papa Pope speechless at the end of the episode. Why? Because she convinced Fitz to take Jake out of Eli’s control, and into the Justice system. Naturally, Eli is angry and asks Olivia how she did it. “I intervened to save both their lives,” she said in between laps at the pool, “you may be Command, but I have weapons at my disposal you can’t possibly possess.” Then she swam away in a gorgeous white bathing suit, her two “weapons” floating with her.
That was pretty great, but honestly my favorite part was Shonda’s not-so-subtle swipe at sexual politics. After Fitz calls Abby “kind of a bitch,” Olivia swings around and says, “Don’t say that! The words used to describe women! If she were a man, you’d say she was ‘formidable,’ ‘bold,’ or … ‘right.’ ” It was perfect. It reminded me of Mellie’s speech to her daughter after Karen’s “trip to Paris:” “It’s sexist, but if you were a boy, they’d have given you high-fives. But because you’re a girl, your knees are gonna have to stay together.” Oh Shonda, keep it up. The writing isn’t subtle, but it’s important nevertheless.
I enjoyed watching all these ladies kick ass, but the subplot was pretty epic too. There was an assassination attempt on President Cooper 30 years ago, and the man accused of the crime, Leonard Carnahan, hires Olivia to clear his name. When Olivia gets ballistics evidence that proves Carnahan was the killer, he starts to cackle with glee. Turns out, he’s sick of being known as an “attempted” assassin and really wants to prove that he’s a straight-up assassin. He thanks Olivia for making his life “meaningful” and she’s naturally mortified. Honestly, I was a little spooked myself.
Overall I enjoyed the episode. We didn’t spend much time on the Kaitlin Bigelow murder, but what we did learn was pretty surprising. Quinn found the folder Kaitlin and Faith died protecting and it’s filled with pictures of Olivia. That means Dan Kubiak, Jeremy Winslow’s head of security and a known killer, has been watching Olivia. I hope we get back to this story arc next week, I’d like to see what Huck and Quinn will do with that information.
Speaking of next week, the teasers show Olivia interrogating someone in prison. We’re led to believe it’s Jake, but I think it’s Tom. I mean, Tom is still alive … right? And, maybe in the same prison as Jake? We also see Mellie eavesdropping on Fitz’s call to Olivia, so she might be stirring up some trouble. Either way, there are only two episodes left before the Winter Break, so I think some cliffhangers are coming our way.
?What did you think of this week’s episode? Why is Dan Kubiak tracking Olivia? What do you think is going to happen before the Winter Break? Sound off below!
Emily Worden is a Boston-based freelance writer and author of Make. Sell. Repeat. The Ultimate Business Guide for Artists, Crafters, and Makers. You can follow her on Twitter.