After a previous season of more misses than hits, Scandal is becoming the show that we originally fell for, due to some rebalancing of conspiracies and love stories. In recent weeks, the writers of the show have delivered in such a way that it’s almost hard to remember how the season started off with a slow-paced, headline-mimicking episode that made us long for the days of old.
Because the American public can’t resist a good love story (even, or especially, when a mistress is at the center), we start the episode learning that in order to save Olivia’s career, she’ll have to hire someone who’s just as good a fixer as she is. She calls Abby to ask for a loan, and while we thought it was one of monetary value, we soon learn it’s in the form of verbal hurricane Leo (Paul Adelstein), who swirls into Pope and Associates mocking the entire team, but determined to get Liv the sympathy she needs to weather the public. He is rude and abrasive to Huck, Quinn and Marcus, judges Liv’s refrigerator content (shout-out to popcorn and wine!), and forces Liv to wear mall-bought clothing, then sends her on her merry way to go food shopping—all to prove that Liv is just like everyone else. Watching him work is a gift to us all—we now have a full 360-degree perspective on these “fixer” moments. The only thing that’s different, and quite refreshing, is that we know the ins-and-outs of this client. There’s no insidious point to Liv’s storyline, popping out at us later in the episode.
However, fixers make the worst clients, and Liv is hesitant to step in line, despite being the one to reach out for the help. She doesn’t want to be seen as a love-fool character that saw heart-eyes over Fitz’s face, she wants to take the Angelina route—the philanthropist, kind-hearted woman with her empire at stake for choosing love over power. Unfortunately she makes one horrible mistake by continuing to wear Fitz’s grandmother’s ring, which the press is all over. Leo is enraged; the one thing he wanted was to be completely honest, but now everyone believes the President and his Mistress are already engaged to be married, while Mellie just left .5 episodes ago.
Speaking of Mellie, we were hoping that after saying yes to Fitz’s impeachment investigation that she would finally receive the respect and work she desired, right? Not so fast. After allowing her vote to help start the process, the committee told her that she has to step down, since she’s too close to the topic at hand. How ironic that it was possible for her to vote for the investigation, but now she can’t helm it. Naturally, she feels burned once more by Olivia’s interference in her life. She confides in Cyrus, but she’ll be burned again very soon.
Fitz is, naturally, in his own hell back at the Oval Office. He hired a new lawyer who seems to have arisen from wherever Leo hails, because her verbal spitfire is incredibly funny. Fitz also learns that the investigation team has Liv’s kidnapping tape, and Liv knows that Cyrus has to come back to the White House, or he’ll go against Fitz in a very public takedown. Cyrus is just like the Scandal audience, watching the media reports of the affair—he’s so immersed in this group of characters that he just eats brownie after brownie, laughing at the good parts, just like us. But despite the entertainment factor, he finds his way back to the Oval Office, the one place he truly feels he’s himself. He only has these characters to live for, and nothing else.
The moment after the true meaning of Liv’s ring is revealed, she has to go on a television show to tell the public that love overruled her life. But in completely stating this truth with rawness, she admits that she wishes she never met Fitz, since all it did was hurt everyone around her. At first, we think she’s going to turn into a giggling mess, but she subverts that completely. Love was cruel. She ruined a family and her boyfriend’s political career. And she might very well have ruined her own.
Jake’s wife, or ex-wife, made sure to plant a “Property of: Elise” kiss on his cheek when Olivia came strolling around. Liv might want to make sure she doesn’t stroll around too often.
Just when we thought that Marcus may have tied himself to asshole senators, he’s proved his worth by getting intel from the investigators. Thanks to his work, we know that they’re aware of Liv’s kidnapping tape. Plus, racist officials? Nah. We don’t work for them.
If Mellie decides to burn down the whole of Washington D.C., we’re not going to blame her. In fact, we’ll pull the wine and popcorn from Liv’s refrigerator and help her light a match or two.
Iris A. Barreto is a writer for Fangirlish, freelance writer for Paste and social media intern for Pink is the New Blog. Heavily caffeinated. Forever lost in Westchester, NY & NYC; all GPS apps hate her. You can follow on Twitter.