The conclusion of the last Scandal episode, “Honor Thy Father,” brought the return of Rowan Pope, and gave us a cliffhanger that cracked against our skulls, and shocked us with whiplash. We should never be surprised by Rowan. Still, the sheer vision of him standing in front of Oliva’s door, with her latest lover (Russell) by his side, sent a twinge of horror down Liv’s spine—and our own. While this was a heavy opening to “I’m Just a Bill,” the other storylines proved to be just as complicated, all of them moving quickly, and keeping Olivia on her toes.
Papa Pope is still reeling over the time Liv pointed a gun at him, and pulled the trigger. Fortunately for him, the gun was empty. Unfortunately for Liv, the minefield that is their relationship then turned into an unrecognizable territory. Rowan is giving her one last chance to put a stop to the case against Command and B613. With a glass of red wine in his hand (like father, like daughter), Papa Pope tries to derail Olivia’s plans with this one reminder: If Command falls, Fitz will go down as well. Forcing her dad out, Liv takes a heavily-sedated Russell to bed, pretending that they drank too much wine.
First, we’re re-introduced to activist Marcus Walker (actor Cornelius Smith, Jr.) from “The Lawn Chair.” He is running for office against Mayor Verrano, while having an affair with Verrano’s wife. When the couple believe they’re about to get caught, Marcus hides in the closet—but it’s a trap. Three men come in to kill Mrs. Verrano, and Marcus calls Olivia. In what had to be the most gruesome clean-up I’ve ever seen, Huck and Quinn break Natalie’s bones to fit in a suitcase (“classic fluff-and-fold”), clean the room and make it appear as if she’s MIA. I am not completely over Huck’s and Quinn’s visible enjoyment of all this, but I do appreciate the effectiveness of their teamwork. I’ll let the creep-factor slide.
Speaking of “The Lawn Chair,” President Grant and Cyrus are ready to pass The Brandon Bill, new policies for law enforcement, dedicated to Brandon Parker, the teenager that was fatally shot. Cyrus can’t keep his excitement together—he knows the importance of new votes (AKA black votes) if this bill passes. They are one vote away from making it official, and that one vote de[ends on—wait for it—Vice President Susan Ross! In an episode that might have been incredibly dark otherwise, I have to speak to my love of Susan. Actually taking her job seriously, she refused to vote for the bill until she read it from cover-to-cover, ignoring the haste that Cyrus, David, Mellie and Fitz called for. Just when you thought the President is going to push her vote, Susan convinced him to re-evaluate the bill’s policies, in order to enforce it properly. While everyone thought Susan would be a simple pushover for Mellie to surpass, she’s proving her worth as VP.
Olivia’s belief in the ideals of the ‘republic,’ ends up trumping her loyalty to Fitz, and working with Marcus is a reminder of the fact that morality has to exist, somewhere in her world. When he refuses to partake in the cover-up, confesses to his affair, and outs the Mayor as being responsible for Natalie’s death, Liv sees him as a prime example of someone who chooses the right thing over his career. Allowing that to fuel her decision, she tells Rowan that she’ll continue to fight against him. Papa Pope is seemingly ecstatic, believing his daughter is now a ‘worthy opponent.’ Unfortunately, someone has to pay a price.
The end of the episode brings back the true threat that is Rowan ‘Eli’ Pope. While his presence is enough to damage Olivia—we saw how she locked the door behind him in the opener—his power to physically effect and harm anyone he sets his sights on is what really makes him Papa Pope. In the final scene we find out that Russell (Russell!) plays for Rowan’s team. Like Jake, he was planted in Liv’s life by Rowan. In the most shocking moment of the episode (and maybe even this season), we watch as Russell stabs Jake repeatedly in the stomach. It’s devastating that we won’t know until next week if Jake is dead or not.
• Another spelling bee on television (Family Guy, Hey Arnold! etc.) where the winning word is onamonapia. I’m not even sure why I know that.
• Mellie finally announced that she’s running for Senate. What was truly special was watching Liv smile during the televised announcement—she was genuinely happy for The First Lady.
• Susan Ross is not a fool. She knew exactly why Fitz wanted her to be the Vice President and called Mellie a ‘genius.’ They should NEVER underestimate her.
• Olivia/Alex. Alex/Olivia. They’re both awesome.
• Olivia, Huck and Quinn mocking the mayor’s goon for his Mickey Mouse ears was the cherry on top of this episode.
Memorable Quote: “Something’s changed. Did he disappoint you… Did you learn that he’s only human, after all? Do you want to dig in to some Freud, baby? Are you finding that no matter how far you run, no matter how white the knight, that all men, in fact, are just like your father?” (Rowan Pope)