Scandal Recap: Season 3, Episode 2 — Olivia’s Dad Is Essentially Satan
Many things will inevitably be said and written about tonight’s Scandal. They’ll say it was the night we finally found out just how big and bad Olivia’s daddy really is. They’ll say it was the episode that finally pulled the rug out from under Huck and Olivia’s fragile relationship. They’ll say it was the episode that used the word “Wonderland” a lot, which was strange considering it directly followed the premiere of ABC’s new spinoff series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
But we all know what the real story was in “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” — the story of a wide-eyed Washington girl and the beginnings of her love affair with wine.
“I don’t really like wine; I don’t have the taste for it,” a five-years-younger Olivia said to her doting daddy, during their annual Sunday evening, pre-Mad Men meal. But she would learn — oh, would she ever learn.
I kid, I kid. But I truly appreciate the Scandal team’s wink-wink nudge-nudge inclusion of the vino subplot for its loyal viewers, who have watched an understandably frazzled Olivia slowly sip the Lord’s Juice time and time again in the midst of a national, you know, scandal. (The rest of us, of course, would be guzzling the stuff straight from the bottle.)
Before we get down to brass tacks, let’s hand out the Scandal-zinger of the week award to… Cyrus Beene! Cyrus gets the trophy tonight for his hilarious “the President of the United States cannot go to the land of the bunga bunga party and field questions about his sex life in front of the Pope,” line, which was great but also not particularly topical considering the new Pope is so sexually accepting!
But enough about that guy. Tonight was really about B-613, the extremely secret and even more extremely violent spy faction that sounds like a vitamin, but isn’t. We’ve known for a while now that Huck and Charlie — former B-613 members themselves — live in fear of a brutal man known only as “Command”, and tonight we learned that Command is, in fact, Eli/Rowan/Command Pope.
Even worse, we learned that Olivia had made a deal with Command Pope — who once used his power to gravely injure poor, poor Edison as punishment for dating his daughter — to save Homeless Huck’s life back in the day, and that she’s never shared this fact, or her father's identity, with Huck. This, of course, made Huck Mad — and you won’t like Huck when he’s mad. Mad Huck threw Olivia against a car and nearly strangled her, which was actually kind of terrifying.
But, you know, she survived. And of course, all of this past mess managed to tie in to the very present Jeannine Locke/presidential affair situation. Olivia learned via Evil Daddy that B613 had their grimy hands on Jake Ballard, and that they’d only release him if Olivia and Fitz — who I swear is going off the rails, and has absolutely no desire to keep his job — kept their mouths shut about the true identity of the adulteress.
“If you ever want to see Jake Ballard again, America will believe it was Jeanine Locke that had an affair with the president,” Command said. Basically, if Fitz and Olivia failed to comply, Jake would be dead before you can say “WHAT. DID. YOU. DO?”
There were several problems with this scenario, first and foremost being that neither Fitz nor Olivia wanted to continue to smear Jeannine’s name. Olivia, arguably, for White Hat reasons, Fitz for… well…
“Somewhere, in another life, another reality, we are married and we have four kids and we live in Vermont and I’m the mayor,” he said, with that dreamy look in his eye that makes me want to punch him in the face. This is the life you chose Fitz — start living it, dammit! (ASIDE: Of course, Fitz also wasn’t dying to save his old war buddy Jake since Jake slept with Olivia, but even Fitz isn’t foolish enough to condemn a man to death for sleeping with his woman.)
Ugh, Fitz. So Mellie and Cy — the latter being completely aware of B-613 — both wanted Fitz to go on national television and say he slept with Ms. Locke to save their administration, but Fitz still stood firmly with Team Liv. “Go for the jugular,” he told Liv, much to Mellie's chagrin.
As Jake suffered (off-screen) in a hole in some unfortunate B-613 basement, Mellie fought Fitz with yet another perfectly brilliant, perfectly evil scheme. She had Cy (well, Cy’s people) match the dates Mellie had been out of town to the dates Jeannine was in the West Wing, painting a picture in which the two of them were alone together. Jeannine, for her part, had proof that they were not — her friend Ethan was working there with her; they even had time-stamped instant messages to prove it — but those IMs were on the White House server, so.
At her father’s suggestion, Olivia asked Huck what happens to people who get on B-613’s bad side. “They spend a lot of money making you, and they don’t want to lose their investment,” he explained. “They use a hole. And darkness. Isolation; pain. If that doesn’t break you… that’s when they make you wish you were dead.”
Yikes. Liv understandably started to freak out — she even went to the morgue every time a brown-haired, late 30s, six-feet-tall guy came in, which meant looking at a TON of icky bodies. The pressure was on to out Jeannine as a presidential skank, but that’s just so not Olivia’s style.
Lucky for Liv, external forces ended up bringing the bruised and battered Ballard back into her arms. First, Fitz learned that B-613 doesn’t report to the executive branch, so he didn't have the power, for once, to release Ballard on his own. Then Mellie approached Jeannine with $2 million in a Cayman bank account, which was obviously enough to get the recession-era millennial admitting to anything and everything FLOTUS wanted her to.
Liv, of course, still wasn’t on board. She quickly sniffed out Jeannine’s new ulterior motives, and told her that if she went on national television and lied about the affair, it would create a vicious cycle of lying that would eventually make her hate herself. Projecting much, Liv?
The cameras at Gladiator headquarters were ready to roll, with Liv and the Gladz anxiously awaiting Jeannine’s final decision. They'd obtained the IMs from Ethan using a classic porn-based blackmail scheme, but the decision was still in the nervous 20-something's hands. Until…
“How presidential are my balls now, Cy?”
Wow, Fitz actually made a decision! By himself! Fitz ultimately decided to admit to the affair live on national television, which made pretty much everyone minus himself and Olivia happy. (But come on — these two were never going to be happy. That's what happens when you commit voter fraud.) At the end of the day, Fitz saved Ballard’s life — and somehow, as part of this bargain, Olivia will now be dining with her father every Sunday night like back the good old days.
But the good old days are long gone, honey. Huck, ever a wild card, knows that Rowan Pope is Command, and who knows what he can and will do with that information. Also, Sally Langston knows that Fitz’ confession was a load of bull, and she’s definitely one of those vicious mastodons Rowan was referring to at the beginning of the episode. Then there’s Liv herself, who has to live with both the guilt of the giant lie and the burgeoning love triangle between herself, Ballard, and Fitz. (Choose Ballard! CHOOSE BALLARD! This is coming from someone who was on Team Ben, Olivia — so you know it's serious. That Fitz is bad for you, girl.)
Well, that's all she wrote for tonight, and to be fair, she wrote a lot. It looks like we’re gearing up for the season of B-613, with Rowan/Eli/Command Pope as the Big Bad, and I couldn’t be more excited. I hope to see more from the supporting cast in the coming weeks — Rosen and the Gladiators have been hovering around in the background these past two weeks — but I trust that Shonda will get them back in the game soon.
But what did you think, fellow Gladiators? Shout out your thoughts in the comments!
Catch the next episode of Scandal on Thursday, October 10 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.