Scandal followed up its intriguing pilot, Season 1, Episode 1: "Sweet Baby," with a fun episode involving madames, supreme court justices, and a marriage built on lies. Basically, exactly what you'd expect from this show.
Read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of Scandal Season 1, Episode 2: "Dirty Little Secret."
The case of the week: Saving everyone's reputation
We open with the Olivia Pope and Associates team already in action. Quinn is fetching coffee, Huck is hacking away, Abby is breaking into the client's house while lecturing Stephen about morals over the phone. Why? Because their client is the swankiest high class madame in DC, Sharon Marquette, and Stephen is one of her clients. (This, as Abby continuously reminds us over the course of the episode, bothers her because she has morals. It's totally not because she has a raging crush on him or anything). Anyway, one of Sharon's new girls slipped up, got arrested, and ratted on her. Olivia and team. are here to help.
The US Attorney, David, shows up at their headquarters because he's annoyed that Olivia managed to swoop in and steal all the evidence before he and his men could show up with the warrant to search Sharon's house. Olivia ain't bothered though. She's pretty sure that David's only after this case because it would be great for his career, and anyway, he can't arrest the Sharon without a warrant, which gives Olivia a few hours to work her magic. “My white hat's bigger than your white hat.” This whole scene is banter, banter, banter. We're still calling it: They're going to bone.
Sharon gives Olivia and co. her client list, and it turns out it's the “who's who of Washington” — including one particularly important person (more on that below). Sadly, while Olivia is good, she's not good enough to stop Sharon from eventually getting taken to jail. Whoops. Even worse for our heroes: Sharon refuses to hand over her client list to the feds, because she has professional pride. Too bad that's the one thing that could help get her off.
And then — oh no! — David shows up again with a subpoena for said list. Suddenly out heroes only have two hours — which turns into a full day after Stephen and Harrison work some lawyerly magic — to somehow keep this list of powerful men from getting out. Whatever can they do? To keep this list of powerful me — oh, right.
Hilariously, Olivia gathers the entire client list together, and basically tells them to save their own asses. Which they do, by exerting their various political pressures. The case is dropped, Sharon is let out of jail and closes up shop, the list remains a secret. Everyone wins! Well, except David, who didn't get the juicy trial he was hoping for. Olivia is pretty smug about that.
The politics of it all: So, this is awkward...
Olivia might not work for the White House anymore, but she sure seems to get involved with it anyway.
In this episode, it's because Olivia realizes that one of Madame's clients is — wait for it — the President's nominee to the Supreme Court, Patrick Keating! Who he literally nominates this episode. And not just that — Keating's a guy Olivia helped pick out, back when she worked for The President. Awkward.
Olivia, realizing that Keating being on the list will get out, reluctantly goes back to the White House once again. First she tangles with Cyrus, who's still angry about the whole “sleeping with the President and not telling me about it and then choosing to represent Amanda Tanner” thing, and doesn't want to work with her — indeed, initially he has her security clearance revoked. The horror! But when he fobs dealing with this potential Keating scandal off on Billy, the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Billy turns to Olivia and badgers her into helping.
Now, everyone's shocked about the entire idea that Keating slept with a hooker, because the guy seems almost ridiculously clean. And when we say everyone, we mean everyone, including Keating himself, who insists to Olivia that he was never, ever visited a prostitute, and he refuses to turn down the nomination to save himself from the potential scandal.
And, eventually, we learn that that is true — as far as he knows. Olivia has a stroke of genius and realizes the hooker he was sleeping with was actually his wife, and — twist! — he didn't know it. The wife confesses to Olivia that she met Keating when she was supposed to be working, and told Sharon he was a client, paying for all of their dates herself. They didn't even sleep together until they got married. She eventually put him through law school with her hooking money, but she never told him. How...sweet? Ish? Olivia tells the wife to fess up. It's better he hear it from her than someone else.
It looks like everything is going to fall apart for Keating. He won't be able to achieve his dream of sitting on the Supreme Court, and the country will lose the benefit of his supposed brilliance. However, as The President and Olivia watch the couple fight through a glass door, the President monologue the he thinks they will work through their problems because they love each other and want to be together. “I think that love, at the end of the day, is stronger than some mistake somebody made. Something that they did that they regret.” Which, you know, doesn't exactly make up for poor Keating's life dream being crushed, but it's something.
But don't worry guys, Olivia fixes it in the end. Not only does she keep the client list under wraps, but she forces the anti-Keating people on the list to agree to let the nomination go through in exchange for her help saving their reputations. Go extortion!
The romance angle: Yep, this is definitely a thing that's happening
Every time the President sees Olivia this episode, he makes longing eyes at her, and that speech we just mentioned was totally a veiled hint about his feeling for Olivia — he even rubs her hand at the end of it. We are still incredibly meh about this whole relationship. She at least as the guts to walk away.
Amanda Tanner: This won't be easy
Meanwhile, Quinn is put on Amanda Tanner babysitting duty at the hospital, which she originally thinks is pointless, until she discovers a (very cute) reporter snooping around. Uh-oh — Amanda's story might not be easy to keep out of the press after all, even with Amanda promising not to talk. To make matters worse, while Quinn is calling Olivia to update her on this situation, Amanda disappears. Which is pretty embarrassing for Quinn, since keeping track of Amanda was her only job.
Fortunately, Huck is there to remind quinn to check Amanda's freaking house (duh). Which she does, along with Olivia. It turns out Amanda doesn't actually know Olivia is representing her. Olivia eventually wins her over after admitting Amanda was telling the truth — cue Quinn's slack-jawed shocked face — and then making an impassioned speech about how she needs Olivia's help if she wants to avoid being at the center of a giant scandal that will ruin her life forever and ever.
Even after that, it takes a few hours for Amanda to decide to take Olivia up on her offer, which she does by going to Olivia and Associates headquarters — right as the cute reporter walks in. And suddenly he goes from no story to a huge story. Dun, dun, dun.
The End! Tune in next week for more.
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Catch the next new episode of Scandal on Thursday, April 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.