Scandal Recap: Season 3, Episode 3 — Olivia Pope, Terrorist?
It’s a huge testament to Bellamy Young's acting that, in an episode that featured Olivia Pope locked in a room with a bomb-toting former soccer mom, Mellie's drunken monologue about owning Fitz’ cheating ass was the most buzzworthy moment of the night. But it was. And oh, was it fabulous.
Now I’m not saying that Season 3, Episode 4 (“Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington”) wasn’t an exciting episode. It was pretty much the opposite; even though nobody worried for even a second that Olivia was going to experience any bodily harm. The case of the week emotionally resonated, Scott Foley looked super handsome, and the overall Operation Remington/Bad Daddy Pope story line was advanced, further driving that growing wedge between Huck and Olivia.
The episode opened with a mentally and emotionally “absent” Huck trailing Spy Daddy 2.0, but more on their little side adventure later. Elsewhere, the sun was shining, the grass was green-ing, Fitz and Mellie were headed to Camp David for a PR stunt to help save their ailing marriage/his campaign for re-election, and the Gladiators finally had a new client after the whole affair debacle.
Only Mary Nesbit wasn’t exactly an ideal first post-scandal client. Her son had been killed in an FBI raid on a seemingly random apartment 15 months ago, and absolutely no one would tell her why. Think Homeland meets We Need To Talk About Kevin, but with less gingers.
Mary was devastated — she had a right to be. And when the Gladiators realized that she had cleaned out her entire back account before coming forth with her story, they knew that something was amiss. Olivia headed to the Capitol to investigate, but it was too late — Mary was already there, Nick Brody-esque bomb-vest in tow.
Mary’s demands, to the outside observer, were fair — she wanted her son’s files to be declassified, so she could find out how and why her baby boy had died. “Everyone cares too much about women screwing senators and the two boys who blew up Boston to care about Chris,” she wailed. Olivia immediately assumed responsibility over the situation, which was impressive given the fact that there was a U.S. Congressman in the room, and negotiated with the FBI dudes who were stationed outside.
Well, she tried to negotiate with the FBI dudes, that is. Fitz, who was bunkered off with the rest of the important people, wouldn’t budge. Their advice was for Olivia to lie to Mary and tell her that if she handed herself in, she’d get the file, but Olivia wasn’t willing to risk her own and everybody else’s backsides for a very blatant lie. She instead improvised; saying that if Mary released all of the hostages, she’d get the file. At this point Mary released all of the relieved randoms, but Olivia, the Congressman, and Mary herself were still in harm’s way.
Now at this point, I think Olivia honestly believed that the file on Mary’s son was headed their way. So when Fitz approved a sniper-attack on Mary, a very pissed off Saint Olivia of Pope literally stepped in front of her to block the attack. Not on her watch.
Meanwhile, Olivia had turned to her trusted Gladiators, minus Huck, for help. “Abby, ask the FBI. Quinn, save time by hacking into the FBI. Harrison… do something.” (I might have improvised that last part.) She needed their help now more than ever, since the nasty, nameless FBI guy she was speaking with called her a terrorist over the phone, which was straight up rude.
Abby went to her old flame David Rosen — who has been largely marginalized so far this season — for some kind, insider assistance. He initially refused, but when Abby came back with the name of an “FBI Agent” who had shown Harrison a “Terrorist Initiation Video” led by Mary’s son over on the Hill, he agreed to run the agent’s name, at the very least.
And guess what? The agent didn’t exist. Rosen then went to Cyrus to gleefully grill him, but Cyrus never helps anybody, so. “That thing that’s happening on the hill today, that’s above your pay grade,” he sneered. But Rosen now had additional proof that something was very, very wrong: the FBI agent who had led the raid on the apartment, Gordon Bates, had been fired a week later with no explanation. Everyone else who was there had been given a significant pay increase. Not shady at all. And here’s where things got really, really sad.
“Chris Lawrence was not a terrorist,” Fitz said to Olivia as they made one final negotiation over the phone. “Chris Lawrence was CIA. He infiltrated the Al Qaeda network at the highest levels; brought other CIA operative into the organization as his fake recruits. Chris Lawrence was an American Hero. Perhaps one of the greatest heroes our nation has will ever have. But you can’t tell his mother that. You can’t tell anybody that. Because if you did, the 57 men and women that he recruited, whose very lives depend on maintaining their identities as enemies of the United States, they’ll be tortured until they die. And the decades worth of intelligence gathering will die with them.”
Wow. Way to make a seriously bad call on that one, FBI.
That was some seriously terrible s**t, on a show that has repeatedly reminded us of all of the awful things that happen behind closed doors that we never have to know about so we can still sleep at night. Olivia was wrecked by this information, but not enough to endanger the lives of 57 additional American Patriots. “I am so sorry, Mary,” she said, as the woman’s whole life came to an end before her very eyes. “Your son was a terrorist.” Ugh. You could just feel the weight of this lie as it left her lips. It was bad. Mary pushed Olivia out of the room, and boom went the dynamite. Sayonara, Congressman we never really cared about.
Now, this being Scandal, it wasn’t long before some much-needed levity made an appearance. When Fitz returned home (home being the White House, natch) at the end of the day, he found a very drunk Mellie waiting for him — celebrating, because Olivia Pope had lived to see another day. Which brings us to our quote of the week:
“If your whore had died today, brave and strong protecting a congressman inside the capitol, the nation watching… honey, the nails, the wood… cross you would build and hammer her on… the worship you would feel for the rest of your days, praying to Saint Olivia Pope… that would be bad news.”
She’s so refreshingly honest! “I am spectacular, but I can’t compete with religious fervor,” she said, before adding that as long as Olivia was still alive, she could use her as a weapon against her idiot husband. God, you could just feel the metaphoric bitch-slap as the stone-cold as usual Fitz took it from across the table where, as Mellie noted, several U.S. Presidents had likely had sex. Brilliant.
Meanwhile, over in B-plot land, a man named Peter Foster came barging in to the White House, freaking out about Operation Remington. Cyrus told the FBI to let him go without charge, which obviously meant that he was very well protected. By the time Spy Daddy 2.0 got to him later in the day, Foster was already wasted, Mellie-style, in his trailer. Rowan/Eli Pope/Command/Spy Daddy 2.0 offered the man even more shut-up money, but it was a no-go, it seems.
“I’m tired of turning on the TV to hear about who our president is banging,” he slurred. “Which girl’s apartment he’s stumbling out of. Cause the way I see it, I’m the only honorable person in this deal.”
We didn’t get to find out what exactly that deal was, because, well, it’s only episode three, and Huck staged Foster’s suicide after Spy Daddy left the trailer. “You’re rusty, solider,” Rowan said to Huck when they met outside. “I saw you tailing me this morning.”
Huck ultimately let Rowan go, but the damage to Olivia and Huck’s relationship — as well as Olivia’s nerves — had already been done. When Olivia came home to a bruised, battered, and very sexy Jake Ballard, she demanded to know all of the answers to the questions he seemed to have no answers to. “Nobody walks away from him,” she cried. “He controls everything. I need to know — how are you here?”
“Your face saved me,” he replied. “I’m here because you saved me.”
Oh, barf. Luckily, Olivia was smart enough to feel the same way I did. She realizes full well that if she and Jake (and, most likely, Huck) are still alive and healthy, that means that Rowan still has some sort of use for them. And that use, as I’m sure we’ll find, will not be creating grandchildren to further his family’s legacy. It'll be closer to, like, mass murder.
What did you think of the big bomb, Gladiators? Do you still love Fitz even after this (yet another) cover-up? Have you memorized Mellie’s speech to recreate at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner? Shout out your thoughts — and your Operation Remington theories — in the comments!