All righty, I’m doing this old-school style — no slideshow — for a variety of boring technical reasons (and as a semi-shout-out to Television Without Pity, which went dark yesterday), so get your scrolling finger warmed up and ready.

This episode of Scandal begins with Abby at the White House, doing Olivia Pope’s usual strut, and in an Imitation Olivia white coat. Cyrus treats her like a fly to be swatted, insisting she couldn’t possibly do Olivia’s job of speaking at an unrealistically rapid pace and bossing Fitz around a bit and then later having to concede every point and then also her pants. But Liv isn’t coming to work today because she’s punishing Fitz for being mopey about Andrew and Mellie, and thus ensuring she’s high on the list of people on this show who are unable to be professional. So it falls to Abby:

And rather than back her up, Cyrus just stands there and watches as everyone in the White House Pre-School Playpen totally ignores her. Fitz acts like a jerk, Fritz smolders, Mellie lusts in silence, there is resentment everywhere, and basically nobody is governing anything, as usual, because whatever, America is totally on auto-pilot, right?

Wombouflage #27: Academia. Liv is visiting her father at the real desk at his apparently real former fake cover job — I am confused by the fact that he was running B-Rontosaur this whole time and yet also apparently a bunch of people still think he works at the Smithsonian, enough so that he has actual things to do there. He is spilling to Liv the secrets of the realm: There is an algorithm skimming money from every department and from taxpayers, and funding an account for B-Jornborg. If that were true, wouldn’t Ron Livingston be Command and The Other Michael Bolton would be beating up office supplies with a baseball bat? Rowan tells Olivia that there is a spot on her Jump To Conclusions Mat that says, “Find algorithm and disable it, and B-Olton will die,” and she gamely agrees. So long as he promises not to harm Fitz. Rowan points out that Fitz may not see his second term REGARDLESS because he is an election-losing chump, but Olivia presses and so Rowan says he will not harm a hair on Fitz’s head. Olivia does not seem to remember that everyone in Washington, herself included, specializes in very carefully crafted language and conditional truths, so in fact, Rowan could easily pay someone else to harm even only one hair on Fitz’s head.

Huck is not really very happy that she is back in her father’s pocket. He tells Liv that making promises and then breaking them and leading people down the primrose path is that organization’s specialty, but she doesn’t care, because she’s too busy wondering if that ladder has always been there. I would LOVE it if a running theme is what a dung hole this office space is and there are always different fix-it props hanging around in the background.

Jon Tenney chases down Mellie, who is avoiding him for propriety, and purrs at her that it’s about time she had a man who loved her and appreciated her for being a fine specimen of lady. She’s like, “GOTTA GO,” before her hosiery drops off spontaneously. Also, there is a crisis, and no, of COURSE it doesn’t involve Fitz having to make decisions of international import:

Jeannine Locke, the girl they let take the fall for the Fitz affair, has written a memoir. Which they all knew was coming, right? They claim they tried to bury it, but “someone” bought out her deal and found a publisher. Guys, HOW did you not see that coming? Oh, wait: You haven’t been paying attention. That’s right. Anyway, that is a terrible cover, and also, I would totally buy that and read it on my Kindle in the gym, because the Kindle doesn’t judge me.

Naturally, the media asks Sally Langston for comment — she delivers a wonderfully superior and condescending bite about his abhorrent behavior, which, despite being bitchy, is also no less accurate even though she murdered her husband — and also swarms Jeannine, with questions comparing Fitz’s gerald to bread. He is a baguette, if you’re wondering, per TWO people who have seen neither Grant’s wang nor any OTHER human wang in their lifetimes. Also, for a second I thought the actress playing this reporter, who was kind of awkward in delivering her line about the baked goods/genitals connection, was Bristol Palin. It is NOT.

Grant is crabbypants about all of this, and when he shirtily demands that everyone leave the play pen except for Olivia, he proceeds to lay into her about not showing up for work. He’s not wrong, but he also delivers this with the childish entitlement of a kid who wants to punish his parents for buying him a bike for CHRISTMAS instead of for his birthday like he asked. He then orders Olivia to find him new vice-presidential candidates because Jon Tenney cannot stay. It is here that Olivia should quit and join the Langston campaign, or something, because WHY would you want a guy this petty to have his finger over the button? He’ll be nuking France in a minute just because that’s where baguettes come from. Liv points out that it’s INCREDIBLY STUPID to switch VP candidates on a pouty whim — and does not point out, which I would have, that she TOLD HIM not to pick Jon in the first place and he ignored her so maybe he should shut his hole — but Fitz doesn’t care. He lost his binky and now he’s cross. You know, for the next Scandal parody on SNL, they should have Beck Bennett play Fitz as that character where he’s the grown man with the body of the baby.

This prompts a semi-wombouflagey scene in which Olivia demands to know “what service” Fitz requires from her. He doesn’t miss the implication, and she gives him a long speech about whether she’s his adviser or his fluffer, or what, and concludes with pointing out for the umpteenth time that she’s just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to stop acting like the Vermont dream is real and they can ever actually go there. He takes the point that he’s making her job hard, but also, maybe he needs another person in that job. He loves Olivia, supposedly, but also seems to enjoy trying to use the fact that she loves HIM to get her to do dumb things in service of the campaign, and he often seems to test her by acting as rotten as possible to see how much she’ll put up with, which is ALSO a toddler move. Somebody please buy her a copy of What To Expect When You’re Fitzpecting.

Mama “Marie Wallace” Pope calls in Sebastian Roche for some sex and weaponry (you might remember Sebastian as being Papa Originals from Vampire Diaries and, yes, The Originals, and a million other things, like 24, or General Hospital, where he played a guy who’d had total and complete physical plastic surgery to hide his identity from his family, and it turned him from a stocky Australian brunet into a lean British blond). And I do mean that seriously — he is going to procure her something violent to use to ruin the world, and he is also, er, restocking her private arsenal.

I really enjoy when Paul Adelstein gets taunty with Cyrus. They give him a line here, though, while he’s strategizing with the Langston campaign, that I think is so dumb: He says something about how Grant is going to go down, even though, sure, he’s probably actually a really good president, because they haven’t had anything bad happen on his watch. WHAT. EVER. Nice try, Scandal, but Fitz is a lousy president. I appreciate that this is foreshadowing of something bad happening on his watch, but it’s still absurd to even pretend at this point that Fitz does anything at all other than eat Olivia’s mouth.

This is Harrison’s friend Sadie — from the halcyon Adnan Salif days, I think? — whom he recruits to help him fight Mama Pope, because I guess she’s a terrorist-in-training and Marie Wallace has been a mentor to her. Or she wants her to be, or something. ANYWAY. She says she’s not going to help him, but spoiler, she does. Mostly, I took this grab because I want to complain about how much I hate Scandal’s irritating camera trick where they act like they’re walking back and forth shooting through a window, or whatever. I get that it’s their favorite toy to use Chez Pope And Associates — although I could live without it there, too — but can they not use it EVERYWHERE? It makes me queasy. These two are in a BAR. Just let them be in a freaking bar without dizzy-making face-multiplying tricks.

Liv is trying to sleep when a knock comes at her door. It’s Jake Ballard. He wants in, on several levels.

I just noticed that Olivia lives in apartment B. So B is a very important letter on this show. I hope it turns out that her street number is 613 and ergo Rowan Pope named his shadowy agency after where his daughter lives.

Anyhoo, Jake begs her to let him in; she doesn’t want him to come inside because she flipped the coin again and so right now she thinks he’s a very bad man. There is a lot of him begging, and them both wishing they’d mutually agreed to walk in the light together, etc.:

And then Olivia throws herself against the door like she’s in love with him but can’t have him, which is absurd, because… like, can anyone track her motivations anymore? Charitably I will assume that what she’s depressed about is that he might’ve once represented a normal life and normal happiness, neither of which she can have, either with Fitz OR now Jake. But in all the absurdities on this show’s seasons, her constant, steady throughline was that she was in love with Fitz, and now they’re having her act like JAKE is her unreachable compulsion, which feels like trying to have their cake and eat it too. The consequence is a) I never have any idea anymore how she feels about anything except for her default emotion: frowny-tremble; and b) it comes off like Olivia will develop feelings for ANYONE as long as that person professes deep longing for her. See also: Boring Edison, her one other boyfriend.

It turns out Jake Ballard, because he was not born yesterday, cleared out and moved the B-Ankofamerica money so that Rowan couldn’t sabotage it. Liv accuses him of working against her, but he says he’d actually love to see the organization go down in flames because if he can’t have it, he doesn’t want anyone ELSE to have it, either. So now there has to be another plan. I will always love the giant skeleton on this set.

Cyrus, over Olivia’s strict objections, leaked that Sally Langston took her teenage daughter to have an abortion. And of course it backfires, because Sally has reversed her stance on abortion to win over voters, and now she can say it was because she Has Been There and respects a woman’s right to choose. Cyrus is dumb for not having thought of that. I’d blame the grief, but he doesn’t seem to have any. When Liv lectures him about nobody listening to her, he points out that, indeed, nobody IS listening to her, because Fitz RIGHT THEN is interviewing other veep candidates. He is the WORST. How does he not get how unstable that makes him look? Oh, wait, BECAUSE HE IS UNSTABLE.

Liv storms in there and wrestles the poor lady out of Fitz’s office — a lady who, sadly, probably would’ve been the right choice the first time, when Fitz had a hissy and insisted on using Jon Tenney even though nobody else wanted to — and they fight. He thinks Liv was very rude. That’s not even the pot calling the kettle black; that’s the pot calling the kettle a pot. Liv instructs him very firmly and in small words that he CANNOT get rid of Jon Tenney, and asks what he needs in order to suck it up and behave. She has to coax Fitz into blurting out that he needs Mellie and Fritz to stop having sex, although he is quick to point out that he’s not jealous and is at best indifferent to Mellie. Here is where you realize Fitz is essentially her father, and Mellie is his B-Allandchain.

So Liv threatens Jon Tenney with the full court Pope: Either he dumps Mellie and plays along as VP, or he gets his life ripped apart, which Liv cruelly suggests will lead to Mellie dumping him because she’d rather have power than passion. Jon Tenney somehow manages not to scream that Olivia is a gross hypocrite, although he does wonder  how she lives with herself. Jon, the answer is that her daddy is telling her she’s a White Hat and so her inflated sense of importance is keeping her warm.

Charlie and Quinn are surveilling Marie Wallace, and Charlie correctly guesses that Quinn kind of wants to catch her and then run back to Olivia. I actually ONLY enjoy Quinn when she and Charlie are doing their icky little erranding together, so hopefully that will continue for a while and he won’t meet a grisly end at her hand.

The closer we get to the execution of Mama Pope’s plan, the more blood-red her Terrorism Separates become.

So, despite not being on board with bringing down B-atman, Huck is now totally on board with bringing down B-atman. Emotional Continuity: Serving Scandal with piecemeal care since 2013. Then he gives Olivia this ENORMOUS device which she needs to attach to Jake’s phone for thirty seconds, so she can get all his Secret Intelligence and they can upload it to the blah-blah and ruin the yada. For real, the best they can do is what looks like a digital voice recorder with a big Tetris block sticking out the top?

Liv then wonders how the heck she’s going to get that 1990s-movie-quality marvel next to Jake’s phone for long enough, and Huck gets all snorty-flarey and eye-bulgey, and Olivia balks, and then he gives her a speech about being all that she can be, or somesuch, and how she can’t make them suck it up and deal if she’s not prepared to do it herself. Well, that is certainly true.

But then later, when he and Harrison are waiting around for their various balls in the air to come down, Harrison asks what Olivia’s plan is and Huck gives him this face and acts super disapproving. Except IT WAS YOUR PLAN. GO BACK TO YOUR HOLE.

Here is your obligatory Scott Foley Shirtless photo, for those who enjoy such things.

In which we learn Scott Foley is a really stiff, lousy sleep-actor, despite his nipples’ best efforts. Also, I mean, the guy leapt out of bed like a cat at the sound of Liv sneaking into his apartment. Are we to believe sex with her was SO enriching and cardiovascularly satisfying that he doesn’t feel her throw off his arm, roll over, rummage in her purse, hang out for thirty seconds, and then get dressed and leave? Is she Sex Ambien?

Poor Mellie. She must be interpreting Fitz’s temper tantrums as being because he still likes her — despite the fact that they never resolved that awful quarrel from last week — and so she’s buzzing around cheerily trying to get him to pick a tie for their joint event. Fitz hurls them at the ground and stomps around like the toddler he is, leaving her startled and shocked and MAJESTIC in her massive curlers.

Liv has ordered that a detente between the Grant and Langston camps, suggesting that they stop letting him feast on the spoils of their war of attrition, and instead join forces against him. Remember Reston’s wife? The one who believes he shot her lover in error, and went to jail for him? Well, Abby and Paul Adelstein thoughtfully hand her a file that reveals he knew exactly what he was doing when he shot and killed her boyfriend. And when Mrs. Reston confronts him, he says all kinds of awful things to her… which Abby is recording. Point of order: HOW? Is it THAT easy to walk in and stick a video camera in the ceiling of a prison meeting room and then get the recording immediately and upload it to YouTube? Because if so, how come this isn’t happening all across America with lawyers and their clients? And if there already IS a camera in there — which seems fair, for a prison — then a_ how easy are we supposed to think it was to get THAT footage, and b) why would Reston say ANYTHING to her? Surely he’d SEE a prison security camera, if it was there. And if those don’t usually have audio, then we’re right back to our good old friend WTF. This plot is a Swiss cheese wheel of holes.

It does, however, lead to Abby and Paul Adelstein swapping looks of secret interest. I like David Rosen, but I am strangely okay with these two getting it on because I love Paul Adelstein and want him to stick around, and also, if Mellie doesn’t get to have sex with anyone, then Abby might as well pick up the slack.

And THEN, during Sunday Night Dinner or whatever, Mama Pope saunters up to the table easy as you please, despite being on the Most Wanted List AND being in the middle of a town that actually pays attention to it. But nobody grabs her wrist and says, “Hey, everyone, check out this TERRORIST!” Not even Rowan, who could’ve done it, and yet instead decides to make the slowest, most telegraphed grab for his steak knife in the world. Also, this dinner looks awful. Liv’s carrots are cut up so small they’re practically Gerber-approved. Anyway, Mama Pope takes a glug of good wine and then tells Olivia that she needs to stop sticking her nose into dangerous business, or else she’ll be light as a feather, stuff as a board, dead as a doornail. To wit:

During dinner, Harrison calls to let Liv know that their spy, Sadie, was executed before she could give them her intel. Because instead of going straight to Harrison and then letting him give her shelter, she calls him to tell him what she has, in detail, and then arranges a shadowy meeting, because THAT isn’t ever going to go wrong. Clearly she would’ve have been a very high draft pick in the NTL (National Terrorist League). She really should’ve used her last year of eligibility to refine her skills.

Jon Tenney sees Mellie doing a bang-up job at her Wounded Warriors event, and decides to choose the vice-presidency over her, because I guess he thinks she’s a great First Lady and he doesn’t think she’d leave with him. At this point I think I’d get the hell out of Dodge. The president hates you and you have tasted the forbidden fruit and can’t have it again. Go home and teach a class at Pepperdine or something. It’s pretty there. Anyway, so Mellie skips up to Fritzie and asks if he saw her at the event, and would like to congratulate her somewhere private, and Fritz stiffly says he’s had second thoughts because they’re all such wonderful friends. Mellie sees right through this…

… and saunters into Fitz’s office in the middle of a meeting, and hauls off and slaps him right across his impossibly quizzical face.

It’s so satisfying. AND someone made a GIF:

It’s the slap heard ’round the world. I don’t generally think people should smack the hell out of each other, but Fitz earned the SHIT out of that open palm, and then some.

THEN Mellie screams, “YOU TAKE EVERYTHING FROM MEEEEE,” and his advisers stare at her in awe — and probably silent appreciation — until she excuses herself. I hope this teaches Mellie the importance of having sex behind locked doors. She should pitch that as a new secret plan to Jon Tenney.

Ugh, and then Wonkusvision makes its return in Liv’s office, where she is once again mooning about how sad and tragic her life is and how she’d like to stop saving people but she is JUST TOO IMPORTANT. Abby stands up and offers to be Olivia’s Olivia Pope, monologuing about how Gladiators don’t quit. Liv appreciates this from BOTH Abbys. And just in time:

I hope they use this as the cast photo for season four.

Also, I have had my fill of Huck staring dead-eyed at me because I am behind his computer screen. Here, he is telling us that Olivia sexed all the right information out of Jake’s phone and they can, with the press of a button, shut down B-Adguys for good.

The timing is poor, because they had JUST figured out that Sebastian Roche was bringin Marie Wallace some stolen Plutonium for her DeLorean — wait, no, a bomb. Quinn wants to go in there and arrest those fools, but Jake Ballard keeps saying, “Let’s just see how this plays out,” because you know he’d like for Fitz to get blown up. Adnan asks Marie if she’d like to go White House or Campaign Trail… but nobody hears, because Huck has pushed Shift-F5-Alt-Ins-Ctrl-PgUp-4 and it turned off the power, the money, the phones, everything. B-Lackout is DEAD. Wow. That was really easy. Next time they should hide it behind a couple extra key strokes.

So, the Gladiators are celebrating their succcess. “WE did this,” Liv says, as they toast…

… and then Jake comes in and pulls a gun on everyone and hurls Olivia against the wall and snarls that she just killed the president. Wombouflage #28: Wonkusvision, and Jake’s RAGE.

Huck and Abby seem pretty upset, but the two Harrisons look mostly concerned about whether, if Olivia dies, they’ll still get dental.

So: Do we think Fitz is really the target? Do we all think Jon Tenney will die instead because he’s not a contract player? Might Shonda shuffle the deck and off a couple regulars? Will Rowan turn out to have been in league with Marie this whole time? Is Marie the Scarlet Pimpernel? DISCUSS. We have two more left, y’all.

Tags: Scandal