Sometimes Scandal gets all hot for its own cuteness. And this week, in the midst of a montage about Mellie, we got this graphical collage of bad headlines:
And, real talk, I would watch the hell out of that if Shondaland produced Mental Mellie and slid it into the 8 p.m. slot on Thursdays in place of Grey’s Anatomy, which I quit when I turned on the premiere and groaned OUT LOUD to my empty office at the mere sight of the interns. The issue being, of course, that I don’t think Mental Mellie the way we’d want to see it is an 8 p.m. show, but then again, Scandal isn’t a 9 p.m. show, really, and there it is anyway. Let’s just make it the 8 p.m. hour you ground your kids for watching.
We begin this hour with Olivia and Jake out for a jog:
Is this supposed to be a metaphor — like, they’re next to each other, yet jogging in two different climates? Jake DOES keep insisting they’re not standing in the sun anymore, so maybe Olivia took that literally when she was getting dressed.
Jake announces, because everything boils down to sex, that he’s booked himself into a hotel room that she’s welcome to visit for booty calls. He actually says “booty call,” and he deploys it in the manner of someone who has just learned a groovy new term and wants to say it all the time. Booty call. Note, he does not invite her to spend time there. Just when she feels The Call of the Booty. Olivia protests this, but Jake is being super immature: If I recall correctly, he all but whimpers that they’re not boyfriend-girlfriend, and now they’re back in D.C. in the real world, and he’s not going to sit around her apartment waiting for her to come home. Because God forbid he should be supportive and/or go get a goddamn job (seriously, if you are making me quote R. Kelly at you, then you have problems). Maybe HE should work at Olivia Pope & Associates, as one of hers is dead and the other is dead inside (read: working for Fitz).
Then Jake stops running and points out that Olivia’s political booty call is waiting. And no, it’s not Fitz.
The last time these two spoke, that I remember, they were in the hospital when Jerry Grant died, and talking about how dehumanized they felt because their main reaction was, “Fitz is going to win the election now.” They make pleasant small talk about how Cyrus is a vegetarian now, for health reasons, and so the moral of that story is: eat meat, because when you don’t, hair goes haywire. Cyrus tells Liv that she’s going to do him a favor, and she points out she’s not on staff anymore. But tell that to her bank account, which is receiving regular deposits from the White House. (Um, did she not CHECK HER BALANCE at all in the last three months? Not even when she moved back to D.C.? Does she just auto-pay all her bills?) Cyrus threatens her with the IRS if she doesn’t do what he needs, which is:
Bring Mary McCormack (In Plain Sight) and Josh Randall (Ed) to the White House. They are the perfect pretty faces of Gun Control because he’s a military hero and she, his wife, carried a bunch of wounded kids to safety during a school shooting before being clipped in the spine herself and paralyzed. And Fitz wants them at the State of the Union. Trouble is, they’ve stopped answering their phones. Liv reminds Cyrus that the IRS doesn’t scare her, so he coolly leans in and purrs that he will tell Fitz she’s been calling every day. Pining for him. Begging for word of him. Liv stares miserably into middle distance, because Cyrus knew exactly which of her buttons to push. Liv has a lot of buttons. Like, more than your average coat.
Also, I get UNENDING joy from prop newspapers. The people who write them — when they don’t just use boilerplate text — never seem to have read a newspaper before, and this one has a formatting mistake in the story about Mary and Josh (no indent). Also, Oklahoma is hanging out down there, all, “I can’t believe I got dragged into this.” ALSO: This is supposed to be three months after the election. So, let’s say it’s mid-February, which is late for a State of the Union, but whatever. It would have to be, therefore, February of either 2014 or 2015 at this moment — neither of which is a normal time to do a “Nine Years Later” rebuilding story about Hurricane Katrina, whose nine-year anniversary would have been late August 2014. Even BETTER, the first words of that story are, “Eight years after Hurricane Katrina…” Oh, props. You will never win.
Naturally, when Liv goes to Mary and Josh, they’re hurling things at each other — actual breakable objects, yes, but also insults. Like when Josh tells Mary that he was tortured by the Taliban and still preferred it to her company. I just wish he weren’t being so vague about his feelings. They don’t want to go to the State of the Union because they loathe the sight of one another, but Liv orders them to go serve their country because Fitz wants to talk about Gun Control and they’re synonymous with it. I get it, but also: Hush up, Liv. These people hate each other. Yes, they’ve written books and made personal appearances and profited from this turn of their life events, but they also should get to decide they don’t want to do that anymore. Maybe they didn’t vote for Fitz. Maybe they, like all of Scandal’s viewers, think Fitz is a lousy president. You don’t know.
Apparently, the Scandal costumer got a really good deal at Eddie Bauer this week, because Mary, Huck, and Quinn are all in plaid.
If you care, Squick still isn’t talking, much less macking. I personally do not care, because watching them have lusty feelings for each other is like turning myself inside out and then inviting people to squeeze lemons on me.
Portia de Rossi, as the head of the RNC, has her pantsuit in a bunch because Fitz wants to nominate David Rosen — a Democrat — to be the Attorney General. Between that, and supporting equal pay for men and woman and advocating gun control, Fitz has chapped her hide like an arctic wind. Jon Tenney agrees, because they can’t figure out what else to do with him, so I guess having his character be an antagonist for Fitz will validate his paycheck. Portia’s performance feels like if Lindsay Funke had amnesia and woke up thinking she was Elizabeth Wakefield. Or worse, Enid Rollins.
And where is Fitz? Working in his car, parked at the cemetery, guardian of Mellie’s snacks until she sends her Secret Service Agent to get them. However:
The press is onto it, and so begins a barrage of headlines: “The First Lady of Crazy” (that is not even hacky, it’s just dull), and this one, “When The Chips Are Down,” which makes me laugh. It’s SO bitchy. Do we think newspapers would actually be that awful to someone whose son just died tragically and somewhat publicly? I mean, they might, but… boy, would I like to think this is Scandal being ridiculous, because otherwise ew. Fitz manages to be surprised that anyone got a photo of this with all the security they have, but I mean, you can’t put an invisibility clock over the cemetery. Lenses are long. The arm of the Secret Service is not.
Abby tries a jocular approach at the press conference, but Olivia — on the phone with Cyrus (“This is bad, Cy” “Not for potato chip sales!”) — expresses nosy disapproval at her technique. She thinks Abby should say that just because a private moment was made public, it doesn’t mean we have a right to discuss it. I actually think that’s the kind of strategy that will be easily picked apart, but Cyrus falls all over it, repeating it to Abby as if it were his own. Then, Liv goes on TV to blah-blah about something else and manages to parrot this exact line on her own; Abby connects the dots and fires off an enraged call to Olivia in which she notes that Liv does not, as she seems to believe, know everything. Including that Huck and Quinn are nailing. The delightful thing is, Liv hears this when she’s standing in her office, and she IMMEDIATELY glances over to that gorgeous conference table. It’s like she KNOWS that’s exactly the prime spot for office Doin’ It. Don’t burn it, Liv. Don’t blame the table. It can’t help how perfect it is. However, I do wish they’d shown her later going at it with Lysol wipes in her efforts to cleanse it of Squick spunk.
Jake is back to ordering around David Rosen, because he thinks B-Unemployed killed Harrison. I guess their bodies were found in Arizona, or somesuch, and blah blah blah this ends in Jake hacking into a bunch of secure files and figuring out that good old Charlie was in the vicinity when the corpses were found. Eating a nice dinner with a companion Jake never saw, with two glasses of red wine. I hope it turns out the companion was Quinn, not knowing they were dumping Harrison. Or, FULLY knowing. Anyway, the point of this is that David Rosen still has no authority because Jake can push him around like a schoolyard bully.
I know the White House is in the middle of Washington, D.C., with office buildings on the east and west side, but this “view” from the deck — clearly their favorite new set — makes it look AWFULLY easy to spy on whatever Mellie is doing out there. How come nobody got shots of her slothy grief before the cemetery? There’s a giant office building RIGHT THERE. Also, that seems dangerous.
Fitz tries to tell Mellie that she needs to put down the fried chicken and come to the State of the Union, to reassure America that she’s not crazier than a steak knife in a party store. Mellie LAUGHS and LAUGHS and LAUGHS and then laughs some more and then LAUGHS, because she does not give a shit what anyone thinks of her. She then explains to Fitz that she knows this has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with his concern about people’s perception of him. Which is true, and is exactly why he shouldn’t have brought Cyrus with him for this conversation. You don’t bring your master tactician with you for a thinly couched tender spousal moment, just as you don’t bring your ninth-grade health teacher on your wedding night.
Cyrus takes a bite of fried chicken and wears relatively normal hair. Being carnivorous really works better on him. He tries to play the Dead Spouse card in bonding with Mellie, but she won’t have it. And I think in his way Cyrus is trying to have an actual heart-to-heart with somebody, and Mellie is the only person who might actually listen. Except he carved his heart out months ago when he almost let a church explode to win an election (and then pumped his fist when he did win, in the wake of Jerrygate), so it’s more like heart-to-gaping-chest-cavity.
Liv calls Jake, because she doesn’t want to be alone with her wine and her popcorn. And I think the reason she’s not able to do this right now is because she’s forgotten the most important element: THE WINE CARDIGAN. She is just in her work clothes. Olivia, don’t change the formula. Stick with what works. They have an irritating and quippy chat about how she’s welcome to come to him for booty calls, and booty calls alone. Liv would rather he was in her apartment. I am thoroughly over this. Jake IS secretly noodling into confidential files of Harrison’s dead body, but still. Are we supposed to think he’s turned into a jackass for self-preservation? Probably not a bad idea, but I hate that it turns Liv into someone who has to sniff around after him.
David Rosen’s confirmation hearing was going well, until Portia de Rossi basically blackmails Cyrus: She gives a senator damning photos from David’s past, and then tells Cyrus the senator will have no choice but to bring them to light unless David refuses the nomination. The pictures are from the first season — I didn’t watch that one, so I apologize if some details are jacked here — and were the ones Liv invented to make it look like David beat his wife, for… discrediting reasons, or something. David decides to Get Shit Done because that’s what Olivia would do. He’s going to play dirty. So he finds something he can use to blackmail the senator into suppressing the photos, and lo and behold, he gets the endorsement, and Portia de Rossi’s eyebrows continue skyrocketing toward her Clintonian hair.
The Plaids are supposed to be guarding Mary McCormack and Josh Randall, but Quinn would rather lock them in a bathroom so they can talk about their problems — and maybe pant in each other’s faces. She spits that she doesn’t know why she thought they could be a normal couple, when he’ll always be The Guy Who Ripped Out Her Teeth. Huck says he did it because she doesn’t mind her own business, and he’d do it all over again. Then they end up in each other’s grills, about to kiss. Because what everyone wants in a partner is someone who will violently separate you from your body parts, especially when they claim it’s for your own good. Wonderful. Both of you please go fall in a hole.
Their negligence ends in Mary McCormack stabbing Josh Randall in the leg with a corkscrew. Liv, who has rushed over there because she realized she needs to mediate TWO quarreling couples now, did not arrive in time.
She does, however, try to talk to Huck, and he makes this face like he’s being crushed in the stomach, and I can’t.
Cyrus is all in a tizzy to Abby about how Mellie won’t go to the State of the Union — and in it, he waxes rhapsodic about how Olivia will not fail him with the Gun People, at least, because Olivia Pope is a gold medal with legs. Abby gets prickly and jealous, so she sneaks up to Mellie’s Grief Balcony and Snackateria and delivers some tough-love: that Mellie is not, in fact, the only person in America who has lost a child, and that most people only get three days to process it before they have to go back to work, and that she should essentially suck it up and do her job for five minutes for the sake of the Union. What I DON’T like is that they have Abby sneak in there nervously and then skitter off a fumbling wreck. Abby is way cooler than that. I know she’s off-kilter at this job, supposedly, but I don’t buy that she’d stumble out of there awkwardly. However, if this means Abby and Mental Mellie are going to be friends, I’m on board.
And Olivia does indeed get these two to attend, promising them that she will help them get a divorce and both still win the ensuing PR battle.
Mellie also goes, in Power Red, and gets a wild ovation when Fitz goes off-book for a second to talk frankly about the fact that they lost their son, and it’s really hard, and they’re all miserable — even the other kids, whom, to Fitz’s credit, he manages to name correctly without even having to write it on his hand. Why did Fitz go on that tangent? One guess:
He saw Olivia dropping off The Gun People, still clad in a suit as murky as the promises she made to get them there, and cleared the room so that she could read his speech. She pointed out that one flaw, and the fact that nobody would want to hear him flap his yap about Gun Control because all they are curious about is Mental Mellie. ALSO: In what the show thinks is a darling ongoing joke about how no one there cares what Abby’s name is, Fitz calls her — behind her back, at least — “Gabby.” And it’s the worst. In general, but also because FITZ KNOWS ALL THE GLADIATORS. I mean, come on. You know sometimes he and Liv hung out post-coitus and she was like, “Okay, but I just need to tell you that Abby is sleeping with David Rosen and WHAT IS THAT ABOUT but maybe it will come in handy, and I also totally needed an emergency wine cardigan and borrowed one of hers and spilled Cabernet all over it.” HE KNOWS WHO ABBY IS. Get over it. I hope that I am missing a nuance wherein he’s quoting someone ELSE’S misstatement of her name, but I don’t think so? But it’s definitely possible. My brain doesn’t work as well as it used to, sadly.
AND ALSO: Fitz makes Olivia read the speech by saying, so condescendingly, “Don’t you think you owe me at least this much?” And… by what math? By the math that she should have continued to dangle on the end of his string, but dared not to? NAY. By the math that she chose to leave town because it sucked there, instead of twiddling her thumbs until he was ready for her again? NAY AGAIN. Or by the math that her mother (allegedly) killed his son? THRICE NAY. If it’s the latter, and he’s actually saddling her with the mistakes of her mother and/or implying she is at one with that mistake… son, I hate to break it to you, but you are about to drown in the MASSIVE KARMIC DEBT of your father, who you may recall raped your wife. Stop trying to tell the kettle what color it is, and just cook some pasta like a good little pot. Also, it’s worth repeating: Your father raped your wife. Seriously. You are in no position to judge someone by the actions of her parents.
Mellie collapses in loud grief once she’s back alone, and Fitz runs to her. It’s sort of sweet except he might’ve thought to try and help her to a couch.
After the State of the Union, Liv marches right out of there with a smile on her face and then… pauses to go home and get a bunch of stuff and maybe use the bathroom… and then shows up at Jake’s with the bottle of wine they never drank in Bangbados. He should immediately have known shenanigans were afoot, because she’s in plaid. (That makes the FOURTH person in this episode, too. This episode may be sponsored by Whoever Makes Those Elastic-Waist Pants Your Grandfather Loves.) And he asks if this is a booty call, because he thinks he’s adorable, and she says no. She marches right in there and — FINALLY — tells him that, no, she will not heel to him. He will come to her. And only when she summons him. Then she drops her coat, and is naked underneath, and says, “Come here.”
You get a million points for your sex footwear, Olivia. You go, putting the “boot” in “booty” call.
Lonely Cyrus resists the advances of a guy in a bar, and then regrets it and tries to find him again the next night. While they’re upstairs macking on each other, with Cyrus rambling that he’s not used to this, it comes out that the guy is a sex worker. Cyrus balks, smelling the scandal all over this, but with regret written all over his face — especially after the dude takes off his pants and shows him the whole buffet.
But of course, it turns out Portia de Rossi is behind the whole thing. The dude walks out to her car and leans in and says, “You were right. He’s lonely.” The idea is to make sure Cyrus knows he’s soliciting a sex worker, and then blackmail him with that, and it’s totally going to work. And that might not be a bad thing. We need new blood in the seat of power, and Cyrus would make a hilarious Gladiator, so let’s just all get him fired and make room for him at the Spunk Table. Here’s your tube of Clorox wipes, Cy. Use liberally.