By Lauren McEwen
For The Baltimore Sun
10:50 AM EST, November 8, 2013
People on the Internet may try to tell you that the most exciting thing about last night’s episode of “Scandal” was the first appearance of Olivia’s mom, Maya Lewis (played by “Treme’s” Khandi Alexander), but they are wrong.
Tonight, we got to see what 12-year-old Olivia Pope looked like, and as someone who was also a semi-nerdy, black 12-year-old girl at one point in life, I was feeling so many things, but mostly intense camaraderie. Our Olivia is reminiscing about the Last Time She Saw Her Mother Alive. Young Liv’s just reading a book (with glasses on, of course) and chomping on Fruit Loops when Maya sweeps into the room to say her goodbyes.
She’s going on a business trip, and anyone who has been watching the show, knows that this ill-fated trip will leave Olivia motherless. Maya’s left casseroles in the freezer (yuck), and kisses Olivia goodbye.
Present day: Harrison and Abby badger Huck and Jake about the newest Olivia-centric drama effecting P&A. Of course, Huck and Jake (Juck? Hake?) refuse to tell, but Abby and Harrison don’t push. They just want to make sure that Liv chooses a client: Josephine Marcus or Fitz. They just got out of a scary financial hole, and have no urge to return.
A determined Olivia sweeps past them, headed to the White House to straightforwardly ask Fitz if he killed her mother. Jake and Huck seemed shocked, but they don’t attempt to stop her.
Slimy Leo Bergen is with Sally Langston and her husband, Daniel Douglas. After Daniel leaves, Leo asks if he’s a charming frat boy, or date raper – will her husband be an asset or a hindrance? She assures him that Daniel is an asset, and they begin to outline her game plan, mainly backing away from the Religious Right, and then announcing her campaign.
In the Oval, Mellie is practically bouncing as she tells Cyrus and Fitz that Olivia is on her way. Cyrus is rightfully weirded out about all of it, making a quip about “A Greek tragedy in the making when your mistress flies to close to the sun.” But Mellie and Fitz are in agreement: Olivia wins elections.
Mellie welcomes her “home” when she comes in, which seems a bit like over-kill. Liv doesn’t answer, but asks to speak with the president alone, and Cyrus and Mellie rush to oblige.
Fitz is happy but surprised that she’s there. He says that he wants them to start over, but the time for smoochies is over. She asks him if he flew air support for Operation Remington, or flew someplace else. He says it’s her “boyfriend Jake” talking. She asks if he’s lying to her, he throws Defiance in her face, which is a straw man argument if I ever heard one.
He says he’s an open book to her when it comes to everything but Operation Remington. That conversation, she’ll have to have with to the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. It’s a highly classified operation – which means, it does not exist.
She tells him she can’t work for him and promptly leaves. If this means that they’re finally dunzo, I will be forever grateful. Olitz has lost its punch after about the third breakup.
Mellie is pissed that she begged Olivia to come back and Fitz ruined it all. If he wants to win, there is no one else, she spits. She storms out, and Fitz tells Cyrus that Liv knows about Remington – she knows everything.
Quinn’s at a gun range (*insert eye-roll here*), and shows up late to the office with everyone’s coffees. Liv returns and shocks the team by choosing Josephine Marcus’s campaign over Fitz’s – Quinn even brings up their relationship. But Olviia covers by saying Marcus could be the first female president. She wants to be on the right side of history. “White hat, people!” Olivia shouts.
“Josie” Marcus doing the media rounds – baking pies, making jokes about changing the sheets once she gets in the White House. Abby and Liv tell her that her opponents will use these kitschy clips against her.
They also need to talk about PAC money. Josie wants to do this totally grassroots, but Liv tells her she won’t win. So Josie caves and says she’ll meet the fat cats.
She’s very down home and charming – she loves corn syrup, sugar, weapons, the ocean, and ethanol – whatever the guy with the check is pushing.
Liv goes to Jake, seeking more information about Remington – about Maya’s death. She warns Jake to be careful, but he laughs in the face of danger, and leaves.
Cyrus is meeting with Rowan, telling him that Liv knows about Remington and is working for Josie Marcus. Rowan says that if Cyrus shuts down Marcus, he’ll take care of Ballard. Cyrus looks nervous, which is more ominous than any discordant music the show could ever play.
Jake is sipping coffee in a café when a mystery woman shows up. He wants to know if she still has her clearance level to retrieve some info about the flight. She’s disappointed that coffee didn’t mean “coffee,” but she promises that she’ll call if she finds anything. She offers up a side of sex with the info, but is happy he seems to have found someone when he turns her down. Of course, there’s a mysterious guy listening across the room.
Liv and Abby want Josie to go negative on Murderer Reston, because voters and donors will think that he’s experienced because he’s gone up against Fitz once before. Josie, of course, refuses and Liv decides they should do a one-on-one interview instead.
Cyrus calls Harrison, trying to bully him with news that someone named Adnan Salif, is trying to get back into the States. (Twitter tells me Salif is the insider trader that Harrison used to work for back in the day, which means he’s seriously bad news.) Cy wants him to push Liv to stop working for Marucs. Harrison freaks, closes the office door.
Fitz is still freaking about Liv knowing, obviously, but Cyrus suggests that he forget about it, in order to avoid having B613 try to assassinate him, basically.
Liv is torturing herself by watching the old news report on her mother’s plane crash and remembering Rowan, sitting on their couch, sobbing, when he told her that her mother was killed all those years ago.
Present-day Liv dials her father and asks him what the last thing he said to her mother was. He asks if she’s been drinking, but answer the question. He told Maya he loved her and kissed her on the cheek.
Olivia has so many questions for him, but is afraid he’ll kill her friends if she does. Instead, she suggests they talk about the weather or how she can’t form attachments to people because her mother is dead and her father is that “thing that goes bump in the night.” He agrees to answer one question, and she makes him promise not to kill Jake, Huck, or anyone she loves.
She asks if he gave the order to have her mother killed. He says no, and stands by his one question rule. He tells her that the past is the past – best to be left alone.
Of course, James Novak is the one who got the Marcus interview, and Cyrus is grilling him about what he’ll ask her. Ever the professional, James refuses to discuss it. There’s the sweetest moment when James chastises Cyrus for borrowing his tie without asking. Cyrus suggests that he ask her about the baby she abandoned, and if she’s a lesbian because she is 50 and unmarried. Of course, James is disgusted by this, given that they are a gay couple with their adopted baby in the next room, but Cyrus knows no boundaries.
Meanwhile, the Tea Party plans to rally against Faithless Fitz. Cy calls Sally to ask her to have dinner wit Mellie and Fitz to make the plan for re-election. She agrees, and gloats to Bergen about having them “hook, line and sinker.”
Abby and Liv prep Josie for her interview. She makes a joke about a tractor while talking foreign policy, which Olivia advises her not to do. Abby throws a test question about her legs, and Josie refuses to talk about her legs or workout routine.
Liv understands that she doesn’t want to pander to sexism, but she needs to stop being so nice and to really work for the presidency. Josie explodes at Liv, not to make her someone she’s not, catches herself and apologizes. “So, she’s got a temper,” Abby quips to a stunned Liv.
Harrison goes to Huck for a favor. Salif cannot get back in the country, and Huck offers to delete his application from the system. Harrison is afraid for his life if Salif returns.
Mellie, looking awesome in a dark plum dress, complains about the dinner with the Langstons, but Fitz calms her by telling her that they have their own problems, namely Douglass’s wandering eye. Mellie jokes that she and Sally have something in common, after all.
Sally agrees to talk to the Tea Party Reverend, but is distracted by her husband’s flirting with Mellie. Daniel offers to say the prayer, and Sally is taken aback for a moment, having not seen him lead a prayer in ages. She peeks during the grace and notices her husband further checking out Mellie. Awkward.
Quinn’s at the gun range, and pretty much sucks at it. Ha! She looks behind her and who is there, but Charlie, who gives her some tips that leave her target hole-y and a creepy smile on her face.
When she gets back to the office, Huck is working away, and she asks him his professional opinion on B613: is anyone able to get out and be normal? Is she trying to get recruited, or something? Of course, he insists that now isn’t a good time. And she stomps off, like she didn’t expect that answer.
Tea Party Reverend is one the offensive when he meets with Sally, assuming that she’s there to get him in line on Fitz’s behalf. She says he’s not in the President’s woodshed, but instead, they want to offer him the opportunity to support a president who supports his ideals and faith: herself.
Josie is in makeup, but thinks Liv is keeping something from her. Abby and Olivia somberly show an attack ad from Reston. The commercials shows a shaky, woman’s hand about to open a door to a meeting with the leaders of the world, and asks if America really wants an inexperienced hand opening that door.
When her in-home interview with James begins with a question about her lack of experience, Josephine goes on the most perfect rant about sexism in politics.
She tells a story about her grandma’s habit of asking “what part of town” a boy she was dating was from, which was her grandmother’s way of asking if her boyfriend was white, so she knows about prejudice. She flat-out calls Reston sexist. The “attack ad” is literally implying that she doesn’t have the balls to sit at the table, but Reston is not alone. Josie says that everyone has been using coded language about gender when discussing her campaign.
Even the decision to have James do the interview in her home – an interview that he begins by thanking her for “inviting them into her lovely home” like she’s the neighbor lady – and his producers planting a fancy pitcher of tea in the camera’s line of vision, is sexist. The fact that they mention her being a war widow, but not her time as a soldier, is sexist. When she tells James not to interrupt her while she’s speaking, her sister, Candice, wants to stop the interview, but a smirking Liv and Abby tell her to let Josie work.
Cyrus gets a call from the Reverend, who is a double agent, which is awesome. He tells Cyrus that Sally is, indeed, trying to run on her own ticket. Cyrus says though he loves being married, and respects a woman’s right to choose, he and Fitz will explore some policies that the Tea Party will like (specifically, fiscal policies), if he agrees to help them sabotage Sally. Mellie tells Cyrus about Daniel Langston’s wandering eye, and suggests they use that because “Sally’s not practical like me.”
Jake’s friend calls to report that she has the info on that flight for him. He meets her in a dark alley, and is followed by the guy from the coffee shop. The man sneaks up, Jake turns around, his hands in the air, but the man shoots behind him, shooting the woman in the head. He tells Jake to check her bag, and there is a gun inside. “You’re welcome,” the stranger says.
Josie and her campaign team are busy celebrating the PAC dollars rolling in, and Josie hugs Liv, even though she knows that Liv doesn’t like it. Candice, of course, confronts Huck and Abby about the fake ad they showed Josie (Abby’s wearing the same nail polish as the shaky hand) but Abby stands by it. They needed her to get angry.
Harrison and Cyrus meet. Harrison tells him that Liv has not worked for a person who inspires her in quite some time, and Josie is that. He refuses to be bullied by Cyrus, threatening to give Salif a disability waiver. Harrison reminds him that it would require a lot of incriminating paperwork to bring that criminal back in the country. Harrison leaves, and Cyrus hops on the phone, requesting a visa, not a disability waiver for Salif.
Quinn is at the gun range, and so is Charlie. Who is also, of course, reporting to Rowan.
Jake’s stalker was actually a tail, Fitz placed on him when he realized B613 wanted Jake killed. Jake questions Fitz about Remington, and Fitz orders him to walk away. Whatever did, Jake says, that it is Command’s Achilles heel – may be Jake’s only chance to sleep with both eyes closed. Fitz asks if it’s his only chance to sleep with Liv and refuses to help him anymore.
Fitz later shows up at Liv’s door. She wants to know if he’s there to answer her question about Remington, but he just wants her to come on the campaign trail, which she obviously is not about to do.
“There is nothing you can do that I wouldn’t forgive,” he says, wondering why she can’t do the same for him. He wants to know why this is all so important to her and she tells him about the plane crash that took place near Iceland at the same time as Operation Remington. The crash killed all 329 people onboard, including her mother. They claim it was a “mechanical failure,” but she knows that the plane was shot down.
“Do you still not know what I’m talking about?” she spits. Fitz looks truly troubled, but still refuses to admit that he knows anything about Remington. Liv says she was 12 when she died. (Fitz, who was turning 50 when he was shot, was old enough to be in the military when Olivia was 12, y’all.) She opens the door for him to leave.
Next week: Pope and Associates know about Liv’s mom. She’s surrounded by murderers and cannot deal.
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