'Scandal' recap: Olivia represents a sexting senator

What would TV do without Anthony Weiner? The disgraced former congressman and failed mayoral candidate, otherwise known as "Carlos Danger," has fueled countless hours of cable-news coverage, of course, but his technological antics have also provided fodder for scripted series including “The Good Wife,” Law & Order SVU” and now “Scandal.” We live in a heyday for political dramas on television and Weiner is the gift that keeps on giving.

In “Say Hello to My Little Friend,” Shonda Rhimes and Co.  put their own spin on the Weiner saga which, this being “Scandal” and all, means that not only is Sen. Richard Meyers sending pictures of his junk to young ladies, but he’s also --  allegedly! -- murdering them. Murder really is this show’s favorite way of ratcheting up already soapy plot lines to the next level of crazy. Need I remind you that the president, his democratic opponent and the vice president’s chief of staff have all killed people, and not in covert military operations or something removed but in very gruesome, very hands-on ways? Or that our heroine’s most trusted employee, Huck, is a serial killer hooked on death like Don Draper’s hooked on whiskey?

In this case, it turns out it wasn’t the senator who did the killing, but rather his wife, Shelley, played by the wonderful Melora Hardin, a.k.a. Jan Levenson Gould. Following Olivia’s advice, she  testifies on her husband’s behalf, claiming he was at home the night of the murder but also calling him a “creep” and a “pervert.” The strategy works, giving Olivia and her embattled firm a much-needed win. But there is nothing sweet about the victory, because it turns out Olivia’s been badly duped: Shelley lied on the stand not to protect her husband, but to protect herself. It's a classic "Scandal" twist, in that behind a powerful and ruthless man there's an even more ruthless woman pulling the strings.

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“Scandal” likes to use the cases of the week, especially ones that involve philandering spouses, to comment on the larger ongoing narrative, and “Say Hello to My Little Friend” is no exception. And it seems the message this week is that Olivia is in peril, not unlike Sen. Meyers’ unfortunate paramour.

The difference is that, for once, her affair with Fitz is the least of her worries. More problematic is her father, Rowan, and whatever the heck is going on with Operation Remington. Jake nails it on the head when, over a gigantic glass of wine, “You’re the daughter of the man who runs the top secret organization that made your friend kill a man for some reason having to do with your ex-boyfriend, the president.”

It’s a hilariously self-conscious bit of expository dialogue that points to both the absurdity and the very real danger Olivia is in at the epicenter of scandal we’re only beginning to piece together. That’s why she pushes Jake away for much of the episode, until Huck shows up with him at her door and forces her to look at the file.

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For once, the audience is learning the truth right along with Olivia, and this week we both get a few more tidbits about Operation Remington, which appears to have been a rescue mission that took place on Iranian soil during the first Gulf War. It involved Jake and a team of three men on the ground  and a pilot, Fitz, in the air. But, thanks to a rather indiscreet Navy tattoo, it’s been made to look like the late Pete Foster flew the mission. We don’t know why there’s been a cover-up or why Fitz is so consumed by guilt that he’d throw Foster a funeral. I’d hazard a guess and say that civilian deaths might have been involved -- a la “Operation Genoa” on “The Newsroom” -- except this is “Scandal,” a show where the president has already killed a Supreme Court Justice and, well, a little collateral damage seems too ho-hum.

Whatever the case may be, it looks like Fitz’s would-be Democratic opponent, Rep. Josephine Marcus (Lisa Kudrow) is going to help speed up revelations about Operation Remington.  Cyrus sends young staffer Ethan, clad in cowboy boots -- “I figured it was OK. After all, we are Republicans” -- to Montana to do a little opposition research on Marcus, after she slams the president and his untamed “cobra”  in her party’s primary debate. (Personally I wish there’d been more fallout from the “deep-fried Twinkies” comment Mellie made on that hot mic, but then I’d gladly watch this show if Mellie were the only character on it.)

Ethan returns from the trip having “failed,” he says, with just one teensy weensy tidbit for Cyrus: Marcus may have had a secret child as a teenager. So, you know, just that. Ethan wouldn’t last a day at Pope & Associates.


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Twitter: @MeredithBlake

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