Scandal Recap 2.22: “White Hats Back On”

By Arturo R. García

Might want to keep your ears open, Liv.

Greetings Scandalizens!

And thanks to Kendra and Joseph for allowing me to follow in a proud tradition of San Diegan closers by being your guest recapper for the season finale. But enough about me.

Previously, on Scandal:

Spoilers under the cut, and they will be thorough.

While this episode began with the Gladiators seated around the table together dealing with the emergence of Billy Chambers as the (most visible) Big Bad, what ensued was a numerologist’s dream: the 22nd episode of the 2nd season was decided by teams of two. Accordingly, let’s break down the disparate duos who ended up forming the core of this episode:

Olivitz: I don’t know if this episode was trying to show us Fitz in a better light, but it ended up showcasing exactly why he’s the wrong guy for anybody. And especially Mellie, who we need to discuss before getting to Olivia.

As he enters a summit of sorts with Cyrus, Mellie, and Hollis to decide how to put down the threat suddenly posed by Chambers and the Citron card (Hollis, of course, takes that in a literal sense), Fitz immediately shouts Mellie down. Not only that, but she and the rest of the table is cowed–except for Olivia, who is apparently turned on watching him leverage the privilege he literally did not earn.

It’s not until she’s out of earshot that Mellie reiterates her justifiable feelings (“I will not be humiliated anymore”) while Cyrus continues to play his weird mix of Iago and Dr. Phil, reassuring her that Fitz wants to be back by her side (“He’s a child…we just have to show him the way”). But after weeks of building up righteous steam, Fitz does indeed get to humiliate her again, as he lays out, without objection, the road map for her life out of the White House. The way it’s explained to her, she gets to sit on the sidelines while Fitz goes on play dates before the coast becomes clear for him to formally date and move Liv into the White House. And to throw in the threat of a feminist backlash? C’mon now: if anything, it might make her a key asset for Sally to deploy in her plan to re-curry favor with the socially conservative set.

While this is presented as Olivia’s plan, it’s still Fitz who sets the agenda, based on a conversation focusing what he wants to accomplish (re-election, co-habitation, marriage). He also gets to butter Olivia up enough to get her to clean up the mess he incited. And so, just a few days in canon after telling him, “You want me? Earn me!”, Liv is more or less conned into “using her superpower” to earn him. So what does she get out of this? Apparently…

This was approximately the first moment of the night when Twitter gasped, too, for different reasons.

But even as his presidency is saved–more on that shortly–Fitz ends up losing. To a point. He’s forced to scurry back to Mellie (and give Tony Goldwyn credit for playing the moment with the precise mix of sadness and humiliation) when Olivia finally backs away from their re-relationship. But despite finding out that he killed her mentor and was of sound mind in doing so, Liv says she’s leaving him because of her team. She may be their “gladiator,” but it’s still Huck who sees that’s not enough of a shield, and it’s good of Shonda Rhimes to both allow him to play viewer surrogate (“I worry about you with him) and her to acknowledge it (“I worry about me, too.”) But perhaps there’s some hope on the horizon for her.

 James and Cyrus:  Speaking of uneven power dynamics, James still can’t get any respect from the Chief of Staff, despite (mistakenly?) doing him a solid in tipping him off to Sally’s planned desertion to begin with. Cyrus, of course, swoops in to stomp a mudhole in that plan and walk it dry before another clandestine meeting with Evil Joe Morton Rowan. All that gnashing and stomping takes its toll, though, landing Cyrus in an ambulance, a sequence that provides some much-needed (intentional) levity to the proceedings.

Cyrus goes to work.

Of course, the lulz are short-lived, as Cyrus’ increasingly desperate need to keep Fitz a “happily” married man lead to him being the one to narc Olivia and Fitz out to each other. Now she knows what he did to Velma, and he knows what she was getting up to with 00-Nothing Jake (which, of course, shouldn’t really count; even before backing off, she could’ve easily cited the Geller Defense.) Still, he got what he wanted in a roundabout way. And James even came back, in a hospital scene that was more sad than touching. Poor James. Maybe he’ll meet a guy who really does support his news-hounding career track. But let it not be said that America doesn’t respect Cyrus’ willingess to go that extra low-down mile, right, Jeff Perry?

Huckleberry Quinn: It’s their super-sleuthing that allows Team Pope to (inevitably) get the drop on Chambers and Gov. Reston before they can implement Billy’s master plan. But Huck also sees another problem brewing: Quinn is starting to enjoy the dirtier side of his job along with the clean. Despite that bit of foreshadowing, it’s still a bit surprising to see Quinn’s turn to the Dark Side come to fruition so quickly:

The non-couple that hacks together—uh, hacks together.

As Huck freezes up when called upon to wrest the information out of Billy, Quinn doesn’t just takes over; she gleefully and literally drills Chambers and boasts enough about it afterward to not realize that Huck is hit by another trigger over the whole incident. While “Seven Fifty-Two” and Guillermo Díaz did a good job of bringing the character’s frailties to light, let’s hope the switch in attitude–and, perhaps, in power–in this relationship gets explored in some more detail next season. (At the same time, if I were a fan of Harrison and Abby, I’d start sweating it a little; for them to have almost no influence on a pivotal episode tells me they’re…you know, not essential to services.)

While Quinn seems to be inheriting the old Huck’s zest for (ahem) interrogation, it’s Jake who is forced to revisit the uglier side of The Job, as Rowan punishes him for saving Olivia by putting him in the Hole. But without having a nominally stabilizing environment to return to like Huck has, Jake’s journey could end up becoming darker still, should he be asked to “redeem himself” by B6-13.

Billy and David: This partnership of convenience was probably doomed as soon as Billy used his sales pitch on David. Sure, it makes little sense for David to have the Citron card and not make his own deal to get his professional life back and some glowing words from President Grant, but it sounds like it was Billy’s monologue that drew him back to the side of the angels–and away from that of the Gladiators, which is the safest place where anybody could be.

Now he’s just pushing his luck.

Olivia and …

Say what you will about this episode–heck, about this season–but the last minute was a brilliant trap by Rhimes. There we all were, enjoying Olivia’s victory lap, “Higher Ground” playing, when all of us walk into a phalanx of Beltway press, who have just now been told that she was sleeping with Fitz. Only now she’s not. And now both of them need to prove it.

Beyond that, Rowan’s insistence on “bringing her in” now takes on a different dimension. What if this is his version of tough love?

But hey, we’ve got at least one more season to gnash out those answers.

Potpourri:

  • Assuming that next season will hone in on Fitz’s re-election bid, is anybody else curious to see how Shonda Rhimes writes not only Candidate Fitz, but right-wing politicos beyond Sally?
  • How did Billy survive that encounter with Quinn? How was he able to walk?
  • Bad time for Mellie not to have her fixer around, don’t you think?
  • If you’re wondering about Olivia’s white jacket, Kerry Washington has got you:

  • Now the big one: Who do you think is going to play Olivia’s mom? My (unwitting) guess was a little…beyond right field. Way beyond.

Thank you very much for reading our crew’s recaps this season–and don’t forget, the Roundtable convenes once again on Thursday the 23rd!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Wright/1120170157 Alex Wright

    So I really need someone to explain the fitz hate. Seriously, because the woman’s group boards hate him, but they don’t hate Liv, who I find to be just as destructive as fitz. I just don’t understand, probably because I don’t subscribe to the camp of the woman is never wrong, ever. But it’s bothering me because maybe I’m just not seeing something that everyone else is? So if anyone is interested in talking to me about this please, I want to talk.

  • ahimsa

    Superpowers–LOL! That’s the only convincing reason I’ve seen so far for Olivia to keep going back to Fitz. Because, honestly, Fitz has always seemed like a total jerk to me. Worse with each episode. I have never understood why Olivia was attracted to him (other than “important plot device”, obviously).

    Sometimes I think the Olivia/Fitz thing is meant to show the viewer that Olivia is smart enough to “fix” everyone else but her own relationships are a mess and completely wrong for her. But then some parts of the show seem as if we’re supposed to be rooting for them as a couple who should end up together, because, “true love.” (even though he treats her so very badly??) So, I’m confused.

    Will Mellie’s fixer (did the character have a name? actor John Barrowman, “Capt Jack” from Torchwood) be back again next season? I think so, now that the affair has been leaked. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking since I like the actor.

  • Medusa

    This episode had a few LoL moments for me, like when Billy Chambers walked into his apartment, and Cyrus’ behavior during his HEART ATTACK. A LoL moment for me during this recap was “Cyrus continues to play his weird mix of Iago and Dr. Phil…”

    I also knew that Rowan was Olivia’s dad, and Olivia definitely already knew about B613. I too, don’t get why Shonda is trying to make 2 out of the 3 black characters on her show related. They don’t even look remotely alike. And yeah, I’m creeped out not only that her dad tried multiple times to have her killed, but also commanded one of his officers to sleep with her, film it, and give him the footage. Is he just a sociopath?

    Speaking of sociopaths, the idea that Huck is “worried” about Quinn and doesn’t want her to start killing is preposterous, because… he is a sociopath.

    The “mystery lady” who was with Rowan and then later broke in to try to kill Olivia (the same one who sold the donuts to Charlie)- when she kicked down the door, I think that was the first time I’ve ever seen a female operative kick a door down on television. That’s ALWAYS a man’s job.

    And Christ, the characters on this show are unlikable. I hate Fitz.I hate Mellie. I hate them together and I hate them apart. I hate the way he keeps jerking her around then going back to her, jerking Olivia around and expecting both of them to just be at his beck and call. Even if he is the fucking president. I don’t particularly like Olivia, even if she is the protag- she doesn’t entertain me at all, she’s manipulative, self-pitying, and I can’t stand the way they always close up on her face with her quivering lip.

    I thought the whole David Rosen thing was sooooo cheesy. Like my eyeballs got stuck staring at the back of my skull cheesy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Laplain/100002900807756 Jane Laplain

      So with you on the heartattack scene. That was hilarious!

      I don’t believe Huck is a full on sociopath. Yes, he has a sociopathic streak, but he struggles with it, and working for B613 clearly requires you to become a monster, whether you are one in your heart or not. (Can you imagine what level sociopath Rowan has to be to be the director of B613, tho?!!).

      Huck’s entire relationship with Olivia, including the backstory they endlessly hint at but never fully explain, has been about Olivia helping Huck reclaim his humanity after his having been a monster for so many years. If Huck were simply a sociopath who didn’t care about things, he wouldn’t care about Olivia, he wouldn’t care about being a Gladiator, or his protege. Sociopaths aren’t exactly known for their fierce loyalty.

      Quinn’s sociopath streak is probably even bigger than Huck’s. I predict that we will see her spiral downwards into monster territory next season, and perhaps towards finale time, it may come to a showdown between Quinn and Huck…. Frankenstein and his Monster!

      And can I say, I am SO glad they finally found an interesting direction to take the Quinn character!! I was getting mighty impatient with the resident-damsel-in-distress routine.

  • Clara

    Why didn’t you include the bit in Fitz’s “ME AND LIV 4EVAH plan” speech about race? When Fitz talked about how their relationship would spark a national conversation on race and that the Republican party would love Liv for that, I immediately thought “IS SHONDA RHIMES READING RACIALICIOUS?”

    I’m completely not surprised about Rowan being Olivia’s dad. I knew that the episode had to end on a twist, and let’s face it, the possibility of Rowan being related to Olivia crossed some of our minds. I remember one of the roundtablers throwing it out there a while back. I’m going to admit, I feel uncomfortable because a part of me definitely made this guess because both Rowan and Olivia are black, and so I am embarrassed to have fallen into the “all people of this race must be related to each other” trope. It’s awkward that I ended up being right. But I’m going to be upfront about it instead of pretend.

    Also, who says Olivia’s mom is alive? Maybe Rowan killed her off, because aren’t all members of this organization not supposed to be married with kids? This throws another angle on Olivia’s relationship with Huck. His family was allowed to live, and clearly Olivia is still alive, so maybe they can relate there. On the other hand, Olivia had clearly never heard of the Section 619 (or whatever the number is) so maybe she doesn’t know about her father’s involvement.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Laplain/100002900807756 Jane Laplain

      I disagree about Olivia clearly not having heard about section B613 or whatever. When Jake explained he was with them, she said “You’re B613??” … Not, “Wtf is B613?” I struggle to believe that Olivia Pope, with all of her insider intel, not to mention her relationship with Huck, wouldn’t know what the group was.

      About the Rowan as dad, twist. Don’t feel guilty, you were using common sense re: the way the industry does casting for TV melodrama. I had the same suspicion in the back of my mind too; In Hollywood, new characters are never Black for no special reason. New characters who are white? Now *they* could be anybody. New characters who are black, however, are either secretly related to the main characters who are also black, or will be potential love interests/bitter exes of the main black characters.

      My initial guess was that Rowan was either Olivia’s or Harrison’s dad, or less likely, an ex-husband of Olivia’s. I’m a bit disappointed that even Shonda Rimes fell into the “let’s make all the black people related to each other somehow” trap. But I’m still very interested in exploring a character who, by virtue of being her father, must have had a hand in making Olivia who she is today.

      • Clara

        You’re completely right about Olivia and B613…I guess I just remembered that scene incorrectly, oops.

  • Ashley

    TL;DR on bottom

    1. Joshua Malina Tweets are hilarious. I was immediately in that line to the left. I am really happy that David took a dip in the shallow end of the dark side to get what he wants. It means he understands that no one can be exclusively a white hat.

    2. Loved the outfits the episode that jacket and the Hat that was given Olivia was perfect almost too perfect. Like no one is really a white hat, they can dress up to look the part but in reality they can never be a true White Hat. Harrison looked good and so did Abbey but something tells me that just because they weren’t feature much in this episode doesn’t mean anything. I really do think Harrison is related in some way to Olivia.

    3. Seriously loved Huckleberry Quinn. This relationship that they have will be great and terrifying at the same time. I hope Huck is not stuck in 752 again.

    5. I hope Shonda is getting Jeff Perry weekly health tests cause for a minute I thought he really was going to have an heart attack. Also I hope him and James eventually break it off because its not a great relationship. Also where is their daughter? Is she with Frillie’s (Fritz and Mellie) kids?

    4. I feel bad for Mellie. Fritz will never care for her like he does Olivia. The looked on her face when Fritz gave that little campaign speech about just saying racist and watching all of her support fall broke my heart. Bellamy Young is excellent and I hope next season gives her some bigger meat to play with

    5. Shonda and everyone on scandal owes me a refund on my mangos because the ending had them meeting the floor. Seriously great cliffhanger. But he was her Dad the entire time. I wonder if this was truly tough love or did he really want her dead.Also, I do think Cyrus knew and that was the hesitation because Cyrus is a bit of a father figure to Olivia. I was thinking that we saw a glimpse that another fixer who says that he is the best was like not the best if we compare him to Olivia. But what if what makes Olivia so great is that her Dad has been secretly helping out the team without them knowing? Not like a whole lot but just a little, just enough to where he is actually influencing everything she does.

    6. Jake is turning to be interesting character and i really think he actually fell in love with her. I don’t think that steamy night they had was a mission cause if it was he would have never fallen asleep. I think he truly wanted to be with her. .

    7. I really think that plan Olivia put together was nothing but a fairy tale. Cyrus was right that when it comes to them being together, they truly do not think at all. The Republican party would never ever accept Olivia based on her race. That plan would only put Fritz, Olivia, and Mellie on the hot plate. If next season skips ahead into the future for Fritz election, I hope they bring in some writers whose politics are a second skin like those from West Wing or at least bounce the scenarios around to different people. I think anyone would be happy to have a credit on Scandal because it is truly a great show.

    8. The list for the woman who put up with Rowan and is Olivia’s mom only has 5 people to me. S. Epatha Merkerson, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Pam Grier, and Lynn Whitfield. Seriously any of these ladies will do. Matter of fact have all 5, cause Olivia and Harrison need some family.

    TL;DR: Joshua Malina is funny and Jeff Perry needs to be seen by a doctor. Olivia and Fritz are trying to live a Fairy Tale. Quinn is becoming twisted. And “DAD?!” has got to be the greatest cliffhanger ever.