Previously on Scandal: The President was a lothario. Olivia was a badass. Quinn was clueless. Amanda Tanner got caught in the shuffle.
This ep opens with a news story about El Prez appointing his first Supreme Court justice. Olivia's watching on TV in her office as an older woman in a drab suit (Mimi Kennedy) congratulates her on getting El Prez elected, saying he was a "diamond in the rough" before Olivia started working for him. She asks why Olivia left her job at the White House. Harrison interrupts to tell Olivia she has a phone call. It's Stephen, who's on the lookout outside an apartment as inside Huck hacks and Abby grabs various things, all the while hissing at Stephen over the phone that she's disappointed in him. Stephen seems unconcerned. His accent is weird.
Abby is making her way out of the apartment with a box under
one arm, and Drab Suit Woman asks if she got the photo albums.
Abby and Huck go back and grab an armful of albums as Stephen
sees Jerk Jeremy from the US Attorney's Office (his character's
name is David Rosen, by the way) eyeballing him from a cop car
driving past, and gets an "Oh, shit" face. "He spotted me,
so you've got ten minutes," he tells Olivia. Man, I do not
remember how three-way calling works. Olivia yells to Harrison
that they've got incoming. Cut to Olivia, Harrison, and Quinn
standing in the hallway expectantly. Quinn stammers that it
would be sooo helpful if someone could tell her what's going
Then JJ comes in, spouting off a very Sorkin-esque monologue about how the law is on his side, he IS the law, he wears the white hat, he is a knight for the people (seriously?). We learn that Olivia's middle name is Carolyn. Or Carol Lynn. Anyway, JJ thinks her middle name should be "pain in the ass." He had a search warrant for the house Huck and Abby just plundered, and is mad because they took all the evidence. Jeremy wants to know where "the list" is, the one that details the illegal activities of DSW, who is currently sipping tea innocently in the back of the office. JJ says he has enough to arrest her, but Olivia says he can't arrest her without a warrant. "Can you at least pretend you aren't enjoying this?" JJ says, defeated.
In those parallel elevator sequences this show seems to love, JJ heads down as Huck, Stephen, and Abby come up with their contraband. Weirdly, it appears their building still has elevator operators. Quinn, tired of waiting for someone to tell her what the frack is going on, introduces herself to DSW, who says her name is Sharon Marquette. She apparently knows Stephen, which Abby seems pissed about. Quinn asks how they know each other. "Quinn," Olivia says warningly, but Abby's ready with the assist: "She provides whores for him," she says. Emphasis on the whores. DSW looks mildly amused. "I'm DC's finest madam, dear," she says. Quinn looks horrified. I'm going to have to start a drinking game for this.
White House. Cyrus is meeting the President, who's attempting to tie his tie as he walks and explains how awesome his Supreme Court nominee, Patrick Keating, is. He pauses to let Cyrus fix his tie. Cyrus would rather talk about Olivia. Grant says Cyrus misunderstood what he saw, with the making out and whatnot, but Cyrus tells him, "Don't Clinton me with words." He knows an angry lover when he sees one, and therefore he knows something happened with Amanda Tanner. Grant switches from endearing-man-boy mode to scary-faced authoritarian mode. "This is not a discussion we're going to have," he says. He starts to walk away, and Cyrus drops the bomb that Olivia is representing Amanda. "I'm on your side," he tells El Prez. Instead of thanking him, El Prez tells Cyrus it's a great day for the American people. "Don't ruin it." Yeah, Cyrus.
Back at HQ, Abby is explaining Madam Sharon's case while being SUPER judgy. She explains that one of Madam Sharon's newest girls, "Ginger Bell," got arrested in the Hay-Adams lobby, and "sang like a little bird who has sex for money," which would be a weird kind of bird, so now Madam Sharon is in hot water. JJ wants to find her client list, so the Dream Team has to find it first. Turns out the record is hidden in one of those photo albums Abby and Huck rescued. From the list, the team is able to fill up the wall o' crime not with photos of bloody corpses, but with driver's license photos of johns. Meanwhile Olivia tells Quinn to go check on Amanda in the hospital, to which Quinn protests that she can do more than get coffee and baby sit. Olivia doesn't care. The rest of the team is examining the wall o' johns, which is a "who's who of Washington." Olivia, noticing one photo, mutters "Dammit" and grabs her jacket to leave. Turns out the illustrious Patrick Keating is one of Madam Sharon's clients.
Olivia's at the White House gate, and the guard tells her she isn't cleared to enter, which shocks the hell out of her. A friendly looking guy (Matt Letscher) steps to her rescue, and when the security guard protests, he calls the guard's kiosk from his cell phone, introducing himself as Billy Chambers, the VP's chief of staff, while securing walk-on clearance for Olivia.
Quinn is at the hospital, looking in on Amanda. A scruffily cute guy (Brendan Hines) strikes up a conversation with her and introduces himself as Gideon, then immediately outs himself as a reporter by asking 17,000 nosy questions. Turns out he works for the "DC Sun." Quinn is having none of it and tells him to leave.
At the White House, Olivia has apprised Billy and Cyrus of the Keating situation, and Cyrus is furious. Olivia and Billy argue about whether they can still appoint Keating to the court, and Olivia snaps that 23 years ago he hired a high-priced hooker--more than once. "It's a dirty little secret, and dirty little secrets always come out. Don't they, Cyrus?" she says. She tells them to find another nominee, and leaves. Billy is confused as to why Olivia and Cyrus are at odds, but Cyrus growls at him to "fix the Keating thing." On her way out, Olivia and El Prez exchange A Look.
At the office, the Dream Team is going over Madam Sharon's records. Abby is confused by the terminology of the hooker manifesto (no, the girls aren't all fluent in Greek). As Harrison explains what "sunny day" and "hardwood floors" mean, she gets wildly uncomfortable and Harrison and Stephen laugh like frat boys during a wet T-shirt contest. I feel sorry for Stephen's imaginary fiancée.
JJ shows up with a warrant and a weak insult about Olivia being the patron saint of hookers. Olivia demands a private, recently cleaned cell for Madam Sharon while simultaneously telling Quinn via phone not to let Amanda leave her sight at any cost. Of course, as soon as Quinn gets back to the hospital room, Amanda is gone.
Next crisis: Chambers is on his way up with Keating and his wife. Chambers wants Olivia to fix the Keating situation. "This is an FOF favor," he says, meaning "Friend of Fitz," meaning El Prez, Fitzgerald Grant. She's unmoved. "How about a Friend of Billy favor?" he tries desperately. He looks sort of like Bill Paxton, but less squinty. And less awesome. Still, he manages to charm Olivia into agreeing to help.
Ooh, awkward: Keating, sitting with his wife, demands that Olivia explain what the problem is with his nomination. Abby tries to get his wife out of the room, but Keating waves her off. So Olivia, to her credit, comes right out with it. Keating protests that it's a lie, while his wife looks on inscrutably. Olivia tells him he needs to withdraw his nomination, but he refuses, saying he won't turn his back on his country. He leaves the room, and the wife speaks up that he's blameless and losing the nomination will kill him.
The team is studying the wall o' johns. Abby asks what Olivia's Mythical Gut says. Mythical Gut opines that Keating isn't a hooker guy. Olivia tells the team to track down "Stacy," the hooker Keating supposedly visited, to figure out the truth.
Stephen is visiting Madam Sharon in jail. He tells her to give up her client list, which she refuses. "I didn't stay out of trouble for 30 years by kissing and telling," she says, and admonishes that he of all people should understand that. He counters that he's a grown man and made a choice to do something illegal. Madam Sharon is unmoved.
Cyrus visits the El Prez in the Oval Office. El Prez says Cyrus shouldn't have blocked Olivia from the White House, but Cyrus begs to differ and then lays down a printout from the DC Sun's blog with an article about Amanda's suicide attempt. "We're not going down because you failed to keep your fly zipped," he snarks. Burn! El Prez blows off the "two sentence" article, which Cyrus compares to the start of Watergate. Enter FLOTUS, in--it must be said--a SKINTIGHT white dress. Not even the blazer, pearls, and classy chignon can disguise how MTV Movie Awards this dress is. POTUS tells her she looks fantastic and they kiss while Cyrus averts his eyes. FLOTUS tells Cyrus if the Keating problem is serious, he needs to get Olivia on it. I hope she gets some character development soon, outside of being the Nice Cuckolded Wife.
Back at the office, Harrison and Abby are leaving to search for Stacy, and on their way out pass Quinn, who makes a beeline for Huck. He tells her she looks vomit-adjacent, and she says she needs his help to find a missing person. "Did you try their house?" he asks. Olivia spies her on her way out and says she's coming along. They then run into Stephen, who's upset Madam Sharon won't reveal her clients because she'll go to jail, while Olivia says she'd rather not ruin Keating's reputation over something that isn't true. As they reach the elevator, Jerk Jeremy steps out and says, "You got served, yo!" Actually he says, "You've been served for Sharon Marquette's client list, and you have two hours to produce it." Quinn looks horrified again. Drink!
Abby and Harrison find and speak to a potential Stacy in the park, but not before Abby asks Harrison if he's ever paid for sex and he responds that all dating is basically paying for sex, since he doesn't buy a woman dinner or drinks out of the goodness of his heart. Charming.
Olivia and Quinn have arrived at Amanda's apartment. Amanda opens the door and lays into Olivia. "Do you know what you did to me the other day?" she demands. "You made me want to die. Literally, actually die." But Olivia being there means she knows Amanda was telling the truth. Quinn's eyes get HUGE. Amanda forces Olivia to admit it, which she does, and then says Amanda needs her in order to avoid the onslaught of publicity that will snowball from those two sentences on the DC Sun's blog. Amanda tearfully tells her to leave her alone and shuts the door in her face. Olivia tells Quinn to convince Amanda to let the Dream Team help her.
Back at the office, Harrison tells Olivia they weren't able to find Stacy, then heads to a hearing with Stephen, leaving Olivia and Abby time for some girl talk about Abby's extreme problem with Stephen's hooker-frequenting ways. Abby says she knows she shouldn't care, because she's not his wife. "Exactly," says Olivia, then gets Lightbulb Face.
Next she's back at the White House, attempting to bribe the security guard with red velvet cupcakes. He quasi-threatens to shoot her, but then admits he got a call from the Prez's secretary and she's back on the list. "I don't know what kind of cupcakes you gave him," he says. I think usually they call it a muffin. (Get it?)
Mrs. Keating is sitting outside a White House meeting room. Olivia comes up behind her and says, "Stacy?" Mrs. Keating immediately turns around. Scandalous!
Stacy's walking Olivia through her relationship with Patrick. Apparently they met her first night on the job; he wasn't her john but was instead just trying to cheer up a girl he thought had been stood up by a date. Stacy liked him, so she didn't tell him who she was, and they started dating. She told Madam Sharon he was a client but paid for all of their dates, and her hooker money put him through Georgetown Law. She says she loves him and can't bear to tell him his whole life was based on a lie. Olivia tells Stacy why she needs to tell her husband the truth, as she catches El Prez staring at her from inside the meeting room like a moonstruck calf. Keeping her eyes locked on his, she tells Stacy that if Keating finds out the truth from someone else, it'll break his heart.
In court, JJ and Stephen are arguing in front of a lady judge about the validity of JJ's subpoena. The judge orders our dream team to turn over the list, and tells JJ to lower Sharon's bail to "something that wouldn't make Donald Trump feel extravagant." Stephen tells Harrison they better find a damn good defense lawyer.
Olivia looks in on the room El Prez was in earlier as Keating chews out his wife for her wanton ways. El Prez comes up behind her, again saying Keating is basically a saint on earth. Olivia says he would have been a great justice, but she can't stop the story, and El Prez asks her for another nominee. "I don't work for you anymore," Olivia reminds him. El Prez gets even closer (where are the cameras now, anyway?), and asks if she thinks Keating and the Missus will make it. Olivia's doubtful, but El Prez says if two people love each other and want to be together, that's stronger than any one mistake. He reaches for her hand and she doesn't pull away. They stand that way for a second, and she looks like she might cry, then scurries out of there. From inside the room, we hear Keating tell his wife she's a liar who cost them everything that matters.
Olivia sits, downcast, in front of the wall o' johns. Stephen says he's heading down to JJ's office with the list, and hilariously tries to cheer her up by saying that if the list is released, every single john is a potential client. "There's a lot of power up on this wall," Olivia says. Then it dawns on her. "Harrison!" she yells.
Harrison goes around the city tracking down all the politicos on the john list and greeting them with their various escort preferences-- "Do you speak Greek?", etc. It's gross. Turns out Olivia's summoned them all to a meeting at the office. She says she doesn't care how they spend their free time, but their constituents might, and that they should ensure "small business owner" Madam Sharon is not unduly harassed by the law. One man protests his innocence and gets up to leave, but Sharon shuts him down with a choice euphemism for his favorite sexual acts. He sits back down, fish-mouthed. Olivia says she's glad they all agree, and that she needs just one more thing.
Next we see Fish Mouth on TV giving his full support to the Keating nomination as a ticker below proclaims the nom is expected to "sail through." JJ and Olivia are watching from a bar, and he says he can guess who was on Madam Sharon's client list by all the people who called his boss telling him to drop the case. Olivia tells JJ everybody wins, as Sharon has closed up shop--unless, of course, what he was really after was the fame and fortune that would come with winning a high-profile case. JJ pouts.
El Prez is drinking in the Oval Office and rejoicing to Cyrus that Olivia helped them, which means she's on their side. Cyrus is giving him the silent treatment. El Prez says the leader of the free world is standing in the Oval Office, on the presidential seal, slightly inebriated, which should at least warrant a lecture. Cyrus sulks that El Prez won't tell him anything and thus obviously doesn't trust him. El Prez says he knows he doesn't just get to do whatever he wants. "I'm not John Edwards," he says. Heh. "But Liv," he says, voice quivering with emotion, "is the love of my life. And she won't even talk to me." Maybe you should try passing her a note in study hall. El Prez says that's the only time they're going to talk about Olivia and him. Cyrus pours himself some Scotch, which El Prez notes Cyrus hates. "I do, but not tonight," Cyrus says. "You're on my side," says El Prez, pleased. They clink glasses. Poor FLOTUS.
Amanda is sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, crying, as Quinn walks up. She says a reporter called her parents at home. "It's happening already, isn't it?" Quinn tells her, sans specifics, that she was once in a similar situation and would have given anything to have someone tell her what to do and say, and Olivia can do that for Amanda.
Cut to the office, where Amanda has agreed to let Olivia help her, as long as they do things on Amanda's terms. Olivia promises Amanda she won't be sorry. Then there's a knock on the door, and the scruffy hospital hottie enters, and recognizes both Quinn and Amanda. He says he's there to get a quote for his story. "You don't have a story," Olivia says, "so leave." He refuses. He hadn't put the pieces together before, but now that he sees the president's suicidal former aide and the girl who lied about who she worked for both in Olivia's office, he sure as hell does now. Ruh roh.