WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Two, Episode Seven, “Defiance”

El Prez returns, Olivia and the senator go public, and someone gets shot.

By: Tanya Pai

I give this episode props for pulling off a legitimately surprising (albeit incredibly unrealistic) ending. In a show where I often find the twists painfully predictable, the final seconds made me gasp at my TV. To the recap!

The case of the week is basically only notable because Olivia has almost nothing to do with it. As payback for Harrison doing her dirty work in breaking up Abby and Jerk Jeremy by paying JJ’s ex to say he beat her, Olivia is letting him be “lead” for certain clients, starting with the ex-wife and oldest son (played by Jeremy London’s twin brother, Jason) of a multibillionaire mogul (Harold Pierce Sr.) who seems to have gone off his rocker a week before the company’s IPO. (I don’t remember the family’s name, so I’m just going to call them the Riches.) Papa Rich’s family just wants to keep him quiet until the IPO is done, so Harrison and Abby decide to have him committed. Except when they try to get him evaluated, Papa Rich chases the shrink out of the mansion at shotgun point, then barricades himself inside with his 20-year-old girlfriend. H and A are on baby-sitting duty outside of the house, where they have some time to bond. “Thank you,” Abby tells Harrison. “For telling me to check up on David.” Harrison looks like he’s regretting that whole “I’ll do anything for you” speech he gave Il Papa.

Eventually Papa Rich’s girlfriend comes out to tell them he’s sick and to call a certain doctor—who turns out to be a doctor of theology and is actually there to marry the two, making the girlfriend the only person who can have him committed. Harrison calls Olivia for help, but she tells him to be a big boy and figure it out. And after Papa Rich shoots Junior in the arm, he does, sitting them down for a come-to-Jesus talk. As it turns out, Papa Rich isn’t crazy—he’s just sick of working so hard and wants to have some fun, and is trying to help his son avoid the same workaholic life he had. But Junior loves the company and just wants to run it—so they cancel the IPO and Junior takes over as CEO. Harrison looks pleased with himself.

Over in A-plot city, Olivia and Senator McFlirty are dating, but on the DL. As they get dressed, he spouts off the list of ladies he was with before Il Papa (but presumably after they were together the first time). He wants her to reciprocate, but instead she just tells him that a big announcement will be made in the Senate later that day and he should be one of the first to support it. What’s the announcement? Another of Olivia’s clients just happens to be the Senate majority leader, who had a lot of sex with the 21-year-old daughter of his wife’s best friend and now needs to resign his position, leaving a convenient opening. Senator McFlirty publicly expresses his support for the decision to step down, instantly making him a frontrunner for the position. It pays to sleep with Olivia, it seems.

Meanwhile, JJ is meeting Cyrus’s husband, Ira Glass Lite, at the Lincoln Memorial. He’s got a huge file folder of documents that he says proves Hollis Doyle used rigged voting machines to push through initiatives regarding a pipeline he wants to build across the US. IGL isn’t buying it, but JJ convinces him to at least take the folder.

Hey, El Prez is back from Japan! He’s pretending to watch the majority leader resign on TV, but is really staring moonily at Olivia, who’s visible in the corner of the frame. Enter the (STILL pregnant) FLOTUS. “You’re back,” she says. She fills in that he hasn’t called her in three weeks. “I was beginning to think you were dead. I mean, I knew you weren’t, because I could see you on TV, but still—a girl can dream.” Unbeknownst to El Prez, she’s planned a huge gala for his birthday—500 people, a performance by Stevie Wonder, etc. El Prez is pissed, because he wanted a small party. “We can’t always get what we want,” she snipes. Cyrus tries to smooth things over by saying there’s a private get-together at the White House that evening.

Vera, our favorite Supreme Court justice, is in attendance at said dinner, along with Cyrus and IGL. El Prez says the main thing he’s learned from politics is to never trust pollsters, and proceeds to tell the story of how his presidential election came down to one spot in Ohio: Defiance County. The numbers guys told him he was going to lose, but then the results came in and he was ahead. Vera, Cyrus, and FLOTUS get “Uhh, awkward” looks on their faces, and a tiny lightbulb pops up above IGL’s head.

Enter Hollis Doyle, who has his own candidate in mind for Senate majority leader. He visits Cyrus at the White House and tells him to make it happen. Cyrus reminds him that even his influence has limits. “Exceed them,” Doyle growls. He threatens, as he always does, to expose the vote-fixing secret, but it seems like those threats are starting to ring hollow for Cyrus.

Also hassling Cyrus about the job is Il Papa, who’s gunning for her boyfriend. If El Prez endorses Senator McFlirty, he’ll lose for sure—but Cyrus says he hopes El Prez backs the other candidate so McFlirty wins, because it’ll mean he’s over Olivia. She looks upset. In the Oval Office, a Secret Service guy hands El Prez an envelope of photos of Olivia and the senator canoodling. He flips through every single one, and looks like he might cry-vomit.

Ira Glass Lite has decided to investigate JJ’s claims, so he first meets with two college kids who wrote their dissertations on how easy it is to rig voting machines (uhh, sure), then books it to Defiance County to check out the machines for himself. After examining all the ones in the voting center, none of which has the memory card that would provide the evidence he needs, he realizes one machine is missing. Turns out it’s at the high school, so he of course heads there, lying through his teeth to Cyrus about where he is. (Confession: I cringed throughout all these scenes, expecting that at any minute some guy in a black hood would come up behind IGL and snap his neck.) He finds the memory card in the voting machine (still with El Prez and VP Sally’s names on the ballot), and when he tests it he finally has hard evidence that the presidential election was rigged. He lets out a deep breath.

Olivia, finally willing to go out in public with her hunky senator boyfriend, heads to El Prez’s birthday gala on his arm. El Prez and FLOTUS arrive by limo, but as they pull up in front of the throngs of reporters and attendees, FLOTUS starts to wig. “What if we just . . . didn’t go?” she asks him. He asks if it’s because she’s afraid his mistress will be there. “News flash: She’s not my mistress anymore,” he says. She keeps insisting she doesn’t want to go, to which he says, “Well, we can’t always get what we want,” and steps out of the limo. They start walking into the party, smiling and waving. Then THERE’S A SHOT, El Prez staggers, and the episode ends.

A couple of thoughts:

Did FLOTUS know El Prez was going to get shot? We’re obviously meant to think so, but my money’s on no.

How many episodes does IGL have left to live? I was surprised he made it out of this one alive.

I didn’t mention the Quinn storyline because I find her very tiresome, but the gist is that she’s started investigating her own disappearance and figures out the plane she was on when she was kidnapped from California belonged to Vera, so she now strongly suspects Olivia and Huck were involved. My question is: Where is this going? And why should we care?

What did you think of last night’s episode of Scandal? Let us know in the comments.