El Prez, FLOTUS, and Senator McFlirty are all absent this episode, which is the midseason finale. Instead, we get a heavy dose of Southern-fried drawl, people doing terrible things to the ones they love, and more on the seriously disturbing love story of Huck and his lAAdyfriend.
After the shooting, El Prez is still in critical condition, Olivia is still working at the White House, and everyone is on the lookout for the man in the red hoodie. Huck shows up at Dream Team HQ, waking Harrison. “The person they’re looking for . . . that’s me,” he says. Harrison calls Olivia for backup, who shows up at HQ to figure out what’s going on. Turns out Huck’s lAAdyfriend Becky called him and said she was in trouble, and asked him to go to the Stanworth Hotel. But when he got to the room, he found not his lady love but rather a remote-controlled sniper gun, which is what shot El Prez. Huck assumed someone had kidnapped Becky and the gun was the only link, so he packed it up and brought it to the office. As the Dream Team digs into Becky’s past they find that her lease, bank accounts, etc. only go back three months—the exact amount of time Huck has known her. The Dream Team looks for security camera footage of the hotel, which Jerk Jeremy delivers to Abby along with a lot of longing looks (which leads to them having weird, semi-violent wordless sex later in the episode). Watching the footage, they see Becky go to the hotel with the gun, alone, and try to break it to Huck that his perfect girlfriend was framing him for trying to assassinate the leader of the free world.
Huck, being Huck, doesn’t believe them, so he goes to search her apartment and finds a secret room lined with surveillance photos of him and plans for the shooting setup. He freaks out and goes to the house of the family he likes to stalk. He parks outside to watch them and falls asleep, waking up to Becky holding a gun to his neck. She says she’s Becky like Rebecca from Sunnybrook Farm like he’s Huck from Huckleberry Finn, and she was supposed to frame him but didn’t because she likes him. “We’re built for each other,” she says, and asks him to run away with her—“Bonnie and Clyde for hire”—which is weirdly sweet. “You know where to find me,” she says. Where to find her is . . . her apartment, I guess, because later she walks in and Huck is sitting on her floor, surrounded by photos of himself. They proceed to have sex on top of the photos, which is a whole other level of narcissism. They say they love each other, and Huck says he’ll run away with her, he just needs an hour to get his stuff. Instead, he goes to see Olivia at the White House (which, really? He’s just walking around in front of a million armed guards when he fits the description of the most wanted man in America?). He says he promised he’d say goodbye before he left, and she whisper-yells that his girlfriend tried to kill her boyfriend and he’s being selfish (I’m paraphrasing). “Do I tell you who to love?” he snarls. “No. So don’t tell me.” It looks like it’s adios, Huck, but instead he calls Harrison and tells him to wait until Becky’s out of the apartment and then plant the rifle there. He goes to meet Becky at their “spot,” which is outside the house of the family he stalks, but she doesn’t show up, and her phone is disconnected. He starts to realize something is wrong in the seemingly empty house, so he goes inside and finds—oh, my God—everyone in the house, including the kids and the dog, dead in pools of blood as a recording of his phone conversation with Harrison plays on a loop.
As all this is happening, things are still nuts at the White House. As Il Papa tries to downplay the significance of the shooting subject’s description to save Huck’s hide, Cyrus is being a giant diva and working from home until El Prez returns. Thanks to a call from his mother-in-law, he finds out that Ira Glass Lite was not visiting his parents last week as he told Cyrus. He peeks at IGL’s phone and sees dozens of calls from a number he doesn’t know, so he naturally assumes he’s cheating. He shows up at Olivia’s apartment with a bottle of wine and tells her he hired a PI to investigate IGL. He says he’s going to grow old alone, and Olivia says VP Sally has her planning El Prez’s funeral. Cyrus says it’s unacceptable for her to give up on El Prez, and she nods. Then she tells him, “You are never alone. I’m here.” I love their friendship—it’s one of the most legitimately honest on the show.
Cyrus’s PI, incidentally, is Huck’s hitman colleague Charlie, who tells him IGL isn’t cheating but rather is getting phone calls from assistant District Attorney JJ and taking business trips to Defiance, Ohio. Cyrus knows exactly what that means. How does he intend to fix this? By getting IGL what he wants most in the world: a baby. Seriously. He arranges an elaborate dinner at their apartment and shows IGL the photo of a baby girl, who, thanks to his string-pulling, could be theirs. IGL is ecstatic, even when Cyrus tells him he has to quit his job. “I’m not gonna stop saying yes,” says IGL, and they hug, and Cyrus’s eyes look empty, and it’s terrible. But IGL’s got a few tricks up his sleeve: Charlie trails him to a “baby store,” which relaxes Cyrus enough to call him off, but turns out IGL just got Jerk Jeremy to meet him at the “baby store.” JJ asks if Cyrus knows that IGL is investigating the situation. “He offered me a baby,” IGL says. “He hates babies. So yeah, he knows.” He gives JJ the memory card from the tampered-with voting machine, and they are officially in cahoots to take down El Prez’s entire administration.
Hollis Doyle goes to see VP Sally, and their competing drawls are hilariously out of control. He tells her she should seize the day(s) she has as President and that she should pay Supreme Court justice Verna a visit. Which she does—at the hospital, where Verna is undergoing chemo. VP Sally asks her to step down so she can finally get that nomination she was promised upon becoming VP. Verna tries to refuse, but VP Sally says if she doesn’t resign, she’ll leak to the press that Verna lied by omission about having cancer at the time of her appointment and is now taking medical marijuana pills, which calls into question all of the decisions she’s made as a justice.
Verna meets with Olivia to talk about the situation: “That bible-thumping bitch is blackmailing me.” Verna says she intends to live long enough to resign when there’s a “legitimate” President in office. Olivia snaps that El Prez is legit. “He had nothing to do with how he got elected,” she says. “He’s a patriot, and he’s legitimate.” She tells Verna to step down and spend her remaining time with her family. Verna says the red hoodie guy looks a lot like Huck. “Huh,” says Olivia. Later she runs into Hollis, and realizes he’s the one who told VP Sally to get rid of Verna. “We had a deal,” she tells him. “Am I the pot or the kettle in this here deal?” he replies. He tells her she and Verna betrayed him first, so it’s game on as far as he’s concerned.
Later Verna goes to see VP Sally with two letters in her hand. One is her letter of resignation from the Supreme Court. The other is the name of the man who shot El Prez—“your bin Laden,” Verna calls him. We don’t see which one VP Sally picks, but we soon find out, as a SWAT team raids HQ and takes Huck away in handcuffs. A tearful Olivia asks what the charges are. “This man is being held under the Patriot Act,” says one of the goons.
When all this blows up, who will still be in Olivia’s corner? Abby will never forgive her, Harrison’s respect is already fraying, and even the love of her life, El Prez, will be hard-pressed to trust her once he finds out how she and everyone around him is constantly manipulating him.
The thing that’s impressing me more and more about this show is how it manages to take all these plotlines, implausible as they may be, and continue to escalate them in ways that make sense within the universe of the show. Every action has a consequence, even if it’s years down the road; every lie snowballs into ten more; and the strain of trying to keep all of it under control takes its toll on the characters. All of them are deeply, deeply flawed (except maybe Quinn, mostly because she’s still less of a character than a plot element), and all of them are doing what they ultimately think is the right thing. Trouble is, even though their actions sometimes line up, their motivations, more often than not, couldn’t be more different.
Really, Becky, did you have to kill the dog?
Have thoughts about last night’s episode of Scandal, or season two thus far? Let us know in the comments!