Wow. When Shonda Rhimes tweeted Thursday that “everything you thought you knew explodes into a million pieces and then explodes again,” I prepared myself for an extra-dramatic episode—and boy did she deliver. The plot has started to move along at breakneck speed, basically doing away with the case-of-the-week format, and it makes for much more satisfying viewing (though it’s hard to imagine how it’s sustainable). To the recap!
Last week’s episode closed with one of the three hitmen in the Washington area getting in an elevator with Hollis Doyle. Huck forces his way in after them, and he and Charlie both reach for their guns, but Huck gets his first. He tells Doyle Charlie is there to kill him, but Olivia doesn’t want him to—but she also doesn’t want him to make a deal with Jerk Jeremy. “That’s just posturin’,” Doyle says, but Huck says he’s going to let Charlie live just in case Doyle decides to change his mind.
Meanwhile, El Prez and FLOTUS have unveiled America’s Baby to the world by way of a photo shoot—he’s very cute, but doesn’t have a name yet, since FLOTUS thinks “Wallace” is the name of a kid who gets beat up on the playground. Once the reporters leave, El Prez says he wants to spend time with his kids after the divorce, and Mellie’s all, “Remember that time we said, ‘For better or for worse’?” and he gets in her face and tells her not to push him.
Elsewhere in the White House, Olivia is filling in Cyrus that he almost had an “innocent” man killed, which, I don’t know if that really applies to Doyle, but okay. She tells him he crossed a line and he says it won’t happen again, which is a LIE. She’s also decided not to confess to rigging the election, because now it will only hurt El Prez. Speak of the devil—in he comes, and Cyrus tactfully leaves so they can make out. Il Papa unconvincingly says she’s marrying Senator Davis, and he tells her he’s without a doubt getting a divorce and she should wait for him because they belong together. Olivia reminds him his wife just had his baby—“They’ll crucify you,” she says—and he counters that she induced labor a month early and put his son’s life at risk to manipulate him. “Say you’ll wait for me,” he says, and she replies, “I’ll think about it.”
So who was behind the attempt on El Prez’s life? Turns out it was Verna, who’s in the hospital dying of liver cancer. Through flashbacks we see her setting up the deal with Becky, as in the present Olivia stands over her hospital bed. Verna claims she did it to “give America back its soul,” but Olivia says it’s because she wants to protect her legacy. Verna dares her to confess, knowing she won’t. As Il Papa is leaving, Verna says, “Chin up, Olivia—it’s not like I’m getting away with it.” Because of the cancer. Verna picks up the phone and calls Jerk Jeremy.
He shows up at the hospital but can’t get in to see her, because El Prez is already there. As he watches from the hallway, El Prez comes out yelling for a doctor; then Olivia, watching the news at HQ, sees that Verna’s died. The Dream Team is trying to figure out how to keep JJ from revealing the election was rigged, and Huck says the bobblehead bug in his apartment is still active. Abby’s understandably uncomfortable, cuing an amusing montage of the Dream Team listening to endless CDs of recordings and bringing the R-rated material to Abby. They find out that Cyrus’s husband, Ira Glass Lite, gave the memory card from the rigged voting machine to JJ, and Abby volunteers to break into the safe in his apartment and retrieve it. JJ, meanwhile, meets with IGL and his adorable baby in the park and tells him to expect a subpoena.
IGL freaks out and heads home, throwing said subpoena at Cyrus. He tells Cyrus if he gets on the stand and tells the truth, Cyrus is going to jail, and if he lies, he’ll be the one behind bars. Cyrus suggests he run away with the baby to Switzerland, and IGL’s like, “Seriously? Did you seriously steal the presidential election and think no one would notice?” Cyrus, suspicious as always, tells IGL to take off his clothes so he can make sure he’s not wearing a wire, so they both get fully naked and Cyrus confesses he stole the election. “I was made to be President,” he says. But he’s short and ugly and likes having sex with men, so chief of staff was his closest bet—and El Prez was his shot, so he took it.
Abby, meanwhile, is at HQ listening to her tender moments with JJ on tape, and I’m reminded once again that when it comes to Olivia’s relationship with El Prez, everybody loses. Abby hears JJ tell her he loves her while she was sleeping, and storms into Olivia’s office to ask what she already knows—whether Olivia paid JJ’s ex to lie that he beat her. She storms out, and Harrison intercepts her. She’s understandably upset, but Harrison basically tells her to suck it up. “We fix problems,” he says. “You and David were a problem.” He tells her she’s not allowed to have feelings on the job, that Olivia saved all of them and now she needs saving, and they’re supposed to be all in for her. “Or did that only apply as long as Liv didn’t have any flaws?” She goes to JJ’s apartment for makeup sex, and then when he leaves the next morning to go to court she opens his closet and stares at the safe.
Finally Quinn does something interesting! She goes to Huck with an envelope full of $5,000 and tells him she wants him to kill Doyle for murdering her boyfriend and ruining her life. He tells her he’ll do it for free, but if he does she can no longer work at Pope and Associates because they don’t do revenge. “You can’t have your old life and your new life—it doesn’t work like that,” he tells her. Quinn chickens out, naturally.
Olivia, on the phone with Cyrus, says she’s played her last card—but Cyrus says he hasn’t yet. He picks up the phone and calls Charlie, who’s pouring sugar on his cornflakes, and tells him he’s got another job—which is to KILL HIS HUSBAND. That is so evil. He, of course, changes his mind at the very last second, and it looks like the jig is up, hilariously causing Il Papa to crack into a bottle of wine at 9 AM. But instead IGL decides to perjure himself, saying he didn’t find a damn thing in Defiance, Ohio, and enraging JJ to no end. He storms into HQ, where Abby has just returned, and accuses her of stealing the memory card from his safe. She denies it, but he searches her purse anyway, and even though he doesn’t find it he calls her a liar, breaks up with her, and leaves. As she cries, she pulls the memory card from her bra, and Olivia hugs her.
Also breaking up: Olivia and Senator Davis. He comes to see her before Verna’s funeral and she returns the ring. He asks her what it is she wants. “I want painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing extraordinary love,” she says, in what my editor pointed out is basically a rip-off of Carrie’s speech in the Sex and the City finale. “Love isn’t supposed to be painful,” he says.
At the funeral, Il Papa sidles up to El Prez, who’s extremely cold to her. She tells him she’s decided to wait for him, and he’s like “Oh, yeah, I changed my mind. I mean, screwing your mistress is one thing, but marrying her? That’s political suicide.” He tells her she must think his presidency is worth more than anything, since “you worked so hard to get me here.” He walks away from her shell-shocked face, and we see in a flashback that Verna told him everything at the hospital. “You’re naive, you’re pampered, you sail through life clueless as a child, but you’re not stupid,” she says, and Tony Goldwyn looks utterly heartbroken as he realizes everyone in his life has been manipulating him. She says she’s going to confess—but TWIST: He instead takes off her oxygen mask, effectively smothering her. I love Evil Prez!
After the funeral, Mellie goes to the Oval Office to see him. He tells her he thought she tried to have him killed, since she didn’t want to get out of the car before the party. Then he says she’s the only person who’s been completely honest with him, and asks her, “Do you love me? Enough to be on my side?” He wants to know if they’re in it together, and she says they are. “We have to be in this together, because I don’t have anybody else. You’re all I have,” he says. “It’s you and me,” she whispers. They kiss—and we flash back to the funeral and Olivia sitting alone in a pew, her eyes full of tears.
Why, after everything, is the Dream Team still loyal to Olivia? She manipulates them, tells them less than nothing about what they’re actually doing, and does it all in service to the man she loves. At some point, the bottom has to drop out, right?
All of a sudden El Prez is okay with Mellie putting their child’s life at risk to get him to stay with her. The characters on this show employ some seriously fluid morals.
Cyrus! It seems he’s the real threat here, not Mellie or Verna or Doyle. If you kill off IGL, you’ll be hearing from me, Shonda.
What did you think of last night’s Scandal? Let us know in the comments.