WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Two, Episode, 15, “Boom Goes the Dynamite”

Cyrus and FLOTUS take turns stabbing each other in the back, and we find out who Olivia’s new boyfriend is working for.

By: Tanya Pai

This week the Dream Team play Cupid for an aspiring politician, and El Prez continues on his moody, alcoholic downward spiral. Props to the makeup artist for managing to make Tony Goldwyn look so haggard and hungover—or maybe to the set designer for putting real whiskey in that decanter? To the recap!

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

The case of the week involves finding a fake wife for gubernatorial candidate Will Caldwell (hey, it’s Joan’s horrible husband from Mad Men!), a member of the Caldwell family, one of the “dirtiest political dynasties in American history,” as Abby refers to them. “We do that?” asks Quinn in a mildly amusing fashion. Will’s senator big brother (hey, it’s Daniel from Ugly Betty!) solicits Olivia’s help to find his brother a lady because he hasn’t dated in, like, a decade, and his conservative donor base is starting to think he’s gay. So they audition a bunch of women and finally settle on one with whom Will seems to have some chemistry (leading Harrison to shoehorn in “Boom goes the dynamite”). Except Abby catches her on the way to the elevator and tells her to make sure she knows what she’s getting into. “Your life won’t be yours because they bought you,” she tells Potential Wife #1. “And they’re gonna want what they paid for.” Turns out Abby’s ex-husband—the one who beat her—was a politician, and Abby (who has certainly showed consistency in terms of advocating for women) couldn’t stand by and watch someone walk into a situation she didn’t fully understand. Her speeech is enough to send the woman running for the hills—and to a reporter for the DC Dish—about which Il Papa is understandably pissed, but admits PW1 obviously didn’t have the stomach for the life. She dispatches Harrison to kill the story and goes with PW2, a pro-gun, pro-life kindergarten teacher. PW2 is a hit at the big fundraiser Will was preparing for, but his eyes are elsewhere, namely on his brother’s wife, with whom he’s been having an affair for years. O catches them kissing in the garden (at the fundraiser, which, c’mon) and, in the best moment of the episode, gets into serious real-talk mode with Will. He tells her what they have might not be much, and she counters, “You have nothing. You have a pile of secrets and lies. You’re letting your life pass you by; you’re a statue waiting for something that’s never going to happen, living for stolen moments in hotel hallways and coat closets. Stolen moments aren’t a life. You have nothing and no one. End it now.” Later Big Brother comes to thank her and reveals he knew about the affair the whole time. Also noteworthy: Early on, Olivia tells Will that she could take him all the way to the White House. Appears Il Papa hasn’t learned her lesson.

Freakouts and Flashbacks

In other news, Jerk Jeremy is being followed, and Huck has ceased to shower. JJ thinks whoever killed Wendy is after him, too, so Olivia tasks Huck—or, as we should probably call him this episode, Yuck—with keeping an eye on him. Turns out his tail is actually Wendy’s best friend, a mousy woman who claims to know who killed her. Yuck and Quinn manage to decrypt one of the files on Wendy’s flash drive and find information about the hostages mentioned in last week’s episode. Then Mousy starts flipping out at the TV, pointing and saying she sees the man who murdered Wendy. Turns out it’s . . . the CIA director, Osborne, who first suggested the presence of a mole in the first place. So now we know, I guess. And as to why Yuck’s not showering? Because of the waterboarding he was subjected to while being interrogated about shooting El Prez—and his PTSD is so bad he can’t even go out in the rain. After the rest of the Dream Team dances around the issue for a week, Quinn finally confronts him. “I used to live in a box outside the Metro, and before that I used to dismember people for a living,” he says. “I’ll be fine once the rain stops.” I still don’t like Quinn, but I do enjoy their weird, unlikely connection. Oh, also Abby and JJ occasionally bang—on her desk, in his car—though both claim it doesn’t mean anything. Uh huh.

Playing Favorites

Cyrus and FLOTUS are in a tug-of-war over El Prez’s affections. After FLOTUS blamed Defiance-gate on Cyrus, she gets El Prez’s ear for a while as he tries to deal with the hostage situation. Cyrus, underestimating her craftiness, tells her El Prez needs to order a drone strike to get results, and she promises she’ll pass along his idea and give him credit. But of course she doesn’t, so Cyrus goes to Olivia for wine, popcorn, and advice. “Let Mellie be,” she tells him. “When it comes to Fitz, Mellie is her own worst enemy”—and sooner or later she’ll cross the line. Which she does almost immediately, suggesting to Cyrus that she talk to the families of the hostages via conference call to tell them what’s being done on the White House’s end. Cyrus lets a White House reporter in on the call, so it immediately ends up all over the news and FLOTUS is back in the dog house—and newly out for Cyrus’s blood, I’d assume.

Captain Creeper, Surveillance, and Sexiness

Jake Ballard, a.k.a. Captain Creeper, is still pursuing Olivia, plying her with Champagne at the Thomas Jefferson monument and telling her to call him Jake. They argue about whether they’re on a date—he says yes, she says no—and she tries to sneak in some questions about Wendy’s case. He tells her about a guy who was accused of selling classified documents to Tehran, and before he was arrested he killed himself, claiming he was framed by a mole named Albatross. Nobody believed him, so the case became an intelligence urban legend. Olivia is wearing fabulous leather opera gloves and freezing him out.

Oh, hey, twist: Ballard knows El Prez, who is the one who tasked him with spying on Il Papa in the first place. Captain Creeper goes to the White House, where El Prez is getting drunk in the Oval Office (side note: I love how he treats it like his living room, drinking whiskey, having sex, etc.) and pours CC a drink. CC says El Prez is a hard man to get to these days, and El Prez replies it’s one of the downsides of the job. Also: “I didn’t count on the isolation. It makes you do things. Color outside the lines.” Is that how he refers to having an affair with a staffer and murdering a Supreme Court justice? El Prez asks about Olivia, and CC says she took up swimming and is unhappy but seems harmless, so he’s unclear why she needs to be spied on. “Olivia Pope is not what she seems,” El Prez says. “She’s not a good person. Not the way you think. And this isn’t personal.”

So CC continues to watch her from his apartment but shows some flashes of decency—when he sees her crying on her bed, wrapped in a bathrobe, he calls her and asks her on another date, saying, “I’ll cheer you up.” She refuses him, as he’s watching her, which is icky, but when she goes to her (amazing) closet to change, he turns off the video feed before she gets nekkid. Later, at Will Caldwell’s fundraiser after some seriously uncomfortable eye contact with El Prez, Olivia calls him and tells him she’ll go out with him. They flirt over the phone, and El Prez is sufficiently rattled by seeing her laugh and smile that he calls CC in again to demand to know whom Olivia is seeing. And his old friend Ballard looks him in the eye and lies that she’s not seeing anyone.

Some thoughts:

Wow, is El Prez the worst ex ever or what? I always like him and Olivia better apart than together, and I’m glad the show is dealing with the fallout from their falling-out rather than sweeping it under the rug.

In the Cyrus vs. FLOTUS war, whose side are you on? They’re both power hungry and manipulative, but I guess at least Cyrus actually has some training to back up his decisions. Although there’s that whole thing where he’s a murderer.

While I didn’t find the case of the week hugely interesting or surprising, I enjoyed the return of the format, partially because it gives the rest of the Dream Team something to do.

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