Welcome back, Scandalians! It’s been a couple of weeks since we last checked in with Il Papa and company, and we left things on a tense and scary note. But those looking for huge plot movements forward were out of luck: Although there are only a few episodes left in the season, Shonda devoted the hour to filling in Huck’s tragic backstory, to which we say: More Huck! Always! To the recap.
We begin with a flashback to five years ago. Huck, in his ZZ Top beard and hair, sits in a Metro station, not so much begging for change as just accepting it when people hand it to him. Olivia (with bangs) waits for the train, and Huck rain-mans about when the next one will arrive. When it does, right when he said it would, she hands him a dollar. “Are you here tomorrow?” she asks. He says yes, and she promises to buy him some coffee.
Flash to the present. Olivia, still in the hospital for her concussion, is being checked out by the doctor while El Prez stands in the corner. The doctor says she should be fine to leave soon, and El Prez thanks him for taking such good care of his “friend.” When he leaves, El Prez sits on the bed and tries to kiss Olivia, who immediately jerks away. “I hate you,” she tells him. “You left me all alone.” He says he was hurt and wrong, but she’s not ready to forgive and forget. “I love you,” he pleads, but she bites out, “I don’t believe you anymore.” El Prez walks out of the room, which is heavily guarded by Secret Service, and sees Captain Ballard, who again lies to him about how Olivia got her concussion. He tells Ballard to find out who attacked her.
Meanwhile at HQ, Huck is still basically catatonic, huddled on the floor rocking back and forth while Abby and Quinn watch. Harrison comes in to say he finally found Olivia, and they assume Baseball Cap Guy (Charlie) attacked both Olivia and Huck and is on to their investigation. Then Huck starts to choke out some sounds: “Seven-fifty-two,” he says, over and over again, voice broken.
Flashback to 14 years ago. A pretty woman (aww, it’s Astrid from Fringe!) is reading a book to a group of young children. Huck comes up behind her in a military uniform, and begins acting out the story she’s reading as the kids giggle. Finally the woman (I don't recall her name, so I’m going to call her Sasstrid) turns around to see what they’re laughing about, then jumps into his arms. They kiss as the kids eww, and it’s adorable, and the countdown begins until they’re both crushed into a million tiny pieces because nobody is allowed to be happy on this show for more than 30 seconds. Sure enough, in the next scene they’re in bed, and Huck explains his tour of duty was cut short because he took some tests and now is supposed to meet with people in DC, possibly for a job.
Said meeting takes place the next day, with a craggy-faced guy and Charlie. CFG offers Huck an absurd amount of money, but Huck, who’s not sure what the job is but has surmised it’s with the CIA, declines it. CFG tells him he takes the job or goes back to Kosovo. He fills in that Huck was raised in foster care and has no family left, then asks whether he has a wife or kids. Huck says he doesn’t, and CFG says, “Just the way we like it. We’ll be your family. We’ll take care of you.” He welcomes Huck to B-613.
Huck begins his training with Charlie, who puts it bluntly: “We kill people. But we don’t just kill—we torture people.” Huck at first seems troubled by his work, especially having to hide it from Sasstrid, but later confesses to Charlie that he enjoys it.
Then Sasstrid tells him she’s pregnant. “Oh,” he says, knowing it’s a huge risk, and she gets upset. “I can do this on my own,” she says. “If I have to do this on my own, I want you to tell me now.” Instead, he proposes to her, and tells the next guy he tortures, “I am in a gooood mood!” which would be cute if it wasn’t so monumentally effed up. He and Sasstrid buy a house, and he continues to kill people and steal their watches, which he hides in their piano. Until Sasstrid has the baby. It’s a boy! Huck and I both get teary-eyed. Later, we hear him crying as he wraps a dead body in plastic.
Then he comes home one day to find Charlie in his house, holding his son as Sasstrid looks on, happily ignorant. “A wife and kid? Are you kidding me?” Charlie says when they go out in the backyard, which, aren’t they in the CIA? How would he possibly be able to hide something like that from them? Anyway, Charlie says Huck has to get rid of them or they’ll be gotten rid of. Instead, Huck decides to flee, telling his confused wife to pack a bag while he goes to the bank and LEAVES HIS WIFE AND CHILD ALONE IN THE HOUSE. Thankfully, what I thought was going to happen doesn’t—but unluckily for Huck, he’s apprehended and thrown into a pit in the ground. CFG checks in on him occasionally, always asking, “Do you have a wife and child?” to which Huck always says yes. He starts growing his crazy beard and hair, and at one point he’s left unattended for two whole months, to which even Charlie is like, “Whoa, dudes.” The next time CFG comes back to ask if he has family, he says no. They try to put him back in the field, but he falters while about to torture a guy. Charlie busts in, saying Huck failed the test and now he’s supposed to kill him—but instead he tells him to run and never contact anyone he used to know again. Charlie goes back to his boss’s boss, who—twist!—is the guy Captain Ballard met with in the park, and tells him Huck is dead.
In the present day, Huck continues his refrain of “seven-fifty-two.” Olivia calls Harrison from the hospital to tell him to keep talking to Huck, even if he can’t talk back. The gladiators all take their turn to try to talk him out of his state, their monologues reflecting both their relationship with Huck and their own personal conflicts. Quinn talks about how she used to be able to picture her married life with Jesse before Doyle ruined it, and she could have collapsed but Huck wouldn’t let her. Abby guesses that Huck has done 752 things for Olivia without asking why, and finally says out loud that she stole the voting machine card from Jerk Jeremy for Olivia and knows he’ll never love her the same way again. And Harrison, in a rare moment of vulnerability, tells Huck how much he admires him. “You’ve lived the life of a warrior. . . . You make me realize all I’ve ever been, all I ever am, is talk,” he says.
Meanwhile, El Prez is still at the hospital waiting for Olivia, and refuses to leave even when Cyrus shows up to complain about how much legwork it’s taking to cover up the fact that the President of the United States is waiting around for a “late-night booty call.” Cyrus also comes face to face with Ballard, whom El Prez calls “a man of many talents,” and immediately tells Charlie to find out what relationship Ballard has with Olivia.
Olivia is still not impressed with El Prez’s dedication to staying by her side. “There are cameras in my apartment,” she tells him, pointing out that having someone spied on perhaps isn’t the traditional definition of love. Then they finally have the fight they should have had forever ago. “Defiance changed everything for me,” says El Prez. He tells Olivia he wanted to win the presidency on his own, because he had the will of the people behind him—not because she fixed it for him. “You don’t fix me, you don’t handle me. That’s not love; that’s control.” Then he asks if she still loves him, and she admits she does. El Prez launches into a Grey’s style romantic tirade, which includes the words “You are everything” and concludes with him saying, “I demand another chance” and them making out. But then she breaks away, whispers, “You hurt me,” and runs out of the hospital room.
Il Papa isn’t the only woman leaving him, apparently—when El Prez gets back to the White House he finds FLOTUS surrounded by suitcases. She got the scoop on where her husband had been from her Secret Service guy, and now she’s decided to move into Blair House and keep quiet about their separation at least until he figures out whether he can “behave.” Oh, and she’s taking America’s Baby with her, because “a baby needs to be with its mother.” Real maternal, that FLOTUS. Elsewhere, Ballard meets with his mysterious boss and finds out his plan is to use Il Papa as bait for . . . okay, I confess, I’m lost on this particular plot point. Ballard tries to get reassigned, citing a conflict of interest, to which his boss says, “Remember who we are. There’s no such thing as out.”
Olivia finally arrives back at HQ and immediately shuts herself in the room with Huck. She sits and puts her hand on his knee. “I have to admit I don’t give change to homeless guys in the Metro,” she tells him. “You made me stop. You had the saddest eyes—they were sadder than mine.” She says she’d been all alone for a long time, and even though she had moments where people would convince her she wasn’t, “people lie.” She says Huck is all she has, because while they love the rest of the Dream Team, “they don’t live on the dark side of the moon.” She tells Huck she needs him. “You are everything,” she says, echoing El Prez. Finally, Huck stops his relentless muttering and looks at her. “I think I used to have a family,” he chokes out. “But I don’t remember if they were real or if I imagined them.” Olivia asks what he thinks. “I think they were real,” he says. “Then they were real,” she says. Harrison, watching through the window, says now they’ll never know what seven-fifty-two means.
But since we are luckier than Harrison, we get a final flashback. Huck, sitting in the train station, sees his wife exit a train with a boy who looks about eight (or something—I don’t know kids). The kid says he wants to give Huck a dollar, so he runs over and puts it in Huck’s paper coffee cup. He smiles angelically, then runs back to his mother as Huck looks after him. The camera pans up to the schedule board, and we see the time is 7:52.
As I mentioned in the intro, while I love me some Huck I’m not entirely sure why we get a flashback episode so close to the end of the season. I assume the connection between Huck’s past and Ballard’s present will play a large role in the season’s conclusion.
Of all the people hurt by Olivia’s demands, I feel the worst for Abby. She credits Il Papa with saving her from her husband, but her relationship with Olivia could be seen as its own type of abuse.
No Ira Glass Lite in this episode! Do we think he finally let Cyrus back in the house for good?
Fake DC sign of the week: You don't often see homeless people chilling inside the Union Station Metro. Also when has it ever been that well lit?
What did you think of last night’s Scandal? Let us know in the comments.