The show continues to barrel ahead at its usual jaw-dropping pace. This week we got plenty of reminders that our characters are all deeply flawed people who, despite having the ability to solve others' problems and talk at a pace faster than normal humans, can't seem to manage their personal lives, even when they know the people they love are not good for them in any way. To the recap!
Charlie in the Storage Unit, With the Lead Pipe
The case of the week involves the season’s ongoing story arc: Late former CIA director Osborne’s widow comes to Olivia insisting her husband did not commit suicide but was actually murdered, which we already know. Her proof? His suicide note referred to her as “Susan,” when in 30 years of marriage he only ever called her “Susie” or “honey.” It takes the Dream Team approximately five seconds to figure out the widow Osborne is right—that envelope of cash in his freshly dry-cleaned suit was for betting on horses, and Molly, Wendy’s friend who first fingered Osborne as the mole, just had thousands wired into her bank account.
So the real mole is still out there, which means one thing to Abby: that Jerk Jeremy, briefly deposed from his perch on the HQ couch, is still in danger. She frantically rescues him from his apartment, and once back at HQ, he at least makes himself useful by offering to use his Department of Justice connections to have Molly put on the no-fly list. “Gladiators in helmets, right?” he says. He also takes the opportunity to ask Abby whether she still has feelings for him, and when she confesses she does, he says he can’t love someone who won’t admit to stealing his flash drive and ruining his life. Which, good point.
Harrison and Abby question Molly, who says the mole threatened to cut out her tongue and kill her if she didn’t help frame Osborne. Will you be at all surprised if I tell you Molly doesn’t survive the episode? She’s killed in a “hit and run,” further evidence of how dangerous the mole is.
Olivia calls Cyrus—who has apparently been staying in a hotel for nearly a month per Ira Glass Lite’s request (more on that later)—to tell him Osborne was not the mole as they drink wines on opposite ends of the phone. But twist! Cyrus doesn’t care, because El Prez already announced Osborne was the mole on national television, and now that Mr. Bean has clawed his way back into El Prez’s good graces he’s not about to rock the boat. He accuses her of trying to sabotage the administration, which offends her, but he tells her he has to ignore the situation.
Huck traces the wired money back to the mole’s bank account and finds a charge for a storage unit in Virginia. He and Quinn go to investigate, but he makes her stay in the car. He finds the unit, which contains only a wooden crate that appears empty—and as he’s looking in it, someone comes up from behind him and bashes him over the head with a lead pipe, Clue-style. When Huck doesn’t return to the car for a few hours, Quinn goes in to look for him—and demonstrating some impressive moxie, she goads the manager into showing her the security tapes, on which she sees a suspicious guy in a baseball cap. She eventually finds Huck, gagged with duct tape in the crate, and takes him back to HQ, where his PTSD comes flooding back to a paralyzing degree. The Dream Team surmises Baseball Cap Guy works for the mole—and we see, as he makes a call to Cyrus, that it’s none other than Charlie Brown.
“You could have chosen justice, but you chose love.”
You have to give it to him: Captain Ballard is good at his job. In the beginning of the episode he enters Olivia’s apartment and removes all the cameras. Has he had a change of heart? No—he just knows Huck regularly sweeps the place for bugs. After Huck and Quinn announce the all clear, he replaces the cameras—and as he’s leaving Il Papa calls him. “Do you know how hard it is to get ahold of you?” he asks. “I mean, you are never home.”
Cyrus is pushing FLOTUS and El Prez to give an interview, their first since the assassination attempt and the birth of America’s Baby, who has mysteriously disappeared again. El Prez has to announce his reelection bid in less than six weeks, so he needs some good press. They agree, but Cyrus points out that America wants to see a couple in love, and what he sees is MacBeth. “We’ve been doing this circus act for 20 years—we’ll be fine,” says El Prez as he leaves. FLOTUS, looking sad and tired, tells Cyrus not everyone can have the perfect marriage. “We can’t all be you and James,” she says.
Irony! Cyrus is playing Eloise as IGL tries to get over the fact that his husband is a lying liar who lies. El Prez, uncharacteristically, asks Cyrus how his home life is going. “Don’t give up on him if you love him,” he says. So Cy checks out of the hotel and heads home, which makes IGL none too happy. Cyrus suggests couples therapy, and IGL points out that therapy requires truth, “and you lie for a living.” Cyrus has finally had enough. “This is who I am,” he says. “This is who you married. This is who you love.” IGL blames Cyrus for making him perjure himself, but Cyrus says he made a choice. “You could have chosen justice, but you chose love. You chose your own happiness, and that’s not sitting well with you now. . . . This is the man you are, and I love you anyway.” IGL, looking crushed, says he wishes Cyrus had never told him about Defiance.
El Prez and FLOTUS do their interview, and they’re extremely charming. He shares the story of how they met: He spotted her at Jack’s Tavern while she was on a date with another guy, and swooped in while her date was in the bathroom. Later on she gloats about the attention the interview is getting, but he’s contemplative (and seemingly sober), and asks her whether she remembers the real story. His father took him to dinner to meet an old college friend, who happened to bring along a “bright, charming” clerk. “He had this thing about breeding,” says El Prez. “Old money meant something to Big Jerry. It wasn’t even a blind date, it was a merger, just shy of prostitution. They sold you to me.” Then he asks whether it ever bothers her that lying has gotten so easy for both of them. “Pretending is what’s real,” she tells him. “Marriage is almost all pretend for everyone—that’s the reality.” Sounding infinitely weary, El Prez asks her, “Did I do this to you? Or have you always been like this? Because if it was me, I’m sorry.” Later on, he calls Cyrus, who’s shocked to hear from him. He asks about IGL, but Cyrus knows something else is up. “I killed Verna Thornton,” El Prez says, out loud for the first time. Cyrus is speechless. “Would she forgive me if she knew?” El Prez almost begs, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you whom he’s referring to. “There are things we don’t tell them, things we never tell them,” Cyrus tells him. “You did something. It doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be happy.”
Elsewhere in dysfunctional couples, Ballard is continuing his confusing pursuit of Olivia, despite his contact from the end of last episode telling him to “take care” of the problem of her knowing Osborne wasn’t the mole. He calls her and says he’s going to make her dinner “in that beautiful kitchen you never use,” which is wicked creepy to us but cute to her. She turns him down at first, but after watching her ex fawn over his wife on TV, she shows up at his place with Gettysburger takeout. He makes her drink a beer (!), and then dinner quickly turns into dessert, if you know what I mean (I mean they have sex). She wakes up in the middle of the night to get some water, and turns on his giant TV—on which she sees not sports but video feed of her apartment. “It’s not what you think” says Ballard, coming up behind her. She, of course, freaks out, and they struggle as she tries to run. He slams her to the floor, and tells her he’s spying on her to protect her, turning her head to the TV to see a man with a gun in her apartment. He strokes her head, but his hand comes away bloody.
She ends up in the hospital with a concussion, and as she wakes, he tells her to pretend she’s never met him before. Groggy and unable to speak, she stares at him with terrified eyes—and then in come two Secret Service guys and El Prez. He shakes hands with Ballard, which Olivia observes, eyes widening, then sits on her hospital bed and holds her as Ballard watches from outside the door, and she looks like she might scream.
Poor Huck has had it rough, but is he so far gone that simply getting hit on the head sends him into catatonia? Or is there something else going on?
This is the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen Olivia, and while Kerry Washington is so good at playing that side of her, I admit I miss the invincible Il Papa who didn’t get shuffled around by the men in her life. Can we bring her back?
What motivation, exactly, does Olivia have to pretend she doesn’t know Ballard? Besides, you know, him being scary (and maybe her not wanting El Prez to know they slept together)?
Who’s the mole?
What did you think of last night’s Scandal? Sound off in the comments, and check back April 19 for the next recap.