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WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Two, Episode 20, “A Woman Scorned”

FLOTUS and El Prez’s cold war goes extremely hot, and we find out who the mole is not.

Olivia is none too happy to see Captain Ballard at her door. Photograph by Eric McCandless for ABC.

As Shonda Rhimes shows are wont to do, Scandal is picking up the pace (which I didn’t even think was possible) as the season draws to a close. We get new development about the mole—sort of—but the main event this week, of course, is the fireworks between El Prez and Olivia and FLOTUS’s subsequent explosion. To the recap.

After Olivia gets released from the hospital, El Prez decides to have her followed—by his old Navy buddy, Jake Ballard, a.k.a. the guy Olivia slept with that one time before he gave her a concussion. AWKward. When he shows up at her apartment, she phones El Prez and tells him, “Call off your puppy.” He refuses, and tells her FLOTUS moved across the street. “You don’t want to talk about how my wife moved out and I’m alone at the White House?” he asks, while surrounded by staff. Guess it’s not a secret anymore. She hangs up, frustrated, and Ballard gets a call from El Prez telling him to stay put. Scott Foley looks way sunburned in this episode—not a plot point, just saying.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is practically spontaneously combusting as he shuffles between the two petulant children who are the First Couple, begging first one and then the other to reconsider. El Prez tells him he can’t indulge a tantrum and FLOTUS will fold eventually. FLOTUS, meanwhile, wants an apology and some commitment in 36 hours, or else she’ll go on national TV and tell the world about her husband’s cheatin’ ways. Cyrus is so distracted by all this drama that when Ira Glass Lite comes to his office to say he got offered a job as an anchor for BNC, Cyrus acquiesces without even thinking.

Meanwhile the Dream Team—with the help of Jerk Jeremy—are reviewing the footage from the storage facility where Huck was attacked. Huck comes in, still in rough shape, and immediately IDs the baseball cap guy as Charlie. When Olivia arrives at HQ, tailed by Ballard, whom she won’t let inside, they reveal what they found out. “We think Cyrus Bean may be the mole,” they tell her. Olivia is horrified, pointing out she’s known him for a very long time and he’s one of her best friends (most of the time). Before they accuse him, Il Papa says, they need proof—especially since “the last guy we accused ended up dead.” Just then she gets a call from El Prez, who tells her to come to the White House. She refuses, to which he says he’ll just come to her and say hello to the whole team. So she goes to the White House, Ballard in tow, and goes into the Oval Office, slamming the door in Ballard’s face. She asks El Prez what he wants, and he says, “You.” Olivia points out she told him they were over, and he says, “I am never going to be over you.” Then in another one of those fantastic Il Papa speeches Kerry Washington is so good at, she tells him, “Please stop getting my hopes up. I am not a toy you can play with when you’re bored or lonely or horny. I am not a fantasy. If you want me, earn me. Until then, we are done.” She storms out. Ballard is all curious, but she tells him nothing.

Huck is taking point on the Charlie investigation. He knows Charlie likes breakfast pastries, so Quinn and JJ go to the best bakery in town, and Quinn manages to find out from the cashier that he goes in every Thursday to buy a dozen cannoli. In a subtle, funny cut, the next scene shows the Dream Team chowing down on said cannoli while they discuss the case. Where’s Charlie in all this? Oh, just hanging out in Ballard’s apartment, drinking Ballard’s soda and watching the tape of Ballard and Olivia having sex. He calls Cyrus and tells him, “I think we have all the proof we need.”

Cyrus, still trying to fix the presidential marriage, bargains with FLOTUS, saying if she supports El Prez through his reelection she gets to take ownership of a major issue and then in El Prez’s final year they launch her career with his political power; if not, he’ll use his friends in high places to ruin her reputation. But she says it’s not enough. “Olivia Pope just left my husband’s office,” she tells him. “I have as many friends over there as you do.” Cyrus, despairing, takes to his office to sit in the dark, head in hands. His kindly secretary pops her head in to ask whether he needs anything, then tells him, “You’ve been through worse.” When she leaves, Cyrus gets light bulb face. Back at HQ, Huck goes into Olivia’s office and tells her Cyrus had Amanda Tanner killed. (Remember her?) “Charlie has been Cyrus’s guy for the past two years,” he tells her. “The last woman who was sleeping with the President ended up dead in the Potomac. And I want you to stay alive.” Then we see Cyrus going back to FLOTUS. “What if I could get rid of Olivia Pope?” he says.

Ballard is standing guard outside Olivia’s apartment, when he gets a call from El Prez’s long-suffering secretary, Lauren, whom Cyrus has coerced to say Ballard is needed back at the White House. Mr. Bean heads for Olivia’s apartment—his intentions are unclear—but he finds Ballard still outside. Cyrus threatens to tell El Prez about Ballard’s “hands-on” method of protecting Olivia, but Ballard just says, “I only take orders from the President.” Cyrus leaves, and Olivia finally opens the door and invites Ballard inside. She gets him a glass of wine, and he asks why she didn’t tell him to let Cyrus in. “I tell you something, you tell me something,” he says. He admits he copied the Albatross flash drive and that he thinks Cyrus is the mole, but Olivia points out Cyrus would never be disloyal to El Prez. Ballard tries to tease her about being mad about him, and she laughs it off, but when she gets up there are tears in her eyes. “Why did you sleep with me?” she asks. “Because you’re amazing,” he says. Also, “Because I didn’t know you were the President’s girl. I didn’t know—I don’t know—how deep you’re in with him. So how deep are you?” Instead of answering, she crosses the room and makes out with him. When they break apart, he asks again. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says, and goes into her bedroom. She’s a complicated one, that Olivia Pope.

IGL comes home to Cyrus, who asks whether he needs to sleep in the guest room. But IGL is all excited about his new job, and thanks Cyrus for making it happen without a struggle or a scene. They make out, then Cyrus asks, “So our marriage is okay?” James says, “Why wouldn’t it be? You gave me what I wanted.” Cyrus, naturally, takes this advice to El Prez. “Give her whatever she wants,” he says of FLOTUS. “You give for what you love.” Rather than begging at his wife’s feet, El Prez goes to Olivia’s apartment, where he dismisses Ballard, who looks sad and, yes, a bit puppy-like. Olivia is confused as to why El Prez is there, but he tells her, “I love you more than I love being President. I’ve told you again and again I’d give it all up for you, and I think you don’t believe me.” So he asks her to sit with him to watch the clock on FLOTUS’s time limit—and their marriage—run out. To watch him earn her. And they do, in separate chairs, while FLOTUS sits alone in Blair House watching the seconds tick by, until the clock dramatically chimes midnight. “It’s done,” says El Prez. “Unless you don’t want me.” By way of answer, Olivia crosses to the couch where he’s sitting and kisses him.

But all’s not well with our star-crossed lovers, because there’s still time left in the episode. Through some technical TV techno-babble that involves tapping Cyrus’s cell phone, Huck and Quinn find a way to track Charlie and discover he’s joined a book club at a local bookstore—through which he found himself a girlfriend. They pull her in to question her, saying Charlie is up for a high-level job and they’re doing a background check. She tells them she has a “date” with Charlie that night, but when he doesn’t show, she goes back to HQ, telling them she still thinks he’s a nice guy. “He even bought me a new laptop when mine got stolen,” she says. Then she says she recognizes JJ from the Defiance court case, at which she was the court stenographer. The team realizes that the mole wants the notes from the Defiance case to expose it, and because Cyrus already knew about it, he couldn’t be the mole.

Ballard meets with his mysterious contact and says he’s been compromised and would like permission to engage with Cyrus’s informant. His contact tells him to fix it, but “don’t kill him—he could be useful to us.” So Ballard goes back to his apartment and watches the tapes of himself having sex with Olivia—which, weren’t the cameras in Olivia’s apartment rather than his? On the tape he sees Charlie, who hasn’t bothered to cover his face, and Ballard gets a “game on” expression.

Meanwhile, FLOTUS is ready to go nuclear and sits down for her interview with BCN’s newest anchor: Ira Glass Lite. With a masterful use of crocodile tears, she brings up how she stood by her husband through the shooting and her pregnancy. Cyrus hauls ass to Blair House to try to stop the interview—but he’s too late. Mellie drops the bombshell that El Prez was cheating on her, while the scene is intercut with shots of Olivia and El Prez having steamy shower sex. Oh, dear.

A few questions:

What was Cyrus’s plan in going to Olivia’s apartment? Presumably were he planning to off her, he’d just have sent Charlie.

What is Ballard’s mission, exactly? And how many episodes until El Prez finds out about his relationship with Olivia?

Who could the mole be?

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

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