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WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Two, Episode Four, “Beltway Unbuckled”

Murder, conspiracy, and sex, oh my!

This is the face of a man who’s just figured out exactly how much smarter the women in his life are than he is. Photograph by Ron Tom.

This week’s A-story, as my colleague pointed out, is basically a spin on the Washingtonienne scandal. It centers on the case of a college sophomore named Jenny, who goes missing. Senator Edison Davis, a.k.a. Olivia’s ex, brings her distraught parents to Olivia because it’s “the least I can do for my constituents.” Your government at work, ladies and gentlemen. Olivia puts the parents in front of the national media to plead for the safe return of their sweet, innocent, 19-year-old daughter. But as it turns out, sweet and innocent Jenny is actually the booze-and-coke-fueled author of Beltway Unbuckled, a blog in which she anonymously chronicles her sexploits with “every other senator in town” (including female ones). Jenny meets an unsavory end when her latest conquest, a foreign diplomat, crashes his car into a tree and, rather than taking her to a hospital, dumps her body in a ditch where she simultaneously bleeds to death and suffocates on dirt. (Don’t have sex, kids!)

Since the foreign diplomat douche has diplomatic immunity, he can’t be arrested or even questioned—unless his country revokes said immunity, which it will only do at the request of El Prez. Olivia makes a beeline for the White House, and meets with Cyrus, who says it’s impossible because the US might need to use the country’s airspace in the event of war with East Sudan. Naturally, as they’re talking, El Prez comes in unexpectedly. AWKward. He also refuses to help her and is snippy. “I’m not sure why you came,” he says. “To awaken my conscience and make me see the errors of my ways? Because I’m awake. I see the errors.” Cold. Il Papa tears up and leaves.

Also aware of the situation (though I’m not sure if she’s familiar with The Situation) is the still-massively-pregnant FLOTUS. She’s still pissed at her husband and is also now chomping at the bit to have “a seat at the table” like she did during the election, rather than being reduced to shilling vaccines while having her $600 skirt puked on by children. (She’s extra cartoonishly villainous in this episode.) She notices that Jenny’s parents and other protestors have camped out in front of the White House, and tells Olivia she will be a spokesperson for the cause, provided Olivia arrange some high-profile media coverage. Il Papa is loath to agree but knows she needs FLOTUS’s help, so she works her magic. Inside the White House, El Prez is completely shell-shocked that the two ladies in his life have decided to work together. “The women in your life play a very mean game of political chess,” says Cyrus. Yeah, why isn’t one of them running the country?

Because El Prez’s wife and mistress have painted him into a corner, he does the best he can, and has FDD deported. This doesn’t exactly please Olivia, who gets suckered into another one of those “covert” meetings, which is at a restaurant and attended by half a dozen Secret Service goons. (Seriously, who’s left that doesn’t know about their relationship at this point?) He jokingly asks her to join the Mile High Club on Air Force One, to which she says they have no future. “Fine,” he says. “We’re done.” He says he has a wife, and children, and he has to be responsible. Then he tells her to order whatever she wants, since he’s footing the bill like a classy guy. He leaves her crying at the table. Later we see him saying goodbye to Mellie in front of a crowd as he heads to Tokyo. “That was an asinine thing you did today,” he says. Through a fake smile he tells her not to cross him again. With an equally fake smile, she tells him to watch it. “Next time I might actually get angry,” she says.

Also not pleased: Jenny’s dad, who storms out of Olivia’s office ranting about justice. Huck, whom we saw earlier attending another AA meeting to talk about his “whiskey” problem—a.k.a. the fact that he loves killing people—intercepts him, correctly guessing dear old dad is planning to try to murder the diplomat. “Don’t do it,” he tells the father. “It’ll feel good for a few minutes, but then it’ll eat at you for the rest of your life.” Dad’s not convinced, so the next time we see him, he’s tucking a gun into the waistband of his pants and preparing to go kill him some foreign diplomat. But wait! On TV we see FDD is already dead, from a “freak heart attack.” Cut to Huck, again at AA. He says he “went out” hard, and it made him feel wonderful. “It was perfect,” he says. “I looked at myself in the mirror and I finally recognized that person I used to be—the person who went out all the time, sometimes just for fun.” He says he doesn’t know if he can ever go back to the person he was before. Oh, Huck.

The long-running plot gets some development this week, too. JJ is secretly pumping Abby—FOR INFORMATION, you guys—but hasn’t made any headway yet. Via Wendy Wu he finds out Quinn’s old boyfriend made 11 calls to a DC number the week before he was blown up, and the number belongs to … that weird Southern guy El Prez went hunting with last episode. His name is Hollis Doyle, and he’s the owner of the giant Doyle Energy. JJ goes to ask him why someone from Cytron (where Quinn’s boyfriend work) would be calling Doyle Energy’s head of security, and Doyle very Southernly tells him to come back with a warrant.

Quinn and Harrison drink in the office, and Quinn asks why nobody ever questions Olivia. Harrison counters that she saved Quinn’s life and him from having to get a bookkeeping degree while in prison (the horror!), so he’s content to just show up to work and do what she tells him. But Abby is not, and is getting more and more frustrated with Olivia’s non-answers and mysterious disappearances. She breaks into JJ’s apartment and sees his Big Wall o’ Crazy, then breaks in again to sleep with him and also to talk about Il Papa. He tells her he’s putting together the threads of a government conspiracy involving Doyle and Olivia and Quinn’s ex, and “who knows how high up it goes?” Next we see Doyle in his office. In walks Olivia’s friend the Supreme Court justice (who is secretly getting chemo, in case that’s important). Then FLOTUS! And Cyrus, and then Olivia. They sit at a round table like knights in shady armor. “I hear we have a David Rosen issue,” Olivia says. “Yes we do, Liv,” says Rosen. Curiouser and curiouser.

A couple of thoughts:

Yessss, does this mean we finally get a break from scenes of El Prez and Olivia making googly eyes at each other?

Not quite sure what to think about this whole massive conspiracy thing. It’s also odd that it involves both Olivia and FLOTUS—their having secret meetings doesn’t really track with the rest of their interactions.

Where are they going with the whole Huck-has-a-killing-problem thread? It’s an interesting way to highlight the very serious consequences Olivia’s maneuvering can result in, but I’m afraid it’s headed nowhere good for my favorite character.

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

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