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WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Episode Seven, "Grant: For the People"

In the final episode of season one, our heroes get their hands dirty.

Olivia and Cyrus, the White House’s very own Blair and Serena, discuss saving El Prez’s career. Photograph by Richard Foreman.

Well. Thus ends the first season of
Scandal, not with a bang but with . . . two more dead bodies and a sham pregnancy? I’m still working through how I feel about the
big setup for season two, so let’s get to the recap.

We open right where we left off, in Gideon’s
apartment. Quinn rushes in babbling about bagels, then FINALLY notices
that Boy
Wonder is bleeding on the floor with scissors stuck in his
neck. But instead of, oh, I don’t know, CALLING AN AMBULANCE, she
says “No, no, no, no, no” and runs over, has an internal debate
over whether to pull the scissors out of his neck (don’t you
dare), and then decides it’s an awesome idea. Which, of course,
makes him bleed more. Boo, Quinn. As she’s holding her hand
over the hole in his neck and FINALLY trying to reach her
BlackBerry, he stops twitching. Oh, no. Adios, Boy Wonder.

So she calls Olivia, who shows up to find her shaking
and covered in blood. Quinn hysterically says they need to call the
police, but Olivia snaps that they can’t, because then they’ll
find out who Quinn really is. Instead, she summons the Dream
Team, who stand around poor dead Gideon’s apartment discussing
how Quinn is now their client and showing their usual heinous
lack of compassion. Olivia says Quinn can’t be photographed,
fingerprinted, etc. in any official capacity because she’s not
who she says she is. Huck is ready to erase all the signs of
Quinn’s presence, but the rest of the team protest that they’re
“officers of the court.” Harrison says dramatically, “I’ve been
to prison. I’m not going back,” to which Huck once again earns
my favorite character award as he snaps, “You were in prison
for THREE DAYS.” Olivia just wants to get Quinn out of there,
but Stephen says if they do what she’s asking, poor dead
Gideon’s murder will never get solved. “Clean it,” Il Papa commands.
So the Dream Team grab gloves and go to town, swabbing the
apartment, stripping the sheets, bagging Quinn’s post-coital grilled
cheese. As they go to leave, Quinn, now dressed in poor dead
Gideon’s sweatpants and flannel shirt, says they can’t just leave
poor dead Gideon there because he’ll be all alone, so Olivia
calls the police and rather than disguising her voice just holds
the phone farther away from her face. Huck says they need to
grab poor dead Gideon’s BlackBerry, which is in his pocket. Abby
grabs it, and they hustle out of there.

Let’s check in on Killer Billy! He’s headed to the White
House, looking shaken and sketchy. Chatty security guard says he
already signed Killer in two hours ago. As he walks through the
White House, his assistant reads off his schedule, but he
just goes in his office and shuts the door as slasher-movie-ish
music plays.

Meanwhile, Cyrus visits El Prez and monologues about
how his husband wants to adopt an Ethiopian baby, which is his very
way of scolding El Prez for his snuggle time with Olivia. “Why
did you even run for this job–to get laid? You couldn’t get
laid as governor?” he says. Amen, Cyrus. Grant says he’s sick
of Cyrus saying he put him in the White House and that he’s
sorry Cyrus’s girl fell in love with him. “You don’t deserve
this job,” says Cyrus. “And yet here I am,” says El Prez.

Killer Billy walks into Madam Vice President’s prayer
breakfast and hands her a letter, which he tells her to read “when you
have time,” then starts spouting off about how he has the best
job in the world. She jokes they need to give him a raise and
a pulpit, but he says, “Working for you has been reward enough,
Madam President.” He leaves her looking confused and heads
to a press conference dealing with a crisis in Georgia (the
state, not the country) involving a cult leader who’s holding
hostages and shooting ATF agents. In a separate room, El Prez
and MVP are getting briefed about the hostage situation. Rather
than listening, MVP starts reading Killer Billy’s letter. “Holy
crap!” she exclaims. Cut to the press conference, where Killer
Billy, still with the crazy eyes, has hijacked the stage and is
dramatically quitting his job while spinning a yarn about
how he fell in love with Amanda Tanner and knocked her up. He
says El Prez “abused his power” and slept with her too, and
then she killed herself weeks later. And there’s a sex tape to
prove it. The press goes nuts, and we get reaction shots of
FLOTUS (scary!) and the Dream Team, who are delving into
Gideon’s research at HQ and realize Billy was the one who sent Amanda
in to sleep with El Prez.

FLOTUS yells at El Prez in the White House, who says
he’s “not willing to lie to the American people.” Uh, okay. She says
he’s on his own and storms out. Enter Olivia. She and Cyrus
kiss and make up as they once again talk about how they put El
Prez in the White House and can “do the impossible” again. As
part of their damage control, they advise El Prez to go to Georgia
and milk the end of the hostage situation for good press until
they can figure out how to rein in Killer Billy. There’s a
weird sequence of Killer Billy’s press tour where the audio of
El Prez saying “Take off your clothes” just plays randomly
at odd intervals. It’s kind of hilarious.

At HQ, the Dream Team helpfully exposit that if they
can finger Killer Billy for Gideon’s murder it’ll fix El Prez’s problems
too. But there’s no physical evidence, thanks to them. Jerk
Jeremy shows up looking for Quinn, who was seen going into poor
dead Gideon’s apartment the night he was murdered. JJ wants to
bring in Quinn for questioning, and Harrison tags along as
her lawyer.

Elsewhere, Olivia walks in on Killer Billy washing his
hands in the men’s room after an interview. This seems like a bad idea.
She calls him a murderer. “I am not proud of that,” he says,
confessing the way people only do in TV shows. [Text from my
coworker: “Olivia NEEDS to start carrying a tape recorder.” For
real.] Billy psychos out that El Prez made promises to the
American people and didn’t deliver on any of them, and that MVP
is going to be the finest President the country has ever seen.

JJ’s office. Harrison is blocking his every attempt to
question Quinn, who’s standing mutely. Enter Il Papa, who tells JJ
everything, including the parts about Amanda Tanner getting set
up, kidnapped, and murdered. He says he believes her. “Then
help me,” she says. Now that she’s destroyed all the real
evidence, she wants him to fabricate some so he can arrest Killer
Billy. But JJ refuses. “I am the law,” he tells her, and he
won’t break it, even for her. He tells her to get out of his office,
but to leave Quinn behind.

Oval Office. Olivia says she’ll confess it was her on
the tape. El Prez says he’d rather just resign. Cyrus is pissed, mostly
because he doesn’t want to go back to being a regular guy
because then he’ll have to adopt a baby. Olivia’s sorry for El Prez,
but he’s Mr. Silver Lining as he says now they can finally be
together. They make out, directly under the Oval Office ceiling
cam. The kissing scene goes on for oddly long. As does my
eye-rolling. On her way out, Olivia runs into Cyrus in the hall.
He tells her a normal life would be wasted on El Prez. “Some
men aren’t born to be happy. They’re born to be great.”

Olivia is back at HQ, looking depressed. Stephen
breaks it down for her: She can’t have El Prez, even though she wants
“Normal is overrated,” she says, sadly and unconvincingly. Then
she snaps into action mode, barking out the plan of action.
As the Dream Team disperses, Huck comes up and says he can
“take care of” Killer Billy if she wants. Looking disturbed, she
makes him promise not to. I think you broke Huck, Olivia.

White House. FLOTUS is packing to take her mystery
kids to Santa Barbara when Olivia walks in. She wants FLOTUS’s help, but
instead she gets an earful for “falling down on the job,”
breaking El Prez’s heart, and leaving him vulnerable to Amanda.
Olivia is speechless. FLOTUS snaps that it’s clear she has to
do everything herself.

Huck goes to see Charlie Brown, who chokes on his
sandwich at the sight of him. Huck says Killer Billy is talking an awful
lot and at some point might start talking about Charlie Brown.
He suggests without saying it that Charlie Brown might want
to take care of the situation, and he himself can’t do it
because he gave his word. He tells Charlie Brown they need a suicide
note, something sad that says he’s a liar. Oh, Huck.

Quinn is still at JJ’s office, and he tries to be
charming as he offers her Chinese food. She starts shoveling rice into
mouth as he says the only thing Olivia didn’t tell him is why
the Dream Team would go to such lengths to protect her. She
won’t say, but he grabs her fork with a paper towel and says
either she can tell him what’s going on or he’ll take the fingerprints
off her fork and find out himself.

El Prez walks in on FLOTUS and Olivia to find that the
two ladies in his life have made a deal. FLOTUS will tell the press
it’s her on the tape–which, HELLO obvious solution–and that
she’s newly pregnant, which is not true, so they’ll have to start
trying right away. Ooh, cold. Stop using your womb for power
plays, FLOTUS. Olivia can’t look El Prez in the eye. After FLOTUS
leaves, El Prez grabs Olivia and says, “Who are you right now?”
“The woman who got you elected,” she says. “So go be the man
I voted for.”

The last end to tie up is destroying Killer Billy’s
credibility, which El Prez does by once again blackmailing MVP. This
it’s with info Olivia uncovered, about MVP’s 14-year-old
daughter having an abortion, which would no doubt not sit well with
her über-religious followers. He misquotes the Bible at her,
and it’s icky for everyone. She goes on TV to announce Killer
Billy is a huge disappointment and basically insane, and he
sees it on the TV in his hotel lobby. As he gets on the elevator
to go back up to his room, Charlie Brown gets on with him.

In the next scene, Cyrus is gardening, when his
husband says his “work colleague” is at the door. It’s Charlie Brown. He
Cyrus he’s leaving town and needs the rest of the money Cyrus
owes him for killing Amanda. Cyrus agrees, then calmly goes
back to pruning his roses.

HQ. JJ shows up, dragging Quinn as the Dream Team
assemble in the hallway. He says he ran Quinn’s prints but for some
decided not to tell anyone who she is (WHO IS SHE?) and brought
her back to Olivia. “Do you want to tell them who you are,
or should I?” Olivia asks Quinn. The episode ends with a shot
of Quinn’s blank face.

Some thoughts:

• This show is burning through plot points too fast.
Every conflict introduced gets resolved so quickly that there’s no
for tension to build. Olivia’s in trouble! Olivia manipulates
people! Olivia’s out of trouble! There are no stakes because
she manages to wiggle her way out of every bind. And it erodes
my sympathy for her a bit more every time.

• Have we actually seen evidence that El Prez is a good leader? Or an effective one?

• On the subject of Quinn as the big reveal for next
season: When the season started, she was the audience surrogate, our
window into Olivia’s lightning-quick, pant-suited world. So far
all she’s done is be inept at everything–her job, pickup lines,
not accidentally killing her boyfriend–so it’s hard to imagine
where the show is going to go with her mystery identity. But
if she turns out to be royalty from some obscure country, I
swear I will break my TV.

What did you think of last night’s ep? Will you be tuning in for season two? Let us know in the comments.