WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap: Season Two, Episode One, “White Hat’s Off”

In which we discover El Prez is a misogynist, and I spend 42 minutes wondering whether the title is grammatically correct.
Photograph by Danny Feld.
Photograph by Danny Feld.

Need a refresher on season one? Check out our quick-and-dirty primer.

This week in the White House: FLOTUS is very pregnant with their Sham Baby that’s
now a Real Baby (and which she refers to as “America’s Baby”). She’s leveraging the
hell out of her pregnancy, which has put her approval ratings through the roof—she’s
even arranged for TV personality Kimberly Mitchell to come to the White House and
announce the sex of America’s Baby on live television. El Prez is unimpressed with
her power plays and still lusting after Olivia, who won’t see him but will still pass
along advice via Cyrus, with whom she has lunch occasionally. There’s talk of genocide
in East Sudan, and both FLOTUS and Cyrus are pushing for El Prez to declare war, but
he’s dragging his feet because he is a terrible and ineffective leader who can’t do
anything without Olivia’s advice. At the Kimberly Mitchell interview, we find out
they’re having a boy, and FLOTUS uses the opportunity to say El Prez is willing to
do “whatever it takes” to protect the mothers and children in East Sudan. After the
interview, El Prez is PISSED that she tried to force his hand. “You’re ornamental,”
he tells her. Her job as First Lady is to garden and go to luncheons and let fashion
bloggers write about her clothes. “Don’t try to use your brain, because no one cares,”
he says. WOW. So glad this is the man who’s running the country. FLOTUS is quickly
becoming one of the more interesting characters—as cartoonishly villainous as her
actions might seem sometimes, Bellamy Young plays her with enough nuance that she
comes across as a sympathetic character—especially now, when she reminds her husband
that she is, in fact, an intelligent person and gave up her law career to help him
get elected. She then asks if he wants to feel America’s Baby kick. I feel sorry for
this kid already.

Because it wouldn’t be an episode of
Scandal without Il Papa and El Prez mooning over each other from a distance, we see Olivia
chilling on the couch with wine and popcorn and watching the Kimberly Mitchell interview
when she gets a phone call. It’s El Prez. “You can’t call me,” she says. “I have déjà
vu,” I say. “Hang up,” she says. “You hang up,” he says. “I’m going to throw up,”
I say. Olivia asks if he wants to know what she’d do about East Sudan. He says no.
“I don’t need you.” Because she’s a woman and her brain is tiny? She goes ahead and
tells him anyway. “I hate you,” he says. But really, you guys, he means he loves her!

In the Oval Office, El Prez parrots Olivia, telling Cyrus to leak a story to the
New York Times that says FLOTUS’s statement was actually part of a PR campaign orchestrated by El
Prez. He wants to make it clear that he’s willing to spend every cent of her political
capital to protect their interests in Sudan. Then he complains that he’s not sure
why he’s having to clean up Cyrus’s mess and throws a fit about how only HE has the
power to decide that the country is going to war. Cyrus gets passive aggressive, and
says El Prez’s brilliant plan isn’t even his, it’s Olivia’s—and keeping FLOTUS “on
her leash” is El Prez’s job. These people are the actual worst.

Meanwhile, the Dream Team tackles two cases. The first is boring and predictable:
A Democratic congressman from Rhode Island finds a camera in his desk—a bit too late
as, because he is single and hot and a congressman, he naturally had sex on said desk
earlier that evening and is about to become a national joke when the footage is released
to right-wing blogs. After failing to secure an injunction for the tape, Il Papa decides
to leak the tape to friendly sources, allowing Congressman McHottie to control the
message and focus the media’s attention on his policies rather than his package. It’s
the fluffiest filler plot ever.

More interesting, at least toward the end of the episode, is the Dream Team’s attempt
to help Quinn. Turns out her name is actually Lindsay Dwyer, and two years ago in
California she went on the lam after police suspected her of mailing a package containing
a bomb to the office of her cheating boyfriend, killing him and six of his coworkers.
Assistant US Attorney David Rosen, a.k.a. Jerk Jeremy, has her on tape flipping out
at her boyfriend, and is pushing for the death penalty, but Quindsay says she can’t
even work a cappuccino machine, let alone build a bomb. Her highly unbelievable story
is that she fled because she was scared, then someone knocked her out and she woke
up days later in a DC hotel with documentation for a new identity by her bedside.

The entire Dream Team is convinced Quindsay is guilty, save Huck, who trusts Olivia
more than gravity, and Olivia herself, who seems to know more than she’s letting on.
Even Quindsay is confused why Olivia is helping her. “You haven’t been straight with
me for six months,” she yells at Il Papa, who continues to evade the question and
simply says she doesn’t take on cases she can’t win. Huck searches through security
camera footage to try to get a glimpse of whoever schlepped Quinn to the “Grand District
Hotel” (not a real hotel) but says he’s unsuccessful. Olivia knows they’re going to
lose, so late at night, alone in the office, she makes a call. “It’s been a while,”
she says, “but we’re going to lose this thing.” The next day in the courtroom the
defense lawyer moves to acquit on the grounds that the evidence is circumstancial.
Harrison mutters to Quinn that that tactic never works—but then the judge agrees.
Jerk Jeremy literally stands up and yells, “What the hell!” as the Dream Team hug
one another. JJ turns around to stare at Olivia, who looks like she just made a deal
with the devil and can’t quite meet anyone’s eye. Later, JJ rips her a new one, telling
her that he had the case in the bag. “I don’t know how you did it, but I’m going to
find out,” he says.

I thought the episode was going to end there, but there were still eight minutes left.
So we get a flashback: As Huck once again goes over security camera footage, we see
scenes from two years ago. Quindsay sits in a motel watching the story of her boyfriend’s
death on the news, when someone sneaks up and sticks a needle in her neck. She wakes
up in a gorgeous hotel and looks out the window to see the Washington monument hilariously
centered in her line of view. Laid out neatly on the bedside table are a passport,
social security card, and various other forms of ID, along with some cash. We then
see Quindsay leaving the hotel to begin her new life, looking only mildly suspicious.
But THEN we notice Huck lurking outside. In the present, Huck erases himself from
the security footage. Past Huck watches Quindsay head away from the hotel, then crosses
the street and gets into a car driven by . . . Il Papa. “She took it—everything we
left for her,” Huck says. “She’s good to go.” Olivia, expression unreadable, drives

Well, that was an interesting twist ending on an
otherwise boring episode. There was
no mention of Killer Billy, so I’m going to assume he is, in
fact, dead. Also we get
the news that Stephen is

“moved to Boston, married Georgia,” and is going to be a normal
person, according
to Il Papa. I’m still annoyed by everything having to do with
the Olivia/El Prez relationship.
True love or no, I find it hard to have sympathy for a man who
spends all his time
obsessing over a woman even though he has a pregnant wife and,
presumably, way better
things to occupy his time. So: more Huck and Olivia, less puppy
love. Are you listening,

What do you think Olivia is up to with Quindsay? Let us know in the comments.

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