WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Two, Episode, 15, “Boom Goes the Dynamite”

Cyrus and FLOTUS take turns stabbing each other in the back, and we find out who Olivia’s new boyfriend is working for.
If Olivia looks sad it’s because her ex-boyfriend is the actual worst. Photograph by Danny Feld/ABC.
If Olivia looks sad it’s because her ex-boyfriend is the actual worst. Photograph by Danny Feld/ABC.

This week the Dream Team play Cupid for an aspiring politician, and El Prez continues
on his moody, alcoholic downward spiral. Props to the makeup artist for managing to
make Tony Goldwyn look so haggard and hungover—or maybe to the set designer for putting
real whiskey in that decanter? To the recap!

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

The case of the week involves finding a fake wife for gubernatorial candidate Will
Caldwell (hey, it’s Joan’s horrible husband from
Mad Men!
), a member of the Caldwell family, one of the
“dirtiest political dynasties in American history,” as Abby refers to them. “We do
that?” asks Quinn in a mildly amusing fashion. Will’s senator big brother (hey, it’s
Daniel from
Ugly Betty!
) solicits Olivia’s help to
find his brother a lady because he hasn’t dated in, like, a decade, and his conservative
donor base is starting to think he’s gay. So they audition a bunch of women and finally
settle on one with whom Will seems to have some chemistry (leading Harrison to shoehorn
in “Boom goes the dynamite”). Except Abby
catches her on the way to the elevator and tells her to make sure she knows what she’s
getting into. “Your life won’t be yours because they bought you,” she tells Potential
Wife #1. “And they’re gonna want what they paid for.” Turns out Abby’s ex-husband—the
one who beat her—was a politician, and Abby (who has certainly showed consistency
in terms of advocating for women) couldn’t stand by and watch someone walk into a
situation she didn’t fully understand. Her speeech is enough to send the woman running
for the hills—and to a reporter for the
DC Dish—about which Il Papa is understandably pissed, but admits PW1 obviously didn’t have the stomach
for the life. She dispatches Harrison to kill the story and goes with PW2, a pro-gun,
pro-life kindergarten teacher. PW2 is a hit at the big fundraiser Will was preparing
for, but his eyes are elsewhere, namely on his brother’s wife, with whom he’s been
having an affair for years. O catches them kissing in the garden (at the fundraiser,
which, c’mon) and, in the best moment of the episode, gets into serious real-talk
mode with Will. He tells her what they have might not be much, and she counters, “You
have nothing. You have a pile of secrets and lies. You’re letting your life pass you
by; you’re a statue waiting for something that’s never going to happen, living for
stolen moments in hotel hallways and coat closets. Stolen moments aren’t a life. You
have nothing and no one. End it now.” Later Big Brother comes to thank her and reveals
he knew about the affair the whole time. Also noteworthy: Early on, Olivia tells Will
that she could take him all the way to the White House. Appears Il Papa hasn’t learned
her lesson.

Freakouts and Flashbacks

In other news, Jerk Jeremy is being followed, and Huck has ceased to shower. JJ thinks
whoever killed Wendy is after him, too, so Olivia tasks Huck—or, as we should probably
call him this episode, Yuck—with keeping an eye on him. Turns out his tail is actually
Wendy’s best friend, a mousy woman who claims to know who killed her. Yuck and Quinn
manage to decrypt one of the files on Wendy’s flash drive and find information about
the hostages mentioned in last week’s episode. Then Mousy starts flipping out at the
TV, pointing and saying she sees the man who murdered Wendy. Turns out it’s . . .
the CIA director, Osborne, who first suggested the presence of a mole in the first
place. So now we know, I guess. And as to why Yuck’s not showering? Because of the
waterboarding he was subjected to while being interrogated about shooting El Prez—and
his PTSD is so bad he can’t even go out in the rain. After the rest of the Dream Team
dances around the issue for a week, Quinn finally confronts him. “I used to live in
a box outside the Metro, and before that I used to dismember people for a living,”
he says. “I’ll be fine once the rain stops.” I still don’t like Quinn, but I do enjoy
their weird, unlikely connection. Oh, also Abby and JJ occasionally bang—on her desk,
in his car—though both claim it doesn’t mean anything. Uh huh.

Playing Favorites

Cyrus and FLOTUS are in a tug-of-war over El Prez’s affections. After FLOTUS blamed
Defiance-gate on Cyrus, she gets El Prez’s ear for a while as he tries to deal with
the hostage situation. Cyrus, underestimating her craftiness, tells her El Prez needs
to order a drone strike to get results, and she promises she’ll pass along his idea
and give him credit. But of course she doesn’t, so Cyrus goes to Olivia for wine,
popcorn, and advice. “Let Mellie be,” she tells him. “When it comes to Fitz, Mellie
is her own worst enemy”—and sooner or later she’ll cross the line. Which she does
almost immediately, suggesting to Cyrus that she talk to the families of the hostages
via conference call to tell them what’s being done on the White House’s end. Cyrus
lets a White House reporter in on the call, so it immediately ends up all over the
news and FLOTUS is back in the dog house—and newly out for Cyrus’s blood, I’d assume.

Captain Creeper, Surveillance, and Sexiness

Jake Ballard, a.k.a. Captain Creeper, is still pursuing Olivia, plying her with Champagne
at the Thomas Jefferson monument and telling her to call him Jake. They argue about
whether they’re on a date—he says yes, she says no—and she tries to sneak in some
questions about Wendy’s case. He tells her about a guy who was accused of selling
classified documents to Tehran, and before he was arrested he killed himself, claiming
he was framed by a mole named Albatross. Nobody believed him, so the case became an
intelligence urban legend. Olivia is wearing fabulous leather opera gloves and freezing
him out.

Oh, hey, twist: Ballard knows El Prez, who is the one who tasked him with spying on
Il Papa in the first place. Captain Creeper goes to the White House, where El Prez
is getting drunk in the Oval Office (side note: I love how he treats it like his living
room, drinking whiskey, having sex, etc.) and pours CC a drink. CC says El Prez is
a hard man to get to these days, and El Prez replies it’s one of the downsides of
the job. Also: “I didn’t count on the isolation. It makes you do things. Color outside
the lines.” Is that how he refers to having an affair with a staffer and murdering
a Supreme Court justice? El Prez asks about Olivia, and CC says she took up swimming
and is unhappy but seems harmless, so he’s unclear why she needs to be spied on. “Olivia
Pope is not what she seems,” El Prez says. “She’s not a good person. Not the way you
think. And this isn’t personal.”

So CC continues to watch her from his apartment but shows some flashes of decency—when
he sees her crying on her bed, wrapped in a bathrobe, he calls her and asks her on
another date, saying, “I’ll cheer you up.” She refuses him, as he’s watching her,
which is icky, but when she goes to her (amazing) closet to change, he turns off the
video feed before she gets nekkid. Later, at Will Caldwell’s fundraiser after some
seriously uncomfortable eye contact with El Prez, Olivia calls him and tells him she’ll
go out with him. They flirt over the phone, and El Prez is sufficiently rattled by
seeing her laugh and smile that he calls CC in again to demand to know whom Olivia
is seeing. And his old friend Ballard looks him in the eye and lies that she’s not
seeing anyone.

Some thoughts:

Wow, is El Prez the worst ex ever or what? I always like him and Olivia better apart
than together, and I’m glad the show is dealing with the fallout from their falling-out
rather than sweeping it under the rug.

In the Cyrus vs. FLOTUS war, whose side are you on? They’re both power hungry and
manipulative, but I guess at least Cyrus actually has some training to back up his
decisions. Although there’s that whole thing where he’s a murderer.

While I didn’t find the case of the week hugely interesting or surprising, I enjoyed
the return of the format, partially because it gives the rest of the Dream Team something
to do.

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

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