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WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Three, Episode 12, “We Do Not Touch the First Ladies”

The honeymoon period is over for Olivia and El Prez.

If FLOTUS has to talk to Olivia, she at least gets to do it in this amazing dress. Photograph by Eric McCandless/ABC.

Well, guys. I am not entirely sure what happened in this episode, except that the show has gotten very creative with camera angles around Kerry Washington and everyone said “Publius” a lot. Perhaps the biggest development is that Harrison’s storyline finally has something to do with the main action, so hopefully he’ll have more to do than button his shirts and make phone calls with a serious face. Let’s figure this out together, shall we?

Olivia and El Prez are doing some post-coital fighting in a hotel room as our favorite Secret Service agent, Tom, and Ballard wait outside. El Prez acts like a jealous teenager about Olivia’s fake relationship with Ballard, and she spits back that she had to do it so she could stop being his “public whore.” There’s talk about hens and state fairs, and they both sound a bit insane. El Prez tries to talk to her about “someday,” but the bloom is off that particular rose for Olivia. This was an incredibly awkward scene, for all involved.

The big political maneuvering this week is that El Prez’s campaign needs money, and Andrew Nichols has been tasked with charming donors into giving up their money. But there’s a problem: A reporter named Carla Steele digs up a story about Nichols getting oxycodone delivered to the governor’s mansion back when El Prez was El Gov. But from a flashback we find out it wasn’t Nichols ordering from the Papa John’s of pharmaceuticals—it was Mellie, whose guilt and shame over being raped by her father-in-law drove her to a suicide attempt. Nichols finds her passed out on the floor, sticks his fingers down her throat, then sits up all night with her to make sure she doesn’t die. It’s not your typical love story, perhaps, but he is way nicer to her than her husband, who rather than wondering why his wife can’t stand to be touched by him just yells, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Olivia thinks her dad is the source behind the pill story, so she asks him to dinner and tells him she’s worried he’s plotting against the President without any of his B613 power or protection. Papa Pope calls her manipulative and she storms out, where she sees Quinn spying on her from her car. Olivia tells Quinn to come home, but Quinn is still upset that Huck licked her face “like a piece of meat.” Then she threatens to shoot Olivia if she doesn’t get out of the car. So Olivia goes home, and when Ballard shows up she yells at him for assigning Quinn to tail her father. He’s all, I did not do that and also please put something in your kitchen besides wine and popcorn, because if I’m going to be your beard I at least want to be a well-fed one. Then he takes off his shirt and says he’s going to shower before they have pretend sex, and even Il Papa is not immune to the sight of Shirtless Scott Foley.

Ira Glass Lite is freaking out about Cyrus finding out that he’s Publius. David tells him to send Vanessa the tape of Sally’s phone call to Cyrus, and Vanessa immediately wants to set up a meeting. David agrees to go in IGL’s place, but Cyrus is tracking someone’s phone—Vanessa’s? Publius’s?—and sends Charlie to intercept them. Luckily for David, he’s dating a member of the Dream Team; Abby got suspicious of him and had Huck hack into his e-mail, so they are able to find him, stuff him into the trunk of a car, and drive away before Charlie has a chance to kill him.

FLOTUS goes to plead Andrew’s case to El Prez, saying he’s a good man and shouldn’t be taken off the ticket. He gets mad at her for setting up Olivia with a fake boyfriend, and she asks him what it’s like to be so hot for someone you’re willing to throw away everything. Instead of answering, he just tells her he doesn’t have time to talk to her, because he’s even worse at being a husband than he is at being President. Olivia and Co. manage to stop the story from being run, but Olivia figures out it was FLOTUS taking the pills, so she goes to the White House and self-righteously tells FLOTUS to end her affair. “When I had the chance to cheat, I kept my knees shut,” FLOTUS tells her. BURN. But then she finds Andrew looking at portraits of First Ladies and makes out with him, then runs away. You do you, Mellie! And also Andrew Nichols!

Things aren’t going so hot for the other presidential candidate, either. The very hard-working Leo brings in our old friend Hollis Doyle to meet with Sally, and Doyle has apparently spent his time offscreen getting even more Southern-fried than usual. He amazingly refers to Sally’s husband as “double D,” then agrees to give her campaign piles of money as long as he can pick the next energy secretary. All Sally can see, though, is flashes of her husband’s bloody corpse lying on the carpet in her office, so it’s safe to say she is not currently bringing her A-game. The good/bad news is it doesn’t even matter: Doyle has already promised Cyrus he’ll show up at a donor dinner for El Prez, although El Prez is adamant they don’t accept a single cent from Doyle. Here to help is Nazanin Boniadi’s character—who apparently IS Adnan Salif after all. She gives Harrison a briefcase full of money to donate to the Grant campaign, then shows up at the donor dinner herself and tells Cyrus she wants to give him some of her “unlimited funds” as Cyrus’s eyes turn into dollar signs. But turns out Salif is working with Mama Pope. To what end? I don’t know yet, but I’m sure it’s nefarious.

Huck keeps bringing Olivia coffee, which she says she doesn’t drink (um, really?). He’s trying to make her not mad at him, but when she tells him he went too far with Quinn, he says she’s the one who went too far, that she took in a monster and groomed it, but “that doesn’t make me a puppy—it just makes me a very loyal monster.” He says with Quinn, he went as far as his leash allowed, “and you hold the leash.” That is some major real talk.

Ballard is struggling in his new position as Command, and not helping matters is Quinn, who’s determined to get back into the operation. He yells at her for trying to stalk Papa Pope despite her middling training, but then she shows him how she hacked into the National Park Service cameras and found out that Rowan is meeting with Leo. Ballard also finds out he will be getting a daily delivery from someone inside the White House to help him stay a few steps ahead of El Prez—and that someone turns out to be Tom, who delivers video footage of the Oval Office on a thumb drive. What’s in that footage? Oh, just a conveniently timed conversation in which El Prez asks Olivia whether she has feelings for Ballard, and she tells him, “I don’t know.”

Some thoughts:

What could the grand plan of Adnan Salif and Mama Pope possibly be? Are we supposed to think they are also lovers?

How long until Sally’s nervous breakdown? My money’s on two episodes.

Come to think of it, Huck hasn’t had much to do lately. Where do you go after you’ve pulled out someone’s teeth?

What do we think Harrison did in Clearwater? Wear a pocket square that didn’t coordinate exactly with his tie?

Bellamy Young’s flashback wig almost looks more like her real hair than her real hair does.

What did you think of last night’s Scandal? Sound off in the comments.