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WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Three, Episode 13, “No Sun on the Horizon”

Our gladiators try to step into the light, but all they get is darkness.

“It’s literally murderers’ row”: On Scandal, everyone will kill to be President. Photograph by Eric McCandless for ABC.

Is it just me or is this show getting more meta by the hour? All the characters on Scandal now are basically like, “Yes, our existence is totally FUBAR, but we’re going to keep running on this hamster wheel because it’s the only world we know.” Also hats off to Jeff Perry this week for some truly heartbreaking moments. He may be a monster, but somehow he still makes you feel for him. To the recap.

Everyone is preparing for the big threeway between El Prez, Sally, and Governor Reston. The presidential debate, I mean. Leo, because he’s the only one who works around here anymore, has enlisted Sally’s pastor to help prep her for the debate. The pastor’s confused as to why he’s remotely qualified, until he sees Sally, who is standing at a pulpit and spewing some truly insane language about cloven beasts and judgment and bacon. “Yum, yum, crispy piggy,” she says, and both Leo and the pastor’s faces drop. Side note: I need that as my new ringtone. Papa Pope is none too impressed with Leo’s progress, and tells him while Sally winning will open up Leo’s world to unimagined power and influence, if Leo fails, he’ll be “fired.” Meaning killed. Always subtle, that Papa Pope.

Meanwhile, El Prez is practicing for his debate with Andrew Nichols and FLOTUS, who’s imitating Sally with a pitch-perfect Southern drawl. El Prez is presidential, for once, and Cyrus excitedly calls Olivia to tell her what she’s missing. Il Papa is otherwise occupied, though: David is playing her the tape of Cyrus and Sally’s phone conversation. Olivia is in denial: “If Cyrus needed a murder covered up he’d come to me,” she says, to which David dryly replies, “Maybe somehow he was worried you’d do the right thing.” David wants to reveal the story, but instead Olivia goes to see Cyrus and bluffs him into confessing. She starts laughing hysterically and points out that every single presidential candidate up for debate is a murderer. Then, more seriously, she tells him he’s ruined El Prez’s chance to win with a clean campaign. “I want to walk into the light and feel the sun on my face,” she says. He begs her not to tell El Prez, but she says he’s on his own. Still, she’s not so willing to throw Cyrus under the bus—when Abby, still worried about David’s safety, asks whether they’re going to help him, Olivia just tells her they’re not getting involved.

All this stress is getting to our fearless leader, so she shows up at Ballard’s house with Gettysburger and a bottle of wine all to herself. He tries to have a real conversation with her, but as always she shuts him down, saying she just wants to eat too many fries with her fake boyfriend and not think about anything. So he has a fake conversation with her about how he just got made employee of the month at Acme Paper, and they’re both bored in two seconds, and it’s very sad. She chugs wine, and he tells her sometimes he wishes instead of Command he really was just a paper salesman. Then he asks her to run away with him. “Save me,” he says. Instead she sucks down some more wine, then says, “Take advantage of me, Jake,” and they make out.

Back at Hellfire HQ, Sally has finished speaking with her pastor and has come to a decision: She’s going to confess her murder to the world so God will welcome her back into his flock (or something). Leo freaks out and goes to Cyrus to tell him they need to push the debate. At first Cyrus laughs it off, but then Leo tells him Sally’s plan, leading Cyrus to drink in his office and tell James, “Remember the best part of me loves you, and maybe the only good part.” Nobody has said “Publius” at all this episode.

Oh, wait: IGL goes to David and tries to convince him to go public with the story, while Cyrus meets with Ballard and tells him to kill Sally Langston. Ballard refuses, but Cyrus tells him if it gets out thanks to “this Publius character” (there it is) that the Vice President is a “mur-der-errr,” the American people will lose all faith in the all-important republic. Olivia tries another tactic: She tells El Prez about Sally and the cover-up and then says he needs to throw the debate to give Sally a “sign from God” that she’s been forgiven. He refuses, so she goes home to get drunk again, but when Jake shows up with Chinese food he realizes she’s decided to side with El Prez once more. Their relationship is always one step forward, seven steps back.

The day of the debate, Sally is still resolute about confessing, even as Leo literally gets on his knees and begs her to reconsider. Ballard, meanwhile, has remembered he’s the head of a super-secret, all-powerful organization, so he tasks Tom with gunning Sally down onstage if she starts to go off-script. Luckily for all involved (especially Tom!), El Prez takes Olivia’s advice and makes a remark about being proud of his “personal failings,” which gives Sally the ammo she needs to snap back to her usual self. After the debate is over, Olivia goes to see El Prez in the Oval Office. He’s mad because he wanted to run a clean campaign, but she breaks the news that there is no such thing, that he’s finally seeing all the ugly, dark machinations behind keeping him in power. “There is no Vermont,” she tells him. “This isn’t how I wanted to be; this is how it is.” Then they make out in front of an open window.

Leo goes to Cyrus to both congratulate him for his political genius and gloat about Sally’s success, then says he can’t wait to redecorate the office, “starting with that buzzing noise.” This, naturally, leads Cyrus to finding the bug in his picture frame—but rather than call up Charlie to murder his husband, he takes the picture frame home to IGL, who has just received a text from David telling him to meet. “Do what you want with me,” Cyrus says, barely able to get the words out, “but I’m sorry.”

So IGL goes to meet David, who’s waiting with Vanessa and another female reporter, and tells him turns out all he really wanted was “an apology and a good cry with a man I have no business forgiving.” Really? This is such a huge disservice to IGL’s character. Anyway, David says he still wants to release the story, which IGL is surprised about because he thought he called the meeting “begrudgingly.” “You think I called this meeting?” says David. As he finishes speaking, the two reporters next to them get shot in the head, and Ballard strides up with a gun, which he points directly at David.

Some thoughts:

I did enjoy Quinn as the snarky paper-pushing receptionist, even if she didn’t. But what is the “real assignment” Ballard gave her?

“What would Olivia Pope do? Someone should really put that on a bracelet.” David Rosen, saying what we’ve all been thinking for two years.

Does anyone really think Ballard killed David? And why would he risk shooting two people in the middle of the street, without any kind of mask on, when he has unlimited agents at his disposal?

No Harrison at all this episode. Guess he’s still shacked up with Adnan Salif.

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