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WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Three, Episode 15, “Mama Said Knock You Out”

The prodigal son—and daughter—return.

Papa Pope is in professorial mode this week. Photograph by Eric McCandless for ABC.

After last week’s emotional episode, Scandal was back to full soapy glory. Everyone was in the mood to get frisky, and Shonda Rhimes did her best to make us hate El Prez. To the recap.

The big news this week is that the First Son (Dylan Minnette) and Daughter (Madeline Carroll) have returned from the boarding school that apparently won’t let them out for national holidays or vacation but will release them to appear in a televised interview. Olivia is trying to juggle finding the source of B613’s funding so the Dream Team can cut it off and prepping the Grant family for this big live interview—no small feat, since in case you haven’t noticed, the Grants aren’t exactly the Cleavers. FLOTUS and El Prez remind each other that they’re a “happy couple,” while Olivia sits down to talk with the kids, and Jerry’s caginess makes her ask the Dream Team to look into what he’s been doing. Meanwhile, Olivia and El Prez go back to fooling around in front of the Oval Office window (seriously, why?), and FLOTUS and Andrew Nichols decide to do the dirty in a White House room with French doors that don’t lock and very gauzy curtains. Olivia, fresh from her bout of adultery, sees FLOTUS and then Nichols coming out of the room separately and, unbelievably, tells Nichols to stay away from Mellie. He immediately becomes my hero by looking her straight in the eye and saying, “Glass houses, Olivia.”

There’s also the small matter of a foreign terrorist named Dmitri who showed up outside Baltimore and then disappeared. To where? Oh, just the trunk of Charlie’s car. He and Quinn have kidnapped him at Ballard’s request, and torture him for information while Charlie continuously interrogates Quinn about Huck breaking into her apartment. “Do you want me to kill him?” he offers, which is a thing ONLY Quinn would think is sweet. Charlie also asks Quinn to move in (my notes: Ew), and she nicely tells him she changed the locks and has a gun, then goes back to gleefully power-drilling into Dmitri’s body. Charlie’s a lucky guy.

Papa Pope calls Olivia and tells her to stop digging into B613 because, being an all-powerful, all-seeing secret agency, they know when people are “traipsing” through government buildings digging up old budgets, and he’s already had to call in more than one favor on her behalf. She reminds him he was the one who said she’s responsible for dragging everyone into the light, including B613, and asks him for information, but he hangs up on her.

Back at the White House, Karen asks her mother why she chooses to stay with a cheater. “Nobody’s perfect,” FLOTUS says. Proving that point is Jerry, who, Olivia has just found out, has been running an anonymous anti-El Prez Twitter account, which includes a photo of him with a Photoshopped Hitler mustache that is amazing. Also he bought a Reston for President T-shirt online, which El Prez digs through his bag to find and then yells at both the kids. Karen runs out of the room—and straight into the room where FLOTUS is getting cozy with “Uncle Andrew.” This show goes from hilarious to gross in a heartbeat.

Ballard shows up at the Oval Office, and El Prez tells him to return Dmitri, to which Ballard says, “You don’t tell me to do anything because I’m not your bitch.” He tells El Prez his whole job is to hold babies and comfort people and look pretty, and he’s the one who actually runs the country. Insane power trips look good on Scott Foley, I have to say. Then in comes Cyrus, who rushes at Ballard and tries to attack him. El Prez tries to hold him back, as Cyrus screams that Ballard killed James, and then eventually he gives up and collapses on the couch. “I’m sorry for your loss,” Jake says as he leaves, and El Prez gazes after him perhaps realizing he’s made a huge mistake. Once Cyrus catches his breath he says brokenly that had James gone public he would have brought down Sally and the administration and the entire executive branch, so really Jake was just doing his job—“serving at the pleasure of the President, just like the rest of us.”

Adnan Salif and Mama Pope are waiting for Dmitri to show up, and Adnan is worried, but Mama Pope tells her there’s no way out of the situation without her say-so. Of course, Adnan immediately runs to Pope & Associates, where she implies that the Dream Team has more power than the FBI (umm) and asks for immunity in exchange for ratting out Olivia’s mother. Harrison tells Olivia he owes Adnan for whatever happened in Clearwater, which I don’t think the writers have figured out yet, so she agrees. Mama Pope calls Olivia and tells her to return Adnan, but Olivia refuses, and Maya goes straight for the jugular, saying she’d rather be a tourist than “the help,” constantly cleaning up messes for people who don’t really care about her in the slightest, and Olivia looks like all her worst fears were just verbalized.

Adnan uses her alone time with Harrison to berate him for betraying her back when they were partners, then says this immunity deal could be their fresh start—but all he wants is for his debt to be settled and for them to be even. Adnan would rather take off her underwear and have sex with him on the couch. As it turns out, she also doesn’t think they’re even yet; she stabs him in the back of the neck with a needle, and he collapses on the carpet, giving her the opportunity to steal a flash drive from Olivia containing El Prez’s schedule and all the details of the security plan.

FLOTUS tells Olivia to cancel the interview, and Olivia says she can’t but tries to push it back. When she’s unsuccessful, she goes to see the kids and tries to talk to them, and El Prez walks in. Karen immediately spills the beans about Mellie and Andrew. El Prez marches out of the room, down a hall, and into the meeting Nichols is presiding over, where he punches him right in the face. He then goes to sulk and nurse his hand and FLOTUS follows him, and Olivia tells Nichols to flee the scene by starting his campaign tour immediately. El Prez is totally self-righteous and hypocritical to Mellie, asking how long she’s been screwing Nichols. Then he brings up how she wouldn’t let him touch her after their son was born, and then blames his affair with Olivia entirely on her. “I never would have cheated,” he says, then accuses her of being dead inside. She tells him he has no idea what she’s given up to get him to where he is today, and he says, “All you’ve done is deny me love to have more power.” FLOTUS looks like she’s going to throw up, but for some reason still doesn’t tell her horrible husband that his father raped her. Olivia comes in and tries to interrupt, and El Prez yells, “I’m talking to my wife!” Olivia nods silently and backs out of the room, and FLOTUS uses the distraction to scurry out of the room.

Olivia tries to leave, but Cyrus tells her to stay. “Tell me I’m not a maid with a mop in my hand,” she beseeches, but he says they both know what the job is, and somewhere inside the fog he’s living in is “a faint recollection that what we do is important.” So she goes back inside and tells El Prez to go fix his family, because if he doesn’t she’ll have failed at her job and it’s all she has left. So he goes to FLOTUS and without offering an apology or even a word, holds out his hand. She takes it, and they go to make up with their kids.

Perhaps also looking for some fatherly guidance, Ballard visits Papa Pope, who’s at the Smithsonian putting together a skeleton of a great auk for his cover job. Rowan knows Jake just wants to feel like he’s not alone in his position as Command, but isn’t willing to offer any comfort. “The path you walk is not my path,” he says. “We are not equals.” Ballard’s takeaway? “When I decide to kill you I need to do it all by myself.”

Quinn meets with Huck and says Ballard told her to find out what Huck wants. Huck wants to get her out of B613, but she reminds him that licking her face was all he needed as motivation to pull out her molars—but now that his tongue has been in her mouth (my notes: EW) she suddenly deserves to live? Then she licks his face, and they make out again, and I cover my eyes, and she makes it clear she has not forgiven him for all that dental work she had to get done. She gets home to find Charlie waiting with Champagne. While she was out, he moved himself into her apartment, and as he hands her a drink her expression says she may finally be realizing that dating a psycho hit man is maybe not the best idea.

El Prez and FLOTUS have appeased their kids sufficiently that they’re all sitting down for the interview—including Baby Teddy, who has very strange side-parted hair like Baby Pubert in Addams Family Values, minus the mustache. As Olivia watches them set up, she gets a call from her dad, who tells her B613 isn’t funded by one department—it’s funded by all of them. “Why are you telling me?” she asks. “Because we’re family, despite everything,” he says. “And families stick together.”

Some thoughts:

Olivia and El Prez were both totally unbearable in this episode, especially El Prez. I’m pretty sure Abby is the only functional person left on the show.

Apparently district attorneys are so powerful that they can just get immunity for wanted criminals like it’s phoning in a pizza order.

An actual Ella sighting! My money would have been on Cyrus hiring a full-time nanny for her.

It’s a pretty big stretch that El Prez and FLOTUS never had sex again after Jerry was born—especially since they, you know, have more than one child.

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