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TV Recap: Scandal, Season 4, Episode 5, “The Key”

A.k.a. The One Where Fitz and Jake Sing a Duet.

Thanksgiving at the Pope House must be really fun. Image via ABC.

At some point—perhaps between Olivia returning from her desert island and heading immediately to the hair salon and David Rosen imprinting on El Prez like a baby bird fallen from its nest—Scandal became the drunkest show on television. Everyone just got sloshed this week (though David wins the Pathetic Drunk award), to the point where Quinn is basically the only bastion of reason left. Let’s recap.

After our detour to Paris last week to take care of First Daughter Karen, we pick back up with the case of Olivia’s law school friend Catherine and her murdered daughter Caitlin. Quinn has tracked down the large, scary man seen struggling with Caitlin in a security video, who turns out to be a former police detective and the head of security at Catherine’s husband’s firm. His name is Dan Kubiak, but the tabloid story accusing him of being dirty refers to him as Captain Cocaine, so I think I’ll go with that, as well.

Quinn is spying on him from an abandoned building while Olivia watches and backseat-drives. Quinn wants to know why Olivia is “slumming it” and risking getting dirt on her designer pants for a simple stakeout. “My boyfriend is avoiding me,” Olivia explains, which is wrong for several reasons. As they’re watching Captain Cocaine, Caitlin’s friend Faith shows up, but Olivia and Quinn can’t hear what they’re saying because Huck has borrowed their fancy microphone and is halfway across town using it to spy on his wife. So all they see is Faith struggling with the Captain, putting a hand to her mouth, and then him pulling out a gun and shooting her. Olivia goes to see Catherine’s husband Jeremy and tells him point-blank that his daughter’s best friend was just murdered. He of course lies that he knows nothing about it, and then goes to meet Captain Cocaine in a park. Jeremy says, “You killed my daughter!” and Captain Cocaine is like, Sry not sry, she had something we needed: a key to a locker. A key that Quinn eventually figures out Faith swallowed before she died, leading to a super-gross scene where she sneaks into a morgue, cuts open Faith’s stomach with a scalpel, and digs around until she finds said key. (She was wearing gloves, right?)

Most of what Huck does this week is spy on his increasingly agitated wife, who keeps threatening to call the police on him. At some point, he told her the entire truth about B613—which she, of course, didn’t believe. He tells her he’ll leave her alone if he can see his son one time, and she tells him to come back that evening. He touchingly brings his son a video-game player that he souped up himself, but instead he finds a psychiatrist who tries to tell him he needs help. Huck being Huck, he instead chokes the guy, yells at his terrified wife for lying to him, and runs out the door.

Over at White House, Blackout Drunk, El Prez is swilling Scotch while holding all his staffers hostage until he gets a confession from the captured Jake Ballard. Their tactic: They get a guy to sit in a room with Ballard and ask him (kinda politely) over and over why he ordered Gerry’s death, while Ballard refuses food and water and daydreams about his island sexcation with Olivia. His lady love, meanwhile, is sitting at home drinking alone, until Papa Pope shows up with yet another bottle. He wants to know why she’s plowing through bottles of “the cheap stuff” by herself, and she tells him Ballard is ignoring her. Rowan says some truly terrible things about young lions roaming free, and Olivia and I both cringe, and she’s apparently unconvinced enough to call the White House and ask El Prez if he knows where Jake is. He refuses to talk to her, so she figures out he’s got Jake—and then Cyrus shows up at her door to explain that Ballard killed not just Gerry but Harrison and James, too, which is why he’s looking forward to “dancing on his grave.” Olivia disbelieves this and goes straight to her father, who lies to her again and basically says it’s her fault Gerry is dead because she wanted El Prez to win the election.

Mellie has gone even more off the deep end, drinking at 8 AM and continuing to wander around in her bathrobe. El Prez finally asks her why she doesn’t just leave, and she reminds him their dead son is buried nearby and they go to visit him every day. Except for today: El Prez instead goes to visit Ballard in his holding cell, and they amusingly sing Otis Redding together before Fitz drops the good-cop act. And this is really, really icky: While he’s accusing Ballard of killing his teenage son, he also brings up that Jake has been sleeping with Olivia. This man’s priorities are so insanely out of whack.

El Prez gets back to his residence to find Mellie, who thinks (reasonably) that he’s been off shagging Olivia. El Prez yells at her that he’s been trying to find their son’s killer—which he apparently has not shared with his wife until now. Mellie goes from shock and horror to misguided relief in about two seconds (all without losing her grip on her glass of Scotch), babbling that Gerry’s murder “won us the presidential election,” which basically makes him a war hero. Showing his usual degree of compassion and understanding, El Prez tells her to get out and never talk about Gerry to him again. On the plus side? Mellie’s showering again.

David Rosen is still on his guilt-and-booze bender, and has resorted to drunk-dialing Abby to say things like, “Remember when we used to shower together?” Eventually he gets her to see him by sleeping on the couch in her office, then confesses that he caused Judge Sparks to kill himself. “Why are we all trying to be Olivia Pope?” he slurs. A horrified Abby shows up at Olivia’s door and reams her for “ruining David,” calling her poison and saying “Everyone who touches you pays the price.” Then she notices Olivia is nearly in tears, and, proving once again that she’s the bigger person, asks her what’s wrong. Olivia says that maybe Jake killed Harrison and Gerry, but maybe not? but either way she’s upset, and Abby forces Olivia into a hug, telling her it’s going to be okay.

And because El Prez needs to take out his frustration on someone, he goes back to Ballard’s holding cell to ask him again to confess to killing his son. “You’re being played,” Ballard says, as Fitz begins beating him to a bloody pulp.


I’m having a hard time remembering who knows the truth about who killed whom. David definitely knows Jake killed James; Rowan definitely knows he ordered Harrison’s and Gerry’s deaths. But Cyrus doesn’t know anything?

I really thought Faith and Captain Cocaine would turn out to be colluding on something and staged the scene for Quinn and Olivia’s benefit. Apparently that was one twist too many.

Man, for a super-assassin, Huck is really gullible.

I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from El Prez using his son’s death as an excuse to act out his jealousy over Ballard and Olivia’s relationship. Can we please make next season about Mellie running for office and making him pay while she does it?

WINNER: Let’s give this one to the booze producers of America.

LOSER: While it was nice to see the actress who plays El Prez’s long-suffering secretary get some more screen time, I feel bad for Lauren for having to be in such close proximity to Smelly Mellie in her full PJ’d glory.