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TV Recap: Scandal, Season 4, Episode 6, "An Innocent Man"

The student has become the master.
Once again, Olivia's gut misleads her. Image via ABC.

Holy state funerals, guys, that was the best episode of Scandal I’ve seen all season! I laughed, I (nearly) cried, I bought a FLOTUS for President button. The show was cooking on all burners this week, moving forward both the season’s major arcs while also providing some fantastic B-story stuff. Let’s check in with everyone.

MELLIE
I hope you all got your fill of Smelly Mellie while she lasted, because she is no more: She’s back to bathing and wearing clothes, and is planning the state funeral for former President Cooper, who’s just died of a stroke. And has Scandal ever given us anything quite so delightful as the duo of Mellie and Bitsy Cooper? From the minute she showed up, Bitsy basically went Full Yoda on FLOTUS, explaining she was the one responsible for the legacy her husband gets all the credit for and lighting a fire under Mellie’s freshly showered ass. “I’ll be remembered as the wife of a man who did something with his life,” she says, and you can practically see Mellie’s wheels turning under her majestic head of hair. When she finally goes on the record to “box in” El Prez about closing military bases, I nearly cheered. I hope she got a good drag off Bitsy’s joint, because something tells me presidential candidates don’t get to blaze up too often.

OLIVIA
Besides bringing some serious coat game this episode, Olivia is busy, attempting to prove the innocence of the man who attempted to kill President Cooper, Leonard Carnahan, while simultaneously doing everything in her power to track down Jake. Oh, and she’s also having crazy sex dreams about Ballard AND El Prez. (Does anyone else think it was kind of funny how the show treats them as so interchangeable?) She fails on the Carnahan front: She successfully lobbies to try him for murder so they can force an autopsy of President Cooper’s body and remove the bullet from his brain—but turns out Carnahan did it and wanted to be proven guilty to secure his place in history (or something). I had been thinking Brian Benben’s performance was refreshingly low-key for Scandal, but when he turned full-on foaming-mouth psycho at the end, things made a lot more sense.

Olivia also gets off a great speech about the B-word to El Prez (more hangover from that terrible “angry black woman” column?), and levies the possibility of a future reconciliation to save Jake from Certain Death. “You may be Command, but I have weapons at my disposal you can’t possibly possess,” she tells Papa Pope at the episode’s end, and damn if it isn’t nice to see Olivia mark one down in the W column. (Also remember back in season one when she never lost a case? Seems like Pope and Associates’ reputation must be pretty in the tank by now.)

FITZ
Speaking of El Prez, he doesn’t do much President-ing this time around, preferring instead to terrify Abby and show up unannounced at Olivia’s door with Rowan-provided proof of all the terrible things he thinks Jake has done. His driving force, no matter what he says, is ego: He can’t stand the fact that Olivia slept with someone else, and when Papa Pope arrives to give him a pep talk, Fitz doesn’t even realize he’s being played because he’s so willing to believe what a great and magnanimous leader he is. Still, he ditches the fiery agenda of having the man he thinks killed his son put to death after one two-word sentence from his former lover, putting Jake in a supermax prison as a “gift” to Olivia. Is someone making breakfast? Because I smell waffles.

ROWAN
Did Papa Pope just get out-Poped by his own daughter? Things seemed to be going so well at first: He managed to get Ballard right where he wants him by basically patting El Prez on the head and calling him a good boy, only to have that access rescinded, thanks—to put it bluntly—to the magical powers of his daughter’s vagina. “You crossed me,” he says to her like it is the last thing in the world he ever expected. Somewhere in there, he’s a little proud, though. Maybe.

QUINN/HUCK
Quinn appears to be the only person still invested in the Catherine case, trying the key she pulled out of Faith’s stomach in thousands of lockers until she finds the right one. As it turns out, the locker’s filled with pictures of Olivia. Assuming he’s not just out for wardrobe tips, what does Liv’s law-school friend’s shady lawyer husband want with her? I have no idea! But presumably we’ll find out soon.

Meanwhile, Huck is being zero help at all, and has apparently discovered a love of Halo-style video games after last week’s disastrous encounter with his wife. It seems like maybe he’s having a nervous breakdown—until it’s revealed he’s pretending to be a kid and playing with his son online. Creepy! But also sweet? This is going to end badly.

ABBY
Poor, loyal Red. She spends the night at Olivia’s house and hears her waking up screaming from a nightmare/sex dream, which disturbs her so much she steels herself and goes to El Prez to fish for information about Ballard. “I’m asking the married man who used to sleep with my friend for information about the guy she’s currently sleeping with,” she says, trembling like a frightened bunny in the rain. El Prez goes back to calling her Gabby, which means she’s about to get fired, until Cyrus dispatches her to discover how Lizzie Bear found out about some (unannounced) planned military base closings, unwittingly handing Abby a serious upper hand. Which brings us to…

CYRUS
Oh, Cyrus. Is your new toupee addling your brain? He’s still sleeping with Michael the toothy prostitute (how does he have any money left at this point?) and has, of course, convinced himself they’re in a relationship, to the point where he rents Michael an apartment and gets him his own cell phone, as you do for someone who makes two grand an hour. He’s so trusting that he doesn’t even have a lock on his own phone, so Michael snoops around in his work e-mails and reports his findings to Lizzie Bear. Now that Abby’s spilled the beans to Cyrus that his new lover is spying on him, I doubt Michael will be getting much more intel. Which is a shame for him, because all those teeth-whitening treatments can’t come cheap.

BEST LINES/A FEW THOUGHTS

“So Abby’s kind of a bitch.” El Prez continues to be the worst, but major props to Olivia and Shonda Rhimes for the speech that immediately followed.

“That’s why our judicial system isn’t based on looking into people’s eyes.” Gloating David Rosen is a funny David Rosen, even when his victory involved very little actual work on his part.

“Before you head out on a witch hunt, you might want to take a closer look at your own . . . back door.” Abby’s triumphant expression was priceless. Plus: double entendres!

“I made him feel pretty.” Rowan’s speech about all the ways he manipulated El Prez was pretty hilarious.

Drink tally: Martinis on the White House balcony, Scotch in the Oval Office, and a lot of red wine, which, according to the New York Times, Olivia is drinking all wrong.

WINNER: It’s a tie between Mellie, who’s rebounded from her depression with a vengeance; and Abby, who shows some serious cojones to both El Prez and Cyrus.

LOSER: Rowan, who for once gets outmaneuvered. I doubt he’ll be content with that for long.

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