Hope is a dangerous word in the Scandalverse. Hope is what leads you away from your newly rediscovered presidential drive to cringe-inducing phone sex in the Oval Office; what drives you to commit unspeakable acts in the name of sussing out the truth; what causes you to follow your heart instead of your gut, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Let’s catch up with everyone.
Fitz is taking Olivia’s statement that “there’s hope” for them quite seriously, calling her every night and refusing to give her any intel on Jake. But Olivia has her means to get what she wants—a.k.a. David Rosen, who sneaks her into supermax prison even though “that place holds people who eat people.” She has a tete-a-tete with Tom, who monologues about how he never gets to really look at her and gosh she’s so beautiful, the face that launched a thousand ships, but before I can get too concerned about our love triangle becoming a quadrangle, he tells her about El Prez’s suicide attempt, then once again lies that Ballard ordered him to kill Gerry Jr.
When Olivia calls El Prez next, he gives her a full update on Jake that makes it sound like he’s basically in the Club Med of prisons, but when Olivia asks about what Tom said, he changes the subject by initiating phone sex so graphic I managed to put both hands over my ears while also chugging the rest of my drink. If any parents and children were watching this show together for some reason, I am deeply sorry for both sides of the generational divide.
Speaking of generational divides, Huck is continuing his deeply sad secret online courtship of his son, who wants to take things to the next level and meet IRL. Javi goes to their intended rendezvous spot, an arcade, and waits as Huck watches him tearily through the window but doesn’t approach. And yet, Javi wouldn’t be Huck’s son without also getting his computer-wiz side: He uses Huck’s IP address to track him to OPA (sloppy work, Huck), and cuts right to it: “I wanna know why you left,” he says. This is not going to make his mom happy.
If anyone felt zero feelings for ol’ Red tonight, I salute you because you’re the first human being to successfully stay alive sans beating heart. Abby finds herself in the horrifying position of having to see—and potentially work with—her abusive ex-husband, who’s up for a Senate seat thanks to an extremely unfortunate video of the previous senator wearing (and making use of) an adult diaper in the company of a prostitute. Somehow, it’s never come out that Charles “Chip” Putney used to break Abby’s collarbones for fun, which means he’s almost certainly a lock for the position. Abby, reduced to a panicked, pukey mess, calls Olivia, who springs into fixer mode and transforms Chip’s opponent, a supremely unpolished woman named Susan Ross (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Artemis Pebdani), into a viable candidate. Chip harasses Abby in the parking lot about calling off her “dog,” as he refers to Olivia, and only backs off when she pulls a gun on him. Olivia encourages her to use the podium she has as press secretary to share her story, but Abby reminds her that they’ve said the same to clients for years—and they end up as Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky. “They stood up and told their story—and where are they now?” she says.
Of course, Leo (hi, Leo!) is running Chip’s campaign, and visits Abby to gloat about his candidate winning due to Susan Ross not being married to her dead baby daddy (which Republicans will apparently care about even though the President has a gay chief of staff). But when Abby tells him about how Chip used her as a punching bag, he leaks to the press that Chip arranged the video of the senator that gives this episode its title, leading to Chip withdrawing his candidate. Leo shows up with a bottle of bourbon to give Abby the good news, then kisses her, which she seems to not hate. I am all about this development, you guys.
Papa Pope shows up at Olivia’s house for a parental lecture about how she’s never allowed to choose one of her boyfriends over him again. “I’ve spent a lifetime shining their shoes so you see a reflection at every turn—and when I strike it is precise and for a reason,” he says. But Olivia’s not fazed; instead, she uses his own tactics against him by having Quinn bribe a guard at the supermax prison to stab Tom—but not kill him—and then visits him in the hospital, where she tapes his confession that Rowan was the one who ordered him to kill Gerry Jr. and plays it for El Prez. At the episode’s end, Jake is led from prison to El Prez’s super-secret bunker, where Fitz and Olivia are both waiting for him. Judging from the preview for next week’s episode, this awkward threesome is going to team up and try to take down Rowan once and for all.
FLOTUS’s big story this week is that she’s picking a new china pattern for the White House—until Lizzie Bear puts a bug in her ear about a situation in West Angola (gleaned from Michael the escort’s espionage work). El Prez gets mad that she’s trying to influence foreign policy, and she reminds him he was the one who wanted “fried-chicken Mellie” gone and FLOTUS back in her place. “I’ve been holding you up for 20 years,” she tells him. “And when I fall down on the job for two months, you rip me to shreds the first time it got difficult. I won’t soon forget that.” Hell hath no fury like a woman forced to stare at place settings all day.
Quinn continues to be the only person working OPA’s case of the week(s)—she pays a visit to Catherine’s husband to find out what his secret meeting was the night of his daughter’s death. “You can’t stop what’s coming,” is all he tells her, before pulling out a gun and ruining the paint job of his mansion’s foyer. She and Huck finally tell Olivia about the pictures of her, but it seems Olivia’s dance card will still be pretty full for a while.
BEST LINES/A FEW THOUGHTS
Seriously, what is Cyrus doing with Michael? Is he secretly working some kind of long con to get back at Lizzie, or is he really so lust-blinded that his usual werewolf instincts have completely disappeared? But hey, Ethan is back!
“The president is not a man—he’s an idea.” Darby Stanchfield was great in this scene, and props to the show for not having Olivia take the easy way out and simply demand that El Prez get rid of Chip.
“What’s so special about you?” Tom, trying to unpack the mystery that is Olitz.
“Have some more bourbon, and I’ll touch your boob.” Apologies to the Abby/David (Dabby?) fans out there, but Team Leo all the way!
WINNER: It’s always nice to see Michael Trucco, but it’s even better to see Abby come out on top.
LOSER: I think it’s a tie between Tom and Olivia’s immortal soul.