It’s time once again for Laura’s weekly Scandal recap!
This week’s episode of Scandal, called “Even the Devil Deserves a Second Chance,” dealt with the darker side of human nature and the lies we tell ourselves about the evil inside both us and others. The case of the week tackled a world-renowned feminist who’s been raping women for years with his wife’s help, while Olivia had to face the repercussions of her own selfish decision to free her father from prison to avoid marrying Fitz. Both surround themselves in a web of lies while fighting for truth and justice. The parallels are unsettling, to say the least, even though I think many of us viewers do feel for Olivia while fully despising the actions of the rapist.
The episode began with one of the best lines of the night, as Fitz celebrated the end of the impeachment hearings. He raised a glass and toasted, “To Congress: May their heads one day depart from their asses.” Yes, please! Can we give our own Congress the same toast and hope maybe they’ll listen? Fitz and Olivia have also smoothed things over. He’s not upset she returned the ring and ran out on the wedding, since getting married in that way wasn’t what either of them wanted. Fitz joked that Liv still “gets to date the most powerful man in the world.” How right he is, even as he cedes that power to his beloved girlfriend. Even Olivia and Abby are back to their close friendship. When Abby asked Liv about a rumor she heard that Congress was blackmailed into ending the hearings, Olivia told Abby she doesn’t want to have to lie to her so she can’t answer. Finally, the festivities turned to Vice President Susan Ross flirting with David as she offered to give him a ride to an event at the National Association of the Chiefs of Police the following day.
Repercussions of Rowan’s Escape
The party didn’t last long, however, as Cyrus arrived to tell Fitz that both Rowan and Tom Larsen are out of prison. He’s investigating how this happened and where the paperwork to release them both came from. Olivia pretended to be surprised and upset at the news, allowing Fitz to comfort her. Yet as Liv and Abby made eye contact over Fitz’s back, it appeared Abby at least realizes the truth: Olivia knew about the escape, and her father’s the one who blackmailed Congress.
Fitz may be in the dark about Olivia’s role, but Jake certainly isn’t. He’s downright furious with her, and for damn good reason. His speech to her is brilliant, and in my opinion completely accurate:
You know what I admire about Rowan? He doesn’t claim to be anything he’s not. He knows what he is. He revels in it. You—you preach about wearing some dumb, white hat… Are you blind, Olivia, or do you refuse to see, or do you really not know what you are?
Jake then tells Liv that Rowan killed his wife Elise, thus the blood is on Olivia’s hands since she’s the one who let Rowan out: “The woman I love killed the woman I used to love, or the woman I used to love killed the woman I love, I can’t figure it out.” Poor Jake! Honestly, my heart goes out to him, even as he continues to berate Liv (again, justifiably in my opinion):
I am so tired of being our father’s son. But you don’t get tired, do you? You just keep going, spreading like a plague. How does someone as brilliant and accomplished as you not know what you are? You are Rowan’s greatest achievement. You have become exactly the woman he raised you to be—power-hungry, entitled, dangerous. And the beauty of it is you don’t even know it.
The one question I have about this scene, that I’m hoping one of you can answer, is about the fact that Jake kisses her as he walks out the door. Did he bite her during that kiss? Is that why she’s touching her lip that way as Jake leaves? Or is it simply the shock of the kiss? And if he didn’t bite her, why the hell did he kiss her? He hates her in that moment. Yes, he still has feelings for her—those don’t just disappear in the blink of an eye—but he certainly can’t have any romantic inclinations towards her in that precise moment, can he?
Huck is the next person to confront Olivia about her role in Rowan’s escape, stating that either Rowan will bring back B613 and kill all of them or they’ll have to kill him. Liv told him neither one of those things will happen. They’re done. No one is going after Rowan, and OPA is out of the spy business.
Yet Jake’s role is far from over. While Liv talked to Fitz about her latest case (more on that below), Jake arrived for a meeting with the president. Fitz explained he put Jake in charge of finding Rowan. Olivia was clearly just a bit nervous about this situation as she asked Jake whether or not he had any leads. For the moment, Jake kept Olivia’s role a secret, telling the president that so far he has none, nor does he have any idea who could have helped Rowan escape. Relieved, Liv commented, “That’s a shame.” Jake wasn’t about to let her off the hook that easily, though. He prodded Fitz to think for himself:
Jake: Why now? Why do you think he escaped now? What about now gave him the opportunity to escape?
Fitz: Good question.
Liv: I think we’re better focused on next steps. What’s the plan? (Long pause) What?
Jake: [The plan is to] find your father, and when I do I’m going to look him in the eye and put a bullet in his head.
It was hard to read Olivia’s reaction to Jake’s statement. Would she care if her father was finally gone once and for all? Does she want Rowan or Jake to come out on top in that confrontation? I don’t think she wants Jake dead by any means, but does she want him to kill her father? It’s hard to tell.
Client of the Week: Is Olivia At All Like His Wife?
Frank Holland is an author and feminist icon, who received the presidential Medal of Freedom from Fitz towards the beginning of the episode. At the same time, a woman named Hannah Taylor went to see Olivia to tell her Frank raped her. Frank, of course, denied the accusation, but OPA pulled off their usual investigative brilliance and found 22 women that Frank sexually assaulted. More surprisingly, his wife not only knew about it but helped him by supplying him with the Oxycodone to drug these women. Olivia asked his wife Janice why she did this. Janice explained that, in 1973, only 8.5% of women had a college degree. It was impossible to even rent an apartment as a single woman unless her father co-signed the lease. Her husband took her intellect seriously, respected her, and helped women around the world. “One thing’s been true since time began, young women are going to throw themselves at their professors… My husband has created quite a legacy, and it’s my job to protect it.”
Olivia, back at OPA, voiced what I think all of us were thinking: “I will never understand how women stand behind these kinds of men.” I agree with her 100%. I don’t understand it at all. And I’m certainly not equating Olivia’s actions to Janice’s. Olivia got justice for these women and tore down Frank’s legacy, telling off Janice beautifully as she did so.
Here’s my question: Olivia hasn’t stood behind her father or protected him in the way Janice has with Frank. She even tried to shoot her father last season when she had the opportunity. Now, though, it serves her purposes to have her father free from prison after she worked for years to put him behind bars. He deserves to rot in a tiny cell, but, for her own selfish reasons, she convinced Mellie to let him out. Is that really so different from Janice defending Frank? No, Olivia didn’t know Rowan would instantly murder Elise upon his release, but she had to know the body count would continue to rise with him on the loose.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Olivia and I admire her in a lot of ways. Last week, I even understood why she wanted Rowan’s help so badly, but this week made me think that over again, because I agree with what both Jake and Cyrus said to her (more on Cyrus’s speech below).
Elizabeth North (and David)
The other subplot this week featured Elizabeth North threatening to go on Sally’s talk show unless Fitz offered her a job at the White House. David tried to talk her out of it, but she refused to listen. Behind the scenes, Olivia helped Fitz to handle it by offering her a job, which infuriated Cyrus. It led to a fantastic scene of Elizabeth turning the tables on Sally. On her show, instead of trashing the president as Sally expected, North called him “a great man who simply happened to fall in love” and said she’s not mad at Fitz but rather at Congress for wasting the people’s time and money trying to bring down this good man.
The more surprising part of this subplot was the new love triangle between David, Elizabeth, and Susan Ross. When Elizabeth confronted David after her appearance on the show, the sexual tension mounted until the two of them start making out—something I didn’t see coming at all! Then, Susan arrived at the office with a bunch of wine coolers, wanting to give them to David, but when his secretary told Susan David was in a meeting she left disappointed. I’m not sure where all that’s going to go. Frankly, I think it’s a bit of a weird triangle, since there isn’t much chemistry between David and Elizabeth or between David and Susan.
Olivia’s Bloodless Coup
This episode definitely made it clear that Olivia is the power behind the throne now. When Cyrus tried to give Fitz advice, Fitz listened to Olivia instead. Cyrus told the president to either flatter or threaten Elizabeth rather than give her a job, but Fitz went the other way—most likely at Olivia’s suggestion. Then came Cyrus’s brilliant speech. Now, I disagree with Cyrus fairly often. He’s done a lot of despicable things. But I have to say, he’s completely right in what he said to Liv. Cyrus admitted he’s competitive and vindictive, then went on to give Liv another dose of the truth along the same lines as Jake earlier:
Cyrus: I was the guy behind the guy, but lately I’d started to believe I’m the guy behind the girl behind the guy…. Here’s why you are so brilliant. You didn’t have to give up your career. You moved into the White House. You are not saddled with any of the prisoner duties that come with being First Lady. You come and go as you please, and wait for it—I’m not the guy behind the girl behind the guy, I’m the guy behind the girl. Fitz isn’t even in the picture. He’s happy, he’s content. He was never meant to be happy. Happy, content men don’t run the world, which is why he is not running the world. He does whatever you say without question. You have pulled off a clean, bloodless coup in the United States of America, and no one is the wiser. That is one for the history books.
Liv: I know this is difficult for you because you seem to be so unfamiliar with how humans behave, but Cyrus, Fitz and I together, we have an actual relationship. This is what a couple looks like.
Cyrus: You have the Oval. This is what power looks like. He’s not the president anymore, Olivia. You are.
The end of the episode showed how right Cyrus was as Olivia returned to the Oval Office. Has she decided to embrace the power and become what Jake accused her of, a chip off the old block? Did she foresee this all along? Back in the Oval Fitz, rattled off a list of things bothering him that he’s not sure how to deal with. Liv instantly told him precisely what to do and ran right over what he’d originally planned. Fitz naturally trusts her and lets her run circles around him, going along with everything she says just as Cyrus claimed. Liv truly is the acting president, highlighted by the final shot of Olivia sipping the president’s alcohol and standing on the presidential seal.
But will all of that change next week when Fitz finds out what she did? He threw Mellie out of the White House for working with Rowan. What will he do to Liv? I don’t think Jake will ever forgive her either, so for the first time we might see Liv completely on her own.
What do you think? Has Olivia gone over to the dark side, exchanging her white hat for a more powerful black one? Any predictions for next week? As always, I look forward to reading your own thoughts and opinions on Scandal!