I am going to be recapping the addictive and intense ABC show Scandal starting with tonight’s episode. Many of you may be familiar with it, and the rest of you should be. So if you are a newbie and are writing it off as a show that is too late to get into, let me remove that obstacle and get you up to date on all of the affairs, murders (attempted and successful), frame-ups, and other ne’er-do-welling so you can jump in. You might want to get a drink and some graph paper.
Olivia Pope runs Pope & Associates, a crisis-management firm that fixes major problems for the Washington, D.C., elite.
Her power color is white; she talks in shouts like Macho Man Randy Savage; and she had a major sex affair full of sexy sex with the current president of the United States, Fitzgerald “Fitz” Grant, a liberal Republican, back when she ran his campaign and was his director of communications.
Her firm is full of employees who would die for her and who call themselves “gladiators in suits.” Olivia has rescued all of them from one fucked-up situation or another: Huck, her computer hacker, was saved from homelessness by Pope after he ended his contract as a professional killer for the CIA; Olivia rescued investigator Abby Whelan, who was beaten by her husband; she saved lawyer Harrison Wright from eight years in prison; and she gave the new girl, Quinn Perkins, a new identity after Olivia sort of had a hand in framing her for the murder of seven people. (This will be explained more later.) There’s another guy, Steven, who sleeps with people for information, but he was written out of the show by season two, so forget him.
They have fixed situations for closeted war heroes accused of murder; a D.C. madam; entitled rich-boy rapists; a dictator; the pilot of a plane crash that killed 120 people; philandering congressmen; philandering pastors who die on top of prostitutes; missing girls; former spies; eccentric millionaires; governors accused of shooting suspected rapists; and a guy who stole from the National Security Administration to prove that the NSA is spying on American citizens.
President Fitz is married to Mellie, a smooth-talking mom type who eventually gets his nuts in a vise in an attempt to get a seat at the table. She faked a miscarriage to gain Fitz votes in Georgia, tried to start a war in East Sudan, and is, in general, an unhinged badass.
Cyrus Beene is the president’s chief of staff and right-hand man who describes himself as a monster, loves gardening, and refuses to give his husband, James, a baby even though James quit his incredibly successful job as a journalist with the promise of starting a family.
Fitz hates his conservative vice-president, Sally Langston, but needed her to win right-wing voters; he recruited her to his administration with the promise that she would have first shot at nominating a Supreme Court justice. They fight a lot and agree on nothing.
Billy Chambers is the V.P.’s chief of staff, but he resigned after framing someone for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Amanda Tanner*, who he tried to use as a pawn to oust Fitz. He actually murdered Quinn’s journalist boyfriend, Gideon, with a pair of scissors to the neck after Gideon dug too deep and discovered the whole charade. During his resignation, Chambers said, “Hey, the president was sleeping with Amanda, too, if anyone cares,” but, the prez yells at Olivia, it was only once! Mellie forced Fitz to get her pregnant with America’s Baby™ in an attempt to keep him in office after his affair with Amanda Rosen was revealed.
Quinn discovered her boyfriend’s body, called Olivia, and, while cleaning the crime scene and erasing all fingerprints to save Quinn’s ass, we learned through said prints that Quinn is actually Lindsay Dwyer, scorned girlfriend of a cheater who worked at the company Sytron, which made voting machines that were rigged to help Fitz win the presidency. Olivia had helped switch her identity after first framing Lindsay/Quinn for sending the bomb to the company that killed her boyfriend and six others.
But Sytron was actually blown up by Hollis Doyle, an oil tycoon working in the White House who helped Olivia, Cyrus, Mellie, and Supreme Court Justice Verna Thornton steal the election via the company. Fitz only nominated Thornton to the Court because she agreed to help rig everything, and V.P. Langston was completely pissed off when she found out that she won’t get her promised vote for a justice even though she had no idea why.
Thornton also has cancer but is keeping it a secret from everyone except Olivia. Huck hired a former co-worker to kill the shit out of the V.P.’s former Chief of Staff Billy, and we never saw him again. Also, we learned that Fitz’s Chief of Staff Cyrus orchestrated the killing of Amanda Rose when the killer showed up at his house asking for his final payment. Turned out Cyrus was a bigger monster than he let on.
Olivia has a rival in Assistant United States Attorney David Rosen, who cock-blocks her at every turn and eventually arrested Quinn once he ran her prints and found out who she really was. Quinn is innocent, of course; she had been knocked out in California the night of the Sytron explosion and woke up in Washington with a completely new life laid out in front of her: Social Security card, license, etc. She stood trial for the crime, Olivia got her acquitted with some shady backdoor deal, and David Rosen lost his job and his mind. He created a Wall of Crazy to figure out where Olivia tripped him up, started dating Abby to get information out of her, and then got his job back as a consolation prize when he dug too deep and Olivia needed to keep him off the scent of the Quinn cover-up/vote-rigging connection. Olivia also used lawyer Harrison to break up Abby and David, because no one at Pope & Associates should be in bed with the enemy or have a chance at happiness.
James, Cyrus’s husband, went back to work at the White House, discovered the whole machine-rigging (which had gone down in Defiance, Ohio), and when Cyrus realized this, he arranged for a baby to show up immediately so that James would quit his job and shut the fuck up. Huck started going to Alcoholics Anonymous but used whiskey as a stand-in for how much he loves murder, met a nice girl named Rebecca Flynn, and was framed by her when the president got shot on his way to his birthday gala. She also murdered a family he liked to watch in an attempt to feel normal. While the president was hanging onto life, V.P. Langston made a bid for the presidency. She got Justice Thornton to resign by revealing that she knows all about her secret cancer, and generally promised to make everyone’s lives a living hell.
People shout a lot:
Olivia: It’s my name on the door!
President: I’m the leader of the free world!
David Rosen: I am the law! The law is me!
And everyone walks and talks very fast. Oh, and Fitz let Olivia touch the Constitution on one of their dates. You cannot trust anyone, no one knows if the president will live or die, and Huck is still a suspect in the shooting. Now you’re all caught up! See you at tomorrow’s recap!
* This post originally misidentified the character. Poor Amanda, just can't catch a break.