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Scandal Recap: Nothing to Lose, No Time to Waste

SCANDAL - "Truth or Consequences" - After discovering the truth about the rigged White House election, the "Gladiators in Suits" realize that a quickly unraveling Olivia may not always wear the white hat. Meanwhile, Mellie is forced to take extreme measures to try and reel Fitz in, on ABC's "Scandal," THURSDAY, JANUARY 31 (10:02-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

Olivia went to a dark place this week, and everyone seemed to implode in her absence. If she ate carbohydrates, we would have watched her inhale a bag of Oreos and cry into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, live in her pajamas for a few days, and watch back-to-back episodes of The Property Brothers on HGTV like the rest of us. But Liv probably eats Paleo, so she elegantly slipped between her monogrammed satin sheets and slept in the same position like a glass-encased princess for two days straight instead.

This week opens in Defiance, Ohio, with Farmer Hoggett explaining the fancy new touch-screen voting system to a group of Ohioans and a shifty-eyed youth who totally fit in and did not stick out like a sore thumb at all. That youth was Jesse, Quinn’s boyfriend, the one she would later be accused of blowing up, and he was there to switch out the Cytron cases holding the rigged memory cards. He did his dirty business, called Quinn to congratulate her on passing the bar, and hightailed it back to California with a cool $1 million in his pocket, where he spread his delusions of grandeur about quitting to start his own company to all the chumps in cubicles with their morals still firmly in place. Jesse freaks when he sees that Hollis is making $2 billion dollars for his part in this venture, calls to demand an additional $5 million, and spills a cup of coffee on his computer when he throws the phone across the room, basically signing his own death warrant by being greedy. Quick cut to Becky, Huck’s former paramour and would-be presidential assassin, talking to Hollis on the phone before mailing Jesse a bomb with Quinn’s return address. Becky had been messing with Jesse and Quinn all along — she was the one who sent the sexy text that prompted Quinn to assume he was cheating on her, resulting in her calling him and threatening to kill him, which gave Becky the perfect setup to frame Quinn for the bombing until Huck messed it up by kidnapping her and giving her a new identity. As it turns out, she tried to kill the president and frame Huck as a form of revenge against him for messing up the Cytron job. Becky takes being a perfectionist to psychotic levels, proven by the fact that her calling card is murdering an entire family just because Huck thinks they are nice. No loose ends for this one.

Our Brother of the Perpetual Sads, David Rosen, hauled Hollis into his office to tell him that he knows the Cytron bomb was somehow related to covering up the rigging of the presidential election, that he knows Hollis was involved, that he believes Hollis worked with top White House officials, and he is only going to offer “one seat in the lifeboat” to whomever confesses first. Hollis rears back, takes a handful of bath salts, chews on David’s face, and threatens to castrate him, which is a normal reaction from the 1 percent when you mention a potential criminal investigation. Hollis tells Olivia they have a David Rosen problem; she reports the situation to Cyrus, who agrees to take over. Olivia goes back to her room to sink into her Nest of Sadness and only pops out of it when Huck informs her that Cyrus is going to use one of his assassin friends, Charlie, to have Hollis whacked. She decides to work with David to have Hollis arrested instead, to save him from being murdered; the arresting officers find his burner phone but don’t have enough to hold him. He is eventually set free. When we last see Hollis, he is in an elevator with Charlie, so we can assume the next week he is going to be skinned and hung up like a Hannibal Lecter victim.

Let me get this straight — when Huck is accused of attempting to assassinate the president, he is thrown in a hole, beaten senseless for days, and essentially erased from existence, but Hollis gets to read some Family Circus comics and sit in a conference room at the ASAs office for a few hours before being set free? This is the power combination of white skin and a wall of lawyers, America. Olivia and the Gladiators try to make a link between Hollis and Becky by looking at bank-account information from Jesse’s fried computer and Becky’s offshore account, but lo and behold — Hollis is not the one who paid Becky to assassinate Fitz after all! We have a new wrinkle.

Mellie comes screaming into Cyrus’s office like Meatloaf in the “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” video to deliver the news that Fitz wants a divorce, urging Cyrus to “get his guy under control.” He chalks her anger up to pregnancy hormones and goes to talk to Fitz. Gunshot Fitz is basically Jim Morrison now, listing to the side and staring off in the distance while making idle threats about doing what he wants, when he wants, including divorcing his 9-months pregnant wife and moving his mistress into the White House. It appears that the threat of death has made him fearless, and he is all-systems-go on getting Mellie out of his life until Cyrus shows him that it will potentially sink his approval rating. Mellie reminisces about Fitz holding her hand during the birth of their other two children, and we find out that one of her kids is rather unceremoniously named Jerry. Later, she emotionally manipulates Fitz into connecting with her again during childbirth after she goes back to the OB/GYN to forcefully induce her labor (we assume). Mellie’s game officially blows everyone else’s game out of the water.

What I Loved:

  • The Round Robin, “reveal what you know” game that brought all of the pieces of the puzzle together for the Gladiators.
    Abby, Quinn, Huck, and Harrison are no longer in the dark about Olivia’s role in the vote-rigging, kidnapping of Quinn, helping win Quinn’s trial with her connection to Judge Thornton, or why Huck was framed for the attempted assassination of President Grant. Huck’s “blink once for yes, twice for no”-style answering was funny.
  • The exchange that Harrison and Abby had when they caught Olivia twirling her engagement ring.
    “Wife of a senator, not bad.” “Wife of senator? Please — husband of Olivia Pope.” Solid.
  • Nonchalant Becky to the rescue.
    I get that she’s a sociopathic assassin, but Becky sitting on a bench, nonchalantly reading a book while the Cytron building blew up behind her was great.
  • Huck and Liv in bed.
    “You have to stop killing people.” “Why?” The way Huck cut through all of the malarkey and flopped down next to Olivia in bed during her depression marathon was incredibly endearing. They get each other, more than anyone else on her team.
  • Hollis asking for his assistant to go to Gettysburger and order him a “General Lee.”
    Something tells me I’d want cheese and bacon on this, too.
  • Cyrus breaking down the “magical justice system” and comparing our working government to Santa and the Easter Bunny.
    “You’re ruining Christmas morning and the whole republic is going to come crashing down.” I’m not sure I like the harsh edge that seems to have developed in his relationship with Olivia lately, but I do so enjoy any time Cyrus becomes a sarcastic, impatient hag.
  • Mellie’s rant about making President Grant who he is today.
    She might loathe Olivia, but she haaaaaaates Fitz for abandoning her after she dedicated herself to “fixing” him after he was raised by his “monster” of a father and giving him the confidence he would need to take on the presidential office. I love it when Mellie gets fighting mad; it is such a good balance between “Ooh, she’s right!” and “She might unhinge her jaw and eat someone.” 

Where It Lacked:

  • Olivia’s actual flashing flashbacks of remorse.
    I know they had to drive home just how guilty she felt, but I could use a week without the callbacks.
  • I am starting to think Olivia and Fitz are in a mutually abusive relationship. That phone call was weird, right? Olivia is feeling super low, blathering on about the babies she could have and country jam she could eat if she accepts Edison’s proposal, and Fitz turns that into “Say you’ll wait for me.” Their dynamic is so brutal.
  • Edison abandoning Liv and dropping her depression in her employee’s laps. He was basically like, “She’s broken — you fix her,” and then he bounced. I feel like anyone who is going to be Olivia Pope’s partner needs to be more present.
  • Justice Thornton is possibly on the way out.
  • David’s “guns blazing, both barrels, God help you” speech.
    Entirely too overwrought. He’s just not that guy.

Next week, the Grants welcome America’s Baby into the fold, Olivia says she’s marrying Edison but is seen hugging all over Fitz, and a voice-over promises that all of our questions will be answered. Until then! 

Photo: Danny Feld/ABC