Wedged between the return of sociopathic hit men, staged suicides, stunted romance and screaming someone into sobriety is a valuable lesson: Sawing off your own ear is the best way to win a family feud.
Cyrus, desperate to get back into the ring with Fitz, brings former CIA agent and current hitman for hire Charlie back into the fold by asking him to dig up information on Captain Ballard. Charlie does figure out how the President and Ballard know each other (a shady operation during their military time when his plane went down in Iranian airspace), and Cyrus uses that information to get back in Fitz’s good graces through old-fashioned “I Know What You Did Last Summer” blackmail. Cyrus is incredibly corrupt yet prideful, and I appreciate his willingness to flaunt his backhanded dealings in everyone’s face like a pair of skid-marked chonies.
Speaking of Ballard, Fitz asks him to look into the information leak since Ballard is someone he trusts, and we all laugh at our televisions like crazy people. Ballard, dating the woman Fitz hired him to stalk and using that woman for sensitive information to get ahead with Fitz, has more complicated sides than a Rubik’s Cube. But President Fitz is oblivious to how hard Ballard is playing him and offers to move him to a job with the White House if he gets this task done, since he’s a straight shooter with management written all over him. Captain “Dead Inside” Ballard finds out that Osbourne is the mole after spying on Liv and breaking into her apartment to retrieve sensitive information that he watched her hide after Osbourne, having made Quinn and Huck, goes to confront Liv. Fitz uses the intel to have Cyrus fire Osbourne, Osbourne swears that he is not the mole, Cyrus dismisses him entirely, and at the end of the episode Osbourne commits suicide by blowing his brains out in his car. America – We Hold Grudges™.
David, having come home to find his apartment ransacked, takes refuge on the couch at Pope & Associates, puttering around like a knowledgeable ghost offering information while they work on their case and chomping down bowl upon bowl of cereal. I’ve been waiting for him to become a gladiator in a suit all season, and it simply has to be on the horizon now that he’s basically moved into the office. Olivia loves to save people, and David is a disappointing cup of coffee away from throwing himself off a bridge – let’s get him suited up before his nervous paranoia threatens to emotionally paralyze him permanently.
Ruthless businessman and all-around slime sucker Hollis Doyle also returns this week, seeking out Liv’s services after he finds out that his daughter has been kidnapped. He is super nonchalant about the ordeal even though his ex-wife and mother of kidnapped Maybell is losing her mind, since, having paid for six years of film school and nursed her through five stints in rehab, he thinks she is acting. He still doesn’t budge when he gets sent an ear in the mail, convinced it is not Maybelle’s ear, but quickly jumps to action when Liv and the crew are sent a videotape of Maybelle showing the jagged, bloody hole where her left ear used to be. Liv negotiates to send half of the $20 million ransom immediately, and the rest when there is proof of life, which they get when Quinn, Huck, and Liv retrieve Maybelle from a closed gas station and the Doyles reunite in the hospital. At first, they believe the kidnapper is Maybelle’s deadbeat-and-equally-drugged-out boyfriend Justin, but he’s secretly been in a Thai prison for months; Huck uses his powers of psycho-killing to deduce that she cut off her own ear and kidnapped herself. Huck drags the littlest Van Gogh back to Pope & Associates to explain her actions, but do you really need a reason beyond “My dad is Hollis Doyle”? In the end, she really doesn’t have a reason beyond a very petulant “because,” and Hollis offers her a choice between money and family. Homegirl chooses money with only a millisecond of hesitation – I imagine $20 million buys a lot of prosthetic ears and cocaine – and Hollis tells her to “git!” and never come back as of she were a dog who wouldn’t stop drinking from the toilet. This storyline was super transparent, but it gave Olivia something to do while Ballard was crawling all over her apartment and Osbourne was breathing down her neck.
The triumphant return of long-suffering executive assistant Lauren was ushered in by Mellie continuing to mess with Fitz’s schedule; their teenage children, Jerry and Karen, were supposed to visit for the weekend, and Mellie spent the entire episode trying to keep them away. We’re lead to believe her meddling is due to her crappy parenting and overall coldness; Fitz calls her out for having “shipped them off to boarding school as soon as they were old enough”, but Mellie ROARS back that the children do not want to come for the weekend because Fitz has become an overbearing, alcoholic bag of garbage having fully morphed into his overbearing, alcoholic father, Big Jerry. When she is done yelling the skin from his bones like the melting head scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Fitz is crying, taking his hand away from his glass of scotch, and achingly sober. Standing O, Mellie – maybe we’ll start to see less mope and more hope from Fitz.
Finally, when the news breaks of Osbourne’s suicide, we get a glimpse of Captain “Triple Agent” Ballard talking to actor Joe Morton, confirming that the perfectly staged job is done, the police believe Osbourne’s death is a suicide, and everyone thinks Osbourne was the mole. Who is Joe Morton’s character? Who is Ballard really working for, and who is he going to screw over next? Who is the actual mole?
Favorite Effect of Bringing Back Hollis Doyle: Multiple mentions of Gettysburger.
Best Pause for Effect: When Liv called Cyrus to tell him Hollis’ daughter was kidnapped, and he waited a beat before saying, “…Karma?”
Huck and Quinniest: Quinn tries to find a new family for Huck to watch since Becky slayed his last one, but after hearing a her leave a fraught message for her dismissive father, Huck finds a family for Quinn to watch. It is a strangely creepy pastime, but I definitely welled up at the tenderness these two share week after week.
Bring It On of the Week: When Osbourne threatens Olivia with the file he is keeping on her, and she says, “Check my file. Half of my clients have your pay grade or higher, which means half of my clients would happily intervene on my behalf and kick your ass in whatever special way their office allows.”
Least Magical Thighs of the Week: Olivia, according to Mellie, who flayed Fitz for turning into a complete cock during the months after the breakup with his mistress.
Favorite Cyrus Rant: When Mellie presses him for information about Ballard, Cyrus tamps down her anxiety with a well-timed rant. “I am currently on the outside looking in – my nose is pressed up to the glass of life and I have to thank you for that. I do, because you know, it reminded me not to let my guard down when something Mellie this way comes. Don’t you worry, I will once again be his warrior, I will once again sit at the right hand of the father. I’m on it, my guard is up, and as a friend of mine likes to say – it’s handled.”
Odd Couple Moment: When David is brushing his teeth in the kitchen sink and Harrison comes in to berate him for being so gross. I’m hoping David joins the firm for more of this alone.
Hollis’ Parade of Southern Charm: “This is my favorite ex-wife,” “…bring me a coffee – black as Texas crude with three sugars sweet as you,” and “I’ve got eight kids with five wives; if I paid up, they’d just come and take the rest!” Never change, Hollis. Never change.
Underrated Abby and Harrison of the Week: The exchange while examining Maybelle’s sloppy apartment for signs of struggle:
Abby: “It could be that she’s just messy – rich people take things for granted.”
Harrison: “Not shoes. Not these shoes.”
Abby: “I didn’t know you kept up with fashion.”
Harrison: “I keep up with girls who keep up with fashion.”
Most Stylish Accessory: Harrison’s purple pocket square. He’s been batting cleanup all season, and looking damn fine while doing so.
Tongue-in-Cheekiest: When Charlie asked Cyrus if Ballard was sleeping with his husband. “In a manner of speaking? Yes.”
Yummiest Suggested Snacks: When Cyrus called Liv and recommended a night in with “Napa red and stovetop popcorn,” like their old school debriefing days.
Perfect Moment for Yelling at the TV: When Liv, sad about the call with Cyrus that made her think about Fitz, cancelled her date with Captain Ballard but he showed up at her house anyway and KISSED THE SHIT OUT OF HER. She has the worst taste in men, and I cursed Shonda Rhimes out loud for making their chemistry work anyway.
Understatement of the Year Award: Olivia, in explaining her date to Cyrus without revealing it was with Ballard, said, “There’s something not quite right there; when it comes to men my instincts haven’t served me well.”
Finally Someone Said It of the Week: When Captain Ballard described live to a T. “I like how you say ‘What’ when you answer the phone, how wine seems to be a food group for you, and you always wear white, but you seem saddened.”
Next week, the gladiators investigate Osbourne’s suicide, Huck gets hit over the head, and hopefully more Joe Morton! See you then.