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Scandal Recap: Trying to Reach You

SCANDAL - "Vermont is for Lover's, Too" - Olivia and the team try to handle both uncovering the truth behind Operation Remington, while also managing a potential crisis with the Josie Marcus campaign.  Meanwhile, Quinn falls further down the rabbit hole with Charlie, and Cyrus creates a plan to take down Sally, but doesn't think of the possible harm he could inflict on himself, on ABC's "Scandal," THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Michael Ansell)KERRY WASHINGTON

Hi. How was your week? Are you enjoying your lunch? Olivia’s mother chewed through her own wrists at the start of the show and it was so gory that just thinking about it makes me want to kill myself, so that’s how my day is going.

I achieved new levels of yogic glory last night as I fought to twist myself away from that scene, knowing I had to watch every brutal second because writing about it is my job, practically kicking my TV over in the process of making my body listen to my brain. In retrospect, it was sort of a brilliant way of introducing a character.

Mrs. Maya Pope, I don’t know your favorite color or why you’ve been locked in a hole for twenty years, but I know that you are dangerously unpredictable and justifiably tenacious, which is the injection of energy this show needs after this season started with such a slow burn. In the mythology I’ve already built up around her, Mama Pope’s blood is actually cocaine, her heart has been replaced with a badger on an exercise wheel, she sleeps in a coffin made of intricately woven live vipers, her hair is actually thousands of slim daggers, and when sunlight hits her skin she can see around corners.

Mama Pope is completely intriguing, especially now that she’s free. Papa Pope thought he was slick keeping her chained to a bed, allowing her a little time to heal before he sedated her and sent her off to a hole in another land, but he basically gave her the blueprint to build her own escape. It was sweet that he kept press clippings of Olivia throughout the years, from her chipmunk-cheeked youth to her purse-lipped, cross-armed adulthood, until you realized they were his only tangible memories of her. Mama Pope quickly called this out, and his reaction to being called a bad parent was to stomp away and order a doctor to sedate her heavily in preparation for her trip. That doctor ended up naked with his own needle in his neck while Mama Pope made her escape and showed up at Liv’s, armed with the full knowledge of where to find her from all of those press clippings Papa Pope gave her. Papa Pope really should have thought that out better — everyone knows her eyes are tiny scanners and her bones are made of Land O’ Lakes. Escape was imminent.

I think Mama Pope was also a spy or somehow involved with B613, but I wonder if we’ll be rooting for her a few episodes from now, or hoping she gets what’s coming to her. Papa Pope walks a similar line — he does supremely terrible things under the guise of keeping U.S. safety on lockdown, which makes him seem terrible, too, but is it the job that makes him awful, or does he have to be awful to do the job? Right now I’m rooting for Mama Pope — she’s got that whole mother’s-love, woman-scorned thing going for her — but I wouldn’t be surprised if we were all screaming “I KNEW IT!” and smashing our wine glasses against the wall at the end of the season because of something she did to betray Liv. I am ready for this ride.

We need to talk about Jam Cabin, because I think this is how they’re going to build Kerry Washington’s real-life pregnancy into the show. I seriously hope they don’t — the last thing Pope and Associates needs is an actual baby floating in the mix of the emotionally crippled and the manageable psychotics — but this one-night-of-passion angle might be a way to consider it. An Olivia Pope baby would be born speaking full sentences and dipping its pacifier in wine before nap time, which would be dope, but then Fitz would be around all of the time, so I’m not sure if I’m onboard with the idea yet.

Jam Cabin is a fictional dreamscape that exists only on the Candyland board game and in Fitz’s mind, and a master move in manipulation. Oh, you don’t love me anymore? You’re going to smash our Burner Phones of Love? Here’s a picture I have of you with your top-secret dad, and oh, yeah, let me helicopter you out to this house I secretly built for you. I’m surprised giant firework canons didn’t shoot off when she landed, with a big TA-DA, I BEAT YOU AT LOVE, I AM THE WINNER AT LOVE banner unfurling between the peak of the A-frame house, a house that is essentially the jazz hands of a desperate, emotionally stunted man. I know — you’re all going to think it was a grand romantic gesture and that I am a mean, loveless jerk for suggesting that Fitz is selfish, but the whole thing reeked and I can’t believe Liv fell for it. Then again, I think it’s romantic when my husband watches me do the choreography for my favorite New Edition song in the kitchen without laughing through the entire thing, or when the big packs of Red Vines go on sale, so what do I know? Well, I know that this lovefest made me cringe. I was rooting for you, Olivia! We were all rooting for you! How dare you?

Speaking of how dare you, James flipped a switch last night and gave Cyrus a huge, necessary helping of Don’t Fuck With Me, Mister. I was rooting for James to get it on with Daniel Douglas after he put two and two together and realized that Cyrus was using him as a pawn, which is how I know this show has officially turned me into a monster. I think it was sweet poetic justice after Cyrus’s “my husband is not your husband” quip he threw at Mellie.  

Lastly, Huck is finally onto Quinn now that he was able to pull her face from the security camera across the street, and the episode ends with him in her house, Tool Box of Torture spread out and ready to go. I don’t want to see this dummy get hurt, but I think pulling a couple of fingernails off would teach her a lesson about messing with the master. I sort of hate the “let’s put the girl in her place” story line she’s been given, like she needs some sort of permission to be good at something, but then she goes and does the dumbest shit and you’re like, oh, yeah, you actually need to slow down and learn a lot more about being a spy, things like how not to get caught doing spy shit.  

Leaderboard of Arbitrary Points, Week 8

+50 points to Cyrus’s shirt tree. That is a legit Wealthy Person Toy™ and I want one. What is that, even? My shirt is tired, I need to hang it here for a second.

–5,000 points to Senator Josie pulling out of the presidential race because she took the fall for her SisterDaughter planting a stolen computer in Reston’s office. SisterDaughter, you are the gum on the heel of life. 

+100 points to Fitz for crying on cue. I love this actor, I hate this character, I am a woman without a country when it comes to Tony Goldwyn. Additional 1,000 points for extended shirtless Fitz scene because I am not made of stone, people.

–1,650 points for Charlie’s threatening “don’t make me give you the speech” stuff in the car. I’m giving it negative points because it was just as funny as it was creepy, and I don’t like having positive thoughts about Charlie.

+ 35 points to James’s “Do you want to hear about the new graph paper I bought for Ella’s poop log?” Um, YES? But not as much as we want to see baby Ella. Will they cast this kid already?

–4,000 points for Quinn thinking Huck doesn’t give her enough credit, and roping Puppy Eyes into relaying the message for her. Huck is one bad sandwich away from being catatonic — why the pressure to be a mentor and praise her like he was a Staples manager? Be good at your job; your paycheck is your pat on the back.

+5,000 points to Jake for being THAT bitch. “I told you he’d find a way, didn’t I?” Goddammit, Puppy Eyes, thank you for staying around to be the little dude on Liv’s shoulder.

–2,500 points to poor, cuckolded Mellie, sitting with her hands clasped in front of last week’s interview where Fitz stood up for her, whispering “I love this part” right before Fitz jets off to be with Olivia in Jam Cabin.

+300 points to Abby for saying, “Why break the window when you can slide the lock with a credit card?” She and David are pretty boring this season, but I seriously love when her old sassiness rears its head.

–10,000 points for the grossest thing I’ve ever heard on TV: “She ate her own wrists, sir. Most people would have passed out after a few bites but this one, she just kept chewing until she found an artery.” BLORF GLURG puke pouring out of my head forever.

+400 points to David for calling Pope and Associates “Popeheads.”

–8,000 points Harrison’s only story line is that he had sex with SisterDaughter after yelling at and infantilizing her. Yawn. I mean, her sister is out of the running, so she’s gone after this week, right? Maybe she’s connected to Adnan Salif — then I’d perk up.

+500 points to Abby for her righteously hilarious throwaway lines:
Abby: That doesn’t sound like a real thing.
Huck:
It uses an algorithm —
Abby:
I wasn’t actually asking!

+20,000 points to every long-suffering employee of the White House, including Tom the Secret Service agent trying to whisk Olivia away to Vermont (“MA’AM”) and Lauren the executive assistant who could only shake her head as she dialed the number for Fitz’s mistress while Mellie stood over her. If Fitz gets another term, everyone deserves a raise.

+7,000 points to Olivia for remembering her toughness and screaming, “I fixed the election, he’s my father, I RUINED YOU!” But then minus, like, most of those points for saying, “Don’t sell the house yet.” I love that Liv is holding out hope for a better life, but I just cannot stand that she thinks it will be with Fitz.

+30,000 points to the most unintentionally funny thing I’ve ever heard on this show. Fitz, looking deep into Olivia’s eyes, and saying, “I love you, but your father has to be stopped.” Oh, I HOWLED. I might be able to stand them together if they keep this level of absurdity coming.

I’ll see you guys after Thanksgiving! Have wonderful weekends.

Photo: Michael Ansell/ABC