In true Scandal style, the big moments came fast and quick in the last two minutes of the episode, but there was plenty of intense buildup leading up to them.
First of all, who is this doctor that checked out the body of murdered Daniel Douglas? After the massive fight revealing the truth about their marriage — she was “Shrill Sally the girl no one wanted, the rich debutante who couldn’t find a husband,” they married for maximum beard protection, their daughter “can’t keep her knees together,” and Daniel Douglas thinks he is responsible for everything she has achieved — Sally stabbed him up real good in a rage-induced act of misandry. He might not have deserved to get murdered, but rule No. 1 of D.C. Fight Club is that you do not tell a boss bitch she is not a boss.
Cyrus fields cleanup after telling Sally he’d be her sin eater, hiring Quinn and Charlie to give the place a once-over, and then asks Sally to keep the doctor from looking too closely at Daniel Douglas’s body. And it worked! At first I thought the catatonic Sally was going to confess to the whole thing, but she threw herself on the body and cried, prompting the “doctor” to say completely obvious things you don’t have to go to medical school to learn like, “Well, he has no heartbeat,” and, “I’ll just report his heart stopped a few hours ago.” No, please, don’t do any actual medical examination or anything — just look around the room and take a guess.
The interesting thing about this scene was watching Cyrus realize what we’ve all known from the get-go — that he is a monster, namely, the devil, having taken Sally’s words to heart. He really goes through the (drunken) cycle of self-pity while talking to Mellie, but proves later in the show, while talking to James, that he has no desire to give up the “bad cop” schtick any time soon. It’s kind of a take-me-as-I-am approach to being a horrible person, and James falls for it again and again. Is the acknowledgement that he’s a bad person enough? It was heartbreaking to watch James’s lip quiver while Cyrus was dressing him down with a healthy serving of the truth. “Do you want to leave me? You don’t have a job or an income or the ability to outrun my legal connections. They’ll give me full custody of the sweet little girl in the next room that I BOUGHT for you. I still love you. I’m standing here afraid, in my underwear and without my soul asking you what happens now.” So manipulative, monster man! That’s the language of an abuser, the kind of thing domestic abusers have said to their partners for years in an effort to keep them in a perpetual state of fear. How dare you use that adorable little invisible baby that we haven’t seen once this season as leverage! James decides that he’ll stay if Cyrus makes him the White House Press Secretary, so maybe they’re perfect for each other, the student having learned from the master.
Liv wants Mama Pope arrested when her plane lands in Hong Kong, but the plane never makes it to Hong Kong because her mom has had 22 years to plan a sneaky exit. In the meantime, we learn that Mama Pope has been using aliases since she was 16, and is basically a hired gun, willing to sell state secrets and classified documents to anti-American groups for large sums of money. Was her marriage and life with Olivia a sham, the perfect coverup for her real job of stealing secrets from Papa Pope? Because having a baby and living in the suburbs for twelve years as a distraction is some next-level shit. The plane was found in Mongolia, and Mama Pope is in the wind now. If she could camp out in, like, Paramus for over a decade without breaking a sweat, hiding from the CIA, Pope & Associates is going to be a walk in the park.
Huck and Quinn are in the midst of a brutal friendship breakup. The last time someone broke my heart I felt like ripping his dick off, but I didn’t actually do it, you know? Huck popped a tracking device in where Quinn’s tooth should be, and it tracked her all the way to B613. After failing to negotiate with Papa Pope, she rips the device out, flushes it, and saunters down a hallway swallowing gallons of her own blood like it’s no big whoop. It was kind of weird that she went back to OPA looking for validation that she’ll never get, so it wasn’t surprising that Huck told her he would be ripping her skin off of her body right now if it weren’t for Olivia. Then he told her “You’re not a gladiator anymore.” Does he get to make that call, though? She went crawling back to Charlie, but something isn’t right about this whole deal — when she hugged him, were her eyes vacant because of pain and misery, knowing she massively screwed up her job and friendships, or is she about to do some Murder Business™ on Charlie as a way to work herself back into Huck’s good graces?
Everyone was chewing up the scenery last night — jaws just became unhinged, and the actors started chomping like wheat threshers, but none so much as Papa Pope while he was locked up in the Pentagon with Fitz. Whenever someone asks me a question I don’t want to answer, I’m going respond with, “That’s a matter of national security and above your pay grade, Mr. President.” That was professional level, Bartleby the Scrivener shade, and you know I made it my ringtone immediately.
When Olivia went to confront her dad about Mama Pope, it is finally revealed that Papa Pope shot the plane down because Mama Pope had tricked him into thinking there was a bomb on it. I hope Mama Pope and Mellie join forces to create Team Life Wreckers, because these women are teaching a master class in manipulation.
Finally, a persistent sprite named Shelby Moss drops a hammer on David Rosen when she reveals that she coded the NSA software that lets them hack into people’s cell phones and record whatever is going on in the room they’re in, and she just so happens to have the VPs call to Cyrus confessing murder on a little recorder. Was Cyrus’s monsterin’ all for naught?
The biggest “whuh-HUH?!” of the night was Jake becoming the new command. Jake. JAKE. You don’t respond to unrequited love by becoming the head of a secret terror cell — you just send some ill-advised texts, crouch down in the shower to sob, and then get a bunch of ice cream and a Netflix subscription like the rest of us. Jake has ousted Papa Pope as the head of B613, and he was placed there by Fitz, which I cannot even understand since Fitz has no power over B613. I am not a fan of this new Wonder Twins–style team up.
Not to be outdone, Mama Pope makes a phone call to Liv, promising to “see her soon” right before we see her ditching her burner phone right in front of the White House.
LEADERBOARD OF ARBITRARY POINTS, Week 10
+700 points to Mellie for jubilantly asking Cyrus if he “heard the news” about Daniel Douglas’s demise. I thought she was going to say something else at first, like, “Hey, did you hear they’ve got those sea-salt caramels back at Trader Joe’s for the holiday season?” but she went right for the jug, because she is eyes-on-the-prize all day, every day. When she said, Sally’s god surely doesn’t think much of her to throw a wrench into her campaign right when they needed him to, I choked.
–4,000 points to Cyrus’s entirely too graphic puke scene.
+1,000 points to Harrison’s response to David’s comments to Abby.
David: I sleep beside you, I put parts of my body inside parts of your body, and I’m very generous when you ask me to …”
Harrison: I’m right here.
–800,000 points to Fitz for his entirely gross way of baiting Papa Pope by telling him his daughter was “talented” in the sack, and that he can “tell her how she tastes.” Come on, dude, really? That’s just dirty pool, and it makes you look like a scumbag. Maybe Papa Pope is right about your inability to love Olivia for real. But …
+25,000 points to Papa Pope for his “I’m a man, you’re a boy” speech. It was VERY DRAMATIC, but I loved it. My favorite highlights:
“I’m a man. I have worked for every single thing I have ever received. I have fought and scraped and bled for every inch of ground I walk on.”
“You are a spoiled, entitled, ungrateful little brat.”
“I am actually, quite literally, above your pay grade.”
“You love that Olivia is a door marked exit! You love that she is your way out! Because if you are with Olivia Pope, you don’t have to fulfill your father’s dream of being president. If you are with Olivia you no longer have to be your father’s son! Don’t use the person that I made to make you into a man!”
–500 points to Mellie for that evil little sneer and smile she does after she tells Fitz about Daniel Douglas. I love you, Mellie, but damn, girl, take a breather from turning every situation into some introductory espionage.
+300 points to Charlie for telling Quinn, “At least he didn’t make me kill you!” How is it possible that Charlie is the comic relief of this show?
–5,000 points to rich people who use letter openers. Don’t they realize letter openers are the No. 1 killers of rich people?
+400 points to Leo for getting riled up about Sally calling the White House first after she murdered her husband. “You killed him and you called the White House? I’m your first call.”
–15,755 points to Quinn for looking like a broken doll while she was on the bed talking to Charlie. The lank hair, gaunt appearance, spaced-out eyes — she’s definitely a dummy, but I don’t enjoy seeing her so utterly cracked open. I laughed, but probably shouldn’t have, at this line: “I used to be normal. Nobody was pulling my teeth out.”
+2,500 points to Jake for telling her to ease up on Huck after he agrees to help find her father, even though Papa Pope poured terror down upon Huck for long enough to make the man forget he had a family. “Your father is not a good guy, Liv. Your father is not our hero – he is our demon.”
–4,368 points to Papa Pope for saying “B613 is not an individual. Cut off the head of the snake and another will grow in its place.” Did that give Fitz the idea to try to find a way to have him replaced? He seems vindictive enough to ruin someone’s life just because they made him feel bad for a second. I am mostly livid that Fitz turned Puppy Eyes Ballard into TortureMurder Eyes Ballard
+5,000 points to David for the funniest line of the night: “All penises – that was my life. I trusted my career to you and you destroyed it.”
–200 points for James and Cyrus sleeping in a twin bed. You are adult people, get it together.
+4 million points to Olivia for putting up with these people.
I can’t wait to talk about this with you in the comments. We won’t see each other again until February, so have at it!