Who else had to Google “Eiffel Tower” and then furiously delete their search history? This episode started with an explosion and ended with a bang.
The whole episode was multiple layers of one-upping, and only one person got away unscathed in the end. Rowan tried to one-up Jake by having Tom blow him up, but Jake’s eagle eyes saw the damn bomb under his car even though he was in a dark alley in the dead of night, so he just nonchalantly blew up his own car and walked away. When Rowan gave Tom his big “I’m disappointed in you” speech for failing to kill Jake, Jake just walked up and sat on the bench after Rowan left and gave Tom an entirely different script — Tom now knew that Rowan was just trying to cover his own ass, and Jake was like, “Let’s team up and take Rowan down together.” Was it just me, or did Tom look like he was going to shoot himself in the head right before Jake sat down? I would have offed myself long ago instead of dealing with all of this backstabbing and double-agent business. Tom just looks tired, like he eats diazepam for lunch. You would too, if everyone in your life were a double-crossing murderer and your job was to literally stay quiet about it.
Karen jumped to the top of the Bad Seed list faster than Jerry ever could and called Liv to bail her out after she stole a private jet, got drunk and high at a party, and then had sex with two guys at once in what Liv called the “dirtiest sex tape she’s ever seen.” I’m pretty sure it’s the only sex tape Olivia has ever seen — she doesn’t even have time to have sex with a man who purposefully rented a hotel room for booty calls! You think she’s sitting around looking at other people bone? This Karen situation is a mess — Olivia and the crew are trying to get Karen out of the party without being filmed only to find out about the guy with the sex tape while they’re helicoptering her out of there. Everything about this party scene raised questions for me — are people really still having black light parties even though they just showcase your dry scalp issues and extensive dental work? Did they really drag Karen’s drunk ass through a window, where she easily could have fallen to her death? Even if Huck was able to dismantle the internet for the entire building, the cameras would still work — you just wouldn’t be able to load anything until later, right? Karen didn’t puke in that helicopter once, even though a simple airplane ride when I’m stone-cold sober is enough to make me yak for the rest of the day? Was Prince really cool enough to let them use “Controversy” for this scene? (Ed. note: Apparently so?)
The great thing about Karen is that she stuck up for herself. When Fitz (very thoughtfully) asked if she had been raped or coerced into this, obviously flashing back with full horror to what happened to Mellie, Karen spat back, “Is that the only way you think I can have sex?” Some people need time to develop their desire, and some 17-year-olds already know more complicated and intricate sex moves than everyone in my building combined. Her response was part defiant teenager, part victim-free sexual identity, but Karen wasn’t upset by her actions — only that she got caught.
Which made it all the weirder that Fitz tried to hide this from Mellie. I get where he was coming from and I don’t think he’s wrong, but watching Fitz tear Mellie down for being a bad parent was in bad taste, and a little too pot-calling-the-kettle-black territory, especially since she was reacting to seeing Olivia in the White House again. Fitz lies to and obscures things from Mellie in the name of love, but it always seems to serve his bottom line, and then he can’t handle it when Mellie calls him out. They’ve both been terrible parents, but Fitz doesn’t deserve a medal for getting back to work first. Fitz sees Mellie’s current state as one of weakness, but I secretly hope that she’s coiling up like a snake and getting ready to strike. She’s legitimately upset about the death of her son, sure, but it’s also much easier to spy on people and keep an ear to the ground when everyone is writing you off as a filthy, grease-covered loon.
Not only was Mellie the voice of reason and comfort in the end, telling Karen that she sees how messed up she is by Jerry’s death and is willing to give her one pass, but she also neatly identified the reasons Karen was going to be judged so harshly for the rest of her life — her famous father, garden-variety sexism, and double standards were all reasons she’d have to “keep her knees closed” from now on, but in a way that made it seem like Mellie felt the same way about her own life in the Grant administration. It was made clear two episodes ago that Mellie’s only job is to smile, look great, and support Fitz no matter what; the things she was saying to Karen could have applied to feelings she had about her rape or her brief affair with Andrew, but sounded more like advice from one survivor to another on how to endure under this regime.
We all hate the Morgans, but I’m glad they brought Olivia back. OG Pope, Mistress of Destruction, is back with a vengeance, and all it took to crack her shell were two opportunistic, horrible assholes in the shape of parents. They could have taken the $2.5 million they asked for to get rid of the sex tape, but they got greedy, and Olivia shut them down by threatening to tell the world they were child pornographers. The hair on my arms stood up during this scene, when she told them to go fuck themselves, and the process of telling them exactly who she is reminded herself of her own power. Did you notice that the thing that threw her over the edge was when Mrs. Morgan called Karen a slut? She did it twice, and both times, Olivia twitched. Earlier, when she told Fitz she identified with Karen as an “angry, grieving teenage girl with daddy issues,” I wondered if she included her own sex life in that, particularly since Rowan has said foul and terrible things about her sex life with Fitz. Liv was not about to let these people disparage a young girl in pain, and in standing up for Karen, she sort of stood up for herself.
She’s going to need to be at full strength once she finds out what happened to Jake. Fitz is on high alert after Karen dodged the Secret Service unit and has George Bixby from the Inspector General’s office in to clean house. Bixby flagged Tom for a time discrepancy — he ditched his post on the campaign trail to go to Fort Dietrich and get the bacterial meningitis — and Fitz figured out right away that Tom had something to do with Jerry’s death. When Tom panics and calls Jake, and Jake is like, “I got this, we are the Bushwackers, we’re the British Bulldogs, we are a team!” His big idea was for Tom to tell the truth and cut a deal, which isn’t a bad a idea since the truth is just as CRAZY-PANTS ABSURD as any lie. Jake tries to talk to the president, but Fitz brushes him off to go watch Tom get interrogated. Tom is doing well, but then Bixby is dismissed and Rowan Pope shows up to finish the interrogation! Fitz called Rowan as soon as he realized Tom was part of Jerry’s murder (not realizing that Rowan was the one who called for it), and now Tom is nervous. Rowan presses Tom and shows him images of him stealing the virus, and Tom, when asked “Who gave you the order to kill the president’s son,” says “Jake Ballard.” As soon as he says the name, Fitz has the Secret Service pick up Jake, and both he and Tom are handcuffed and taken away.
Don’t mess with the Popes — not this week, not ever.
LEADERBOARD OF ARBITRARY POINTS, WEEK 4
+ 1,344 points for the casual way Karen says, “I stole a jet,” as if that’s the beginning and end of that sentence.
- 100,468 points for everything that happened between Olivia and Fitz when they were alone in the Oval. Jake told Tom, “You may not trust me, but you know you can’t trust him,” and I feel the same about Olivia and Fitz: You may not love Jake, but you also know you don’t love Fitz, so let’s just move this along.
+ 500 points to Cyrus for calling Abby “Red.” It’s starting to grow on me.
+ 8,432 points to Cyrus for telling Abby, “I don’t make you feel small — I suspect jealousy does that to you” speech. The truth is that Abby is very good at her job, but she belongs back at Pope and Associates, and I think Cyrus is trying to push her back.
- 10,500 points to Jake for choking David and coercing him to give back the files on B613. I will miss David’s personal den of iniquity, but I’m sure the person who comments every single week that Jake choked Olivia so we should all hate him feels vindicated.
+ 300 points to Cyrus for having a special, “black,” encrypted phone number.
+ 900 points: Okay, Smelly Mellie was pretty funny.
+ 477 points to Mellie for asking Karen, “Do you want some cereal?” while she was elbow-deep in snack town.
- 8,766,433 points to Fitz for his ultrapathetic “I guess I’m a failure as a father, a husband, and a man, good to know” thing. FITZ. Earlier that day, you were screaming at Mellie about how much you had your shit together, and now you’re drunkenly moping around saying you suck because Olivia spurned your advances. What type of dickhead do you want to be? What color is your parachute? PICK ONE.
+ 763 points to Quinn: “Tribal band on his bicep — classic.”
+ 2,400 points to Cyrus’s hair for finally calming down.
+ 128,000 points for finally showing us what the Gettysburger uniform looks like, and an additional 4,000 points for the “Four Score promotion” (buy four burgers, get the fifth one free).
+ 9,433 points to Olivia for finally ‘fessing up that she wasn’t on the island alone. I know is sent Fitz into a tailspin, but she’s got to figure out what she wants somehow.
- 4,500,000 points to the fact that BOTH Grants snatched Olivia last night. EXCUSE ME, SIR. You do not grab Olivia’s arm for any reason whatsoever. I like to think that she harnessed the rage from those few seconds into a little stick of dynamite that exploded all over the Morgans when they tried to extort more money out of the president.
+ 7,077 points to Karen for asking Mellie if she was okay. When was the last time anyone did?
+ 2,300,000 points for the return of long-suffering Lauren. I sincerely hope her 401(k) is matched 100 percent and that she’s straight-up embezzling. No one is paid enough for this!
There were lots of positive points this week because this was a stellar episode; great pacing, interesting problem, and a bit of a shock at the end. What do you think? See you next week!