Scandal Midseason Finale Recap: Dancing On My Own

Photo: Tony Rivetti/ABC
Episode Title
Where the Sun Don’t Shine
Editor’s Rating

Does Quinn’s dentist have to report her missing teeth the way doctors are supposed to report physical abuse? Like, does she just roll up asking for another implant, shrug her shoulders, and say, “Work, am I right?”

If you juxtapose the Olivia we see at the start of the episode with the one we see at the end, you’re looking at two very different people. She’s sort of shell-shocked at the start for lots of reasons, least of which is that they dug up Mama Pope! Rowan was just going to leave her in that hole, I guess. Maya was sure Liv would bail her out, but instead, Liv read her charges and told them to arrest her, right before imploring them to hunt, find, and kill her father. Olivia does not care about Thanksgiving, Christmas, or family reunions in public parks where you have to pretend you remember people you’ve never met — the only family she needs is wine, popcorn, and Gettysburger.

I like that we finally saw someone plug in her phone on TV, even though Liv’s dead battery meant she had missed a bunch of Quinn’s calls. Once Liv was brought up to speed — Kubiak, Liz, and Andrew are all in cahoots, and Huck killed Kubiak without slipping into a semi-psychotic state — Liz comes in to yell at her about her bugged phone, and they have a Feminist Dance-Off that Olivia wins. Don’t you dare quote Madeleine Albright at Olivia Pope and expect her to let it drop! Liz retaliates by leaking Cyrus’s photos with Michael because she is a bigger pile of crap than Marjory the Fraggle Rock trash-heap, and Olivia figures out that the only way to fix it is to force them to get married. Michael said yes as soon as he heard the phrase “millions of dollars,” and Cyrus spit on the ground three times and pantomimed a slit throat at the cruelty of Liv stomping on his relationship with James, the love of his life and only man he had ever slept with prior to Michael. Cyrus eventually agrees to it, but only after he resigns his position and Olivia yells him back to life by calling him a “bitch baby” repeatedly and making him take his job back. Was it just me, or was that scene oddly erotic and completely absurd? And the real question is: Is Michael even interesting enough to warrant a story line? My REAL question is: What about Ella? Was Cyrus going to take her to Europe with him? Because he certainly didn’t have a baby bag packed, and no one has mentioned the toll this arrangement might take on that little invisible child.

The only kid more damaged is Javi, who ran home immediately after watching his father pop a man’s neck like a tire. It looks like Kim is going to read the files Huck left for her, but does it matter? It might explain that he was telling the truth, but it doesn’t make his craziness more livable. When she asked if Huck scared her child with lies, I screamed, “No, he scared him with the truth!”

David has to investigate the Cyrus leak, especially after everyone finds out that Cyrus deleted all of his emails and texts the minute he knew Michael was working for Liz. Abby didn’t want to be on record, but David pushed, so she had to tell him that her alibi for the night of the big erasure was Leo Bergen, and that’s how David ends up with a broken heart. Is there anything more terrifying than someone asking you for an alibi? If I am ever interrogated, my black ass is going to jail forever because I cannot tell you what I was doing yesterday at 3 p.m., much less recount what I was doing weeks, months, or years ago. The only people that get away with crimes are rich white dudes and Marilu Henner.

The main tension of the night happened when Rowan showed up at Olivia’s apartment and she tried to kill him. He keeps testing whether or not she would do it, like someone trying to figure out which bulb is burnt out on a set of Christmas lights — what about now, eh? Would you kill me now? What about NOW? — and to be fair, he was the one who pulled a gun on her after breaking into her apartment. It’s not like he rolled up with an armload of puppies; even though the gun wasn’t loaded, the intention was clear. Rowan’s been cleaning house and killing B613 agents; after someone tried to kill him, Jake warned Olivia that Rowan is handing out kill cards and she might be included since she knows too much. (How does a man on the run have time to print out and distribute kill cards, I ask you?) She turned down his offer of a gun, but only after he sexily stood behind her and sexily tried to teach her how to shoot very sexily. Rowan was deeply pained that Olivia would hurt him and made sounds and emphatic hand-motions like he was the one who went into labor and gave birth to her himself. It was a hard scene full of memories and a lifetime of them hurting each other, and it seemed like an ending. I mean, we all know Papa Pope is going to show up like a bad penny sooner or later, but Olivia seems to finally be able to come into her own now that she’s squared away how she really feels about her parents.

Quinn has also come into her own again in a weird way, and after a season of having not much to do, she was a flurry of activity. Once she used Kubiak’s chopped-off finger (gag) to break into Jeremy Winslow’s law firm, she put it together that the firm was representing WACO, Inc., the West Angola Commercial Organization, and that the VP had a hand in setting this potential war with West Angola into action. Right in the middle of that, she takes a break to warn Charlie that Rowan is murdering old B613 agents, and they end up boning because of course they do. The only problem is that Charlie has her card — he was sent to kill her! And she finds out accidentally! They had an epic and hilarious fight to the soundtrack of “My Precious Love,” with Quinn losing a “new” tooth and Charlie admitting that he was on the fence about killing her. Aw, true love! I’m kind of okay with their relationship; it’s sadistic and cruel but somehow more honest than most relationships on the show, and I still get a kick out of seeing the guy from the Father of the Bride movies playing assassin. If Quinn has to date a murdering psychopath, I hope she chooses Charlie.

Everything seems okay in the end, but of course it isn’t really. Mellie went back to professionally icing Liz out once she found out they were both sleeping with the vice-president; Fitz decided to stay out of a war with West Angola; and Olivia, dancing in her apartment and warming up Gettysburger, finally told Jake that, in the push me/pull you Fitz/Jake dichotomy, she’s choosing herself. Finally! This is the Olivia we’ve been clamoring for all season. She’s not just happy, she’s downright giddy, and basically tells Jake to get onboard or get off the train. I howwwwled when they were dancing together; he was game and it was super cute, but also slightly cringeworthy. I don’t know — at least Jake has the balls to have fun and let loose with her in a way Fitz never does. Olivia wants to have sex on the piano — HAIR IS DOWN, Y’ALL — so he runs to get pillows and blankets. Liv has never looked better, never seemed happier, so of course the biggest hammer of all drops in the last ten seconds of the show.

When Jake comes back out to the living room, Liv is gone. Like, Gone Girl gone, without a trace. The only thing left is a glass of red wine spilled ominously on her white couch.

At the same time, Andrew is asking Fitz, “What if I took something away from you?” and suddenly, you realize why he had all of those pictures of Liv: Vice-president Andrew Nichols is using Liv to coerce Fitz into a war with West Angola.


Leaderboard of Arbitrary Points, Week 9

+8,010,000 points to Mama Pope for her “Girl, you need to move on,” and everything she said to Liv about how much Rowan ruined her. I’ll miss how direct and cutting Maya is, and how she reduces Liv’s entire situation to a sentence.


+7,300 points to Olivia, who of course wants to know how to do a kill shot as soon as she picks up a gun. “I’ve never had to use a gun, how dare you! Wait, how do I shoot a man between the eyes the fastest?”

–400 points to Rowan for trying to use a precious Stevie Wonder memory to keep Olivia from killing you. Don’t bring Stevie into this, Rowan!

+5,600 points: I see you, Lisagay Hamilton, as the ambassador to West Angola!

–1,992 points to this Charlotte person in Fitz’s office. Did Lauren retire? Is she finally on vacation? I NEED ANSWERS.

+288,955 points to Cyrus for reminding everyone how much of his life has been sacrifice, and how much he’s given up to “claw his way into the most powerful house on the planet.” It’s easy to forget in the midst of his usual craziness, but there was a lot of the quiet, seething Cyrus on display in this episode, the one who is a second away from losing it.

+200 points: “Granny Fran died.”

+9,223,406 points to Liv for “There’s a special place in hell for women who spout that quote to justify their bad behavior.” My favorite line of the night!

+6,500 points for that “Chief of Staffs” headline.

–5,300 points to Cyrus for saying he would own Michael as opposed to just renting and “I’m marrying a whore, at least I know what I’m paying for.” I’m sure this marriage won’t be at all insufferable with the way he keeps reminding Michael of his sex-work-y past!

+300 points for “Lawyers still love paper — it’s weird.”

+769 points to Jake for saying, “We’re very athletic, I’m telling you we could break a piano” like it was a challenge he was accepting.

+8,900 points to Mellie for telling Liz, “We’re not friends, we just share the same STDs. Bet on the right horse. I’m not nearly as gentle as Andrew at screwing someone. From me, it will hurt.”

And that’s it for Scandal until January 29! Let’s all join in a rousing chorus of cursing the mid-season finale. Have a great break!