Scandal Recap: Conflict of Interest

SCANDAL, "First Lady Sings the Blues." Photo: Nicole Wilder/ABC
Episode Title
First Lady Sings the Blues
Editor’s Rating

Rowan Pope is a man of his word, and he has warned Olivia multiple times that betting against him is not the right thing to do. Quinn finding a bloodied Jake lying in the Olivia Pope & Associates conference room demonstrated that a little bit. He has countless stab wounds but is still alive, albeit by a thread.

The Gladiators (and David Rosen) take Jake to a shoddy warehouse, where Charlie is waiting. Since they can’t take Ballard to a hospital, they get one of those underhanded doctors to come treat him. Jake will need surgery, but before the doctor touches him, he wants payment in the form of a favor. His friend is a feared assassin known by the name Black Sable, and needs Liv’s help. Pope agrees to help because I don’t know if Jake is covered by State Farm, and he is in desperate need of medical attention.

Black Sable is now a regular grandmother named Mary Peterson. She grew up in Russia, and was so poor that her little brother died of starvation. Her way out of that abject poverty was by joining the secret agency KGB, and she happened to be a skilled killer. She gave up that life 27 years ago when she became a wife and mother, but the day before, she found an order for her to kill someone on her car. Ignoring that order means she’ll get killed, but she doesn’t even know whom it’s from. Uh-oh. All she wants is freedom from the service.

Mellie is knee-deep on the campaign trail to become senator of Virginia, but people think it’s a major conflict of interest for the First Lady of the United States to run for Senate. Sally Langston is head of the peanut gallery, using her show to blast the candidacy, and although Mellie wants to defend herself, Lizzie disagrees.

Abby calls David to ask if it’s even legal for Mellie to run. The answer is yes, because there are no rules that forbid a First Lady from being senator since it seems no one considered the possibility of a woman running for such an office as her husband runs the country. Misogyny FTW, I guess.

Russell meets with Rowan, congratulating himself since he thinks he killed Jake. The only thing he was successful at is failing. Ballard is alive because Papa Pope never got a hate-filled, revenge-promising call from his baby girl. Liv would have lit his ass up over the phone if one of her side baes had died at his hands, so try again, sir. He’s such a rookie because as many times as he stabbed Jake, how did he miss all his major organs? Russell must be B613 junior-varsity edition, because that is so weak.

He needs to finish the job, so he calls Liv, but she hangs up on him before he can track her down with her cell-phone location. Even if he’d succeeded, she wasn’t where their makeshift warehouse/hospital for Jake was. She meets with a Russian butcher named Costia, whom they figured out to be the one who ordered Black Sable to kill. Liv’s threats and promises don’t entice him to give her Mary’s freedom.

Olivia returns to Mary and suggests that she takes the butcher out, but the older lady found Jesus and peace on Earth, so it’s not in her spirit to do that anymore. She cannot be Black Sable because when her husband and daughter died in an accident a few years before, it made her realize how much pain she must have brought other families from all the people she’s murdered.

Back at the White House, Mellie’s Senate run is slacking in the polls, as people disagree with the First Lady doing double duty. Abby suggests that someone go on Sally’s show to call out her misogyny, but the person needs to be a man. Obviously it can’t be Fitz because he’s the one they think she’s too close to. The next best is Cyrus Beene, who balks at the idea, but Fitz puts his foot down and demands that he will have to make it happen. Why is he so supportive of Mellie now? He’s making up for all the times he’s been a giant douchecanoe husband to her.

Cyrus goes on Sally’s show and the scene is fantastic! Scandal excels at verbal volleyball, and it is a joy to watch when the writers let the characters let loose in all their shady glory. Every point she had against Mellie, he had the counterpoint, and it was a feminist’s dream. Yes, she took an oath to support her husband, but her marriage vow does not preclude her from working. Being a mother is not her JOB, because a job is something you can quit. Sally throws a curve and says she thinks Cyrus is bitter because HE thinks he’d be a better candidate for Senate, and she puts him on the spot thinking he’d weaken his (fake) stance. NO SUCH THING. The interviews ends when Cy wonders if she would have stopped her dead husband Daniel from working outside the house if she were elected president. Beene sold it beautifully.

Russell fails to track down Olivia and her crew of misfit toys, and he tells Rowan, who shoots him in the arm. That should get Liv to pay him some mind, and it works, because she goes to visit him in the hospital with Huck in tow. Russell says two men attacked him as he walked to his apartment. Liv takes his phone, smashes it, and Huck puts him to sleep with a syringe in his neck. Liv and Huck go to the Costia, and in exchange for Black Sable’s freedom, they give him Command’s burner phone. B613 definitely has enemies in the KGB crew.

At the warehouse, the doctor is done with surgery for Jake and tells him not to move. He walks to the next room, and Jake looks over and sees Russell laying on a table a couple of feet from him. Russell gets up and almost stabs Jake again when the strapped-down but flailing man’s vital machine starts going off. The doc rushes back in just in time, and Russell plays it off. Liv pulls the crew together and says Costia has Command’s phone and will be using it to find him and kill him. Why did they do this while Russell was within earshot? Why would you have these discussions in the same room as him? BOOOOOO!

Cyrus did really well, but 67 percent of people still think Mellie shouldn’t run, and Fitz’s approval rating is dipping. Lizzie suggests they eliminate the conflict of interest by leaking that the First Marriage is over, but Mellie shuts that down. Everyone leaves and Fitz calls Liv, who begrudgingly helps him out and says instead of seeing the closeness as a liability, they should use it to their full advantage.

Liv goes to see Mary Peterson, but when she gets to her house, the lady is dead on her couch, and so are her grandkids. DAMNIT, ROWAN! She runs outside and back to her car when she hears ringing coming from her trunk. She opens it and Costia is in it, dead. She picks up the phone and it is her father, reminding her that he meant it when he told her she will lose against him.

She gets back to the warehouse and calls everything off. They just need to pack it up because shit just got too real for our girl. She tells David to cancel the Grand Jury proceeding, otherwise they might ALL die.

The doctor says he’s leaving because Olivia did not hold up her end of the bargain, and his friend is dead, so he gives no shits about hers living. Jake is finally going to be taken to the hospital.

Mellie gives a campaign speech and emphasizes that having unlimited access to the president, sleeping a couple of inches from him, will only work in her favor. Cyrus is pissed, telling Abby that the ambitious First Lady is going to reduce Fitz’s legacy to “the president whose wife had him whipped as she became a senator.”

Russell reports back to Rowan that Operation Take B613 Down is officially done, but he says now they must move to Mission Foxtail, and he needs to keep an eye on Olivia. He hangs up, and Liv, in a negligee, straddles him. She tells him to close his eyes, and when he opens them, she’s holding a gun to his head. She wants to know what Foxtail is, and she is ready to shoot him for being the leak to her father.

It’s interesting how Liv continues to underestimate her father’s evil, and she is far too forgetful that the man has no limits. Will she kill Russell? What is Foxtail? Will David Rosen ever win at anything? We’ll find out in two weeks.

Favorite quotes:

Abby: So Mellie Grant’s run for Senate is legal because of misogyny. In this instance, misogyny is our friend.
David: No, I’m saying something less controversial. I’m saying something that won’t get me stoned to death by my feminist sisters.

“Some people have bark. Some people have bite. I have both.” —Olivia

 “What have I always told you, Olivia? Against me, you will never win.” —Papa Pope

“She was in B613 for like five minutes. She barely qualifies for the health plan.” —Charlie about Quinn