Scandal Recap: Morality Clause


Top of the Hour
Season 2 Episode 16
Editor’s Rating *****


Top of the Hour
Season 2 Episode 16
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Richard Foreman/ABC

I do not think it is a coincidence that the return of Scandal followed the vernal solstice; flowers are unfurling, ice is melting, and Olivia Pope spun the color wheel and did not choose a variation on white. Three weeks is two weeks too long for this show to be away; we’re going to need to form support groups over the summer. But for now, let the sun shine — we’re back!

Right off the bat, a seemingly happy family banters about ordering pizza for dinner, hopping around each other to argue about the virtues of ham and pineapple toppings. My mom is basically Cher from Mermaids, but I assume this is a pretty normal dinner scene for most people. When the redheaded child actor the writers decided to name ANNIE answers the door, she is descended upon by camera crews and blinding lights — seems her mom, RYO Corp. CEO Sarah Stanner, boned Supreme Court nominee Murray Randall fifteen years ago when he was her law-school professor, setting the stage for the immediate and lasting trauma being inflicted on her kid in real time. Sarah calls her lawyer, who suggests she contact Olivia Pope, like the goddamned superhero-on-speed-dial that she is. Liv, busy looking at horribly Photoshopped images of a camel licking Captain “Bright Eyes” Ballard’s face, leaves his office to take care of business, but not before handing him the CIA information from dead Wendy’s hard drive. R.I.P., Wendy: Your vagina will not die in vain.

Cyrus calls Liv to ask her to stand behind Randall, but Liv is like, “He’s not my client, hush that noise.” Liv rounds up Abby and Harrison before heading over to the Stanner house; when they arrive, Sarah runs up to Abby and, in a feat of, what, stunningly latent racism? absolute ignorance? says, “You must be Olivia Pope.” Liv swiftly corrects her and moves through her house with her usual detached aplomb, giving directions and preparing the family for the fallout. It turns out everything the news is saying is true — Sarah did have an affair with Randall, and she did send him a salacious e-mail. Her supportive husband tells her to follow Liv’s lead and reveal everything — which she does, on national TV — but she accidentally leaves out the part where she has continued having sex with Randall one weekend a month in Mexico, and oops! Annie might not be your biological daughter. RYO Corp. tries to fire Stanner for breaching their morality clause, but Abby and Harrison call their bluff by threatening to reveal board-member secrets. Olivia reveals her most manipulatively schizophrenic side by talking the family into a paternity test, but talking them out of looking at the results. Everyone is drunk, destroyed, and raw by the end, which is Olivia’s cue to collect her check and breeze on over to the next crisis.

Huck and Quinn, Private Investigators™, are keeping a tail on CIA director turned mole Osbourne, and having way too much fun doing so. When do they get a spinoff show? I’m ready for it. Huck, a burgeoning Mr. Miyagi, is trying to teach Quinn how to get around Osbourne’s ever-present “shadow” of security; after a minor slip-up that leaves her semi-shirtless, she figures out that Osbourne has been using the dry cleaner to make his drops. When she goes back to confirm, picking up Osbourne’s suits and finding $20,000 jammed in the pockets, she gets made, and the dry cleaner ends up sending her picture to Osbourne himself. Shit will get REAL if anyone attempts to hurt Quinn under Huck’s watch, so I’m assuming there will be massive bloodshed on his behalf very soon.

Cyrus and Mellie are having an epic pissing match over who deserves Fitz’s attention more — mother of his children or keeper of his secrets? — even though he’s been shining both of them on for months. Though Cyrus is back in the president’s good graces, Mellie is still “out in Siberia,” prompting her to force a look at Fitz’s official schedule to see how he is spending his time. When she sees a mysterious regular meeting on his calendar, she thinks Fitz is back with Olivia, but soon finds out about his regular rendezvous with Captain “Innocent Face” Ballard. She can’t wait to deliver the news that Fitz is cheating on Cyrus, which she accomplishes just as smugly as you would imagine. What does it say about me that Mellie is my favorite person on the show?

Fitz uses the Wendy intel to free the hostages in Kashfar without telling Cyrus and, in more ways than one, remains an untenable asshole. I know everyone stands for Liv and Fitz, but I don’t buy this “we’re damaged in the same way and therefore belong together” bullshit. I think Fitz will become a more obvious villain as the show progresses, and will break Olivia’s heart more than once. Hopefully she spends the next year alone, taking frequent mini-vacations to Napa with Abby, if for nothing else than to avoid his somber drunk dials blaming her for “ruining” him. Fitz, you are a grown-ass man and leader of the free world, not a character on Girls — put the phone down and take your aggression to the Nixon bowling lanes for once. Drink someone’s milk shake.

In a totally normal reaction to having your picture taken, Captain “Possibly Psychotic Eyes” Ballard put on his best ski mask and broke into the home of a photographer who snapped a picture of him when he was visiting Olivia at the Stanner house and beat him half to death, then showed up at Olivia’s house to smile creepily into his own cameras. In the words of Oda Mae Brown, “Liv, you in danger, girl.”

Best Fake Band Name: Apolitical Vagina

Worst Babysitter Ever: Aunt Nancy. You had ONE JOB, Aunt Nancy, ONE JOB — don’t let tearful, confused Annie watch TV coverage of her family breaking apart.

Best Reason to Drink $300-Worth of Wine Straight From the Bottle: “I was saving it for an occasion. My husband calling me a whore feels like an occasion.”

Ooh, Girl, YA BURNT of the Week: When Cyrus told Mellie, “The president is waiting … for me.”

Funniest Response to Facebook Photos Ruining Your Life: When racy photos of bikini-clad, tit-grabbing Sarah hit the news, and she said, “Those pictures aren’t even from law school — that’s from undergrad!”

Huck-and-Quinn-iest Moment: “You’re good at this. Stalking people.” “You’ll get there.”

Fitz at His Dick-iest: When he took Teddy, America’s Baby©, from Mellie’s arms and then slammed the door right in her face.

Hat Tip to Shonda Rimes: Nice juxtaposition of Sarah fighting with her husband while heartbroken Olivia talked to Fitz on the phone.

Best Face-Off: Cyrus versus Olivia in the Battle for Supreme Court Justice News Cycle.

Best Throwaway Line: Cyrus to Liv: “This is classic sexual harassment, or does that only matter when it’s boy-on-girl?” * click *

Executive Assistant Most in Need of a Raise: Long-suffering Fitz assistant Lauren, for dealing with Mellie alone.

Rain Man–iest: Huck counting that wad of cash in ten seconds without touching it.

Most Deserved Dig: When Abby told Harrison she still found a way to work with him after he betrayed her by tanking her relationship with David. “I now live in a world where you are a gladiator first and a person second. I can do that, I just didn’t know that’s what we were doing to each other.”

Harrison, You’ve Met Your Match–iest: Samantha from RYO Corp., for tossing him off his game a little by responding, “You’re pretty. And you talk real fast. But I think I can take you.”

The Moment When Olivia Turned into a Yoda-like Sage: While talking to Sarah over wine at the dinner table. “You did what you thought was best at the time, even if it was wrong, you can’t change the choice you mad;, all you can do is not let it ruin you.” “What if he never forgives?” You’re going to have to learn to forgive yourself.” “That sounds lonely.” “It is.”

Next time, Hollis returns to the fold when his daughter is kidnapped, and Captain Jack says, “I could be the worst, or the best.” Trust me, you are the worst. See you next week!

Scandal Recap: Morality Clause