Kerry Washington as Olivia.
#Gladiators, I know I was pretty tough on Scandal last week. It was for good reason: A lot of the characters and their motivations are completely different, and the changes aren’t making much sense. So I went into “Pencils Down” feeling a little anxious and hopeful because whenever I feel like Scandie has done me wrong, it always steps up and rights the ship again. Did that happen tonight? Hmmm … yes and no. On one hand, the writing and the acting were very solid. On the other, I’m still not sure that I care about this Jake business. (I know! I never thought I’d see the day that I’d be mostly over him and his shenanigans, but I might be. He’s still hot, though, so I’ll keep giving it a chance.) All in all, this is one of the strongest episodes of the season, and I’m back to being invested in the show. Hooray! Hopefully y’all feel the same way. Let’s get into it, shall we?
We open with Sally Langston announcing that she will moderate the first GOP debate. LOL. WUT? What are the qualifications to be a debate moderator on Scandal? Sally is one level above TMZ at this point. She’s messy as hell, always promising a big scoop, only to have it blow up in her face, and her news reporting is the equivalent of someone on Facebook writing a faux-cryptic status like “There comes a time in life when you realize not to worry about the people in your past. There’s a reason they didn’t make it to your future!” And everybody who sees this foolery is like:
Ain’t nobody trying to hear this trash, but at the same time we love the ignorance because we all know who the person is talking about — we just have to pretend we’re clueless. Point is, Sally is the physical embodiment of the most trifling parts of Facebook, and I’m pretty much here for it. Always. Keep doing you, boo. Moving on.
We cut to Lizzie, Olivia, and
Trump Hollis Doyle meeting with a BCN representative about the debate rules. Some things are unfair (like Hollis trying to have his super-pac sponsor the debate), while a lot seems pretty fair (Lizzie doesn’t want a clear podium because all people will talk about is the fact that Susan has to stand on an apple box to reach the mic. #True). In the end, lots of nonsense happens, and Liv threatens to pull Mellie from the debate — and give an exclusive interview to a competing network — unless the rules mostly swing Liv’s way. As usual, she wins, so buzzers and timers for all!
The next day, tons of hot action is happening all over town. Susan is killing it in debate prep (I’m #TeamSusanForPrez!), and we learn that Con Edison, a.k.a. Edison, is running for president — okay, I’m into that. He thinks he’s qualified and that it’s time for America’s first black president, and Liv tells him that she will make sure no dirt about Meridian Terrace (?) comes to light. Plus, Abby continues to tell David to keep her out of his heaux life drama, then Lizzie basically forces David to agree to come out publicly as Susan’s bae after the debate. Hmmm, I don’t like this. Susan is all excited, even though dude is literally cheating on her every single day. She deserves better than this. David is not good enough for her. He could have been, but all he cares about is Lizzie’s good nookie. Barf.gov/PressReleases. Finally, we meet Francisco Vargas’s brother, Alex. He is also hot. If their tio is hot, I will learn how to make platanos and empanadas so I can marry all three of these men and get up in their family’s high-quality DNA. Anyway, Cy is speaking to the campaign staff when Alex comes in, guns a-blazin’, with a rah-rah speech and takes over the joint. Cy makes a face like “WHO. DA. FUQ. IZ. YOU?” Post-meeting, Cy says something to Francisco, who goes, “Let him live.” Uhhh! Cy is trying to get you elected, fool! You have to have one leader of the campaign, not two, but since Alex is family, it’s looking like he’s unofficially in charge. Damn, Cy is foiled again.
OPA has a focus-group talk about Mellie, who is basically a thinly veiled Hillary Clinton at this point. The consensus is that Mellie is an unlikable know-it-all bish. Mellie can’t believe it, and Liv says she needs to be more down-home, relatable, and folksy. Liv then privately talks with Quinn. Turns out plan A of “tracking Jake’s every move” hasn’t revealed anything, so it’s time for plan B: Quinn will pretend to have attended the same college as Vanessa and befriend V-dog.
Back at the White House, Susan is chilling with Abby, and Abby gossips that David is seeing multiple women. Noooo! My girl Susan is devastated. During the next debate prep session, she can’t focus and screws everything up. Hmmm, ya know, I don’t like how the women on this show completely fall apart any time a dude is deep-fried boo-boo to them. It’s a buzzkill. I feel like Susan is enough of a boss that she wouldn’t get this rattled. I know she loves David, but still — it’s a pattern on this show, and I’m overit.com. Moving on!
Hollis prepares for the debate by cooking bacon. Not the normal way, but by wrapping it around the tip of a machine gun and firing the gun. LMAO times infinity. Yes, this is funny because it’s ignorant, but it’s not half as ignorant as Trump is, so I’m like, “Whoa, is Scandal less ridiculous than real life?” Turns out, not really!
So, if Susan’s self-esteem is a pile of collapsed Jenga blocks and Hollis is the personification of smegma from a dirty peen, then what is Mellie? Terrible at everything? She does pretty badly during debate prep, and there’s a part of me that is confused. Why is Liv so convinced of Mellie’s legitimacy as a potential president but not Susan’s? She is actually and completely qualified! I’m rooting for Mellie to get it together because I want her life to not be a waste, but there’s a part of me that wonders: If Liv and Susan were together, would they be unstoppable? While I sit on that theory, Alex comes by OPA to deliver “secret” information about Susan in exchange for dirt on Edison. Liv is not here for his bull, so she passes. I kind of think they will eventually smash because he’s a terrible person — we also learn that he’ll do literally anything to get his brother elected — but I guess as long as he pulls out during sex, Liv will be okay.
Back to Mellie. In an effort to make her appear more down to earth, Liv insists she goes to Gettysburger and eat with the locals. All is going well, and she’s crushing it until she lies about eating at Gettysburger on Sundays. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Oops. This becomes a national story; pundits are claiming her campaign is practically over. Mellie is pissed and cusses out Liv for putting her in this position, then demands that she fix everything. So Liv goes to see her dad for advice:
Wait, why does Liv go to him? All he ever does is — oh, wait a minute. Hmmm. Rowan is doing … something … different? When Liv asks that he tell her it’s okay to trade information with Alex, Rowan is like, “Don’t be like me. This is something I would do. Not you.” Wow. That was actually reasonable, and I agree with him completely. What is happening?!
Susan confronts David and he lies, saying that he’s not cheating and only cares for her. UGH! Hate him. Hate this. Moving on. Quinn is getting to the bottom of something juicy with Vanessa. Turns out Jake did a complete background check on her, including looking into all her financial accounts. Hate that he did that. Love that Quinn found it out. Moving on. Cy is thirsty for Secret Service Tom to get some dirt on Edison. Tom doesn’t have any info, but he sits down on Cy’s bed and takes off his coat. What. Is. Going. On. With. These. Two? Are they boning? Colleagues do not sit on each other’s bed and stuff. What about Michael? What about Ella? What about Ella’s hair? Michael is up in the cut doing cornrows while Cy is maybe smashing Tom? Hella rude, but, also, I’m into it because it’s Cy. I wouldn’t put it past him to be that doggone foul. Love him. And love this theory. Moving on.
David breaks up with Lizzie because he loves Susan. Uh, since when?! I mean, last season I wanted Dusan to be a thing, but when he became a cheater, it really seemed like he didn’t care about her all that much. I guess I’m just surprised that he’s in love. I feel like this was not properly set up to be believable. Ditto with Susan having hurt feels over David dumping her. Thankfully, we have other matters to address, like Jake making a fake mirror account from Vanessa’s account to funnel super-pac money that funds Edison’s campaign. Whoa! Liv goes to Edison to warn him that Jake and Rowan are secretly funding his campaign … and then it dawns on her that Con Edison knew about it all along! LOL. Everyone on this show is a shady, shady palm tree. Con Ed tells Liv to step off and calls her a monster — #LookingUnderTheCouchForTheLie #CannotFindIt — and she is stunned. She then tracks down Jake, but before we get to that, we have to check in with my favorite scene of the episode.
Susan and Fitz are talking debate stuff when she asks him why he cheated and reveals that her boo might be cheating, too. She says she wants to believe her man is not lying to her, but then Fitz drops a bomb: If you feel like he’s cheating, he probably is. It sucks that Fitz couldn’t tell her what she wanted to hear, but Susan needs tough love. Poor thing. She’s so sad, and this scene is so well acted. Can Susan survive this heartbreak? I hope so!
Now, on to Jake. He’s at dinz, a.k.a. dinner with Vanessa, when he gets a text from Liv. He goes to the hallway outside the bathroom to confront her. She takes him into the women’s restroom and kisses him. He stops her and says Vanessa is at the restaurant, and that’s when Liv tells him she knows what he’s scheming. He tries to deny it, and she kisses him some more and then unbuttons his pants. UGH! No more Olake! Seriously. Anyway, when Liv first starts giving Jake the Bae a bathroom hand job next to some scented Dial antibacterial soap, I’m like:
Then, about halfway through, when he’s shuddering like he’s been waiting at the bus stop on a crisp February morning, I’m like:
Finally, when Liv gives him blue balls and bounces, I’m like:
Liv is not here for Jake’s bull, her dad’s bull, or anyone else’s bull. But also, did she really give Jake half a hand job just to tell him that she’s going to beat him and Rowan? LOL. Olivia is cray for this one!
Anyway, we end on the GOP debate. Sally is stressing out, and Susan is bossing up. She’s outside smoking cigarettes and dumping David. That’s right! She kicked his ass to the curb. She knows her own self-worth. So proud of her, and I love that she tells him he better still come onstage after the debate for the photo op. YAS, QUEEN! David saying he’s in love with her is worthless. It just is. He acted like a douche, and I’m glad he’s alone. When Susan tells Lizzie that she broke up with David, Lizzie gets sad. Susan thinks it’s because Lizzie cares about her, but it’s because Lizzie is finally accepting that David dumped her. Both ladies cry. Aww. Sally introduces the candidates. Meanwhile, Olivia meets with Alex. No! The two exchange info. Olivia rats out Con Ed, and whatever is in that folder about Susan makes Liv gasp. DAMN IT! Is no one good on this show? Please let it be that Susan once stole a hot-glue gun from Jo-Ann Fabric or didn’t tell a Gettysburger employee when she accidentally got an extra nugget. I want to believe in the goodness of Susan Ross. I need to believe in it!
All righty, what did you think of tonight’s episode? Any guesses as to what Susan is hiding?