‘Scandal’ recap: Season 3, Episode 12, ‘We Do Not Touch the First Ladies’

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) does not have a beard. CREDIT: ABC
Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) does not have a beard.
CREDIT: ABC

Eleanor Roosevelt busted Mellie making out with Fitz’s running mate. And Mama Pope is back. Let’s recap.

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) are having a combination fight/affair while Secret Service listen outside. Fitz is mad that Liv chose Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) as her fake boyfriend, because Jake happens to be in love with her, and since he’s also the commander of B613, Fitz worries that Jake will either screw him or screw her. This makes Liv shout that she is neither a hen nor a prize to be won at a state fair, nor, for that matter, we imagine, a bearded lady. Then Fitz tells her to shut up so he can talk, which stuns her into silence, but not for long because then she monologizes for forever — bouncing to other metaphors about wearing a “scarlet letter ‘A,’” etc. — so she clearly won the shut-up contest.

They exit to learn that Jake heard the whole thing. But Jake’s got more pressing issues: a mysterious man appears with a secret briefcase, containing a manic “Scandal”-style montage of script and digital bytes which conspire to tell Jake that he is now an all-seeing eye and that moles will reveal themselves to him, including one in the White House. I bet the spy is the portrait of Eleanor Kennedy.

Valley of the dolls

Get back to work, Liv! Fitz’s new running mate, Andrew, ordered prescription drugs to the Governor’s Mansion in California — back when he was Fitz’s lieutenant governor — and someone found out. Obviously they squash the story before it gets out; that’s “Scandal” kindergarten. The interesting part is that Liv suspects her father — scorned former head of B613 — tipped off the informant. He did say last episode that he was going to kill the president and also burn down the White House and, come to think of it, why hasn’t he been arrested yet, because it’s against the law to say both of those things, and Eleanor is always watching.

Actually, never mind, the really interesting part is actually that Andrew didn’t have those drugs delivered. First lady Mellie (Bellamy Young) did, because, as we see in a series of flashbacks that pick up right after her rape by Fitz’s dad, she tried to kill herself. But Andrew found her, stuck his fingers down her throat, and, naturally, fell in love with her.

And she loves him, too. But they never crossed the line. That is, until tonight. Tonight? Whatever night it was tonight in “Scandal”-land: They made out. In front of Jackie Kennedy’s portrait. And Lady Bird’s. And all of the first ladies, including Eleanor Roosevelt’s austere mug, which one presumes is what made Mellie run away in fear and shame.

Meanwhile, Adnan is blackmailing Harrison for something he was mixed up in called Clearwater. VP Sally (Kate Burton) sees her dead husband’s body everywhere. And Abby tells David she loves him, so then he tells her he has to take a call.

Fast and furious

James is still terrified because he’s “Publius,” the source who’s been talking to the press about Cyrus’ involvement in the cleanup of Sally’s dead husband’s body, which Cyrus (Jeff Perry) clearly didn’t clean up that well because Sally is seriously seeing it everywhere. James regrets ratting out his husband, now that Cyrus plans to out the source and kill him. James also regrets choosing the name Publius now that he’s heard it said out loud.

He and Attorney General David make a foolproof plan: also leak the tape of Sally and Cyrus’ phone call on the night of the cover up, because if the public knows Cyrus was involved with a murder, then Cyrus will be less likely to murder again. James sets a time with the journalist, and David agrees to make the drop. But Cyrus knows about the drop, thanks to assassin Charlie’s spy work, so when David shows up, he’s immediately hoodwinked and thrown into the trunk of a car. He makes a desperate call to Abby, from inside the trunk, announcing that he is about to die, and wants her to know he loves her. She then opens the trunk, holding the phone, and says, “You better, because I just saved your life.” Presumably, she then also explained why there hadn’t been room for him to just sit in the backseat.

So whichever night we’re in, it’s almost over: Liv is briefing Fitz on his game plan when he asks if she has feelings for Jake. She says that’s none of his business. And then I said, “I have feelings for Jake!” to the television. And then Fitz asked her again. And she still didn’t say anything, so I answered again. And then my husband came in and was like, “Who are you talking to?”

So then, down the street, Fitz’s right-hand-man Secret Service guy shows up at Jake’s office — he’s the mole! And whether or not he gets his info by watching through cut-outs in Eleanor’s eyes, he hands it all over to Jake in a thumb drive. When Jake plugs it into his laptop, it’s paused right at the moment Fitz is asking Liv if she has feelings for Jake, which means Jake hears her answer, “I don’t know.” And then my husband was like, “Why are you shouting, ‘I know!’?”

What else? Liv tries to convince Quinn to come back so Quinn threatens to shoot her, but not before explaining that Huck licked her face. Huck brings Liv coffee in an effort to apologize but then blames her for letting him loose on Quinn in the first place since he’s a monster and she knows that. And: a Mama Pope sighting! She’s in D.C. and in cahoots with Adnan. We’ll have to wait to find out why.

Episode grade: A-

Follow Jane Borden on Twitter @JaneBorden



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