'Scandal' recap, 'First Lady Sings the Blues'

For The Baltimore Sun
Will Olivia Pope and the gladiators find out what Foxtail is?

Jake is not dead. He's only mostly dead. So now, we get to watch OPA completely bungle their plan to see to his recovery. Quinn gets to work early and finds Jake on the coffee table, full of stab wounds.

Naturally, she thinks that he's dead and calls Huck to help her figure out what to do. Huck says that it doesn't look like the knife hit any major organs and punches him in the chest, making Jake wail and proving that he's awake.

Olivia and David get to the scene and start to try to formulate a plan. Ever the Boy Scout, David wants to call an ambulance, but Liv shuts that down. If they take Jake to a hospital, a paper trail will begin (not to mention, the police will be called because, stab wounds, duh) and her father will find out that Jake is alive, kill him and then kill all of Olivia's friends "just to teach [her] a lesson."

They call for Charlie's help and he secures a location, doctor and equipment. Sounds smart, right? Wrong.

Meanwhile, Mellie is struggling to convince voters that she can be FLOTUS and the senator of Virginia, at the same time. Of course, former VP-turned-TV pundit Sally Langston isn't going to let that slide without stirring up some drama. After Mellie tells a planted reporter that being first lady is more of a privilege than a job, Sally tells her viewers that they should be insulted by Mellie's words. If being FLOTUS is not a job, then why does Mellie have a staff of over 25 who are paid with a significant amount of tax money? Were Mellie's initiatives just a hobby? She also asks if it's "illegal, or just vomit-inducing" for a lawmaker to be married to the president.

Charlie's Russian doctor arrives late and refuses to apologize for it because "someone is always dying." Great start. Speaking Russian, he asks Charlie where he recognizes Olivia from and she cuts in, telling him that she's a fixer. So far, Olivia speaks English, Farsi and Russian? What else does she speak and when did she have time to learn all of these languages?

The doctor agrees to help, but first, there's the subject of payment.

He doesn't want cash. Instead, he wants OPA to help out an old friend, a retired KGB agent called Black Sable who needs help with a new mission. Of course, Olivia doesn't want to help a KGB assassin, but when Jake starts dying more, she agrees to do as he asks.

Huck and Olivia go to meet Black Sable and are in for a surprise.

Right after Huck give a speech about how ruthless and cold Black Sable is supposed to be, they ring the doorbell and are greeted by a sweet-looking grandma. Olivia thinks that they have the wrong house, but nope. She goes by Mary Peterson now and she's just baked cookies.

They sit down to chat, and Olivia gets a little judgmental when Mary explains that her grandkids think she's from Wisconsin and bakes Russian spice cookies from a recipe given to her by an old neighbor. I think Liv had a Marie Wallace-flashback at the thought of a maternal figure lying to their entire family, but Mary explains why she joined the KGB. She grew up "real poor, not American poor." Her younger brother died of starvation. The KGB recruiters found that she had a natural talent for killing and they offered her a warm bed, food and shoes in exchange for her killing a few Americans. Sheesh.

The only catch was that she could never go home again. She tried, and they killed her mother. She didn't quit, but the world changed. The KGB stopped giving her jobs, she got married and had kids. Then, yesterday morning, she got a dead drop. Putin's started the program again and she's supposed to kill someone later that day. She hasn't had a handler in forever, so Liv and Huck seek out the person who delivered her assignment.

Back at the White House, Mellie is fuming over Sally's latest stunt.

Polls show that Americans are having trouble with the idea of a senator sleeping with the president. Mellie wants to go on the show, but Elizabeth doesn't think it's a good idea because she'll look defensive. Abby is swaying, like she wants to burst and finally, Fitz calls on her. She tells Mellie that she needs to distance herself from Fitz, proving that the president won't sway her decisions. Then, Sally's question about the legality of Mellie's Senate run comes up.

Turns out, no one bothered to figure out whether or not Mellie could run for office while her husband is still in the Oval.

Abby rushes to call David to ask him to come to the White House and tell them if it's legal, which seems silly, given that search engines exist. David tells her that he's sick with a sore throat that occasionally bleeds. Turns out, Mellie's run for office is legal because no one ever considered that a first lady would ever want to run for office, which sends Abby on a tear about the fact that misogyny is their friend, this time. She plans to route a ton of reporters David's way so that he can continue to explain that there is no law against a first spouse campaigning while married to POTUS.

As the doctor works on Jake (not even going to touch on the improbability of Quinn and Charlie stealing blood from a hospital in broad daylight), Huck roams the D.C. streets and finds the handler.

Meanwhile, Franklin Russell reports to Rowan, telling him that Jake is now dead. Of course, Rowan knows better. If Jake was dead, his daughter would be reacting to it, calling up her father and making threats. Instead, she has gone underground, which can only mean one thing: Franklin failed his task. Rowan tells him to find Jake and finish the job.

Franklin calls Olivia, pretending to flirt to keep on her on the phone long enough for her to trace the call. She's busy heading to the handler's cover business (it's a deli, or something) to ask him to let Mary off the hook. Olivia tells him that he has two choices: he can name his price or she call up her friends with the FBI, CIA and Attorney General's office.

Then, she delivers my favorite line of the night: "Some people have bark, some people have bite. I have both." But the handler reminds her that he's from one of the roughest part of Russia and he knows what happens to traitors. Traitors die and he suggests that he remind Mary of that.

Olivia tells Mary that the handler is a "true believer," who cannot be bought. Mary explains that her husband and daughter were killed by a drunk driver a few years ago. Her husband was her second chance at a family, a churchgoing man who she loved. He's gone now, but she still goes to church, asking God for forgiveness for all of the murders she committed for the KGB. She simply can't take on a new job. Moved, Olivia agrees to find a way out of it.

Despite their best efforts, Abby and her team haven't been able to change the public's mind about Mellie's campaign. Abby suggests that they send someone on Sally's show to "put her in her place, once and for all." Fitz suggests that they send Elizabeth, but much to her own chagrin, Abby believes that it would be better if they sent in a man.

Her choice? Cyrus, who has been in the background being gleeful and petty because he was against Mellie's run, from the start.

Franklin tells Rowan that he couldn't find Jake and Rowan responds by casually shooting Franklin in the arm.

After being chewed out by Fitz, Cyrus begrudgingly goes on Sally's show...and GOES IN. Cyrus did amazingly. Pointing out that the first lady was never sworn into office and flat out calls bull when Sally says "being a mother is the hardest job in the world." (Nevermind the fact that one of their kids is dead, another is in boarding school and the youngest lives in a weird, netherworld-like day care, of some sort.)

Cyrus says that being a mother is a part of a person's identity. You can't just quit it, like you can quit a job, much like Sally did when she resigned as VP, Cyrus says pointedly. Sally insists that the first lady gets perks from her role, like a clothing allowance, for example.

Cyrus says that the allowance is a myth. Well, surely the first lady values her personal chef, says Sally, pointing out that the White House fried chicken is especially good. Cyrus follows that up with "So...you're saying women should get paid in fried chicken, now? Are you getting paid in fried chicken to host this show?"

Beaten Sally tries another tack. She says that Cyrus seems bitter because he would make a better Senate candidate that Mellie. She sees it in his eyes, or some nonsense. Finally, Cyrus tells her to stop "cowering behind the misogyny of [her] viewers" and admit that the first lady should be able to do more than tend to the White House garden, et cetera. Then, he delivers a Mortal Kombat-style final blow, asking Sally if the late Daniel Douglas would have been regulated to such duties as first gentleman, if Sally had been elected president.

FINISH HER!

Franklin calls Olivia from the hospital, pretending that he was shot in a mugging. Olivia and Huck rush him off to Jake's secret operating room and decide to kill two birds with one stone by giving Mary's handler Rowan's name and burner phone. If he kills the head of B613, he can go home to Russia a national hero. Will that be enough for him to let Mary off of the hook?

The doctor's patched Jake up and now, he's supposed to rest and stay still. One problem: he looks to his right and sees Franklin, the man who tried to kill him, lying on the next bed. Genius plan, Liv.

Franklin tries to kill him, but Jake struggles his way out of the restraints, which sets off an alarm that brings David and the doctor back into the room.

Huck, Quinn and Charlie are freaking out at the idea that Rowan is going to go after everyone they know. Then, Olivia does the stupidest thing possible: she tells her team that she gave the handler her father's burner phone so that he can kill him and let Mary go...while Franklin is within earshot! This man is still basically a stranger and I cannot believe Olivia was dumb enough to do that.

Cyrus' appearance on Sally's show definitely helped the situation, but it didn't solve it. The polls show that Americans no longer have issue with Mellie's run, but they still worry about the conflict of interest and Fitz's approval rating is down. Then, Elizabeth comes up with a dumb idea. She suggests that they leak a story about Mellie and Fitz's marriage being over. But Mellie refuses to lie to the public about their marriage because she and Fitz are still a team.

Which means, it's time for Fitz to make a call to Liv. He wants to pout and vent and at first, Olivia holds back and acts detached.

Finally, unable to help herself, she tells him that distancing herself from Fitz is the silliest thing that Mellie could do. Instead, she should play up the sway she could have over the president's decisions, focusing on Virginia instead of the nation's opinion. I don't know how any of this is supposed to work, but lets just suspend our disbelief.

Again.

As Olivia is sitting by both Jake and Franklin's bedsides (AWWKKKWWAARRRDD), Huck storms in and tells her that he can't find the handler. She goes to check on Mary and finds the former assassin and her grandkids dead, on her living room sofa. Then, she goes back to the car and hears a phone ringing from her trunk. The handler's body is inside. She answers the phone and it's Rowan, of course, reminding her that against him, she "will never win."

Olivia tells her team that they are backing off of Rowan and the doctor quits, furious that Olivia failed to save Jake. David still wants to go through with the grand jury plan, but none of his former B613 agents will testify. Finally! They take Jake to the hospital and Olivia brings Franklin to her place.

Mellie tries out Olivia's plan and of course, it works. Two problems: she sounds like Snow White during most of her speech and Cyrus is worried that Mellie's new spin will work, but it will ruin Fitz's legacy. None of his staff will be able to get jobs after this.

Back Olivia's apartment, Franklin sneaks off to call Rowan. He tells Rowan that OPA is backing off and Jake is in the hospital, giving Rowan a chance to deliver my second favorite line of the night: "It irritates me to know that he is still breathing." Rowan tells him that his job has changed and they need to initiate something called Foxtail and keep an eye on Liv.

In her bedroom, Olivia straddles Franklin and apologizes to him for the day's drama. She seductively tells him to close his eyes...and then puts a gun to his head and demands to know what Foxtail is.

FINALLY, OLIVIA! FINALLY!

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