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'Scandal' recap, 'More Cattle, Less Bull'

Olivia’s life isn’t finished imploding, which is both entertaining and frustrating to watch. I think half of the joy of watching “Scandal” is being able to route for Olivia as she ruthlessly ensures the best outcome for her client. Even though her moral compass currently points nowhere near North, I like to watch her put powerful people in their place.

I was beginning to worry that she had no fight left, especially when we open up to her begrudgingly eating Sunday dinner with Daddy Pope. He assumes that the dinner date is going well, since she has yet to accuse him of any “crimes against humanity,” but she assures him that she’s only holding her tongue to avoid having him manipulate or torture any of her friends.

She’s learned that speaking her mind (like her mother taught her to) only causes trouble, in the form of him forcing her friends to murder people. Eli/Rowan argues that Huck brought it upon himself. He would have left Huck alone had Huck not set out to kill him.

While the Popes are busy failing to enjoy dinner, Jake is in Eli/Rowan’s house, downloading files from his computer with Huck assisting over the phone. Of course, the files are this close to being copied when Daddy Pope shows up, instantly aware that something is amiss in his house. He disables the alarm just in time for Jake to get away.

Cyrus and Mellie are busy trying to recruit Leo Bergen (played by Paul Adelstein, or Dr. Cooper Freedman for “Private Practice" fans) to be Fitz’s campaign manager by giving him a private tour of the Oval Office. Bergen seems impressed by the tour (for example, geeking out over the Resolute Desk), but won’t join the team.

He admits Fitz has some good points -- he’s a veteran who survived an assassination attempt and is great on his feet -- but he also has difficulty keeping his winkie in his pants and is married to a seemingly frigid wife. Most of all, Bergen says, he doesn’t look like a winner – the office smells like desperation. And besides, he knows they’re only trying to recruit him because they ruined their relationship with Olivia.

Speaking of Liv, she’s trying to land an interesting new client: Josephine Marcus. Olivia tells Marcus that she doesn’t need branding -- she needs discipline. Marcus is charming, says Olivia, but she doesn’t seem like someone you would trust with the nuclear codes.

Despite the fact that her sister, Candice, seems unsure about Olivia, Josephine hires her on the spot, then asks the entire staff to leave the room so that they can discuss the baby she gave up when she was 15.

Her mother covered up the entire ordeal very well, but she is worried that the news will leak -- not because she is concerned for her image, but because she does not want her mystery child’s privacy to be infringed upon.

So Liv ships the team off to Josephine’s home in Red Springs, Montana. They’re all distracted with their own thing: Quinn with being a wannabe murderer, Abby with her David boo-age and Huck with trying to uncover details about a secret military operation.

There’s a break in Huck’s case: a bit of surveillance camera footage from Eli/Rowan’s office that shows Fitz confronting Command about Pete Foster’s death.

When Huck reports the news to Jake. Huck informs him that Command knows someone is digging up evidence, he just doesn’t know who yet.

But then, Jake is hauled off to some secret location by a mysterious group of goons who end up being on Fitz’s payroll. The president has invited Jake over for a little friendly basketball, which quickly devolves into Fitz making smart comments about Jake being a backstabber and trying to get a stubborn Jake to discuss his relationship with Olivia.

A desperate Cyrus calls Olivia to discuss the kid he sent to Montana to uncover dirt on Marcus. He plans to take her down if she wins the nomination against murderer Governor Reston.

Back at the office, Quinn complains about Huck freezing her out. Harrison tells her that they know about her newfound blood lust. “You’re grounded,” he jokes, as they set off to interview all of the witnesses bribing them with large sums of money.

While they are trying to bribe Josephine’s baby daddy, Billy Joe, Cyrus’s guy pops up. Abby is sent out to distract him with her snark, and he introduces her to a reporter he had posted outside. Amateur. Abby offers the woman a huge story on How the White House Attempted to Sway the Democratic Election in Their Favor.

Meanwhile, Harrison is busy blackmailing Billy Joe about his infidelity, and Cyrus’s boy knows when he’s lost. He calls Cyrus to inform him that they have been “Poped.” Cyrus has to take a series of deep breaths to keep a heart attach at bay.

Sally Langston gets a nothing scene in which she whines about being left out of the re-election plans, but she is the only Republican on the ticket who seems to care about the re-election right now. Fitz is more worried about threatening to shut Command down and having Eli/Rowan hang up the phone in his face.

Cyrus wants to deliver the baby gossip to Reston and have the other candidate do his dirty work for him. Jake and Huck confer to discuss Remington, trying to figure out where exactly Fitz was that day in 1991. If Fitz knows they're onto him, he’ll send agents after him. Jake is sent to the office to use a program on his computer and search by plane type and date.

Olivia walks in and catches Jake there. She’s suspicious, of course, and he lies, saying that he was worried about her. She forgot her phone, and he sees her Galaxy in her hand. He says you forgot your Fitz phone. The White House Correspondents dinner is coming up. She used to vet his jokes, and this year, the phone hasn’t rung.

Their relationship isn’t the same, and it is totally fine by me, but whatever. She antes up, and tosses her Fitz phone. She and Jake share a laugh, and he offers to buy her a burger.

Back to Red Springs, where Harrison and Abby arrive at the trailer of a woman who knew Josephine’s mother, Louise, well. Apparently, Louise couldn’t bear the idea of aborting the baby but, as Olivia quickly deduced, adopted her granddaughter and raised her as her own.

Olivia wants Josephine to be honest and straightforward about this; Josephine refuses. She chose to be in the spotlight, even though she had no idea that would be the end result of having spoken against war after losing her soldier husband. She had no idea that people would listen, or vote for her. But she chose this life, and Candace didn’t. She doesn’t even want anything, not even the presidency, that badly.

Fitz and Cyrus are conferring. Fitz wants to reel Eli/Rowan in. Cyrus tells him never to mention it again, reminding him that the one man who wanted to leak the news of Remington “committed suicide,” and that will happen to him if B613 sees them as enemies.

David and Abby have a semi-tense convo about the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, while an aggressively annoying Quinn is busy returning used equipment and becoming inspired to buy a gun.

Josephine and Reston prep for their debate, and he looks more smug and gross than ever. The debate begins, with Mellie already on edge about “liberal bias,” but Cyrus is certain that they’ll be able to say goodbye to “Anne Oakley.” That’s when Josephine does something that is revolutionary on this show: she listens to Liv.

Reston’s attempts to trap and shame her into explaining how she fell for, and became pregnant by, a young man with a cool, yellow pick-up truck. But she owns it, explaining why she chose adoption, why she thinks it was the best choice for her baby, etc.

Basically, as my friend Mia pointed out, she pulled an Eminem in “8 Mile.”

Afterward, things aren’t so smooth. Candice immediately realizes that her sister is actually her mom, and Josephine, disgusted at what she’d just been forced to do, makes a knee-jerk decision to fire Liv.

Cut to a sad Liv in her office, drinking wine alone, when her Fitz Phone rings from the trash can. She dives for it, and he’s there, calling her from the bathroom. She admits digging the phone out of the trash and turns the conversation to the Correspondents’ Dinner, asking who is vetting his jokes. When he says that he will be vetting his own jokes, she insists that he’s not funny, and advises him to own his controversies by poking fun at them.

Of course, Mellie is outside eavesdropping, poor thing.

Abby, who is not in Montana, gets a call from David, who is currently outside her office, catching her in her lie. He wants to know why she didn’t want to go to the dinner with him. If they’re breaking up again, I don’t care.

Huck figures out where Fitz was during that missing flight plan: Iceland. No clue why. Olivia calls Jake, asking him to take her to the Correspondents’ Dinner. At first he refuses, but then caves and agrees to pick her up. Huck says it’s good. She needs to go.

Finally, this white and black dress and fake asymmetrical ‘do from the previews! I am in so much love with Kerry Washington right now. Fitz spots them across the room. Sally taps Bergen to ask him what he thinks will happen if she runs for President – as an independent -- hypothetically. Now, he’s intrigued.

Tom, the Secret Service agent, silently beckons Liv away to meet Fitz…or so we think. It’s actually Mellie, looking amazing in an oxblood gown. Olivia’s visibly disappointed, but honestly, this looks like her comeuppance.

Between cuts of Fitz nailing self-deprecating jokes about his sex life, Mellie tries to convince Olivia to come back into the Fitz Fold. He needs her; he is tired and broken because he’s not alive with Liv isn’t there. “He needs you, so I need you,” says Mellie. How she got up the resolve to deliver yet another of these speeches to Olivia, I do not now.

Of course, Fitz doesn’t know that she’s asking Olivia back, but Mellie assures her that he will get on board. He needs to win, and after Defiance, Mellie feels they owe him.

Abby’s waiting in David’s apartment, dressed for the dinner. She planned to surprise him, but she couldn’t get out of the car. David says he saw her abusive ex-husband at the dinner and wants to know why she didn’t tell him. Good, they’re going to work on their relationship so, hopefully, one of them can fall into a new storyline.

Jake and Olivia leave the dinner and he is pissed. He refuses to play second fiddle -- not even to the president. And honestly, I can’t believe Olivia thought that was going to fly in the first place. Was she really just that anxious to see Fitz?

But semi-good news is on its way. Harrison calls Liv from the office. Josephine Marcus is there, to rehire her. Olivia says she appreciates the offer, but she doesn’t think she’s the right person for the job. Josephine tells her to sleep on it, and sweeps from the room. (Olivia went from barely any jobs to two amazing jobs in the course of an hour, and is switching so hard in that dress. She is almost the boss I began to love in season one again.)

Quinn, of course, has bought a gun. I cannot bring myself to care.

When Jake gets home, Huck is waiting for him. Huck figured out why Fitz lied about being in Iran during operation Remington. There was a plane crash that day, a couple of hundred miles off the coast of Iceland, attributed to mechanical errors, which seems unlikely. Huck believes Fitz shot it down on behalf of the U.S. government, but he doesn’t know why. Meanwhile, Liv is at home, mooning over photos of Fitz.

“Two things make a coincidence, three things make a conspiracy,” says Huck. The third thing? On the crashed flight’s passenger list, fifth name from the top, is Maya Lewis – Liv’s mom, who never took her husband’s name, meaning Fitz murdered Liv’s mom. Of course, Jake and Huck go to her apartment to tell her the news, leaving all our heads spinning.

I thought that Daddy Pope had her mama killed, but to have FITZ KILL HER. My head hurts in the best, possible way.

Next week: Liv is reeling form the news and asks them to dig dirt up on Fitz --before heading to the White House to shout at the president in person

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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