As expected, we're still in D.C., where Jake and Olivia are full-on doing the couple thing … sort of.
While jogging through the park, he mentions that he booked a hotel suite near her apartment for “booty calls,” because...something about standing in the sun. Olivia objects, but Jake points at Cyrus, waiting for her on a park bench nearby, and calls that a “political booty call.” OK.
A few things have changed with Cyrus – his doctors have forced him to become a vegetarian, for example – but he’s still pretty evil. When Liv preemptively refuses to take the job he’s got planned, he tells her that he pulled some strings at the IRS and deposited a large sum from the U.S. Government into her corporate bank account. Two minutes into the episode and Liv’s been downgraded to booty calls by Jake and blackmailed by Cy.
Anyway, James and Lisa Elliot (a “hero couple,” according to the newspaper) are supposed to be Fitz’s guests of honor at the State of the Union. It’s an effort to drive home his new commitment to gun control. Problem is, they aren’t returning calls and have missed two flights from New Mexico.
Liv tells Cyrus she isn’t afraid of the IRS, but he knows her too well to give up that easily. He threatens to not only have Fitz call her every day, but to tell Fitz that Olivia’s pining for him, which is seriously messed up.
At OPA, Huck and Quinn give us the rundown on the hero couple. James Elliot was a POW who escaped the Taliban by hiking over a mountain range without water or shoes. He met his wife two years before, when he read to her elementary school class. The school wound up being involved in a shooting that sounds a lot like Newtown. Lisa saved 50 lives before being shot in the spine; she’s now paralyzed from the waist down.
Lisa went to about 29 funerals. Six months afterward, she’d recovered enough to have a “fairy tale wedding” that got major press attention. The couple told the press that they were “dedicating their lives to gun control and each other.” Basically, they are perfect….kinda.
When Liv shows up to their New Mexico home (once again, she manages to get clear across the country in what feels like no time), they are having a serious fight. Glasses are thrown, insults are lobbed – Lisa even sprays James with a fire extinguisher before Olivia snatches it from her hands.
They are having the problems that you might expect them to have. He resents the amount of care that she requires from him and she’s upset that he’s not more sympathetic to the fact that she’s disabled. Only, this is “Scandal,” so it’s way more intense than that. He says that her wheelchair made her “a star” and that she sits in it and “rules over [her] paralyzed kingdom,” which she dismisses as whining. Naturally, he brings up the fact that the Taliban tortured him, but she’s tired of hearing that line.
Finally, when he tells her that being captured by the Taliban was better than living with her (!), Liv jumps in and demands the floor. The gist of it is that they are needed at the SOTU because they are the face of gun control to the American people, so suck it up.
Back in Washington, the RNC Chairwoman (aka Lizzie Bear) is livid that Fitz is planning on making gun control the centerpiece of his SOTU address, because they are Republicans. Duh. They stayed mum on equal pay and Fitz took it a step further by nominating a Democrat for Attorney General. (Side note: Can you imagine what cable news would be like if this happened in real life? Definite appointment viewing.)
And where is Fitz? In the back of a limo, waiting on Mellie as she lays atop their son’s grave, wearing a bathrobe and Uggs while eating potato chips. I’m glad Fitz is being supportive of Mellie, for once, but this is a disaster waiting to happen. Sure enough, some paparazzi get photos of her and the press starts questioning Mellie’s mental health.
Across town, Jake asks David Rosen to get him info on the deaths of Harrison and Adnan. Glad someone is on it. David says the investigation is clean, but Jake doesn’t trust that it’s factual, especially since Rowan was at Harrison’s funeral. David, his nomination for AG is up for confirmation by the Senate, says he is 1) busy and 2) wary about being “a known associate of a prolific assassin.” Either way, he agrees to try.
Huck and Quinn are alone at OPA; thankfully, their grossness seems to be over, for now. Quinn tries her best to talk to him, giving him the rundown on the awful Elliots and Liv’s request that the two of them babysit the couple at their hotel while Liv does her thing in the press. But Huck’s still intent on freezing her out Good. If I can’t get anyone to kill Quinn, at least Huck can be mean to her.
During a TV interview about the Elliots, Liv’s asked about the state of the first family. She tells the interviewer that “just because a private moment becomes public doesn’t give us the liberty to pass judgment,” which is an issue because it’s the same line she told Cyrus over the phone. He’d fed it to Abby, and once Red saw the TV interview, she calls Liv, reminding her that she doesn’t work there anymore. She then drops the Huck-and-Quinn-slept-together bombshell.
Mellie’s on the White House porch, enjoying some fried chicken she had the chef whip up, when Fitz and Cyrus come out to talk to her about the photos in the press. Fitz wants to be gentle, but Cyrus, frankly, doesn’t have time or patience. There’s a photo of the first lady looking unstable in every newspaper in the country. Fitz makes Cyrus back off and gently asks Mellie to come to the SOTU so that her absence and “state of mind” aren’t up for discussion.
Mellie bursts out laughing and reminds him that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her…and that she isn’t stupid. She knows this is about him. He wants her to play the dutiful wife again, which she isn’t doing.
Fitz leaves and Cyrus grabs a piece of chicken. Mellie reminds him that he’s a vegetarian now, but he shrugs and says that if he dies, he’ll at least be with James. Mellie tells him that their losses are not the same, but he resents being told that losing the love of his life is not as significant as someone losing a child. It’s all so sad. R.I.P. James. Still, Mellie isn’t budging on the SOTU issue.
Back to Jake and that hotel room. Liv asks him to come back to her apartment, but he wasn’t comfortable with living there like some “kept man.” He doesn’t resent being summoned, but she’s free to come to his hotel for booty calls. Never in my life did I imagine that I would hear Scott Foley say the phrase “booty call” this much in one hour.
Lizzie Bear (IDC what her real name is, she’s Lizzie Bear) drops in on Cyrus. Someone slipped a Senator Watson a file on David Rosen, claiming that he beat a woman. It’s basically an attempt at blackmailing David in order to get him to decline the nomination. And where did the file come from? Olivia, years ago. She had Harrison bury it, but somehow, Lizzie dug it up. Once again, David is collateral damage in one of Olivia’s schemes, but this time, he isn’t giving up so easily. Uh oh.
At the Elliot's hotel, Huck and James are drunk and singing army songs. Quinn shoves Huck into the bathroom to hash things out, but once unsupervised, Lisa stabs James in the leg with a wine bottle opener. Classy. When Liv arrives, James is ready to pack his bags, literally yelling “screw gun control.”
Hours before the SOTU, James starts to do just that, and Olivia tells them the obvious: they need a divorce. They’ll lose their second book deal and have to sell the house, but she’ll spin it for them and get them individual speaking engagements. But if they're just married for the pay off, she hopes they have miserable lives.
David’s on the dark side now, blackmailing Senator Watson with evidence that he accepted bribes years ago. Naturally, Watson sings David’s praises in the press, which sets off Lizzie and Andrew. More on that later.
Abby’s also on the warpath, but taking a more gentle approach after being reamed out by Cyrus, who informed her that he’s more worried about Mellie not going to the SOTU than he is about Liv failing. She goes up to the East Wing to try to convince the first lady to change her mind.
Well, she plans on it being gentle, until Mellie starts in on her “my kid died, screw all of y’all” thing. Abby snatches her magazine from her hands and reminds her that children sometimes die. Thousands of kids die every year and their parents don’t get to spend weeks mourning and eating chips.
Then she plays the Jackie Kennedy card, reminding Mellie that she stood next to LBJ while he was sworn in…just under two hours after her husband was assassinated. If she could do that, then Mellie can get up and show the American people that the First Family is devastated but has not forgotten why they are there. It’s a good speech and shows that she learned more from Olivia than she thought.
Liv drops the Elliots off at the SOTU and is forced by the Secret Service to stick around until Fitz and Abby arrive. Fitz asks everyone to leave the room, including “Gabby.” Liv objects, but he needs to know what she thinks about his speech. She tells him to go off script and be honest about his family’s loss. Which he does, before directing the crowd’s attention to Mellie, who got it together and put on that dress, after all (Go Abby!). He then turns the conversation back to gun control.
“The right to bear arms seems indisputable…until the shooter comes.” There are a couple of “Scandal” writers who need to moonlight as political speechwriters. Afterward, Mellie crumples to the floor, sobbing, and Fitz comforts her. Finally, he’s acting like a husband.
Jake’s still looking into Harrison’s file, spotting Charlie at one of the restaurants that Harrison and Adnan supposedly visited before being murdered. There’s a knock on the door, and of course, it’s Liv with a bottle of fancy wine. She tells him that it’s not a booty call and that if she wants to summon him, she will. But then, she takes off her trench coat, which turns out to be the only thing she’s wearing, and booty call it is.
Liv’s not the only one with some boo-loving scheduled. Cyrus, who has been mourning for a very long time, goes back to a bar and picks up a man who flirted with him earlier in the episode. Unfortunately, dude turns out to be an escort named Michael. He’s fine, but of course, he works for Lizzie, which is revealed when he meets up with her outside to confirm that Cyrus is lonely. Stay strong, Cy. Don't make it easy.