I'm going to begin by saying that I was not sure about this episode from the preview. Hostage situation? It's been done so many times that I feared that we may be getting the first predictable episode of "Scandal" ever.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Jake is resting in Olivia's bed, wrapped in bandages and bruised all over, but still managing to be beautiful. Olivia's huddled on the floor, reeling from all that has happened. Fitz calls, wanting to explain Jake, but Olivia can't talk.
She is worried about Huck, but he doesn't want to talk. He says he needs "time," which is code for "I'm currently stalking, and planning to kill, your father."
Bright side? Olivia & Co. have a new client: a Mary Nesbit, who wants their help with a family matter. She just paid the retainer, but is headed to a "meeting on the hill."
Quinn asks about Huck, as if it's not her fault that he's off trying to murder people. Liv says he's taking a personal day, and the entire team is shocked. A personal day?! An incredulous Abby asks if they get vacation days, too, now. (My Twitter feed exploded with jokes about Pope & Associates needing to form a union after that one.)
Cyrus, Fitz, Mellie and America's baby are seated at the breakfast table. Cyrus is trying to talk strategy, but Mellie and Fitz are busy bickering about whether or not Teddy can feed himself. (He is clearly too young for that, Fitz.) Fitz suggests that Mellie give him to the nanny to feed, but she refuses; she doesn't want him to grow up and ask for the nanny instead of his mother in front of the press one day.
The faceless other Grant children, "Jerry" and "Karen," are coming. Cyrus is sending them all to Camp David. Neither of the parents is down for that plan, so Cyrus has a mini-fit, and Teddy fixes him with a perfect side-eye.
Cy wants the Camp David visuals, to show the people that their love is real and special, that they are fighting for their marriage. Mellie snarks about the baby being dirty, and she and Fitz tell each other to shut up, in turn. Really mature. Great job, fighting in front of Teddy.
Back to P&A. Mary is the mother of Christopher Lawrence, a man who was killed by the FBI months ago in a raid against a Chicago-based Al Qaeda group. A smug Quinn hacks her account and realizes the check she'd given them cleaned her out. Bad sign. Olivia runs to follow Mary to the Hill.
The White House. An older man sneaks off from a tour, causing the Secret Service to go into crisis mode. People are running from Jim Struthers office, too, so of course, Liv goes inside.
Near the Oval, the unidentified man is being tackled. He says he wanted to talk to Fitz about Operation Remington.
Liv walks into Struthers' office, where Mary is strapped with a bomb and yelling that they could have prevented her son's death. She's dismayed to see Liv come in, but I doubt that means she'll let her leave.
Struthers is played by Mark Moses (Paul Young from "Desperate Housewives" and, more importantly, Duck Phillips from "Mad Men") in his most weasel-y role ever.
The Capitol and White House have been evacuated, according to news reports. Mellie and Fitz are stuck in the bunker from last episode. They have to stay there, or the Secret Service will be forced to tackle Fitz. This is the only occasion in which that would be OK.
Olivia, with her awesome feathered side swoop, is trying to calm Mary down. Mary had tried everything to get someone to investigate the death of her son. She had begged Struthers, her congressman, to look into it, but nothing happened. So now, she's willing to kill him to get answers.
The story is that her son was a member of Al Qaeda, working out of Chicago, and was killed during an FBI raid. His father had died when he was 16, and he found religion, converting to Islam (uncomfortable by this part of the story, at first…) and rising through the ranks of Al Qaeda. As a result, all documents regarding his killing were sealed under the Patriot Act.
Mary had read of profile of Olivia in the Post, and knew all about her clairvoyant gut. She believes her son is innocent, and that Olivia is just the woman to help her get proof.
The phone rings, and Mary is not having it at first, but she allows Olivia to answer. It's the FBI hostage negotiator, played by Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters"). Liv tells him that Mary wants her son's file declassified. If she doesn't get the file, she plans to use the bomb. Good luck doing anything about his death from Gitmo, Mary.
The White House intruder is determined to be a lone wolf, unrelated to Mary. He mentions Operation Remington and Fitz lets him go, without any explanation.
Meanwhile, Huck's stalking Rowan/Eli Pope with a gun, in broad daylight, when Cyrus calls, ruining Huck's chance. I am really concerned right now. I don't think this will end well for Huck, and I've had a soft spot for him.
Olivia is allowed to call her office. She wants them to get answers, even have Quinn hack into the FBI (To request that in front of a U.S. Congressman seems a little stupid. She can whisper all she wants, but there are only a handful of people in that room. I'm sure he heard her.) Quinn asks about Huck, and Liv shuts her down.
The FBI wants Mary to turn herself in, and they'll give her the file. She says, "They'll be scraping nine bodies off of the carpet first." Olivia lies and says the FBI dude wants her to let some hostages go, first. Mary asks for her advice, and complies.
The released hostages are scared and not a part of this, so Olivia tells her it was the right thing to do. Mary begins babbling about how she made the bomb (from a recipe she found online, obvs.) I'm sorry, but I laughed when she started to talk about how she had to buy a stronger glue gun because her crafting gun wasn't powerful enough. Olivia and Struthers look more-than-a-little concerned that the bomb may go off just because of her shoddy craftsmanship.
Fitz is in the Situation Room. They want to get a clean shot at Mary. If her hands are off the detonator, there's a chance. Harrison's spying outside and warns Liv that they're coming up, prepared to take Mary out.
Liv learns that Fitz is running point on this and forces Mary away from the window, so she can stand in front of it to show Fitz that it's Liv inside…so he won't pull something stupid, like he usually does.
Fitz demands to speak with Olivia. He's pissed, but Cyrus won't allow him to call. They can't share a headline with her this week. Olivia's busy explaining to Struthers that they could accidentally shoot Mary in the chest, killing them all.
Liv demands to be put through to the president. The hostage negotiator says he won't talk to her because he doesn't negotiate with terrorists, which is what Liv officially is.
They run options: knockout gas could cause her to detonate accidentally, or on purpose. Jake calls Fitz on Liv's behalf, asking what is in the classified file. Once again, no negotiating with terrorists, guys.
Side note: Jake's salt and pepper beard. Lawd.
Rowan/Eli is visiting a man in a trailer (Huck's trailing). It's the Lone Wolf from the WH! He doesn't want to take the money Daddy Pope is offering; he wants to talk with Fitz. Daddy Pope says he would only allow that as a last option.
He exits and is greeted by the barrel of Huck's gun. Of course, he saw Huck trailing him earlier, and doesn't seem too concerned.
Jake calls Olivia with the bad news. Quinn also isn't having any luck and Abby's being annoying about it. Quinn leaves Huck another message to come back, because she needs him in order to hack into the FBI. Instead, she wastes time hacking into Huck's computer.
Abby goes to David for help. He refuses, on the grounds that Olivia is an adrenaline junkie, and he won't enable her further. He will, however, help with the funeral arrangements once this is over.
Harrison's babbling at the FBI negotiator about how he is going to get a bad rep "in the hostage-taking community" when he's approached by an "FBI agent" who shows him an Al Qaeda recruitment video starring Christopher Lawrence.
He tells Liv, and she warns Mary that she needs to prepare herself for what may be in the file.
Harrison calls Abby, asking her to go back to the DOJ and ask David to look up the agent, "Laura Kenney." It's not the name of an FBI agent, now or ever. But David still isn't immediately ready to budge when Olivia calls, ranting about how flawed the Patriot Act is.
David caves and meets Cyrus to request the file. Cyrus, who clearly doesn't know David very well, tries to bully David, saying he played his last card when he handed over the Cytron card. Cyrus got him a job, so now they're done.
Cyrus threatens to call security, but David has…notes. He'd researched all of the FBI agents involved in the Al Qaeda raid, and discovered that all of them received large pay increases afterward, making him believe they were paid to keep quiet. David threatens to hand this over to the DNC, just in time for the next election.
Fitz calls Liv. She's right. Chris wasn't a terrorist. He was CIA, bringing in operatives to infiltrate terrorist groups. If she tells anyone, the agents that he snuck in will be tortured and killed. The FBI killed him because they did not know who he really was. It was a terrible mistake but made him "a martyr to Al Qaeda and a hero to the U.S." If his cover is blown, even postmortem, 57 other Americans will die. No one can know, not even his mother.
Liv wants to tell the mom the truth, but Fitz insists it's not worth the lives of 57 other people. Liv hangs up. I don't know how she does this, but she lies to Mary, apologizes and tells her that he was a terrorist. Mary loses it. Poor thing. This is horrible. Liv promises she will have the best defense possible.
Mary allows Struthers and Liv to leave, before sealing herself inside to commit suicide by bomb. Liv's conscience is just getting more bruised by the episode.
Mellie's in the East Wing, drinking in the dark, when Fitz walks in. She pours him a drink. He shudders when he takes a sip – hooch, sent by her daddy when Fitz won the election. Fitz called him a "hillbilly." Drunk Mellie asks him if he wants to have sex with her on that historic dining room table. She's celebrating, because today was a good day.
Fitz thought she would be miserable because Liv didn't get blown to bits, which proves he not only thinks the worst of her, but doesn't know her very well. That is her nightmare, that Liv would die while performing some heroic act. She says Fitz would idolize Liv then, and Mellie would lose their little war.
She's celebrating because as long as Olivia is alive, she's Fitz's flaw, his weakness and, therefore, Mellie's weapon. She can use her to make her "puppet husband dance."
Olivia gets back to a darkened office, to Huck lurking in the shadows. He assures her that he's "all killed out today." All this time he's wondered who Command is, and finally got a name – something concrete he can drill answers out of, like whether he has a family. The fact that he thinks that he imagined them is just horrible.
Olivia hates Eli/Rowan, but doesn't want him murdered. Huck finally admits that he didn't kill him, and we see what happened outside that trailer.
Eli/Rowan offers him the "unfinished business" in the trailer. Inside, the man is handcuffed to a table. Duct tape and a blade are ready for Huck. He slits the man's wrist (vertically, word to "The Craft") and leaves a fake suicide note. Command still owns him, and that is the saddest thing yet.
Liv gets home to Jake (who shaved the beard) and demands to know why he is there. Huck's experience with her father reminds her that Daddy Pope does not do any favors. If Jake is there, it is to be a pawn to use against her.
Of course, her dad is calling, and she ignores it. She knows they don't just let people like him out. Fitz calls on another line. Liv blows up, and Huck smashes both phones. She wants to know if Eli sent Jake to spy on her. She knows there has to be a reason, but Jake has no idea. Or at least, he says he doesn't. The incident with Huck has her afraid because no one walks away from her father – he controls all.
Jake never thought he would get out of that hole. It's the isolation that gets to you – the silence. He says thinking of her face saved him. Liv says it's not happily ever after, because Eli still owns him. But she tells him not to feel bad, because her dad still owns her, too.
Next time: Liv has a shady client, a Washington senator/sexting perv. Yay, Weiner-reference! But with a twist: this guy may have murdered his lover.