'Scandal' recap: 'The Key'

Recently, "Scandal" has strayed further from its original case-of-the-week style, meaning the show's signature shockers aren't coming at their usual breakneck speed.

Instead, this season feels more like a slow build, which is refreshing and makes for richer, more natural storytelling.


For example, Liv's friend Catherine is still in jail after having been arrested for the murder of her teenage daughter, Caitlin. OPA is looking into a dirty former D.C. police captain named Dan Kubiak who works security at the firm where Jeremy, Catherine's husband, works. Kubiak was the man caught on an elevator security cam trying to snatch a mysterious folder from Caitlin.

Cool story, but what is really interesting is the fact that Olivia actually joins them on the stakeout.

Olivia. At a stakeout. In her designer clothes.

Quinn knows that something must be up. Shockingly, Liv opens up about what's wrong. She thinks her "boyfriend" is avoiding her. No, honey. It's so much worse than that.

But back to the case, Kubiak never rolled over on the other crooked cops on the force, leaving him with a nice set of contacts. Now, he specializes in protecting the dirty secrets of the very rich, which brings us to the mystery of the week: what exactly was in Caitlin's folder?

So now, Liv and Quinn are staking out Kubiak's apartment while Huck sneaks off to spy on his recently found wife. The only problem is that he took the parabolic mic with him, so they can't hear what's going on in the apartment. But they can see directly into it and catch Kubiak arguing with Caitlin's friend Faith. Quinn calls the police as soon as she sees Kubiak push Faith, but it's no use. Kubiak murders the teen before the show's title card drops.

Huck speaks to a few of his DCPD contacts. Kubiak covered all of his tracks, disabling security cameras, cleaning up the crime scene, etc. The anonymous tip they gave won't help much either, since Kubiak's history with the force guarantees him an airtight, falsified alibi whenever he requires one. Liv's not giving up, though. She found herself on that island and the white hat is firmly back on.

Over at the White House, Fitz is drowning his frustrations in scotch and running his team ragged, obsessed with a confession from Jake. Cyrus assures him that they have the best interrogator the justice system has to offer on the case, but since Jake is B613, Cyrus believes they may need to resort to a "less constitutional means of encouragement" aka torture. But after Marie Wallace, Fitz isn't taking any chances and insists on following the rules.


Meanwhile, Liv's at her apartment leaving Jake another voicemail, when her father pops up for a nightcap. He senses that something is wrong and she admits that she hasn't heard from Jake in awhile. The father-daughter bonding throws Liv for a minute, but Rowan soldiers on, telling her "sometimes you have to let a young lion roam free."

(This makes my own father's "If he's not playing his position like a shortstop, then let him go" advice seem much less embarrassing, Nelly reference and all.)

All jokes aside, Olivia can't figure out if she's being a needy girlfriend or if Jake's sudden disappearance is something she should be looking into. Rowan, of course, assures her that nothing could happen to a man like Jake.

Rowan really is the devil, but he is right about one thing: Jake can take care of himself. After having his request to speak with Fitz denied, Jake has been refusing all food and water. After 72 hours, his captors will be forced to take him to the hospital because thems the rules. Jake tells the interrogator that 1) they both know the president is going to show up eventually and 2) these handcuffs are a "suggestion" for him.

He's being nice by cooperatively sitting in silence, so he suggests that the interrogator shush. It's been awhile since I swooned over Jake in these recaps but SWOOOOONNNN. The interrogator keeps pushing and Jake kicks his chair, sending the interrogator across the room and a group of armed guards running in to point guns at my boo menacingly.

Olivia rolls up on Catherine's husband Jeremy at a restaurant and tells him about Faith's murder and the folder that Caitlin took from his office, which may have gotten her killed. Jeremy refuses to help Liv, but he may be a more decent person than originally believed. He takes Liv's bait and confronts Kubiak about the killing. Kubiak explains that Caitlin gave Faith a locker key that the law firm needed. Quinn figures out that the locker probably contains the folder that got Caitlin killed and they begin their search.


A worried Olivia calls Huck to have him look for Jake. Of course, Huck is still spying on his wife, Kim, who pops up in the middle of Olivia's call. She doesn't believe his story about B613 and threatens to call the police if he doesn't leave. Poor Huck.

He does, however, have some luck tracking down Jake, whose cell phone was last used at the White House. Liv calls Fitz, demanding to know if Jake came to see him. Fitz is evasive and Olivia flies into an understandable rage. She tries to get help from Cyrus and Abby, but the former isn't answering her calls and the latter is being petulant and petty.

Fitz heads to the Pentagon to take Jake's interrogation into his own hands. Jake tells him the truth about Tom, Jerry and Rowan, but Fitz doesn't believe him. It doesn't take long for Jake to figure out what is really going on. This isn't purely about Jerry. It's about Liv. Fitz is still jealous about the island. Jake reminds him that they are both decent people, which is why Olivia loves them. He knows that deep down Fitz doesn't believe him to be capable of murdering his child.

At OPA, Quinn wracks her brain to figure out why Faith didn't run from Kubiak. She soon realizes that Faith actually swallowed the key. So, Quinn does what any rational person would do and breaks into the morgue and dissects the key from Faith's body.

Huck gets Kim to agree to let him see his son, Javi, but when he shows up to the house, there is a doctor waiting on him, instead. Furious that Kim lied to him, Huck chokes the doctor for a bit (But he doesn't kill him, so progress!) and storms out of the house.

Cyrus shows up at Liv's apartment and fills her in about Jake's arrest, Tom's confession and Rowan's involvement in it all. Cyrus insists that the confession was clean, reminding her that Jake killed James. It all comes full circle.

Naturally, Liv freaks and confronts her father. He admits that he's instructed Jake to do some messed up things over the past few years, but insists that he killed Harrison on his own. He also does a great job of pinning Jerry's death on Jake, telling Liv that he did it in order to make it impossible for Liv and Fitz to ever be together. It's a really twisted and brilliant lie.  You have to respect the skill.

Back at the White House, Mellie is furious that Fitz missed their daily appointment to visit Jerry's grave. She assumes that he was sleeping with Liv, but he tells her the truth about his trip to the Pentagon. He's tired of fighting with Mellie, holding these secrets from her in order to protect her and then unleashing them just to get back at her.

Surprisingly, Mellie is a relieved to know that Jerry's death wasn't some sudden freak accident; he died so that they could stay in the White House. She says now understands Fitz's new dedication to his office, but Fitz is disgusted with her and kicks her out of his office. The good news is that this all leads to Mellie taking a shower by the end of the episode. Sometimes, it's not the journey, but the destination that's important.


Over in Abby's office, a drunken David Rosen is having a breakdown. He finally tells her that blackmailed Judge Sparks, which got gun control passed, but led Sparks to commit suicide. And David blames all of this on his urge to be like Liv.

Furious at her former friend and mentor, Abby rushes over to Liv's apartment and launches into a full-on confrontation. Normally, Olivia could take this, but after her father's lies about Jake, she's fragile. Abby finally gives, hugging Liv and assuring her that it will all be fine.

At the Pentagon, Fitz officially goes dark side, punching Jake in the face repeatedly and demanding a confession while Jake taunts him with details about he and Liv's time on the island. Am I wrong, or wasn't this just Rowan and Fitz a season or so ago?