1. “Billy Chambers is the Mole????” — Olivia Pope
The Gladiators have been trying to figure out who the Mole in the White House is. The Mole has done bad things! The Mole — well, I can’t quite remember what the Mole did at this point. These crazy plots are one of the great things about Scandal, the Shonda Rhimes-created drama that became a sensation last season. But I do find that I can’t necessarily recall every detail, probably because those details are often batshit!
Anyway, it turns out that Billy Chambers (Matt Letscher), the horrible ex-chief of staff to horrible Vice President Sally Langston (Kate Burton), is the Mole. We did think Billy was dead but Huck (Guillermo Díaz) explains that he had hired Charlie (George Newbern) to kill him, who obviously didn’t. Huck: “It’s true what they say: ‘If you want someone killed right, you’ve got to kill them yourself.’”
2. What the Gladiators don’t know yet, though, is that David Rosen (Joshua Malina) is helping Billy.
David has the Cytron card, the proof of the election rigging from the Defiance, Ohio, voting machine. We saw him showing the card, stolen from Olivia’s office, to Billy at the end of the previous episode. David tells Billy he’s holding onto it. Turncoat! Backstabber!
3. The cabal is meeting.
And fighting. They’re freaking out, worried that Billy will reveal Defiance to the world. Mellie (Bellamy Young) is about to walk out when…
4. … Fitz walks in. “Sit down, Mellie.”
Olivia (Kerry Washington) smirks. “Let’s do this.”
5. They meet.
Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) advocates killing Billy. Cyrus (Jeff Perry) points out that one shouldn’t discuss such things in front of the president. Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), himself a murderer, says: “No more blood. This has gone far enough.” Olivia points out that Billy is not the problem, Defiance is the problem. They need the Cytron card back.
6. Mellie gets back to the business of storming out.
Cyrus tells her that if the president is going to run again, he’s going to need her. “He wants to come back. I promise you.” And: “He’s a child, Mellie. We have to show him the way.” (I sort of agree with Cyrus!)
Olivia and Fitz talk. She’s upset he’s going to run for president again because it means delaying their being together. “Livy: I’m running. I’m winning. We’re getting married. And you are moving into the White House with me.” She thinks he’s insane.
8. “Fix it,” he tells her. “Handle it.”
“Olivia Pope, use your superpower.”
9. What’s Fitz doing?
“Using my superpower.” Cunnilingus in the White House kitchen!
10. Jake and the Mysterious Man (Joe Morton) are meeting.
There are many names on the internet for Joe Morton’s character. I’ll call him what the Scandal Wiki does, Mysterious Man. Mysterious Man says he wants to see Olivia. Jake (Scott Foley) resists. Mysterious Man gets mad.
11. Also mad: James (Dan Bucatinsky).
At Cyrus for freezing him out, sourcing-wise. Just so you know, people who aren’t journalists: James really has a lot of conflicts that would not be allowed in journalism! You cannot cover your spouse! James then tells Cyrus that horrible Sally Langston is forming an exploratory committee for the next election.
12. Cyrus is livid with Sally Langston.
“Your job has only two requirements, Sally. One is to not die. The other is to be loyal to the president. Don’t die! Be loyal!” Sally says that the president’s White House is immoral. “Commandments of the Lord are being broken.”
The Gladiators try to figure out how Billy will get the Defiance news out and land on Reston (Tom Amandes), the Democratic candidate who lost because of the stolen election. This immediate leap to the correct answer is a bit of a stretch, even by Scandal standards. Couldn’t Billy, like, call The New York Times? Whatever. Embrace the insanity of Scandal, I guess! The Gladiators scheme to find a connection between Billy and Reston.
14. Huck tells Olivia that sometimes Quinn (Katie Lowes) reminds him of him.
“Has she hurt anyone?” asks Olivia. (Just wait, Olivia.)
15. The Gladiators see Billy coming out of Reston’s mansion.
Snake-in-the-grass David calls Billy. “They’re onto you.”
16. Cyrus meets with Mysterious Man, and is not happy about it.
Mysterious Man tells Cyrus the sex tape of Olivia and Jake can make their problems go away. He’s firm about it, if you consider this mini-speech to be firm: “You know how people say, ‘I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you’ at parties and then everyone laughs? I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you. We are not at a party and I am not laughing.”
17. Olivia calls Cyrus.
She tells him that Billy Chambers is working with Reston. Cyrus tells Olivia that Reston and the president are meeting. Olivia tells Cyrus he needs to stop it.
18. Cyrus has a heart attack instead.
Reston ends up telling Fitz that if he doesn’t put him on the ticket, he’ll expose Defiance.
19. Cyrus calls from the ambulance. The president tells him and Olivia what Reston is doing.
Can we talk about the actor Jeff Perry for a moment? He is so amazing on Scandal. Along with Gary Sinise and Terry Kinney, Perry co-founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. The first time I remember noticing him was as Ricky’s teacher on My So-Called Life; it was a wonderful part, and Perry had such a gentle way about him. Grey’s Anatomy has used his kind-seeming nature to great effect in his recurring role as Meredith’s weak father, who ultimately is a bastard. But never before has anyone used him like Shonda Rhimes does here. Cyrus is a maniac! A gay Republican. A screamer, and a red-faced lunatic. A murderer and a corrupt cheat! But sympathetic also? It’s really great.
20. James visits Cyrus.
James: “I don’t forgive you.” Cyrus: “I don’t forgive you either.”
21. The Gladiators think Billy has the Cytron card. But as we know, David does. Billy tries to convince him to give it over.
David reminds Billy that he has killed people, and therefore maybe isn’t the most trustworthy. “OK. I’ve got some blood on my hands,” Billy says. “But I had good reasons.” This part is good exposition for those of us who, four months later, couldn’t remember exactly what the Mole had done. (Not mentioning any names; see byline above.) “I had to get rid of the CIA guy… And that Wendy girl… Same with Molly.” Billy is psychotic, obviously. “They destroyed your life! She destroyed your life!” But David ends up agreeing enough to give Billy the card.
22. Olivia meets with Reston to pretend that the president is considering the deal.
She says she’d need to see proof of alleged voter fraud. Reston says he’ll see what he can do.
23. Mellie comes to visit Cyrus while Fitz is there.
She says that she and Fitz should leave together for a photo op. That’s when Fitz lays out his plan: He and Mellie will separate, and she will launch a political career with his backing. A year into his second term, he will go on some dates with “well-educated, age-appropriate career women.” Then it will leak that he and his old adviser and friend have begun to have feelings for each other. “America will love her. And, let’s be honest: My relationship with Olivia is going to spark a real dialogue about race in this country. And it is going to blow the Republican Party wide open, and let some light and air into places that haven’t seen change in far too long.” He threatens to paint Mellie as a racist if she doesn’t go along with it, or somehow leaks Olivia’s name.
24. Here’s how it goes over.
“I take it Liv came up with that?” Cyrus asks. (Yes.)
25. Olivia and Fitz talk on the phone. Just after they hang up, someone aggressively starts trying to get into Olivia’s apartment.
26. Jake appears behind Olivia. An assassin comes in, gun drawn. Jake shoots her.
We saw this assassin wannabe earlier, when Jake met with Mysterious Man.
28. Jake has taken Olivia to her office.
He tells her she needs to stay there. She asks why someone tried to kill her. He tells her that as long as she’s in a relationship with the president, she is in danger. He tells her there’s a branch of the CIA called B613 — “You’re B613?” she asks, tearfully. He tells her to hire security or break up with the president. She wants him to protect himself because he saved her. “Sleeping with you was my mission,” he tells her. “So don’t bother missing me.”
29. Echoing his moves from several episodes ago, Olivia tells Jake to close his eyes. And kisses him.
That weird brightness on the left? It’s like a lamp or something. There were a lot of obstructed view shots in this episode, which was directed by Tom Verica (who is also an actor, most notably having played the dad on American Dreams). I need to take note of whether this tendency to put the camera behind, say, a big kitchen rack or a reflective window is a Scandal thing or a Verica thing. I don’t love it.
30. Cyrus, who you may remember had a heart attack 10 minutes ago, shows up at Olivia’s office saying he was worried about her.
She asks him about B613; he says he can’t talk about that because of national security. She says she knows who tried to kill her and she doesn’t care. That she and Fitz are going to be together. He sputters. “You have decided that the killers were merely firing heart-shaped bullets? Made of bubbles and candy?” She tells him he’s being dramatic.
He really yells at her. “Romeo and Juliet were teenagers, and they died! I’ve had enough!” Then he tells Olivia that Fitz killed Verna (Debra Mooney). (Finally.)
31. She is upset.
Perhaps not upset enough, a normal viewer might conclude! “That is who you love,” Cyrus says.
32. Over at Billy’s apartment, shit is getting real.
Huck is going to torture Billy. Huck finds he can’t torture Billy. Quinn tells him it’s OK because she’s going to do it. Huck is horrified. This thread is played for comedy in a way that is — troubling? Like, if Jack Bauer gleefully drills someone when 24 comes back, the New Yorker will probably write another zillion-word story about it. But Quinn’s journey is obviously one we’re meant to be worried by, so I’m sure this will be addressed down the line.
33. Cyrus plays the sex tape for the president.
34. Quinn has tortured the location of the Cytron card out of Billy.
Abby (Darby Stanchfield), who, along with Harrison (Columbus Short), doesn’t have much to do in this episode, gets the card. (Black thing to the left: obstructed view!)
35. But the card is blank. It’s fake.
Billy, confronted with the fakeness by Quinn, says, “That’s the card David Rosen gave me!” They realize David took the card.
36. We flash back to David trying every possible combination for the safe.
He writes down every four-digit number he tries, a technique I filed away for future safe-cracking, proving I am actually insane. Abby is looking through David’s stuff as we see the flashbacks. We see David finding the card, and then Billy and Charlie approaching David. We see David making a fake Cytron card and, as Abby keeps digging, a file that says “For Olivia.”
37. The president did not like seeing the sex tape.
38. The cabal meets.
Hollis refers to David as a “tick” on their “ass,” and proposes doing away with him.
39. But David is in Cyrus’ office.
With the Cytron card, and with a proposal: his redemption.
40. Quinn excitedly retells the torture story to Huck, who was there.
“Watching him beg and scream, it was such a rush!”
41. At a press conference, Fitz credits David with catching Billy.
And he appoints David to be the U.S. Attorney for D.C.
42. Sitting alone in her office, Olivia puts her white hat back on.
The name of the episode is “White Hat’s Back On.” FYI.
43. Olivia, hatless, goes to the Oval Office.
The president mentions Jake; she tells him that Cyrus told her about Verna. He says he was going to tell her he didn’t care about Jake. “I’m guessing you don’t feel the same way about murder.” She says: “The things we’ve done to get you here — we went too far.” She tells him that Defiance is in the past and he should “run clean” with Mellie. He tries to talk her out of it. “You are going to be my First Lady!”
44. “They need me,” Olivia says about her employees. “I’m their Gladiator.”
“Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder begins playing.
45. Fitz goes crawling, almost literally, back to Mellie.
He puts his head in her lap, people. Even Mellie is surprised (but pleased). Fitz is such a confusing, fascinating character, right? He is weak most of the time, but then asserts himself once in awhile. He can be cruel, and obviously, he also has a murderous side. He doesn’t seem to be a good president. He is the romantic lead of the show? It’s a strange soup, Scandal!
46. Olivia is feeling pretty damn good about herself.
She’s going to go for a run.
47. Poor Jake, on the other hand, is being thrown down a hole.
The Mysterious Man is in charge of the throwing.
48. As she heads out of her apartment building, Olivia is swarmed.
Reporters surround her, asking whether she’s having an affair with the president! She is grabbed by suited men and put in the back of a limousine.
49. The Mysterious Man is there, of course.
51. The End
There are a lot of great shows on television right now. Probably too many even to watch, some of us feel. On the networks, there’s The Good Wife, Parenthood, Parks and Recreation, Grey’s Anatomy, and lots more. Over on cable, there’s The Walking Dead, Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, Sons of Anarchy, and an amazing mix of scripted and reality TV. One of the best shows in the history of TV, Breaking Bad, just came to an end. In summary: It’s a cup-runneth-over time to be a lover of television. But there is ONE show that is doing something totally different from everyone else, and that is Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal. It is throwing out every rule of narrative and viewer identification, and unlike, say, Homeland, actually making that work. For as long as it lasts. I can’t wait for more.
Scandal Season 3 premieres Thursday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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