Season 4, Episode 1 recap

I forgot about the soul music. I love the soul music on this show. Gone Girl is a very nice touch, as is Olivia’s curly hair, and what appears to be a first for network 9 PM.   Is that a first? Um, digital manipulation? In the first minute, what we know is that Olivia Pope, 100 miles of the coast of Zanzibar, is “Julia Baker”. But we’re not paying attention because of how great the resort looks, and how much we wish we were there. Still, once Olivia opens a clipping of Harrison, found dead (bye, Columbus Short), you know the joy is short lived.

Olivia, (Julia?) back in white clothes and straight hair, is in a limo swearing it’s only going to be a few days in and out. She stomps back into her office, where everything is covered in sheets. Dark and cold. No white hats. Oh wait – here’s Quinn. They found Olivia via Olivia’s tell. “Rare, complex, fantastic red wine.” Quinn has practiced speaking a lot, lot faster during the hiatus. She takes Olivia to where Huck is working at a “Data Star”. Like if when you went into a genius bar, everyone had to face front and never smile. Huck is unimpressed that Olivia is not back for good, so now he’s back into the hole of not coming out.

Abby, meanwhile, is White House Press Secretary? This looks good on her. She’s yelling in a way CJ Cregg never dared. She mouths off to the president and is cut off by  Mellie walking through the White House in a kimono and pajama pants and eating what looks like knockoff Quality Street. Oh, she is having a BALL. Bellamy Young, that is. Mellie is mourning.

Meanwhile, Cyrus just walks in to see Portia de Rossi whose hair makes me SO happy. A Republican high-powered broad must have this hair. She spits a lot of information about how they’re in trouble and Cyrus refers to her as “Lizzy-bear” which everyone acknowledges is not her name.  

But you don’t have much time to think about it, because there’s a dramatic meeting of Quinn and Abby and Olivia in the garden. The gardens? They argue about what Harrison would have wanted and Olivia says “I’ve never held a grudge against you” but – for what? What would Abby have done that required it? Long story short, she says she’s planning Harrison’s funeral and Abby can show up or not. Right then. Liv – “I’m not Liv!” – stomps away as Quinn telegraphs that we’re all in trouble.

Now David Rosen and Jake – whom I didn’t get the impression was in a visiting mood – argue over whether he had enough information in the secret boxes in the storage facility to go after B613. In short, David was too scared because all the info in them is scary. But don’t worry, because when he goes back to look at them, he’s going to get a call to be offered the job of Attorney General. As you do.

Olivia, who was not planning to do much in town, meets her father for dinner, and he’s already ordered her some wine, and I really don’t mind that whenever he manipulates her, he’d like her to actually enjoy some real wine while he terrifies her.   Olivia reminds him that she’s there because “my friend is dead”.  He barely restrains himself from shrugging. She immediately finds out what did he have to do with it, which is having her mother killed. Maybe. Do we believe it? Did we see it? I don’t remember. Olivia swigs some wine. “You lose people. Whatever.”

Abby is about to take off on Cyrus but he’s furious that she didn’t say Olivia was back in town. He’s all “I know exactly when she came back, why didn’t you tell me?” Abby is caught up in the idea that he’s spying on her and Cyrus is like “that’s what you think the issue is here?” Oval Office, though, Fitz is still worried about Mellie’s mental state until Cyrus tells him Olivia is back for Harrison’s funeral. This is, unfortunately, the most times the word “Harrison” has ever been said in one episode.

Phone rings. Olivia has someone at her door, “her bos”’ needs to talk to Olivia. Hey, it’s the idiot girl from the Newsroom! Lisa? Anyway, Senator Stephanie Vaughan thinks she just killed Senator Stirling. There’s the problem we knew was coming!
Olivia and Lisa (“Kate”) show up at the one senator’s house, and she has a whole story going on about why he’s lying dead in the foyer, but Olivia’s like “HOW ABOUT DUDE IS NOT DEAD”.  She begins to Handle.

Olivia needs “Clark” to take on this case, but um, could he not look more like James if James was 20 years older? RIP James. In any event, they debate whether or not Senator Vaughan was there, and whether or not Senator Stirling was imperative for a vote on the equal pay act – all things you’re not paying attention to because How To Get Away With Murder comes on soon.

Is it never summer in Olivia’s D.C.? She shows up in a gorgeous coat to lure Huck back into her fold, but he’s not interested, even when she provides him a broken phone to fix. The actor has the same Huck-cadence he ever did, where you worry he might asphyxiate.

Mellie lies down, in bathrobe and pajamas, on Jerry’s grave. Fitz looks on. I’m not sure why there’s no seam  of new earth on his grave. This scene, in a bit of a madcap episode, is the only time I felt real sadness. Sorry, Harrison.

Olivia and Jake, not only in the same frame but in the same body. Sorry. Anyway, Olivia is irritated that they’re making Senator Stirling into a saint. Jake gives a speech about turns and no-talking that is the promise of oral sex that will go forever unsatisfied. Sad! Olivia talks about Stirling being a rapist and sexual predator, and I feel as though it would have been helpful to know this more than just hearsay. It makes everything the least sexy ever when she rants about “before the press is on your side”, etc. She calls Clark. “Because: I’m in.” Anyway, then he shuts her down.   “As long as we’re back, it’s always his turn.” Then there is some explicit sexual language about riding and moaning that cannot be otherwise interpreted.

Olivia and Quinn, doing their thing in their office. Cyrus and Fitz, pretending to do their thing in theirs. Fitz asks whether She Is Staying. Cyrus: “You really want to pretend we all don’t know how this movie ends?”  

OK Olivia and Clark. I’m so distracted. He couldn’t be more like James. Clark is grilling Senator Vaughan and she trips up here and there so Olivia announces that Vaughan is lying, because, Olivia says, when that happens, you don’t forget. She wants to hear the truth. She does this by grabbing Kate’s phone to call Quinn, and surprise. Anyway, all the women who work for the Senator (and might have been harassed) look like….THEY LOOK LIKE KATE. Brown hair brown eyes. Bingo, Olivia says – Kate called Senator Vaughan.  

David and Abby each remember the other exists! He’s worried about the Attorney General job and thinks she might have revealed his secrets! But he starts to blab about her secrets, mainly “You have a colorist!” Okay. She thinks that he “loves the law” more than her and I guess they’re not together anymore, because he wasn’t there for her when Olivia was gone. What is this time period where she’s been gone?  

“I’m older. More established.” Olivia doesn’t understand totally why Stephanie would do this to Stirling – but then she realizes that he had a type. She knew. So she….set up her assistant? Looks that way, right? Especially since it would help the equal pay vote, as if any of us remembered what that was.  So Lisa comes in, and is furious that her boss did that to her, and Olivia washes her hands of the whole thing.

Funeral, with soul music. “Don’t Trouble The Water.” Quinn wears adventure pants.   Olivia tells us he grew up in a group home. They’re really trying with this funeral, but the thing is, Harrison, we hardly knew ye. Abby and Huck show up, wordless and crying. The coffin is lowered. Abby and Olivia squeeze hands. Huck, because he’s not a whole adult, asks “We say goodbye now?” and if anything could penetrate my fog of cold medication, that would be it. Olivia cries alone, and then she cries into Jake.   The whole time, Eli Pope watches them. Jake sees. Indignant. Olivia doesn’t. Let’s remember that he is the hell AND the high water. 

White House. What they might call an upstairs portico. Mellie drinks, hanging over the railing. She’s not going to do it though, she assures Fitz.  “I’m not like you.” So I guess he had a suicide attempt, and we’re all the way to the last five minutes of the show before he says “Don’t ever mention it again” like the dick he is. Anyway, she points out that she’ll be sure not to, like everything else she’s not allowed to talk about. I wonder if Mellie is channeling the way she feels Princess Diana must have been treated?

Fitz chooses this moment to say that Olivia is back. Mellie’s all “When you see her, you tell me”. He says he won’t. Nobody believes that. Least of all Mellie Grant. She’s not going to pretend, because she’s not interested in screwing him in lieu. “Things that feel like a waste of time once you have held your dead son in your arms.” Her joke about waxing feels trite by comparison.

Jake and Olivia, standing around ready to get on a plane. But of course…wait for it … she can’t go. She thinks about what Harrison would say. “Are we Gladiators or are we bitches?”

Abby does a briefing. David is nominated for Attorney General. Abby says there’s no tension in his party. Back to Cyrus and de Rossi – she basically says don’t count on the party’s support. Olivia says she’ll be representing Kate, and it’s about the equal pay bill. Silently, Huck returns with a fixed phone. Olivia is all in white. Was there ever any doubt? She and Fitz pass in a hallway – and they don’t even touch!

I don’t always spend this many words on Scandal, but when I do, it’s because the season premiere wants you to remember that no matter what the finale, nothing has changed and everyone has white hats back on.