Scandal Season 4 Episode 14 recap

We did it! And inexplicably Liv has all of her coats with her! Hooray for coats!

No, seriously, I didn’t see this coming at all. I did think she’d manage to weasel her way out of a buy from Iran, because she knows how to push buttons, although I found the fact that it was a female operative both cool and um, dubiously realistic. But I had no idea that the winner would mean Russia and that Russia, inexplicably, would mean Stephen.

Stephen! Ring ring – wake up, all you LOST fans who watched Scandal at first because Desmond was on it. Welcome back, Stephen! The only plotline I really remember him having was making Abby crazy because he could and also buying the engagement ring for his fiancé. Not exactly riveting stuff. Which is why he um, left to work for Russia.

And yet this week seeing Stephen back was a revelation (also, hot). Remember when Olivia was able to help people? Remember when that was her goal? She was a white hat! Accomplished stuff. Saved Stephen, apparently.   

Okay, but before we get to that, let’s talk about the rest of the mechanics that got us here. I felt like the Gladiators’ fear was entirely warranted, but wasn’t exactly in step with the resigned worn-out-ness that Olivia had going. I mean, I believe it was entirely realistic – after a while even the kidnapped run out of theoretical f*cks to give – but I wished they matched each other a little better.

Just like I wish I understood what Abby’s position was supposed to be. I said last week that the whole “We’re best friends” thing is um, kind of one-sided. In addition to which, her job seems to be striding up and down the corridors of the White House. This is one of the ways the show is so pale when it’s inside the actual West Wing – it feels like a pale imitation of that other West Wing, and you can’t help wishing they’d try a little harder.

But not being able to do her job, if she has a job – that’s a problem that befalls a lot of people on this show.

One underrated thing that Scandal does surprisingly well is proving that Olivia and Fitz really do play in the big leagues. I mean that in the most pretend way, of course – there are no international players, and no foreign dignitaries ever come to play.   But they don’t pretend that the world is a nicer place than it is. They don’t pretend that rescuing Olivia wouldn’t be an international incident or that Cyrus had any other option but to have Olivia killed, if it came to that.  

This is what Fitz does not and never has understood. Everyone around him not only does exactly what their job is supposed to be – they take pride in doing it. Cyrus needs to allow the leader of the free world to do his job, Olivia gave up everything to make sure not that Fitz could do his job, but that he was the kind of person who would choose the country over her. Hell, Rowan is fishing in “Canada” because nobody would let him do his job. When Mellie was furious with the president, she resolutely did not do her job, and it worked really well actually.

But Olivia’s job  - her bigger job – has been disrespected for too long. How can she love a man who doesn’t love what she does? How can he not see that what she’s done for him isn’t just ‘for’ him, it’s a testament to her accomplishments and skills and denying it is denying her? Why doesn’t he know?

So I loved her screaming at him. I loved that her losing control – the cumulation of everything that had happened to her – was in service of what she was really mad about. Not her fear, not her trauma. Her rage that she wasn’t valued for the political wizard that she is, or has been and wants to be again. Her frustration that she might – she might – have done it for the wrong person after all. She needs to believe that all of this – she called them tests – are no match for a man like Fitz.

She might be wrong.

Otherwise, the gladiators and friends (I love you, Papa Pope) kind of went through the motions with a couple of small exceptions. First of all, I hope to hell that’s not the last we hear of Huck’s little problem. Are we to believe that just because Jake says ‘don’t do it anymore’ that Huck can do so? Surely not, especially since nobody likes Jake anyway? I hope not, either, because not only did we get to watch Huck enjoy himself giving the Vice President a stroke, we also got to see the delighted look on Elizabeth’s face when he did it. Did you see that? Can Portia De Rossi have more and more comedy, please (or are we done after this?). Quinn has been reduced to the role of a personal assistant, worried about wine stains and burgers in the oven.

There are fewer and fewer fleshed-out people on this show. So while I appreciate a sweeps ‘event’, I’d like to go back to the world where Olivia Pope was the one who told everyone else who and how to be.