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Scandal 3×03 “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington” Recap


After being unceremoniously delivered to Olivia’s doorstep bloodied and bruised in last week’s episode, Jake Ballard is now sleeping off his injuries in Olivia’s pristine white bed.

The woman herself has curled up in the corner staring worriedly at him, until her phone rings with a call from – who else? – President Fitzgerald Grant, who wants to talk about Jake. She hangs up on him and then promptly dials Huck.

Now that the big secret of Command’s identity has been revealed to him, Huck doesn’t really want to talk to Olivia about anything. He assures her that he’s fine, but he needs her to give him time.

Time to stalk and possibly murder Eli Pope, that is.

Olivia, none the wiser to Huck’s plans, eventually returns to work where her team has been waiting anxiously for her. They have a new client, Mary Nesbitt, who wants to hire the team to take care of a personal family matter.

For someone who’s been patiently waiting to meet with Olivia, Mary is quick to leave once the fixer shows up. Mary says she has an urgent appointment on The Hill. Mmhm, I’m sure I know exactly what kind of “appointment” you have, Mrs. Nesbitt.  Anyone who’s seen the promos know this woman is bad news bears.

The team is excited about having a new client who can help them pay rent and bills. Quinn, though, is also worried about Huck – he hasn’t been returning her calls. Olivia offers up a flimsy excuse then practically runs from the room. Aww.

Over at the White House, Cyrus, Fitz, Mellie, and a wee little baby have breakfast and argue, as per usual for their dynamic. The fact that they’re all in the same room eating food and not actively trying to claw each others’ eyes out must mean they’re having a good day.

Cyrus informs Fitz and Mellie that they are going to Camp David together as a family to show the American people they’re getting past all their issues. The married couple continue to bicker like an old angry married couple (the “Shut up! / You shut up!” bit was priceless) before finally giving in to Cyrus’ plans.

Back at Pope and Associates, the gladiatorial team has discovered their new client Mary’s son had been killed in an FBI raid over a year ago. She also cleaned out her bank account two days before meeting Olivia and her team. Hmm, I wonder what this “personal family matter” she wanted Olivia to fix was…

Olivia, sensing something is terribly wrong, goes straight to The Hill to investigate. Upon stepping into the building, she finds Mary with a bomb strapped to her, tearfully taking a congressman and other office workers hostage.

Meanwhile, a male intruder leads the White House security on a merry chase as he tries to locate the President – apparently he has to speak to him about Operation Remington, which is supposed to be of the highest security clearance. As in, no one is supposed to know or speak of this. Ruh-roh.

Fitz and Mellie are rushed off to safety and not allowed to leave. Right now I’m wishing someone would whisk Olivia off to safety as well, because she’s staring down a hysterical Mary who wants an answer to a question that’s never going to be answered to her liking: why was her son killed?

Sure enough, the answer the congressman gives – “Your son was killed because he was guilty” – is not one she accepts. Olivia takes charge then, and asks Mary to talk to her, because she’s listening.

Meanwhile, the Gladiators are doing their thing and piecing together the story for the audience’s benefit (also their benefit, but naturally it’s mostly for us). Chris Lawrence, Mary’s son, had died in an apartment that was home base to an alleged terror cell. That’s all anyone knows for sure, since the files on the investigation have since been sealed under the Patriot Act.

Mary’s telling Olivia the same story, frustrated that the FBI suspect her son of being a terrorist but refuse to explain why. She tells Olivia that she hired her because she’d read that Olivia always trusted her gut – and since Mary’s gut told her that her son was innocent, she knew Olivia’s would tell her the same thing.

The phone in the office rings, and Olivia becomes the go-between for Mary and the FBI, relaying information as well as Mary’s demand: Chris’ file declassified and given to her immediately.

Elsewhere, investigations on the male White House intruder are underway. Cyrus is informed that the incident was wholly unrelated to Mary and the bomb, but that the man is still an unknown threat. Cyrus orders the man to be released – something to do with Operation Remington, no doubt – and then goes off to call Eli Pope (unknowingly saving the man from Death By Huck).

Back in the congressman’s office, poor Olivia is being worn thin, caught between keeping Mary from blowing everyone up, giving her Gladiator team their assignments, and mediating with the FBI. The FBI want Mary to turn herself in before giving her the file, but Mary’s not an idiot, and neither is Olivia – she knows that this is her chance to get as many people to safety as possible. She bargains with Mary to let some of the hostages go, and after some coercing, Mary releases six hostages.

After the mysterious White House intruder is released, Mellie and Fitz are cleared to leave their mini safe-house. On the way out, someone gives Fitz a file about Chris Lawrence.

When asked what he wants to do about the bomb threat, Fitz orders the snipers to shoot if they have a clean shot… at least until he sees Olivia standing in the window, having pushed Mary away from the line of fire. Fitz pretty much freaks out, as does Mary, the congressman, and the FBI guy Olivia’s been talking to who outright calls her a terrorist. After the FBI hangs up on her, Olivia requests from Mary another phone call, which Mary grants.

Later, Fitz gets a phone call that he thinks is Olivia, but nope! It’s jake Ballard, who seems to have recovered enough to walk and talk and make requests on behalf of Olivia Pope. Fitz informs him that there’s not much they can do, since the government will not negotiate with terrorists.

Huck, meanwhile, continues to go full psychopath as he tracks Eli down to the trailer of the mysterious White House intruder from before. We see Eli offer the man a packet of money, saying something about deals and honorable men and keeping Remington under wraps no matter what. Eli exits the trailer to find Huck pointing a distressingly shaky gun at him, but is pretty much unconcerned. Jesus, Eli Pope, are you actually a heartless, fearless robot? You terrify me.

Olivia’s phone call ended up being to Jake, who unfortunately couldn’t help her. Olivia assures Mary not to give up hope, because her team is still on the case. The team is floundering, though, especially with Huck missing.

Harrison manages to get some information when an FBI Agent randomly approaches him and shows him some video of Chris Lawrence making a recruitment video for terrorists. Harrison later sees her talking to someone suspicious before peeling away in a car, and checks up on her story – turns out there are no FBI agents on system with her name. Little Miss FBI lied – but why?

It takes some convincing on Abby’s part, but David Rosen joins the fight as well by going to Cyrus and asking to see the file. Oh, David Rosen, if only life were that easy. Cyrus berates him for a good two minutes before showing him the door, but Rosen isn’t having any of that.

Rosen whips out a notebook and starts naming people involved in the Chris Lawrence raid. He got the names from personnel files and started putting the pieces together. Cyrus swears it’s not what he thinks, and David Rosen replies, “Prove it to me.”

Hm. I guess it was that easy.

The next call Olivia gets is from Fitz, who’s standing with Cyrus, David Rosen, and the head of Counter Intelligence, and preparing to tell her the following classified information: Chris Lawrence wasn’t a terrorist, he was CIA and used those recruitment videos to bring in other undercover CIA operatives. The FBI killed him by mistake. However, Chris’ mother can’t know this, because if this gets out then the 57 other agents would be tortured and killed.

Olivia needs to choose whether to tell a grieving mother the truth, or lie to her and potentially save the lives of those 57 agents. She chooses to lie.

Mary falls apart. Olivia holds her as she cries, and promises to give her the best representation possible. The bomb squad moves in to escort the congressman, Olivia, and Mary away.

At the last moment, Mary shoves Olivia out of the room and shuts the door, then detonates the bomb on herself.

In the aftermath, Olivia sits quietly by herself on an ambulance when Quinn rushes up to let her know that Huck is obsessed with Olivia’s father and spent all night researching him. Geez, can this woman get a reprieve already?

Back at the White House, Mellie is getting drunk alone in the dark with a bottle of hooch. Fitz joins her, and the ensuing conversation is so terribly awesome it’s difficult to describe, but it basically boils down to this: Mellie is happy that Olivia is alive, because now she can use her as a weapon against the ever-so-predictable Fitz. And she says all of this while stone dead drunk. Girl’s got some talent.

Olivia stumbles back to her office to find Huck sitting in the dark waiting for her. This conversation is also way too amazing to adequately desribe, but basically it boils down to this: Olivia asks Huck if he killed her father, Huck goes on a tangent about what killing her father would be like, Olivia slams the table and tearfully asks again, and Huck stars creepily at her.

Just when I think he’s about to pull Eli Pope’s head out of a Jack-in-the-Box, he whispers, “no.”

We then flash back to what happened the last time we saw Huck, standing outside that trailer with a gun to Eli’s head. Eli had given him a “present” – the Remington leak, handcuffed to his trailer with a razor sitting on the table waiting for Huck to use it.

Being an addict, Huck killed the man. Back in the present, he breaks down telling Olivia that he’d thought he was free, but Eli – Command – still owns him.

Olivia finally, finally returns home, where Jake is waiting. Olivia accuses Jake of spying on her again (as she’s throwing two cell phones to the ground, which was inappropriately hilarious to me) because she doesn’t understand why her father let Jake go.

Jake promises he has no idea why, and tells her that during everything he went through in the hole, picturing her face was what got him through it.

“Nobody walks away from him,” says Olivia. “This is not a fairy tale. This is not the happily ever after. If you’re still alive, it’s because he still owns you … He’s going to find a way to use you against me. Don’t feel bad about it. He still owns me too.”

Well that was a depressing end to this highly depressing episode.

Rating: A-

Memorable Quotes

Olivia: Huck… is taking a personal day.
Quinn: Personal day?
Olivia: Personal day.
Abby: We get personal days? What, do we get vacation now too?

Cyrus: The poll numbers are good… okay, not good, decent… well no, not decent, bad. They’re bad.

Secret Agent: I’m afraid that under these current threat protocols, I’d be forced to tackle you, sir.

Olivia: I’m fine. How are you feeling?
Jake: Are you serious? Oh, I’m a little sore – you’re in a room with a bomb!

Abby: Baby Huck is choking.
Quinn: It’s the FBI, not the DMV.

Harrison: You told Mary you’d get her the file then went back on your word. Not cool. You’re gonna get a very bad rep in the hostage-taking community!

Fitz: You’re drunk.
Mellie: That’s impossible, a lady never gets drunk.