In “Baby Made a Mess,” Scandal Pope’d us all — and it felt so good. Everyone, particularly the ladies, are back on track. Olivia did some old-school gladiating, while Abby dealt with her past head-on. Even Mellie is back from being Drunk/Crybaby/Smelly/Chicken-
Let’s start with a celebration of the fact that Olivia did some active political fixing in this episode. When Fitz endorsed Abby’s slimy and abusive ex-husband Chip (Michael Trucco) to fill the Senate seat of a man who likes to poop in diapers and be changed by sex workers (#America), Olivia stepped in to ensure the opposition would prevail. Her makeover and prepping of Susan Ross (Artemis Pebdani) was classic Scandal, plus the inspired twist of having Susan’s daughter ultimately star in the campaign ad (The Good Wife‘s Eli Gold would most certainly doff his cap to that).
But Chip’s campaign manager Leo Bergen found a flaw in Olivia’s plan when he discovered Susan was not actually a grieving widow — she was never married to the father of her child. Abby, who had refused to come out publicly and discuss Chip’s abuse of her, conceded in telling Leo instead. He did the right thing, sinking his own client’s ship, but his motives weren’t altogether altruistic — he was trying to grope Abby, after all (though she seemed ok with it). What was more important though was that Abby, who had been reduced to a crying, vomiting mess after seeing Chip again, was able to compose herself enough to hold him at gunpoint later, telling him to back the hell off. Cheers all around.
Meanwhile, Liv remained in dogged pursuit of the truth that could set Jake free, but found Tom unwilling to change his story about Rowan’s involvement. Tom’s monologue was one of the best and strangest of the season so far; his delivery might have been part Huck and part Jake, but his wavering from creep territory to adoration to accusation and back was his own unique spin. Olivia Pope’d him hard, though, by telling him to watch his back; Rowan would be tying up that loose end shortly (in fact, it was pretty stunning that he hadn’t already). But it was Liv who actually ordered that non-fatal hit that spooked him into telling a truth that even Fitz could believe. Well-played.
Improbably, yet awesomely, Fitz, Jake and Liv are now a team moving forward against Rowan, which is a really great place for the show to go. Each have their weaknesses against Command, but together, they might be able to take him down. Is Liv really ready to allow for the possibility of Rowan’s death, though? Because let’s be honest, nothing short of that will stop him (and even then, I bet he ends up having a really vengeful ghost).
With all of this going on, “Baby Made a Mess” still managed to find time for some decent side stories about Cyrus realizing who the leak is, as well as Huck’s son finding him held a lot of interest on their own. Scandal is at its best when it focuses on the emotional side of things, and the hour was full of revealing character moments and twists. Some worked very well (like Olivia out Pope-ing her own father by using his tactics — masterful) and some didn’t (like the revelation that Liv’s landlord ain’t worth shit, and will let anyone into her apartment, including a Fitz making dying seal sounds). But they all added up to a really fun and fast-paced episode that has beautifully set up the remaining hours before the mid-season finale. “I’m back. That’s what you wanted.” Amen!
Episode Rating: A
Musings and Miscellanea:
— We need to talk about Fitz’s dirty talk on the phone. “Then I’ll kiss you on the lips so you can taste yourself” — is this after watershed?! Also, Liv’s “ugh” afterwards was the perfect reaction. I detest Fitz too much to find that conversation steamy, but I did find how thirsty he was funny.
— Olivia’s got the shine, apparently, as even Tom is in love with her at first sight.
— Two excellent cameos this week from Michael Trucco (BSG!) and Artemis Pabdani, who was the best part of Masters of Sex‘s second season.
— What was that roving camerawork on Fitz when Liv brought up his suicide attempt?
— “Yahtzee!” – Leo.
— David Rosen hasn’t been on the show much this season, but the writers are making it up to him by giving him so many excellent lines: “That place holds people who eat people,” “This isn’t jailhouse-mingle.com,” “I’ve been Pope’d and I didn’t even know it,” as well as his discussion supermax being called supermax.
— The story about Jeremy Winslow and the photos of Liv was really downplayed this week … I wonder if it’s related to Rowan somehow? (Isn’t everything?)
— I assume Huck didn’t mask his IP address in the hopes that his son would find him, but do any of these buildings have doors or locks? People just seem to come and go as they please.
— “Against me, you will lose” – Rowan.
— “What’s clear is that you seem to have wasted a lifetime doing all of the wrong things” – Liv.