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Scandal - Trump Card - Review: "Clearing the Field"

“Trump Card” was one of those Scandal episodes that leaves you with a cramp in your side because you had been holding your breath in anticipation of bombs that you knew were going to drop and destroy life as you knew it. As the second to the last episode of the season, this one did not disappoint. It was solid.

Much like the touted “The Lawn Chair” (414), this installment made a number of statements that fell within the context of the narrative (and that of real life) while also moving the story forward in a big way. There were wins, losses and revelations galore, and Olivia Pope was at the center of them all.

Let’s get started.

Operation Take Down Hollis

A week has passed since the debacle that resulted in both Mellie and Susan winning Florida and momentum is now on Hollis Doyle’s side. He has managed to move from the back of the line to the front and he’s savoring every minute of it.

Flashing over to OPA later that evening, Huck, Quinn and Marcus are watching as Olivia and Abby discuss in Olivia’s office the particulars of how they are going to take down Hollis. Quinn perceives the women working together as a good thing, even referring to it as some version of “Throwback Thursday” where the OG gladiators are back together. Huck, however, does not share her sentiment. He suspects that this supposed ceasefire and the resulting partnership isn’t as good as it seems.

With the two women in agreement that their focus will be on taking down Hollis and that their candidates will refrain from targeting each other in the meantime, the meeting comes to an end. Both emerge from Olivia’s office and Abby grabs her coat before heading for the exit. Before she makes it to the suite’s main door, she waves at Olivia who offers her a wave in return. Once Abby is gone, Olivia turns to her team and orders them to find something lethal on Susan. In the event that the ceasefire is broken, she wants them to be prepared with ammunition. Welp.

Once Olivia goes back into her office, Quinn puts up a hand to stop Huck from saying “I told you so” before he has a chance to do it. She tells him that things can still be good, that there is still time. Huck doesn’t believe that things can return back to what they were between Olivia and Abby, but Quinn has hope that it will. Abby is one of them after all. If only Quinn knew...

Back over at the White House, Abby instructs Elizabeth to find dirt on Mellie because Abby, too, expects that these talks between the camps is eventually going to break down and they need to be armed.

So much for trusting each other.

Back at the White House, Susan is busy crafting her statement for an upcoming press conference that requires her to say neutral things about Mellie when David shows up with the intention of taking her to lunch. Because he knew that she wouldn’t be able to step away, he thought instead to bring lunch to her. Gettysburger! Susan is elated and praises him for being awesome.

As he’s unpacking the food, David questions why it is that Susan has to say neutral things and she fills him in on the ceasefire details. While she is doing so, we learn that Mellie apparently hates Medicare, which leads Susan to conclude that Mellie must therefore hate old people. Heh.

David tells Susan to keep her eyes on the prize and to do what is necessary to hit the goal of attaining the Oval Office. He then goes on to talk about cases that he is tackling and which he finds to be incredibly dull. He tells Susan of the various ways in which he gets himself through them all to keep his eyes on the prize and all of them involve thinking of scenarios that include her in them. As David keeps talking, Susan sits up in alert, especially when his last scenario imagines them getting old together and he follows that up by saying that it is something that he would really want to see happen. He’s all nonchalant about the whole thing as he reaches for his food, but Susan is like nope. Let’s rewind that back, please.

Susan wants some clarification as to what he is saying exactly. David says that it’s clear, but she wants him to be explicit with his meaning. David being David makes a fumbling attempt at some 21st Century proposal where he’s suggesting that they join their lives together should she be in agreement.

Way to go with that proposal, David.

Susan shushes him as she comes around from the other side of her desk and instructs him to propose like a normal person, and he does. Susan gladly accepts! And my heart immediately breaks because I remember the big secret that he’s keeping from her and how that’s going to feel like betrayal to Susan all over again.

I just can’t have nice things.

Elsewhere in Washington, Olivia is meeting up with Cyrus in a park. He has called on her to, I suppose you can say, pick her brain as to why it is that Francisco Vargas is losing to Edison Davis. He outlines all the many ways in which Vargas is as amazing as he seems and Olivia is struck by Cyrus’s sincerity. Cyrus is a “true believer” in the person that he is advocating for. (He sounds as he had when he was running Fitz’s first campaign, doesn’t he?)

Cyrus wants to know from Olivia if he has lost his touch because despite all of the ways in which Vargas is connecting with people on the campaign trail, none of it is translating into wins. Vargas is losing when there are no reasons that Cyrus can find as to why he should be. Cyrus has been looking for reasons as to why this is happening, but thinks that maybe he has become too old for the job. He wants Olivia to be honest with him and let him know if this is indeed the case before he does any more damage to Vargas.

Olivia lets Cyrus know that he isn’t doing anything wrong and that the person he is actually up against is not Edison but Rowan. Rowan is the one backing Edison. Rowan is running Edison. “He is running everything and everyone,” Olivia says. Indeed.

With that news drop, Cyrus wants to know what it is that they are going to do about it. He asks her what her plan is and says that he is happy to go all the way in with whatever it is that she has going on. Olivia interrupts him as he’s talking to tell him that she isn’t fighting her father because there is no way to win. “And even if there was, I’m done trying,” she says.

So she’s now back to not fighting Rowan, huh? She’s just going to concede defeat and remain in that cage he’s got her locked up in? Surely Olivia realizes that not stopping Rowan interferes with her personal quest to win. It would help if we knew what it was that she actually believes she is going to win by placing Mellie in the White House, but I digress…

Somewhere else in town, we see Abby entering a parked limo and it is revealed that she is meeting up with Rowan. She wants to know why he has called this meeting and asks him if Olivia is in trouble. Rowan tells her that the meeting isn’t about Olivia and Abby makes to exit the vehicle, but she halts when he says that the meeting is about herself and what it is that she wants. Rowan knows that she wants Susan in the Oval and he has the material necessary to crush Mellie to insure that that happens.

Abby wants to know how it is that he knows that she was looking for dirt on Mellie and Rowan laughs. I’d laugh, too. Come on, Abigail. You’re talking to Command. He knows stuff you did in your mama’s womb. None of this should come as a surprise to you.

Abby tells him that her focus right now is on taking down Hollis and Rowan wants to know what she intends to do once Hollis is out of the way. He asks her if she’s just going to sit around and wait for Olivia to take her down. Having heard enough, Abby makes to leave the vehicle once again when Rowan spills that Olivia aborted Fitz’s baby.

This is how y’all are going to bring this abortion back up?! Via Eli “Rowan” Pope?!

Nobody in their right mind can tell me that this man loves his child. Nobody. No one who loves their offspring would do the things that Rowan has done to Olivia and they especially wouldn’t do this shit. Is this woman even his child? What kind of upbringing did this man have that has led him to being this atrocious?

There hasn’t ever been anything that Rowan has done to or supposedly for Olivia that wasn’t somehow to his benefit. Not a damn thing. Remember when he pulled a similar stunt in S2 where he believed that a recording of Olivia having sex with Jake would drive a wedge between her and Fitz? This time around, he’s hoping Abby would serve as his intermediary as he attempts to traumatize Olivia further by using her abortion to disrupt Mellie’s campaign.

Rowan isn’t the Devil’s spawn. He’s the Ruler of the gatdamn Underworld and it’s beyond time to have his flames put out.

I won’t lie, y’all. When I watched this live, I was so upset that hot tears sprung to my eyes. Something with Olivia has got to give with this man because I am good and tired. You hear me, Shonda? I. Is. Tired. You can have Olivia take a chair to him now. Enough with his continued exploitation and shaming attempts. I get it! Patriarchy sucks!!

The next day at OPA, the gang is standing around and wondering how it is that they are going to take down Hollis when Olivia and Abby emerge from Olivia’s office. Abby has three binders in her arms and they are full of opposition research that has been done on Hollis. The three groups that they intend to target are fiscal conservatives, women and anyone who has the “slightest bit of decency.”

First up are the fiscal conservatives. It is leaked to the press that Hollis used bailout money (from the government) and used it to purchase a Caribbean island. The question regarding it is posed to Fitz during a briefing with the White House press corps and Mr. President uses it to put in a jab to Hollis about how, if true, the accusations run counter to what America stands for.

During an interview, Hollis hits back by referring to the President as part of the “lucky sperm club”, someone who hasn’t worked a day in his life and looks down on new money Americans such as himself. He then adds that “Fitzy” is welcome to visit his island any time. His only condition is that Fitz is going to have to keep his pants on. Hollis doesn’t want the President waving his “tiny flag around, scaring all the natives.”

Lucky sperm club? Tiny flag? Who is the writer that is responsible for this dialogue?

Second strike was targeting women by trotting out Hollis’s first wife who says that she was raped by him. Hollis is able to deflect that as well and does so with his usual sexist remarks, referring to women as “fillies” who didn’t need to have their arms twisted to “roll in [his] hay.”

I should be offended.

When OPA checks to see if their offensive is having the desired effect, they find that it isn’t. Instead, Hollis’s points in public polling are inexplicably going up. People are charmed by his hillbilly offensiveness. (If only such a thing was confined to fictional TV shows…)

Last strike is pointing out that Hollis is racist. Quinn’s response to that is, yeah, well, we get that whenever he opens his mouth, but Abby asks her if she knows that Hollis actually runs with the Ku Klux Klan. Mellie is sent out there to point out the association during her appearance on a morning talk show a la The View. Not only is Hollis paling around with known racists, but he’s taking their money, too!

If using the system to his benefit and being sexist wasn’t enough to take Hollis down, being racist should, right? Well….Hollis argues that he’s the biggest supporter of free speech, and instead of disavowing the KKK, he manages to turn the tables towards the “media elite”.

Hollis Doyle and Donald Trump sure do sound an awful alike. Is life imitating art?

At the Pope residence, Edison is watching Hollis’s combative interview with a journalist who is challenging him on his association with a known hate group. He is astounded by what he is watching unfold and he sees this as a chance to strike back. With the understanding that what he’s proposing deviates from Rowan’s strategy for his campaign, Edison says that he believes that he should take advantage of the opportunity that this moment has provided him as a black man running for president and have a press conference to address what has come forth. Rowan tells him that all he would be doing is confirming what they already know about Hollis, which is that he is a xenophobic, misogynistic, idiotic racist. To that, Edison says that his supporters are starting to wonder why he isn’t out there pushing back at Hollis.

As sensible as he can muster, Rowan tells Edison that his instincts are correct in that regard and that he understands that Edison wants to go out there and stand up to the bully, that it is something that his supporters want, but his supports are also the people who believe that Edison will be their president. Rowan then drops, “You feel me, brotha?”

Wait. *hits pause button* Did Rowan just code switch?

The second he went AAVE, I knew Rowan was about to drop a lethal dose of blackness on us all. Just read this here transcript:

“This is America. You have another crop of supporters. A larger crop. Much larger, paler crop. Those supporters? They are okay--pleased, in fact--at the idea of a black president as long as he’s not too black. As long as he understands his place. As long as they can be sure that he’s not going to run north of the Mason-Dixon at the first sign of daylight.

“See, that is what they’ll think if you stand on the podium talking about Hollis Doyle and quoting Rosa Parks and Huey Newton.” -- Rowan Pope

Well, ain’t this a whole lot of truth. This is the very balancing act that President Barack Obama had to achieve in 2008 during his first campaign. Who in their right mind demands that the oppressed reassure the oppressor that he won’t slit their throats in middle of the night?

This is exactly what Rowan is asking Edison to do. He is telling him that he’s got to play the role of the good, docile and nonthreatening Negro in order not to scare away his white supporters. Rowan’s reference to the Mason-Dixon conjures up images of a slave escaping the South for the North and then becoming an agitator in favor of emancipation. Reality is that there are people who don’t wish to be reminded of our country’s dark history, and should Edison choose to go out of his way to do so, he is guaranteed to lose the Democratic nomination.

Edison then says to Rowan that his view is simplistic and that race is “nothing more than a social construct.” (By the way, when did Edison start calling him “Rowan”? Didn’t he only know him as “Eli”?)

Rowan was not done with his speechifying. Oh noes. He had more to dish out.

“You need to cease talking. ‘Race is a social construct.’ You’re speaking to a man from the ghetto. You have no idea what you’re talking about, you privileged little Ink Well prep school, Ivy League doctor’s son.

“You ain’t no Jesse Jackson. You ain’t got nothin’ to preach. You ain’t got nothin’ to say. You don’t have a dream and you have not been to the mountaintop, which is why I chose you. You go’n be our first black president! And you gonna get there by making everyone forget that you are black. You’re going to wait. Your time will come. When you’re in the Oval, you can say whatever you want. Until then, stand still and hope nobody notices that this ain’t no tan. Don’t make me angry.” -- Rowan Pope


Rowan just dressed Edison down in a manner similar to how he Fitzgerald in “A Door Marked Exit” (ep. 310). From Rowan’s point of view, Edison doesn’t know a damn thing about what it’s really like to be a black man because Edison grew up privileged and without the hardships that Rowan had in his day. When Rowan was coming up in Detroit, it’s doubtful that anyone was proclaiming that “race is a social construct.” Rowan is all about that bootstrapper narrative and has no patience for men like Edison (and Fitzgerald) who grew up with silver spoons in their mouths. The irony here? Olivia’s story isn’t too different from theirs.

After that bit from Rowan, Edison is left momentarily speechless before he meekly agrees that it’s smarter to leave the Republicans to go after Hollis. Rowan is all like, good boy! That’s smart thinking on your part! Edison adds that there is no reason for him to throw himself into their mess. Rowan is all encouraging of this turnabout (that he precipitated!!) and then slides in a question about whether Edison has come up with a short list for vice presidential candidates. When Edison tells him that he does have a list, Rowan says that he wants Edison to add an additional name to the very top of the list: Jake Ballard.

Edison’s response? “Jake Ballard? The one who’s always at this house for dinner Jake Ballard?”

LMAOOO! Yes, Edison. THAT Jake Ballard. The idea is as absurd to me as it is to you, bruh.

Edison says to Rowan that he doesn’t believe that Jake as his choice is a good idea and this prompts Rowan to sit back in his seat and say nothing. Edison continues to watch Rowan as if expecting another outburst from him, but Rowan merely says to him that it is Edison’s choice, that he is after all the candidate.

Later that evening at OPA, the whole team is trying to figure out what to do about Hollis and his the teflon that seems to surround him. Olivia comes into the conference room from wherever she has been before she proceeds into her office. Abby follows behind her and asks Olivia if maybe they should go after Hollis’s stance on abortion. Olivia wonders as to the angle that Abby is thinking to use this to attack Hollis who is an anti-choice candidate in an anti-choice party. Abby brings up Hollis’s mistress, but Olivia tells her that exposing Hollis as a hypocrite is something that she likes but not by using abortion. All that matters to conservatives in his party is what he says about abortion and how he votes with regards to it. They will forgive him whatever he has done in his private life with regards to it and it would just end up bolstering his standing among voters.

Olivia then adds that any discussion of abortion that comes up during the primary is going to end up backfiring in a way that harms Mellie who says the wrong things and votes the wrong way (recall the filibuster on behalf of Planned Parenthood), and that should anything be found in Mellie’s history with regards to it, it would end up destroying Mellie and not Hollis.

All the while that Olivia was talking, I was yelling at my TV and asking her “WHATCHU DOIN’?! You’re giving Abby everything that she needs!!” Of course, she didn’t know this. And Abby was sitting there looking conflicted. She has unwittingly solicited from Olivia the manner by which she could use the information that Rowan gave her and send the Mellie Grant campaign into a tailspin. It may not be Mellie’s “sin”, but it’s close enough.

Just imagine how messy everything would become should Olivia’s abortion be leaked to the press. It’s a nightmare scenario that would recall the public to the controversy that was Olitz, remind them that Mellie is a non-traditional conservative (she’s pro-choice) and it would resurrect in people’s minds the strangeness of the President’s ex-wife and his ex-girlfriend working together. That’s one hell of a train wreck that would send Hollis surging.

Should Abby move forward with this, not only would she bring strife to the Mellie campaign, she would likely drive a permanent wedge between herself and Olivia. She would also be serving as Rowan’s facilitator as he looks to further destabilize Olivia’s life. That’s not to mention what something like this would do to her boss. Eek!

An Unexpected Curve

While finishing off what she is saying to Abby, Olivia spots Hollis on Sally’s show and she heads back out into the conference room and asks Quinn to turn up the volume. Sally asks Hollis if he is bothered by the mudslinging that has been coming his way from his opponents and Hollis assures her that he isn’t. He equates it to one “being a 40-year-old woman without a husband. You don’t say you’re desperate, but you are.”

Why is Hollis like this? LMAO!

Hollis then goes on to say that to show that he has no hard feelings, he will offer the VP slot to the first of his two opponents that drops out of the race. Sally is shocked by the offer, saying to him that he can’t be serious, but Hollis assures her that he is.

“I’m as serious as a fat kid on Halloween.” -- Hollis Doyle

Quinn is shocked. Marcus says he should have run for president. Abby calls the tactic “disgusting.” Olivia agrees with her, but you can see that the wheels in her head are already turning. The same for Abby. They certainly aren’t going to vocalize it, but they were giving some serious thought to Hollis’s offer. Ut oh.

Now back at the White House, Elizabeth is saying to Abby how this isn’t the way to choose a vice presidential candidate but she almost immediately changes course and says that maybe they should consider it since they are down 140 delegates. Abby can’t believe her to be serious, but Elizabeth is. She says that Hollis could win and that they would be left with nothing. Abby tells her that they would be left with their intellect, their integrity, their souls.

Elizabeth is of the opinion that they need to take that VP offer before Mellie does, but Abby puts the kibosh on that and reminds her that herself and Olivia agreed to a ceasefire. They are running for president and not for VP, and they need to focus on taking down Hollis. At that point, Elizabeth remarks that it must mean that Abby doesn’t want to see what it is that she has gotten on Mellie.

Of course, Abby does! She rushes over to take what it is that Elizabeth has, but it’s weak sauce. It’s some stuff that she dug up about Mellie seeking out a psychic in order to communicate with her dead son. Abby believes that this would only make people sympathetic to Mellie as someone who was grieving and trying to cope with the loss of her child.

Lizzie Bear, I expected better from you. What was among those things that David dug up (and gave to Abby) when he was looking into who leaked the video footage of Olivia coming in and out of the Residence? Wasn’t there some stuff about the content of Mellie’s emails from David? Surely it wasn’t just this psychic stuff.

Abby tells Elizabeth that what she has isn’t enough to stop Mellie and Elizabeth tells her that they are going to have to find some way to make it be enough because it is all that they have. Well…. Once Elizabeth leaves Abby’s office, Abby pulls from her desk the envelope that Rowan gave her. She contemplates it for a moment and then shoves it back into her desk.

From the White House, we are flashed over to Mellie’s Senate office where she is sitting at one end of a sofa and Marcus is at the other. There is takeout spread out on the table, which Mellie is picking from while Marcus is busy editing some document. Mellie muses out loud that being vice president wouldn’t be so bad since it would be “that much closer to the Oval” and that maybe she should maybe take Hollis’s offer. Marcus interrupts her then to say that she is going to win because she has “amazing policy ideas”, “experience” and “vision” and that America needs her. He then adds that he doesn’t want to hear any of this crap about joining Hollis from her.

Okay now, Brother Marcus. Firstly, you’re gassing Mellie up way too much. Secondly? I’m here for Marlie. Don’t they give you Olivia and Fitz vibes? I’m not even talking about their racial composition. That’s there, but I’m specifically referring to the fact that Marcus has been serving as cheerleader extraordinaire ever since calling Mellie out on her bullshit some episodes back. He let her know about herself in a way that nobody else was willing to. Isn’t this what Olivia did with Fitz in “The Trail” (ep. 106)? And what happened after that? She became his cheerleader, the only person who could get through to him, his lover and his fighter.

Gatdamn it. Thinking about vintage Olitz done brought on the feels.

Whyyyyyy, Shonda?? *shakes angry fists at the sky*

You want to tell me that you don’t see shades of that with Mellie and Marcus? Ever since that Jimmy Kimmel appearance, he’s had her back. Clearly, she trusts him. He’s probably the only person at OPA who likes her. Just recall how he was able to get her to zip up the hysteria in the last episode. When else have we seen something similar happen? When Olivia calmly told Fitz to back up off of Elizabeth and hear the woman out in “Paris is Burning” (ep. 503).

Don’t be in denial, y’all. Marcus just might be the right kind of somebody that Mellie needs in her life to give her some perspective and calm her all the way down. Didn’t you peep the smile she had on her face as she thanked him for his encouragement? I might be getting a little ahead of myself, but that’s aight. We shall see where this all leads.

Flash over to Olivia and we see her emerging from the elevator to her apartment and she finds an unexpected visitor. She directs Rowan to move away from her door, but he ignores her and remarks about how she seems to believe that there is some finality to their relationship, even when he is dead and buried. If only he could be dead and buried...

Olivia cuts him off by asking him what it is that he wants. He advises her to take Hollis’s deal and Olivia wants to know why she should do that. Rowan tells her that it is her best option, but Olivia isn’t buying this. She believes that Rowan would rather have Hollis to face off against instead of Mellie, who is the stronger candidate. She says to him that not only does Mellie scare him, but she herself scares him.

YES, GIRL!  You do! Claim that power!! No matter what he has done to you, you have survived and lived to fight another day. You might be hobbling on a crooked leg in the mental stability department, but you’s alive!

Rowan tells her again to take the deal or Abby will, and this throws Olivia off. She is curious enough to ask him what it is that he knows and he says to her that Abby cannot be trusted, that she would take advantage of their friendship to betray her.

This is some hot mess. First Rowan gives Abby the ammunition to take down Mellie via Olivia, and now he’s here messing with Olivia by telling her that Abby cannot be trusted to not stab Olivia in the back. This man love his games. He knows that Abby using what she was given would kill the already tenuous bond that she and Olivia still have and it would bring chaos to Olivia’s life. On the flip side, Olivia joining up with Hollis would render her impotent. As Olivia stated, Rowan via Edison would be up against a candidate that they could easily beat. Either way, Rowan is guaranteed a win and Olivia would have lost yet again.

Olivia doesn’t believe him and Rowan says to her that it’s okay if she doesn’t trust him, but that what he finds truly troubling is the fact that Olivia is willing to trust everyone but herself. Prior to getting onto the elevator, he gives her cheek a kiss and then tells her take the Hollis deal. Olivia is standing there looking as unsure as ever.

Have I already stated just how much I detest Eli “Rowan” Pope? This is visit of his? It’s what he does. Messing with her head is his favorite past time. Not only has he put doubt in her head about her ability to trust her friend, he has also cast light on the fact that Olivia still is unable to trust herself. Remember that gut she used to have way back in S1/2? It’s long since been obliterated. Rowan did that, and as such, Olivia is going to have to find some way to protect herself from the influence that he has on her. If she doesn’t, she is forever going to lose to him.

Meanwhile over at the Capitol, Edison is entertaining Jake in his office. He remarks about how he and Jake have had limited interaction since Jake has become the head of the NSA and considers those few times to have been good. When Jake concurs, Edison pivots the conversation by referring to Jake as a “reasonable guy.” Jake’s response is one that questions the veracity of this statement and then he says to Edison that ole Eddie actually doesn’t know him.

Funny, but I don’t know you either. Who are you, Pete-Jake?

No. Nevermind. Don’t care.

Edison says to him that he called the meeting not to get to know him better (as Jake presumes) but out of courtesy to tell him that he won’t be considering him for the VP position because he has others in mind who have more experience and who better balance out the ticket. Jake gets up from his seat then and tells Edison that he isn’t a “reasonable guy”, and then he goes on about how Edison’s obtuseness to the obvious is why he was chosen by Rowan.

Edison moves to call an end to the meeting, but Jake gets in his face and tells Edison that he has no choice but to make him his vice president and that Edison is going to smile and wave and do whatever it is that he and Rowan want him to do. They will be the ones in control.

Jake makes to leave when Edison asks him what happens should he refuse to cooperate. It is at this point that it is revealed that Jake was the one that caused the “accident” that lead to Edison nearly dying! Say what?!

Remember way back in S3 when Edison ended up in a terrible accident that resulted in him having several broken bones (ep. 302)? Rowan did all of that to get Olivia to end her engagement to Edison who she was intending to use as a weapon against her father because of what she had learned about B613. And Jake Ballard was the culprit behind that. On Rowan’s orders, of course, but still. Just how long has Jake been skulking about in the back alleys of Olivia’s life?

After dropping that bit of information (which was clearly intended as a threat), Jake tells Edison that he isn’t to say “no” to him and then makes his way out of the room.

I know that all of this is supposed to be scary and whatever, but why am I always left yawning whenever Jake tries to instill the fear of God into somebody?

Next we flash back over to Olivia. She’s sitting in Hollis’s office and is looking side ways at an armadillo sculpture that is perched atop one of the tables when Hollis enters the room. Once he is seated, she tells him that she wants Mellie to be on his ticket. (Whatchu doing, Livvie?!) Hollis responds by saying that he wants the same thing, that a “classy piece of ass” such as Mellie would elevate the both of them. Olivia tells him that in order for such a thing to happen, that they’re going to need for Hollis to switch up his message for it is exclusionary and highly offensive.

This prompts Hollis ask Olivia if she really believes that he believes all of the “racist crap that [he] spews out there in the boonies.” Olivia doesn’t offer a response as he goes on to say that he’s a businessman who is just giving the people what they want. He also points out that if Olivia thinks him to be some “deep fried cross burner” simply because he’s from south of the Mason-Dixon doesn’t make Olivia open-minded.

Olivia laughs at bit at this and then says to him that aside from his personal beliefs, his speech is problematic. Hollis tells her that his speech is for a specific market and that when he switches things up during the general, everyone who supported him during the primary would believe that he was telling the truth initially but was now pivoting in an attempt to appeal to a broader electorate. He says this while insulting their intelligence.

Lawd Jesus...why does this so closely mimic reality?

Hollis goes on to add that “there ain’t enough Purell in the world to make me wanna keep shaking their filthy, inbred hands.”


Hollis looks to have Olivia cosign, but she doesn’t. She just gives him a little chuckle before they both shake on them having a deal.

The next morning, Olivia shows up at OPA to find everyone, including Abby, waiting for her. Abby is peeved that Olivia made her wait an hour. She after all is a woman responsible for running the country, and Olivia announces to them all that she went to meet with Hollis. She’s got a smile in her voice as she says this, but everyone else is too shocked to hear it. Abby accuses her of going behind her back and Quinn straight up tells Olivia that Mellie will become Hollis’s VP over her dead body!

Yiiiiiiikes. I’d say that Lindsey is still upset by the fact that Hollis blew up her boyfriend and set her up to take the fall.

Huck tries to calm Quinn down by telling her that everything is going to be okay, but Abby can’t understand how he figures that to be the case until Olivia clarifies that she went to see Hollis and then she went to “share some truth like a good Lover of Liberty.”

I should have known that Olivia was up to something because she led Hollis on and then was mum whenever he looked for her to agree to a statement that he had made. She would instead just smile demurely and do nothing more. Oop.

We get flashed over to Hollis on The Liberty Report and he’s going on about how he is thankful to God for all of the support that he gets from the people living in small towns. He says that it means everything to him, but Sally isn’t buying what he’s selling this time around. She tells him that she’s heard that the truth is different than what Hollis is saying to her, and when he denies that to be the case, video of his comments during his meeting with Olivia start to play.

Hollis Doyle, you’ve just been Poped.

Later back at OPA, we see Olivia and Abby celebrating Hollis’s take down. They predict that they have 24 hours before Hollis drops out of the race and then they will be back to fighting on opposite sides. Abby then makes to leave, but before she goes, Olivia tells her that she doesn’t intend to hold back and Abby responds by saying that she doesn’t want her to because she wants the pleasure of having beat Olivia while she is at “full speed.” Before she is even out of the door, she calls up Elizabeth to tell her to gear up. The fight is back on.

Handling Obstacle #2

The following morning, we see Olivia dropping in on Edison. Edison remarks that he is surprised to see her and after a brief pause, Olivia says to him that she respects him and that by Washington’s standards, he should be canonized. Edison tells her that he doesn’t need her pep talk. He is, after all, two-thirds to the nomination. Olivia says she would be happy for him if she thought that he would actually be the one who would be running the country. Despite the fact that he’s the odds on favorite to win the nomination and may even go on to win the presidency, Olivia points out that he would not be the one in charge. It will instead be her father.

This bit of truth agitates Edison enough to have him him starting towards his office door in what may have been him getting set to dismiss Olivia, but she steps in his way and recounts the states that he had been down in prior to votes being cast only to have him pull out a win each time. Olivia tells him that Rowan is stealing the election for Edison, not because he believes in him or that he wishes to lay victory at Edison’s feet, but because he believes Edison is easy to control. Ole Ed wonders aloud as to how it is that Rowan could have gotten the idea that he was easy to manipulate and when Olivia says to him that he is free to make this situation about him, Edison interrupts and says that everything is always about her whether he is the one making it so or not.

Well, he ain’t lying. At the end of the day, it is always about her.

Before Edison could go further down that path, Olivia interrupts him to ask if Rowan has suggested Jake as his running mate. Edison does silent with realization and has to take a seat. When he finally speaks, he remarks about how close he is to the White House, but Olivia says to him that he doesn’t want to attain the Office in this manner. She tells him that he needs to drop out and assures him that she can help him get out of this situation and ensure that he has a shot at the presidency the next time.

Girl, you outchea playing Russian Roulette with this man’s life. Nobody says no to Rowan and gets away with it, Olivia.

When Edison asks her how it is that he’s supposed to get himself out of his situation, she tells him that he has to say everything that he has ever wanted to say about Hollis Doyle.

Ah. You badass, girl, you.  Not only would Edison’s comments accelerate Hollis’s implosion, it would also render Edison useless as the candidate and rid Rowan of his intended White House puppet. It would also Jake from having to become VP, wouldn’t it?

Later when speaking to the press, Edison is told that polls have him beating Hollis Doyle and then he is asked about whether he is happy to see Hollis gone from the race. Edison responds by saying that he isn’t running against Hollis but against Francisco Vargas. He then proceeds to excuse himself to return to a speech he has to write, but the reporter has one more question. He says to Edison that he finds it hard to believe that as a black man running for president that Edison would have no opinion on Hollis dropping out of the race. This gets Edison to stop and turn back towards Reporter Brother Man.

Oh, Edison had a lot to say about Hollis Doyle and he was about to drop it all of the reporters gathered. Hold on to your wigs, y’all, because I transcribed that bad boy in full.

“You want a soundbite? You want the truth? Hollis Doyle is a disgusting piece of trash. A relic. A man like many other white men who have had a free run at prosperity and opportunity; for whom discrimination and injustice are as foreign to them as the Muslim immigrants that they want to ban from our country. And now that they don’t have a free run, they’re lashing out.

“To be honest, I can’t believe that it took him explicitly expressing his racism for you all to start asking these damn questions. He ends every speech with ‘Dare to be Great Again’. Huh? What? Should we return to slavery? Jim Crow?

“In today’s America, my gay friends can get married. In today’s America, I can vote. Fifty years ago--in Hollis Doyle’s lifetime--that wasn’t the case. In today’s America, my parents don’t have to recruit a white couple to worked alongside them in the cereal plant to apply for a mortgage because banks wouldn’t lend to folks with brown skin. In today’s America, we have the Brandon Bill, which means I may not have to tell my future son that he could be murdered by law enforcement just for asking why he was pulled over.

“Black lives do matter because young black people are under attack. Immigrants, too. The fact that Doyle insists on saying ‘All Lives Matter’ when talking about this movement really pisses me off. It’s like walking up into someone else’s funeral and asking, ‘Why are you not crying for my daddy? He’s dead, too.’  Well, yes, he is. And that is sad, but that is not the topic of the conversation. Go stand over there and let the adults talk.

“Hollis Doyle is a thug. A punk. And the people who support him are thugs or punks. Or they condone his behavior. They are not Americans.

“The idea that this country belongs to one kind of person is the least American idea that anyone has ever had. In fact, it is the opposite of the ideals of this nation. Nothing needs to be restored. Nothing needs to be made great again. We are a better nation than we were 20 years ago, than we were 50 years ago. Than we were a hundred years ago. Than we were at our founding. That is the point of America. We are a country where we are always greater than our past. I am proud to live in a nation where a black man has a legitimate shot at the White House. That’s American greatness.” -- Edison Davis

Maaaaaaaan, wasn’t that but a word?!

First Rowan attempts to delegitimize Edison’s authentic blackness by pointing to his privilege only for us to later watch as Edison spills more tea on blackness than ever got dumped into the Boston Harbor. If you didn’t understand what happened in that there bit of awesomeness, that was Shonda schooling you and your grandmama on reality and how not to respond to Black Lives Matter. Take notes.

As Edison turns away to climb into his bus, Reporter Brother Man turns to another Brother Man and remarks about how Edison just lost the presidency. Yep, Edison sure did and he’s proud of himself. That kind of truth ain’t never gonna get a black man elected. Edison didn’t merely cross the Mason-Dixon with that one. He ended up somewhere in Nova Scotia!

Back at the Pope residence, Rowan and Jake are watching this whole thing unfold on TV and Rowan is pissed. He reams into Jake, saying to him that he thought he asked him to put the fear of God into Edison, the fear of him. (Hole up. Is Rowan equating himself with God now?) Jake replies that he did exactly as he was instructed, but Rowan can’t see how that could be if Edison managed to pull what he did on live television.

Over at the Vargas campaign office, Francisco is on the phone with Edison who has just informed him that he is pulling out of the race. That meant that Vargas was now the Democratic nominee.

Good on them, but we all know that something bad is coming down the pike with this one.

The End of the Road

Soon after Edison’s concession, we see Cyrus on the phone with Olivia and he is asking her why it is that she changed her mind, and Olivia replies that even when Rowan is running at full speed, she is running faster. (Huh. I wonder if these came to her when Abby remarked that she’d rather beat her while Olivia is running at full speed.) Cyrus says that he has no idea what that means, but that he wishes to express to her how glad he is that her never choosing to go to therapy has served them well.

What? LOLOLOL!!! Cyrus, you are a mad man. And somebody please send this girl to a professional at the soonest because I suspect this moment of lucidity from her to be temporary.

Olivia cuts the conversation short when Huck and Quinn come into her office with the information that they have found to use against Susan. Olivia looks at it and says that it is enough and Huck concurs. What they’ve got will force Susan to drop out of the race.

Over at the White House, Abby has requested to see the main Secret Service agent who had been part of Olivia’s detail during her short stay there. Abby asks him a series of questions, all of which he confirms to be true and then Abby asks him if he recalls where it is that Olivia went following her stopover at the Capitol to see Mellie during her filibuster. Abby’s question left the poor agent standing there like a deer caught in the headlights.

We don’t get to see his answer, but it is clear from the drink in Abby’s hand in the flash forward that she has received independent confirmation of the information that she received from Rowan. She appears momentarily troubled, but then she seems to shake herself out of it and gets back to her desk to take up her phone. She calls up Olivia and tells her that they need to talk. Olivia takes this to mean that Abby has something and Abby says to her that she knows that Olivia has something as well, and she tells her to come to the White House later that evening so that they can talk.

Later that night though, Olivia shows up at the White House, but she’s not waiting to meet up with Abby in the privacy of her office. Oh no. Olivia has called together everybody in the Oval. Fitz, Susan, Elizabeth, David, Mellie, Marcus. Every damn body. LMAO!!!

So not only has this girl gotten her hard pass back (or at the very least gotten herself back on the list of approved visitors), but she has called everyone together without Abby even knowing.

When the aide who came to inform Abby of this development, I screamed because as a member of the audience, I knew what bomb Abby had but Olivia did not. And if this thing got unleashed with an audience? Oh man.

When Abby finally makes it into the Oval, she appears to be in something of a panic as she proceeds towards where Olivia was standing near the Resolute Desk with her eyes on some documents that were in the folder she was holding. Once Abby makes it to her, she says to her that this was not the plan, but Olivia says that it is better to have all the players involved in this right from the start. Transparency and all that rot.

Lawd have mercy. Me at this point was like…

What could Abby say to that other than to agree? At that point, Olivia calls the meeting to order. Both she and Abby explain what has been going on. The two parties had agreed to trade opposition research which will be shared to everybody right then. Once the dirt is revealed, each side will make the decision to either remain in the race or drop out. Should they decide to stay in, the dirt uncovered will be used against them publicly. Should they decide instead to drop out, the dirt will be buried and they will be free to run another day.

When Olivia asks if there are any questions, Elizabeth wants to know why it is that they are doing this. Marcus tells her that it is because Olivia and Abby want one of the candidates to drop out. Susan says she isn’t dropping out and Mellie says that she isn’t either. To this, Susan says that she is double not dropping out. LOLOL!!

As Mellie and Susan are going back and forth, Fitz finally speaks up and says that no one wants anyone to drop out, but the fact of the matter is that if they both stay in, they are going to deploy their arsenals and take aim at each other until one of them is morally wounded. The one left standing would end up losing to Vargas anyway (because they’d have wasted all this time fighting each other instead of one of them becoming the nominee sooner and then proceeding to face Vargas now rather than later). This would allow for the strongest candidate to be chosen and the other to be protected while giving the Republicans the best chance of winning the election come November. Fitz calls the strategy “smart.”

Elizabeth asks how it is that they know that this is the best that they have each got, and Olivia says that it makes no sense to hold anything back at this point. Olivia then silently confers with Abby and then decides that she will go first. Susan interrupts and says that if it has anything to do with the situation with the koala, but Olivia assures her that it isn’t that, but is instead about David.

Wait...what situation with the koala? Do I even want to know? Did y’all peep Fitz’s face when she said this? LMAO!

David is surprised when it is revealed that he is the source of the dirt. Olivia goes on to say that as Susan’s boyfriend and adviser, David agreed to drop a long standing DOJ investigation into Tamarac Sugar in exchange for securing Governor Baker’s endorsement in the Florida primary. Welp.

Susan is in shock and asks David if what Olivia just revealed is true. Elizabeth on the other side of Susan adjusts her position as if to say she’s staying out of this one. Before David responds to Susan, he wants to know why Olivia would do this to him. Susan hops up from her seat then at the absurdity of his question and says to him that he lied to her yet again. Susan is so upset, she doesn’t know what to do, so Mellie slides over on the other sofa to have Susan plop down next to her.

It is then that Fitz leans forward in his seat to say to David that if the accusation is true, he will be expecting to receive David’s resignation as Attorney General in the morning. Elizabeth chimes in then to ask Fitz if he is sure that this is something he wishes to do. Firing David would hurt Susan’s chances to become president. If David steps down, that would mean that Susan would also have to step down. This would all ruin his legacy, she tells him.

David says to Susan that he did it because he wanted her to win, but Susan shuts him up and turns to Abby to ask her what it is that she has on Mellie.

Ah shit.

Abby looks over at Olivia who gives her a nod to proceed. Everyone is looking over at Abby with varied expressions. Mellie is most definitely anxious. Abby then does the noble thing and decides not to share her actual bombshell and instead went with what Elizabeth had initially brought to her about Mellie having a psychic visit her at the White House 12 times.

Marcus says to Abby that Mellie was grieving and Fitz chimes in to tell both women that he doesn’t think that it is fair for them to use that. Mellie is shaken. Abby says to Fitz according to the rules set, anything is essentially fair game. She then turns to look at Olivia who doesn’t look to be convinced that this was the dirt that Abby had.

Realizing that there was no way that she could survive should she remain in the race, Susan stands up from her seat and tells the President that she quits the race. She then congratulates Mellie and exits from the Office.

Later, we see Elizabeth going off about Susan not choosing to throw David under the bus and still run for the presidency, but Susan points out to her that people are going to think that she knew about the deal or should have known about it. She tells Elizabeth that her race for the Oval is over and that she is just going to have to accept that.

Right on the heels of that, David comes into the office, which sends Elizabeth storming from the room. Once they are alone, David says to Susan that he knows that there is nothing that he can say or do to rectify the situation. No shit, Sherlock. You have screwed up how many times? And knowing how difficult it was for you to get back on her good side, you didn’t even attempt to come clean about what you did. Instead, you kept it to yourself, knowing that she would see this as a betrayal.

And gatdamn it, why do I keep seeing Olitz parallels everywhere? What David did is akin to what Olivia did with Defiance. Even though she was having an attack of conscience (212, 213) with regards to the secret and wanted to spill the beans, she ultimately did not and Fitz learned about her involvement in it instead from Verna. We all know how well that reveal went.

Susan goes on to tell David that running for president isn’t something that she wanted to do, but David convinced her that she should. She says that he made her want the presidency and then he took that away. David apologizes for what he had done and says that he did what he did for Susan because he believed in her.

Errr….nope. Susan points out to David that he couldn’t have believed her because if he did, he wouldn’t have compromised himself as he had to get Baker’s endorsement on her behalf.

Well, doesn’t this sound similar to what Fitzgerald said to Olivia in 219 when she said that she participated in the election rigging because she believed in him and believed that he should be president? Fitz was upset over the fact that Olivia opted to “fix” the situation and work with those with no known scruples (Cyrus, Mellie, Hollis, Verna) than to work with him as the team that they had set out to be.

Whew. I promise to stop doing this to us because my eyes are sweating.

Susan says to David that the worst part about all of this is that if he had believed in her that she would still be in love with him. David pleads with her and says that he loves her still and that he believes her to be amazing. Susan scoffs at his statement and tells him that she knows that she’s amazing. She then proceeds to give him one hell of a dress down.

“I know I’m amazing. I’m witty and cute and funny and smarter than you. I’m incredible, David. I’m gonna change the damn world, which is why this is over. I know, but you don’t. By keeping with someone who doesn’t believe in me, whether I am the President of the United States or some substitute teacher in suburbia somewhere, I believe in myself and I need to be with someone who feels the same way.

“You can go now. Because guess what? You just got dumped by the Vice President of the United States of America, and she has work to do.” -- Susan Ross

Susan opens the door to invite him to walk out, and when he finally does, the woman breaks down into sobs. Why do y’all keep doing this to my Susie??

It’s okay now, pumpkin. It’ll be alright.

Talk about knowing your worth and not allowing anyone to treat you with less than the respect that your person deserves! One has got to set standards and stick with ‘em. No amount of love is worth you enduring mistreatment at the hands of those who claim to love you back. Olivia could learn a thing or two about self-worth from Susan Ross. You get treated the way you allow people to treat you. Reclaim your power from your daddy, girl!

The following morning, it is now public that Susan has pulled out of the campaign. Even though she is leading in the polls, she attributed her pull out to her lack of funding. She holds a presser in which she throws her support behind Mellie.

So...as if this wasn’t predictable enough, Mellie Grant is the Republican nominee. I had held out hope that she wouldn’t be, given all the reasons why she jumped into the race in the first place, but since Olivia needs a win like a nicotine addict needs their next smoke, I guess I’m alright with it. Whatev.

Flash over to Marcus where he is waiting out in the hallway when Mellie emerges from her office. She is stunned by the fact that she is now the Republican nominee. Marcus asks her to repeat to him what he said to her and she does, stating that he told her that she could win. Mellie is beyond excited that she did this, that she accomplished something this big. It really is a moment for her to be proud of. She really did make it farther than even she thought she could.

In all her excitement, Mellie pulls Marcus into a hug and then when they pull out of it, they are both looking at each other as if they discovered at that very moment that there is something between them. They are about ready to kiss when they are interrupted by an aide, who informs Mellie that her next interview is set to go. Mellie thanks her and then heads back for her office, but before she goes inside, Marcus tells her that he will see her after she is done. Mellie looks back at him, and looks more than ready to have his hose put out her raging inferno. Suki suki.

We next see Susan metaphorically passing the baton on to Mellie via a handshake and then Mellie takes to the podium to address the media. Olivia, Huck and Quinn are watching all of this unfold back at OPA. They are all proud of the work that they accomplished as a team. Everyone is all smiles.

For the first time in a very long time, Olivia has won at something and won big.

Later, she goes to visit Abby with a bottle of Bordeaux. Abby asks if it is a consolation prize, but Olivia tells her that it can only be that if Abby had lost. Abby says to her that if she’s been watching the news, it is pretty clear that she has and Olivia remarks that she believes that Abby intentionally threw their competition. She asks Abby what it is that she had on Mellie and Abby tells her that she had nothing other than what she did. Olivia doesn’t believe that Abby had nothing else and wants to know what it is that Abby held back on .

Abby reluctantly gives in and tells Olivia that the information that she had on was not on Mellie. When Abby does not elaborate further and just stares at her, Olivia determines that the dirt had been on herself. Abby gives Olivia enough clues to lead her to conclude that the dirt was her abortion, and Abby goes on to say that she didn’t want to hurt her by using that information.

Olivia thanks her for the consideration, but there is something in her voice that I can’t quite make out. Surprise? Curiosity maybe? She goes on to say that it would have been a smart move for a campaign to take down Mellie by shaming her, but the truth of the matter is that she isn’t ashamed of terminating her pregnancy. (As she shouldn’t have to be. She made a decision that she deemed right for her at the time. And boy did Rowan miscalculate on not only Abby, but on Olivia as well. He got it all wrong.)

Olivia tells Abby that the only person who would have been hurt from that information coming out would have been Fitzgerald. She says that it would not have only hurt him publicly, and before she continues further, she takes a breath and then informs Abby that Fitz doesn’t know about any of it. The man didn’t even know she was pregnant, so, yeah, I’d say that finding out about something like this in such a public manner would be crushing.

Abby’s shock at Fitz being unaware is written all over her face as Olivia tells her that nobody knows and asks how it is that Abby learned of it. Abby tells her that it was Rowan who told her about it, and then she says to Olivia that she suspects that Rowan isn’t done toying with Olivia.

Never is that good thing. Looks like Olivia got yet another wake up call about Rowan. She may have chosen earlier to not engage further with her father, but he’s still out in the field playing games on her. All of this was set into motion before Olivia decided to step in and encourage Edison to tank his own nomination.

And speaking of Edison, he is in his office when Rowan shows up with Jake in tow. As Rowan claims one of the seats in front of Edison’s desk, Edison says to him that he isn’t going to offer any apologies for what he said to the press. Rowan tells him that he isn’t looking for an apology. What he wants is confirmation that Edison’s stunt was an idea that came from Olivia. Rowan states that Olivia saved Edison and beat himself, and points out that Edison isn’t crafty enough to have come up with that scheme on his own.

At this point, Edison says to Rowan that he can’t hurt him, and Rowan says to him that he luckily doesn’t have to. He has his dog present to do it for him, and Jake does just that right as Edison is standing from his seat. He shoves Edison back down by slamming his head against his desk and then says that he’s going to allow Edison to live because Rowan may need him in the future. Blah blah blah.

Once Rowan leaves the room on the confidence that Jake will handle Edison for him, Jake says to Edison that he is to tell Olivia that he needs her help and that Edison should say to her that he wants to escape and is once again chasing the sun.




You know what needs to happen to that sun? A gatdamn eclipse, that's what! One that never ends. It’ll lead to the end of life as we know it, but I’d rather us all perish than me have to listen to this man mention this stupid sun ever again.

Olivia has managed to save Edison from Rowan and now Jake believes that she can do the same for him, but um, the man had the option to not marry Vanessa at all, but he did. Does he really believe that Rowan is just going to let him walk free as he had with Edison?

I’d rather believe that Jake is using this as some ploy to draw Olivia close so as to spring some trap on her because that had been Rowan’s plan all along, but that may be giving him too much credit. I’m just over and done with him being the damsel in distress. Save your own damn self and leave this girl to go fix her life. UGH!

Anyway, this was one hell of a Scandal episode. With everything that transpired in it, you know that the finale is bound to be full of the unexpected. As of this moment, it would seem that Olivia and Rowan are bound to roll right into season 6 locked in battle. I was hoping that some light would enter into this girl’s life by this point in the season, but the darkness continues. This is the first time in a while that there was some levity and lifting of the cloud that has overwhelmed the back half of this season. Olivia was firing on all cylinders.

With the abortion coming back in this manner, we are aware that this isn’t the last of it, right? Olivia saying to Abby that Fitz is unaware of it (and by extension her pregnancy) was more of less a guarantee that Fitz is about to find out about it. How and why is now the question? With him and Olivia having been apart for over a year now, how is he going to react to this information? What’s it all going to mean.

I don’t think I’m ready for the finale because I know that there is going to be some twist in it that is either going to have me shooting a nail gun at my wall or leave me upset that I’d have to wait until God knows when to find out what happens next.

This has been your recap/review of Scandal episode 520. We have one more episode together, y’all!! Since I can’t seem to limit myself when it comes to recapping this show, I appreciate you all for taking the time to read all of my tomes and for offering your feedback at the end. It’s been an amazing ride.

What did you like/dislike? What are your thoughts on Rowan, Edison and Susan’s speechy moments? As usual, share your thoughts in the comments below or send a tweet (or five) my way. Thank you for reading and see you next week!

About the Author - Spectacles in Script (Specs)
Specs is a fiction writer who has a love for compelling stories and ankara dresses. Currently obsessed with SCANDAL, she serves as reviewer of the show for SpoilerTV.
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