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Scandal - Lost Girls - Review: "An Uphill Battle"

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This latest episode of Scandal -- “Lost Girls”-- featured a case of the week that highlighted a situation that had trended on social media earlier this year regarding black and brown girls who had gone missing in the Washington, D.C. Metro area. The writers altered this a bit to have the focus be on many such girls who have gone missing from various cities across the country. The title of the episode was likely also in reference to Olivia Pope who is currently considered lost and in need of rescue.

If it isn’t yet obvious, Shonda Rhimes and her team of writers appear to be aggressively addressing various social justice issues in this final season, and I am here for all it! What I have particularly appreciated is not only their willingness to address these subjects, but also their ability to have these issues tie directly back into the overall narrative of the series.
Subjects of social importance aren’t new to Scandal (Exhibit A: its pilot), but given the current political climate that we find ourselves in, there seems to be sense of urgency to its inclusion now. I don’t know what else these writers have up their sleeve moving forward, but I commend them for what they have done thus far.

A quick summary of where we left off: Adjusting to life away from the epicenter of American power (and Olivia) was proving difficult for Fitzgerald who was having a miserable time in Vermont. Marcus was also having a bit of a time himself, and he and Fitz eventually get into a tussle over some harsh words that they level at each other. Rowan arrives unexpectedly to try convince Fitz to return to D.C. because he needs Fitz’s help in pulling Olivia way from the darkness that threatens to swallow her whole. The episode ends with Fitz showing up at Olivia’s doorstep and he catching an eyeful of his love with her new boy toy.

Taking on the Cause

“Lost Girls” picks up from exactly where the last two ended with Fitzgerald, Olivia, and Curtis standing in the hallway outside of Olivia’s apartment. The moment is awkward as the three of them stand about, but Curtis soon takes it upon himself to break the ice. The two men greet each other and shake hands right before Olivia asks what it is that Fitz is doing there. (She is highly annoyed.) Fitz replies that he has some Grant Institute business that he would like her help with, but that he could call another time if that particular moment was bad.

Olivia wordlessly gestures that the time is bad while Curtis simultaneously says that the time isn’t bad at all, that he was actually just leaving. (LMAO!) Olivia turns to give him a look that said “WTF!” as he calls for the elevator. She tries to convey to him that she doesn’t want him to go, but Curtis ignores her effort. He tells Mr. President that it was nice to meet him, and then he glances at Olivia as the elevator doors close. Hmph!

Curtis was out of there with a swiftness. He was like, nope...she’s all yours.

Now y’all know Olivia was mad about that, right? For one thing, there went her ride (ahem) for the night, and secondly, she had to deal with the unexpected arrival of Fitzgerald without a crutch. Nevertheless, she has another tool at her disposal: irritation.

Once Curtis is gone, Olivia turns back around to again ask Fitz why he is there. Fitz hands her a file and explains that he and Marcus are putting together an Institute project that he hopes that she can help them with. It’s a case involving hundreds of missing teenage girls that no one is looking for due to the color of their skin. Incredulous, Olivia points out that she has more important things going with the nuclear summit that is to occur between the heads of states for Bashran and Dakal.

Fitz presses on by saying that the case is “right up [her] alley”, and Olivia scoffs at this while turning away from him to press the button for the elevator. (She must have pressed that sucker like 10 times.) She corrects him by saying that the case used to be something that she did.

Turning back towards him, she points out that he isn’t even supposed to be in D.C., and she again asks him why he is there. (How many times is it now that she has asked this same question? Three?) Fitz replies that he laid low during the first hundred days, and now that it has passed, he needs to get back to work.

He tries again to appeal to the Olivia who would ordinarily jump on something like this, and right as it looks like he is close to success, Olivia shakes off his spell and hands the file back to him. She tells him to take the case to Quinn and that if Quinn is successful in garnering attention for it, she’ll have Mellie make a statement. Fitz says that he doesn’t want Quinn Perkins, that he wants Olivia, and Olivia tells him that that is just too damn bad because he can’t have her!

Oooo...the tension!

Sufficiently riled up now, Olivia tells Fitz to excuse her because like him, she, too, has work to do. She then gives him the stank eye before entering her apartment and slamming the door behind her.

Now don’t get it twisted. Olivia isn’t THIS mad over the audacity of Fitz’s request. She used to pull this sort of thing on him ALL THE TIME! Nah, that’s not the issue. His unexpected reappearance is what has her in a snit, and one has to wonder why.

Also, what does she mean that she has work to do? Wasn’t she just about to do Curtis before Curtis made like Casper and yielded the floor to Fitz? Girl…

The next day, we see Mellie having a private meeting with President Rashad in the Oval. They are preparing for the nuclear summit and promising to work together to ensure that the Prime Minister of Dakal signs the treaty. Mellie remarks on how she knows that Rashad is getting incredible pushback about the treaty, and she offers to give him whatever additional support he may need as they embark on this upon this historic moment together. When Rashad tells her that he appreciates the offer, the two of them get to staring intensely at each other. After a moment, Mellie suggestively asks if there is indeed anything else that Rashad needs.

The moment is interrupted when Olivia comes into the Oval, and it is clear that Rashad’s presence is a surprise. Olivia bids them both good morning and Mellie explains that she and Rashad were working on some last minute talking points. Olivia says then that she hopes that they are all on the same page, and Rashad replies that he believes that they are. Before departing, he says to Mellie that he is looks forward to the talks and Mellie replies that she is as well. (I’m sure y’all are.)

Olivia is momentarily distracted by her thoughts, but once she is alone with Mellie, she asks if Mellie knew that Fitz was back in town. Mellie tells her that Fitz had called that morning to ask when he could see their kids. When Olivia asks if his visit had been on the books for a while, Mellie says that the trip was very last minute and that she told Fitz that he was free to do whatever he wanted as long as it did not overshadow the summit. Mellie is blasé about the whole thing, her focus more on the history that she’s about to make with her first treaty signing, but Olivia remains bothered.

Elsewhere in the White House, Cyrus’s assistant Hannah is reading to him the government rules for the acceptance of gifts by public officials. The gift must be unsolicited and be worth $20 or less. The Céssane that Fenton Glackland sent Cyrus fulfills the former criteria, but obliterates the second.

Cyrus wonders aloud what Fenton could have been thinking when he sent him a painting of such enormous value, and Hannah (after some coaxing) relays a personal experience where a barista tried to woo her by giving her free biscotti every morning. She says that in order not to give the wrong impression, she makes sure to pay full price for everything that she gets from that shop. Cyrus tells her that in his instance, paying full price is not an option, and in reply, Hannah tells him that he’s going to have to give the painting back. That is, unless he wishes to send Fenton a message. (LOL! Hannah is a mess. Please stay.)

Over at QPA, Marcus is passing out the photos of 219 missing black girls who have been ignored by everybody, including the press and law enforcement, within the past year. Abby calls the situation criminal and Marcus replies that Fitz agrees with her assessment, hence the reason why he wants them to make noise about it. Their hope is that the increased visibility of the missing will get the public to be on the lookout for them. The task at hand now for the gladiators is to narrow these girls down to one face that can be used to get the public’s attention.

Back over to the White House, Olivia is in her little B613 hideout with Jake. He catches her up on what he has done thus far in working with Bashrani security to flag anyone who is a potential threat to President Rashad. He goes on to say that he thinks it is time that they talked about hiring some more agents, have more eyes in the field.

Much like she had been earlier with Mellie, Olivia is only half paying attention to what Jake is saying. She cuts him off at some point to say that she needs for him to look into Fitzgerald. She explains that he has returned with no warning, showing up at her apartment with some case that he claims that he needs her help with.

Jake wonders why it is that she finds it strange that “a man who hasn’t gone for three minutes, let alone three months without wanting to see [her]” has come back. (LOL! Shade, but no shade.) Olivia relays that she and Fitz had an understanding: he was to stay in Vermont and out of her and Mellie’s respective business. Should he be coming to D.C., he is to coordinate his visit with the White House. No surprises.

When Jake asks her what the case is that Fitz is working on, Olivia tells him that it doesn’t matter. The case isn’t the point. Jake replies that maybe the case is the point and is something that might be worthy of her attention. Jake then asks what it is about Fitz’s return that she is afraid of, and Olivia admits that she doesn’t know. The whole thing simply doesn’t feel right.

Now what is with Olivia and the whole “a place for everything and everything in its place”? We have seen her apply this to Rowan and now she’s doing it again here with Fitz. Mellie couldn’t have cared less about his impromptu appearance, but Olivia is seriously agitated by it. Granted her intuition is rightfully telling her that there is more to Fitz’s return than meets the eye, why is it that she must be given advance notice before he steps into her orbit? What is she afraid of?

Back to QPA, the gladiators are going through all of the missing girls to find one that will serve as the face of the cause. Several of the girls are eliminated outright for various reasons, many of which are minor. They need to find a girl who is squeaky clean. No high school dropouts, rule violators or girls with the name “Quanesha”. Marcus tells the group that they need a girl who has a white-sounding (a.k.a. not easily identifiable as black) name. Abby is grossed out by the whole process, and Marcus is as well, but he explains that this is what they will have to do to get the public to pay attention.

Elsewhere in some basement, Rowan is conveying to Fitz his skepticism of Fitz’s choice of using the missing girls case to save Olivia. When Fitz shares that he believes the case to be a noble one that will remind Olivia of who she is and what it is that she cares about, Rowan dismisses the method as weak for all it has resulted in is Olivia passing the case on to her old team.

Fitz demands to know what it is that Rowan would have him do instead. It isn’t as if he can politely asks her to dismantle B613. He goes on to say that if Olivia shuts down shop, it has to be her idea to do so and not his. Rowan interjects at this point to say that they are trying to lure Olivia into a cage, and Fitz in response is like, “Nah, bih. Ain’t nobody speaking French up in here. WE ain’t doing shit!” He then says that whatever he does do, it’ll be because he wants to do it.

As Fitz starts for the exit, Rowan is quick on his heels. He reminds the other man that he had once been in a cage himself, stating that he had gotten in that cage not because of the fossils that had been offered to him, but because of the woman who was doing the offering. (That would be his now dead old flame Sandra.)

When Fitz asks him what his point is, Rowan replies that in this instance, Fitz is the lure. The case is indeed attractive, but the real bait is Fitz himself. He describes Fitz as Olivia’s “weakness”, stating that this is why he has always hated Fitz “with the passion of a thousand suns”, but that this also happens to be why he believes Fitz to be Olivia’s only chance at salvation. He tells Fitz that his mission is to get Olivia to fall in love with him and not with a cause.

Rowan really thinks he’s about to use Fitz to “trap” Olivia in the same way that he has used his “sons” in the past to pull Olivia in whatever direction he deems appropriate? Fitz is to make Olivia fall in love with him? Really? Yeah, he can miss me with that.

Rowan has succeeded beyond his wildest imagination in convincing his daughter that love and family and friendship should take a backseat to her running the world, and now that she has gone so far as to not only do that, but to also grab the reins of B613, Rowan is turning to her Achilles heel to pull her back. Now he wants to reintroduce to Olivia the very thing that he often used to belittle and dehumanize her. Funny that.

So is love truly a weakness as Rowan often tends to refer to it? Clearly it holds significant power if Rowan believes that it fell a Goliath such as himself and that it’ll have the ability to do the same to Olivia. It’s kind of hard to accept the idea that something that has endured a scorned wife, an assassination attempt, manipulative parents, shadow organizations, kidnapping, murder, estrangement, and intermittent lovers over the period of decade as being weak. It remains as enduring and as unshakable as ever, so would it be safe to say that this “weakness” is indeed a strength? Hmm. (Shout out to Fitzgerald circa episode 211.)

A Search for the Lost

Back over to QPA, the team has finally found their poster girl! Zoe Adams is a straight-A student from Baltimore who is also a Rangerette. The gladiators are quick to move into action as Quinn directs Marcus to reach out to his press contacts to get Zoe’s story out to the public, and Huck and Charlie are to verify Zoe’s background. Abby volunteers to approach David for help in accessing the case files of the Baltimore Police Department.

We next see Cyrus standing outside some door that has no discernible way of alerting the person within that they have a caller. He is looking about for a doorbell when a small screen on the door flashes on and Fenton Glackland’s face appears. He has virtual reality gear strapped to his face, and soon the steel door slides open to reveal his person.

Cyrus implores the man to take off the gear before he can talk to him, and when he obliges, Cyrus thanks him for the gift, but tells him that he cannot accept it. Fenton is bummed by this, but he agrees to take the painting off of Cyrus’s hands. As Cyrus is about to leave, Fenton invites him in to try out his gadgets. Cyrus tries to wiggle his way out of accepting the invitation, but Fenton manages to persuade him.

The two men end up having a grand time in virtual world, and in the process of their following conversation, Fenton gets to flirting with Cyrus! He tells Cyrus that he would like for them to hang out on the regular; Cyrus can teach him about politics while he gets under Cyrus’s skin.

Oh. Okay now.

Later that evening at the White House, Olivia is busy working when her assistant enters the office to announce that the former press secretary is there to see her and that she has Curtis Pryce on the line. It takes Olivia a moment for the identity of the first person to click, and when it does, she comes from around her desk to instruct her assistant to tell Curtis that she is unavailable. Matter of fact, she is to say that Olivia is unavailable whenever Curtis calls from now on. (Somebody just got curved. For now.)

As the assistant leaves the room, Marcus steps in and offers Olivia a greeting. Her response is a terse question about why he is there, and Marcus sarcastically replies that it is nice to see her as well. (The woman is just rude for no reason these days.) Marcus says he thought he could drop by to see Mellie, but that he was told that he needed to get permission from Olivia first. When asked what it is that he needs, Marcus states the he just wants to see how Mellie is doing. Olivia tells him that Mellie is busy, and Marcus tries to get Olivia to allow him to see Mellie even for a moment, but she refuses. She tells him that “unlike the major nuclear summit President Grant’s currently dealing with, this is not a negotiation.”

Having met that dead end, Marcus relays to Olivia that they’ve picked the poster girl for their cause, and he shares a few details about her. Olivia replies that she’s glad to hear that, but her tone is one that conveys disinterest and dismissal than actual care that they succeeded in this regard. Marcus picks up on that, but goes on to say that if Olivia has a minute that maybe she can stop by the office and get her hands dirty. Olivia replies that she’s already in her office and that her hands are “plenty dirty”. (If only Marcus knew…)

Ceding the point, Marcus starts his way out of her office. Before he can get beyond the door, Olivia feigns nonchalance as she asks him about Vermont. Marcus’s quick reply is that Vermont is “cold” and “white.” Olivia clarifies that she means to know how Fitz is in Vermont. The whole while that she is asking this, she can’t bring herself to look directly at Marcus. It isn’t until he says that Fitz is also “cold” and “white” that she looks up. It takes her a moment, but she laughs at his crack and Marcus joins in. (Y’all and these jokes.)

After a beat, Marcus shares that Fitz misses her. Olivia wordlessly motions for Marcus to shut the door, and when he does, she asks if Fitz’s new passion for finding missing black girls is an excuse for him to see her. Marcus replies that if taking on this cause means being able to bring even one of these girls back home, then the why of Fitz doing it shouldn’t matter. He then leaves Olivia in heavy contemplation.

The following morning, Olivia is at her old stomping grounds, and she is stunned by the number of girls that are displayed on both of the glass walls. Hundreds of them. She carefully examines each face, going from one girl to the next. Does she see herself reflected in them?

Not too long after her arrival, the voices and footsteps of the gladiators can be heard coming towards the conference room. They all come to a collective halt right outside of the room when they sight Olivia within. They look startled, curious, surprised. Huck wonders why she is there and Marcus replies that he invited her there. Quinn asks when this invitation happened, and Olivia responds from within the room that the invitation was offered yesterday. She then tells them that she can hear them. (LOL!)

When they all finally step into the conference room, Olivia asks Quinn how things are going with Zoe, and Quinn says that they have put out a number of press releases, but that they have received no responses. No doubt that Olivia already knew the answer before she even asked it, for she was prepared to tell them what they needed to do in order to get the attention that they sought. She relays that they need a storyteller, and she pulls out a photo from the file that she brought with her and pastes it to the wall. The photo is of Nora Adams, mother to the missing Zoe.

Olivia outlines all of the ways in which Nora is the perfect person to tell their story. She states that Nora is attractive, put herself through school after her husband died in combat, set up social media accounts and webpages to help find her daughter, staged week-long vigils at city hall, wrote to the governor, and even reached out to former President Grant. She then tells them that the public won’t identity with a missing girl, but they will certain identify with a determined mother. If QPA is looking for results, they should put Nora out there to tell Zoe’s story. Olivia promises to give Nora all the press that she needs should QPA choose to follow this strategy.

Aww, look at that. The head gladiator is still in there. I’ve missed her. And judging from the expressions of the others in the room, I’d say that they’ve missed her, too.

As Olivia exits the suite, Fitz and his agents emerge from the elevator. Fitz is jovial as he remarks that he didn’t expect to see her there. Olivia shrugs and says that she had a few minutes to spare, so she figured she’d pitch in. When Fitz doesn’t immediately respond to this and instead just stares at her, Olivia is curious to what he is thinking and he tells her that seeing her in the office again “feels like old times”.

Fitz then takes a step closer to her and the timbre of his voice drops a bit as he proposes that they get a drink together before he heads back to Vermont. He says they can either do that or continue to meet outside of elevators. As he speaks, Olivia is staring at him as if mesmerized. She catches herself (and his elevators joke) in time to shake off his spell and offer a laugh. She says that they should wait to see how the summit turns out before making plans.

Fitz says nothing else as he stares at her with a smile on his face, and Olivia stares back up at him, she once again appearing momentarily hypnotized. She soon recalls herself and tells him that she has to go. As she steps around him and into the waiting elevator, Fitz wishes her good luck with the summit. She is all smiles as she thanks him and pulls the elevator door shut.

So these two are just going to flirt with each other as if they just met? Is that what we’re doing now? Okay, cool.

I don’t know what caused this shift in Olivia’s attitude, but she needs more of this kind of lightness in her life. She is long overdue for something that doesn’t consist of her barking out orders and demanding obedience from her minions. Can we discard the coiled up serpent lady already? I prefer this mushy Livvie with the heart eyes and easy smile. I’m not asking for much.

Now at the White House, the nuclear summit is underway. The Prime Minister of Dakal is reviewing the details of the treaty and Mellie explains to him that what is outlined within is a sign of good faith that shows that both Bashran and Dakal stand to gain equally from the deal. The Prime Minister says that the notion is a lovely one, but he believes it all to be nonsense.

Rashad asks Prime Minister Nazari if issuing insults is how he wishes to start off negotiations, and Nazari responds that the real insult is the document that he has been presented with. When he rhetorically asks what kind of fool they take him to be, Rashad says he would tell him, but “there are women present”.

Referring to the younger man as “son”, Nazari says that he knows Rashad well and knows him to be greedy. He states that despite whatever is in that document, he knows that Bashran and Dakal are not starting off on a level playing field. He then asks Mellie what it is that she offered Rashad to get him to come to the table, and Mellie states that the summit is happening because Rashad requested it.

Nazari counters by addressing everyone else at the table and saying that the summit is happening because “the United States will be happy until they are the only ones with the big bombs”. (Didn’t Rashad initially level this very same accusation?) He further dismisses Mellie’s explanation and says that there was some bargain that she and Rashad made at the State Dinner and he accuses them of conspiracy. He goes on to state that he misses Mellie’s husband (rude!) because Fitz would at least look him in the eye while he tried to screw him.

The remark sends Rashad shooting out of his seat in offense and he orders Nazari to apologize to Mellie. Mack Daddy Rashad looks prepared to fight! You will not disrespect his sweetness in his presence! (Y’all better check that he hasn’t got a scimitar under that coat.)

Olivia is watching all of this unfold, her eyes darting from one person to the next in analysis of what is transpiring. Nazari considers Rashad’s display and then says that maybe there was no bargain, that maybe Mellie’s “charms” were enough. (Oh!) Mellie calls them both to order at this point and suggests a break that would allow for the cooling of tempers.

Upon returning to the Oval, Mellie is steaming! She tells Olivia that she wants a list of proposed sanctions against Dakal within the hour so that Nazari can see in full detail what will happen if he continues to be uncooperative. Olivia patiently listens and then questions Mellie’s instinct to respond to Nazari with threats. Mellie replies that they don’t have much of a choice if they want to get the deal done, and she points out Nazari’s behavior in the meeting.

Olivia counters by saying that what she saw was a man who was frustrated, skeptical, and suspicious. Nazari doesn’t trust or believe Mellie, and Olivia asks her why he would when Mellie has thrown open the doors in welcome to Rashad, thrown him a State Dinner, and has been lauding him in the press ever since. She brings up the earlier instance of her walking in on Mellie and Rashad working together alone behind closed doors, and states that it is obvious what is going on and that it is obvious not only to her.

Mellie dismisses her alluded to assertion as ridiculous, and when Olivia asks her to tell her that she is wrong about her assessment, Mellie stubbornly insists that there is nothing to tell. Olivia knows better though, but she leaves Mellie to her denial.

A Plan in Motion

Back at QPA, Nora Adams has been brought in and she is emotional as she looks at the faces of all of the missing girls on the wall. There with her are Quinn and Marcus, who are at the table, and Fitz, who is leaning against a side table by Quinn’s office. Nora remarks that it is as if no one cares about these girls, and Marcus concurs with her, stating that no one (local police, the media, the public) have been listening. Fitz interjects then to say that they can change all of that and make people care. He says that she in particular can make that happen. When he asks her to allow them to fight for her daughter and for all of the other girls, Nora looks at Fitz with resentment and informs him that she’s been fighting for this the entire time, and that it was about time that he showed up.

Yikes! She ain’t wrong, but...

Later that evening, Nora is seen on Curtis Pryce’s show talking about her missing daughter. She struggles to manage her emotions as she details what she has been going through in an effort to find Zoe. It isn’t made immediately apparent that she is there with Fitz until he reaches out to touch her shoulder in comfort. Curtis thanks Nora for coming on to share her story and he then urges his audience to call the 1-800-number displayed on the screen if anyone has any information about Zoe’s whereabouts.

After thanking Curtis for giving out that information, Fitz remarks on how unfortunate it is that girls of color like Zoe go missing everyday in America, and how they are then often ignored and outright forgotten when it happens. Curtis says that he would go beyond calling the situation “unfortunate” and instead refer to it as a national crisis. When Fitz agrees with his characterization, Curtis pounces. He surmises that if the matter is a national crisis today, it had been a national crisis when Fitz was in office. He goes on to ask why it is that Fitz’s Justice Department never highlighted these missing girls if time, as Fitz says, is of the essence in finding them. Nora turns towards Fitz then because she, too, is curious as to the answer.

Fitz simply replies that he had been unaware of the problem. Curtis asks if Fitz is claiming ignorance as his answer, and Fitz says that he is. He then says that he is sure that many of Pryce’s viewers would have claimed the same ignorance prior to this discussion because these missing girls aren’t only being ignored by the justice system, they are also being ignored by the press.

Curtis has his hackles raised a bit as he asks if Fitz is blaming the media for these girls going missing, and Fitz (with a hint of condescension) replies that what he is saying is that the media is to blame for these girls staying missing. He adds that they are also to blame for the fact that the only reason that Zoe’s picture is on television now is because “a rich white guy is sitting next to her mother”.

You tell him, Fitzgerald!

As Fitz tells Curtis that he didn’t come on his show to spar with him, we see that Olivia is watching the exchange at home. She has work in front of her and a glass of wine to the side. Fitz could be heard explaining that he came on the show in the hopes that Pryce’s viewers would be able to help find Zoe Adams. Curtis allows him that, but then he follows up by asking Fitz what happens after he leaves the studio and returns to Vermont. Olivia is set to pick up her glass for a sip of her wine when Fitz’s response draws her attention back to the television.

“Who says I’m going back?”


Fitz explains that his library is in Vermont, but that his foundation, his real work, is in the cities -- Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta, D.C. He says that this is the reason why he is back and why he is strongly considering moving his foundation to D.C. permanently. He adds that Vermont can wait while this pressing matter of reuniting these missing girls with their families cannot.

Whew. Where does one even begin with this? Haha...oh, man. First of all, there’s the fact that Fitz is discussing his Foundation work with Curtis on Curtis’s show after having interrupted Curtis’s little rendezvous with Fitz’s ex-but-not-really-girlfriend to discuss this very subject. Then there’s Olivia watching this all unfold on TV. THEN there’s Fitz dropping the news that he will be a permanent fixture in D.C.!

Oh, and don’t you go thinking that I missed the double meaning of him saying that “Vermont can wait” in order for him to do good for others. I caught that, and so did Olivia.

Over at the White House, Mellie is having another private meeting with President Rashad. They are enjoying her “bracing” hooch and each other’s company. Rashad says to her that he thinks he’ll need at least another glass of the alcohol in order to keep from taking a chair to Nazari’s head, and Mellie warns that attacking Nazari won’t advance their cause. She says that while she appreciates Rashad’s outrage, she doesn’t need him to stand up for her. She adds that if they intend to make any progress with Nazari, they cannot be seen as a united front. Her role is to serve as facilitator and as such, she is supposed to appear impartial.

Rashad then gives her the sexy eyes and asks if Mellie is indeed impartial. They clink their glasses together and Mellie considers her answer before she says that she has to at least appear impartial. They both take a sip of the drink, and when Rashad starts to cough, Mellie concludes that maybe he has had enough for the night. She goes to take his glass from him, and when her hand touches his, they both freeze in place. Rashad says that he can stand to take a little bit more, and then they commence in a long stare full of uninhibited promises.

Lawd, y’all are going to draw this out, aren’t you? Just have them bone already! Mellie hasn’t had this much sizzle in her life in like...ever. Not even with Marcus. Mellie is experiencing a sexual inferno and all she has managed to do thus far is touch the man’s hand! Can y’all give the woman’s lady parts some heat already? I’m halfway to getting her a vibrator myself.

Rashad comes to his senses first and concedes that maybe Mellie is right. As he stands from the sofa and starts for the door, Mellie lets out a breath and then also stands. Rashad gives her one last parting glance before he leaves.

Why Mellie is subjecting herself to vegetarianism on behalf of country is beyond me. Ain’t that much half-baked patriotic feminism in me for me to suffer such indignity.

A little bit later, Mellie arrives at Cyrus’s office where he is contemplating the Céssane that is propped up in front of him. Mellie sees the painting and starts to chastise him for not informing her that he wanted new art. As vice president, she tells him that he can’t just buy a cheap print online and call it a day. She is set to say more, but she draws up short when she has a close look at the painting. When she realizes that she is looking at the real thing, she can’t even bring herself to touch it. Cyrus explains that it is a gift from Fenton Glackland, and Mellie is quick to jump to the conclusion that Fenton wants Cyrus BAD! (LOL!)

Excited now, Mellie kicks off her shoes and orders Cyrus to tell her everything as she perches herself in one of the chairs in front of Cyrus’s desk. Cyrus hands her a glass of scotch and he takes the seat next to her. Mellie goes on about how Glackland-Beene has a nice ring to it and even refers to them as a power couple. (What is going on? LOLOL!! Next we’ll see Mellie advocating for Olitz.)

Cyrus takes offense to her shipping of him and Fenton, calling it the most objectionable thing that she has ever said to him. When Mellie starts to say that she was thinking that maybe it is time for Cyrus to consider moving forward, Cyrus interjects to say that maybe it’s best that he give up. He considers Fenton to be beneath him.

Stunned, Mellie points out that the man gave Cyrus a Césanne, and then she says that maybe Cyrus shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Fenton. When she inquires as to what the dismissal is based on, Cyrus asks her if she recalls his ex-husband Michael’s face. He tells her that he can’t downgrade from Michael to Fenton, that he has standards. (LMAO! I can’t.)

Mellie leaves that debate alone and settles in better in her seat. Her thoughts have clearly drifted off to something else and she is hesitant to bring up the subject. She eventually given in by saying that President Rashad is making her “feel all twitchy inside”, but she is quick to add that she can’t and shouldn’t pursue a dalliance because she is President. She goes on to admit that having everyone obey her every command is intoxicating, a fact that leads her to thinking that she can do whatever and whomever she wants. Along with that thought, she comes to remember that all the old dead guys before her thought the same thing with their “mistresses and child brides”, and now the same affliction is happening to her. She calls it a nightmare. She then says that Cyrus isn’t the only one with issues in the White House. (Ha!)

Speaking of issues…

The following morning, Olivia comes to visit Rowan in his workspace. He’s applying some chemical to the bones of the dinosaur fossil to protect it from degradation. He wonders as to the reason for Olivia’s visit, and she says that she just left a meeting at the State Department and figured she’d swing by to see if her father was still behaving himself. Olivia remarks on him having just referred to the dinosaur as “Annie” and Rowan says that since he’s always talking to it, he figured that it deserved a name. (This is one lonely ass existence if your companion is a pile of old dinosaur bones.)

Rowan offers Olivia some of his breakfast, and as she walks over to the plate of food, she shares that she’s been thinking a lot about Rowan and how he used regale her and her mom with stories of his day at the museum. Rowan replies that what he was doing then was lying. Olivia agrees, saying that he was lying, but that he was good at it. She figures that there were times when Rowan could have just left the family or come clean with what he really did, but the fact that he stuck with the lie tells her that Rowan thought it was all worth it.

Being the read-between-the-lines-er that he is, Rowan is quick to figure out that what Olivia is seeking from him is to know if it is possible for her to be Command and share her life with someone. Olivia tries to play this off by denying that this is what she is asking, but Rowan is already on to her. He tells her that the path that she is on is a lonely one.

When Olivia counters that this doesn’t have to be so, Rowan cuts to the chase and tells her that her sharing a life with Fitzgerald Grant may sound appealing--but Rowan doesn’t get far with the rest of his sentence because Olivia cuts in then with feigned confusion as to why her father would jump to such a conclusion.

“Who said anything about Fitz?!”

Girl, you’re as transparent as cellophane. Siddown.

Olivia’s face goes blank when Rowan points out that Fitz was on television the night before talking about staying in town. He says that because he knows Olivia, he knows that what she has come to have him tell her that it is possible for her to share a life with Fitz while serving as Command, but Rowan tells her that such a thing isn’t possible. She cannot have both.

Olivia counters by saying that her B613 isn’t her father’s B613. As she is saying that the misery that he endured as Command doesn’t have to be her fate, and Rowan explodes and demands that she take a look at herself. She is there trying to get relationship advice from her father because she literally cannot turn to anyone else. She cannot have this conversation with those that she would ordinarily speak with because she is harboring this dark secret that no one but him is privy to and no one else can know about.

As he blasts her with the truth of what her life looks like right now, Olivia is shook. He tells her that she is only there because he understands what it’s like to oversee the “band of murderers” who comprise B613. He says that the man that she has so much contempt for is literally the only person in the world that she has right now. He asks her what it is that she will do when he is gone, and he predicts that she will end up talking to dinosaurs just like he is doing now. Rowan concludes by saying that if that fate isn’t reason enough to shut down B613, then he doesn’t know what is.

Olivia is a mess and a half. I don’t even know what is going on with her right now. Is she seriously trying to figure out how she can have Fitz and be Command? Isn’t she the same woman who was incensed when Fitz agreed to take on this very role? She threw a damn fit and he immediately reconsidered his decision. If she thought that it would not do for him to be Command and the two of them be together, how then is she trying to justify to herself a flip scenario?

Olivia, girl, you don’t want this existence. Your daddy is a sick summabitch, but he’s a living example of what not to do with your life. Learn from him please.

Taking Action

Now at the White House, Olivia is sitting in on the resumed nuclear summit. Mellie starts off by saying that Prime Minister Nazari was correct about there being a deal the night of the State Dinner. Mellie shares that an American spy had been captured while info gathering in Bashran. Rashad protests Mellie saying more, but she puts up a hand to silence him. She goes on to tell Nazari that in order to secure the spy’s release, she agreed to host the summit. (That’s not exactly the truth, but whatever.)

Nazari turns to Rashad then to ask why it is that Rashad requested a summit when he could have asked for anything else. Rashad tells him that while it is true that the two of them do not like each other and that this is unlikely to change, he doesn’t believe that the Bashranis and Dakalis should live in fear of annihilation. Nazari points out that the treaty stipulates periodic inspections of the Dakali nuclear facilities, and he wants to know if Rashad will agree to allow Dakali inspectors into Bashrani facilities. Rashad shifts in hesitation a bit in his seat before he says that he will agree to the terms if Dakal will allow Bashrani inspectors into their facilities. Nazari turns to Mellie then and says that he believes that she may proceed.

Yay, Mellie! Another win!!

That is until all hell breaks lose and Bashrani security officers bursts into the room to escort President Rashad swiftly out. There is confusion everywhere. Jake finally comes into the room to relay that rebels have entered the Bashran capital. When Mellie says that she needs Jake to keep an eye on Rashad, Jake points out that this was a coup, which means that Rashad is no longer President. Eek!

Later that evening at QPA, everyone is watching the news coverage on television, and Quinn is upset that their hard work in getting Zoe’s story out there is being overshadowed by the coup in Bashran. There isn’t a single mention of “Grant vs. Pryce”. Quinn then tells the group that they aren’t giving up, and if necessary, they’ll find Zoe themselves. As Quinn marches off in frustration, Marcus approaches Fitz to say that they’re going to need Mellie’s assistance with this, and Fitz tells him that he’ll handle it.

Back at the White House, Olivia is with Jake in their B613 hideout and he is explaining what happened in Bashran. He shares that the State Department has been getting calls that are asking for them to recognize the rebel leader as the new Bashran president. Upon receiving this information, Olivia demands to know how it is that they didn’t see this coup coming, pointing out its high level of sophistication and coordination. She says that there should have been chatter that would have enabled them to take advance action.

Before she can continue her rant, Jake interjects to say that the situation could have been handled, but Olivia was instead spending time chasing her ex-boyfriend around. Olivia has no response to this, and Jake once again says to her that they need more agents in order for them to be able to successfully do their work. He tells her that if they had the requested agents, he wouldn’t have missed the coup. He then asks Olivia to decide if she is Command or if she is “someone’s girl” because the fact is that she cannot be both.

Y’all know how much I hate agreeing with Jake, but in this case, he does have a point. It happens to be similar to the point that Rowan made earlier. What is it that Olivia wants? She is obviously not fully committed to this Command business because if she was, she would have long since granted Jake’s request for more agents. She hasn’t and there remains no explanation as to why. Now here she is wondering how it is that an understaffed B613 was unable to thwart an international coup. SMH!

Olivia later returns to the Oval to find Mellie on the phone with the Secretary of State, and she is instructing them to not recognize the rebel leader as the new Bashran president. She tells them that Bashran already has a leader and that she is going to make sure that it stays that way. Once she hangs up, she tells Olivia like she wants the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA director and representatives from the State and Defense departments there first thing in the morning. She states that there is a real possibility that they are going to have to send in troops to end the coup.

As Mellie pours herself a drink, Olivia balances on the front edge of the Resolute Desk and seemingly agrees with Mellie, stating that what she just said is a relief. Mellie is glad that she and Olivia are on the same page, but then Olivia clarifies that her relief is due to Mellie’s use of the word “possibility”, which means that she can be talked out of the decision. She tells Mellie that military intervention is unwise, particularly since it would undermine their efforts in the Middle East, antagonize their enemies, and also represent a massive shift in American foreign policy.

Mellie strongly disagrees. She believes that by sending in troops and reinstating Rashad as president that they would actually be reinforcing America’s efforts in the Middle East. She adds that until Rashad is reinstated, they are going to have to grant him sanctuary. Olivia warns Mellie that she has to be very careful about giving Rashad refuge, and Mellie is taken aback. She tells Olivia that Rashad cannot be returned to his country, and she wonders at where Olivia’s humanity has gone. (Girl, you and everyone else.)

Olivia argues that Rashad is no longer a leader and has thus become irrelevant to the United States. Mellie counters by saying that the rebels will kill Rashad, and Olivia replies that their hands are tied. Mellie demands that they find a way to untie them then, and Olivia asks if Mellie believes that going to war is how they are to do that. She tells the President that she can’t allow her to make that call.


Mellie stares at Olivia with fire in her eyes, but she is able to calm herself before she speaks up again. She points out that Rashad was at the table, that the two of them got him there. He was at the table with his Dakali enemy, ready to sign that treaty and make peace. Mellie stresses that it was she and Olivia who found a solution to a 50-plus-year-old problem that was only possible because of Rashad. Mellie then demands that Olivia tell her what is worth fighting for if this particular situation isn’t it.

Whoo wee! Who woulda thought Mellie Grant would be displaying more humanity than Olivia Pope? She perfectly pitches this defense of Rashad as a defense of their accomplishment, and they letting this go would essentially be them laying waste to something that no one before them had even come close to doing.

For the second time that day, Olivia is again SHOOK. She is so discombobulated that she starts away from Mellie without giving her a response. When Mellie demands an answer, Olivia tells her that she needs to think about it.

Later at her apartment, Olivia is seen pacing back and forth with a glass of wine in her hands. (She’s thinking, for those of you unfamiliar with the significance of Olivia’s pacing. See the Rose Garden scene in episode 208.) She does a few rounds before there is a knock at her door. She looks through the peephole before opening the door to reveal her visitor to be Fitz. Given the day she’s had, he was probably the last person that she wanted to see. Not because he did anything wrong, but because he’s indirectly the reason why she has had the day from hell.

When Fitz says “hi” in greeting, Olivia replies with her classic (and rude) “What?”. Fitz asks why he doesn’t get a “hi” back, and Olivia, clearly in a mood, wants to know what it is that he wants. Fitz says that the Bashran coup has taken over the news cycle right as their missing-girl story was starting to get traction. As Olivia turns away from the door to step further back into her apartment, she sarcastically asks if Fitz wants her to somehow hit the reset button on the revolution. Fitz tells her that he wants is for her to see if Mellie can make a statement, maybe even hold an event in the Rose Garden to address the matter of the missing girls.

Olivia replies that given his relationship with Mellie and the fact that he is the former President of the country, he doesn’t need her to talk to Mellie. Fitz counters by saying that he knows that Olivia controls Mellie and as such, he has come to her directly. It is Olivia, after all, who is the power in the White House.

After a brief pause, Olivia asks him why he is there. Perplexed by having to answer this question yet again, Fitz says that he has already told her. Olivia replies that he did not, that what he did was deflect. She accuses him of using tools that she taught him to avoid answering her questions, and Fitz cuts her off mid sentence to say that he is there because he needs her help with the case. Olivia interjects to say that Quinn is more than capable of helping him, but Fitz continues on by saying that this is a great cause that is being overshadowed by the situation in Bashran.

Olivia demands that he stop lying, and when he asks if she is passing responsibility for the girls on to someone else, she tells him that he needs to leave. She walks over to her door and pulls it open for him to make his way out, but instead Fitz sighs and he sticks his hands in his pockets. He tells her that he isn’t going anywhere. (LMAO!)

Pissed now, Olivia slams the door shut and again demands to know why he is there. This time, Fitz replies (semi) honestly that he is there because she is and because he loves her. Approaching her, he states that Olivia is right where she needs to be, running the world. He says that he ran the world, too, and he points out that everything that went wrong during his time in office happened when they weren’t together. (Facts!) He goes on to say that he was better with her, and that she was better with him. He tells her that he knows that she knows this to be true.

When Fitz asks her to admit to him that she knows that what he says is the truth, Olivia up at him with those wet doe eyes of hers, searching his as if looking for any sign of deceit. Girl is shook again!

The music that overlays the moment can best be described as dark, dangerous, anticipatory. It pulses like the rhythm of the heart in fight or flight mode, unsure of which path it ought to take. Its beat intensifies the moment Olivia grabs Fitz by the head and kisses him. (Yaaasss!)

The kiss lasts all but a few seconds (from what we are shown anyway), but gatdamn! The thirst is very real. Talk about kissing as if your life depended on it! Olivia gets lifted off the floor and everything. I mean, did y’all miss each other or did y’all miss each other? Whoo Lawd...

The following morning, Olivia enters the Oval and Mellie is already at her desk. Olivia bids her good morning, and Mellie in response impatiently wants to know what Olivia has decided with regards to Bashran. Olivia tells her that she has prepared two briefs that Mellie will have to review before they can discuss further. Without prompting, Mellie finally admits that she has feelings for Rashad. She says that she knows that she serves her country and she alone sits on top of the world, but before she can continue further, Olivia interjects to say that they together sit on top and that Mellie is never alone. (Uh...)

Mellie scoffs at this as she gets up from her seat to come from around the desk. She says to Olivia that she may be the one who runs the playbook and be the one to make the tough calls, but that at the end of the day, it is Mellie who has to stand in front of the people and own those calls. Be it good or bad, it is she who is responsible for the conscience of the nation, and as such, she is always alone.

And Mellie is correct. I really don’t know what Olivia is going on about, but whatevs.

When Olivia starts to say something, Mellie cuts her off to state that she may have feelings for Rashad, but she is not a teenaged girl who is writing about her crush in her diary. She states that she understand the job, and she knows that they have a chance to do what is right here and add some peace to the world. She says to Olivia that she wants the call this time to be her own to make for just this once. (Stand up for yourself, Melody!)

Having heard Mellie out, Olivia returns to what she said earlier about having prepared a few briefs that will require Mellie’s review. The first one outlines troop deployment statistics, and she tells Mellie that the Joint Chiefs will be arriving at the Oval in an hour. Mellie will have to make decisions as to the number of military to engage if she intends to send troops into Bashran. (Another victory for you, Mels!)

Mellie is visibly relieved that Olivia has come around to her point of view on this. Olivia then in a somewhat patronizing speech says to Mellie that of course she has feelings for Rashad, and that of course they will restore Rashad’s presidency and return peace to Bashran because it is what Mellie wants to do. Mellie, she says, is a “woman, a tactical thinker, a strategist, and the leader of the free world”, and as such, how to deal with this particular situation can be Mellie’s call. Olivia goes on to say that what Mellie will not do is make the same below-the-belt mistakes that all the men before her made because she will not allow it.

Making clear that preventing Mellie from making foolish decisions is her call, Olivia again reiterates that Mellie is never alone because she has her.

Why did this sound like a low-key threat though? It was also sorta low-key unintentional, yet intentional shade towards Fitzgerald who declared war on a country when Olivia was kidnapped (410-413). Olivia was adamantly opposed to his decision then, and it would appear that she ensuring that Mellie doesn’t make the same based-on-emotion decision here. Since Mellie’s reasoning for war isn’t crouched in her personal feelings for Rashad, Olivia has give her the go-ahead.

That said, I maintain that there is something manic about Olivia in these moments when Mellie dares say that she is the captain of the ship. Olivia transforms into the hook that reins Mellie in, when it really should be her who needs to be strapped down. Anyone recall Cyrus ever telling Fitz that it is himself who calls the shots and Fitz who executes them? Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, it is with this scene that TLC’s “Waterfalls” begins to play (TL-fricking-C!!).

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…”

Before the Oval scene closes out, Olivia presents Mellie with the second brief and explains that it is another chance to do what is right.

Elsewhere, Quinn is seen entering what looks like a clinic. She has come to Nora Adams’s place of employment to inform her that her daughter Zoe has been found alive and that she is okay. Nora is in disbelief over the good news and she breaks down into tears.

Next we see Cyrus contemplating the Césanne once more before he returns to Fenton’s armed with a $20 bill. Cyrus hands Fenton the money and says that he is keeping the painting. He then tells him that he can’t accept the painting as a gift, so he is buying it from him. Fenton remarks that $20 is a steal for the painting (understatement of the day), and Cyrus says that he is offering not only the money, but also lessons in politics. He asks Fenton if that sounds good to him, and Fenton says that it does. (Of course, it does. LOL!)

Later that evening, Olivia is seen walking into the QPA conference room and announcing to all there that the Justice Department is setting up a special division within the FBI to focus on missing persons of color. Olivia tells them that she handpicked the chief investigator herself to lead it, and that the division will be well-funded and made a top priority.

Fitz thanks Olivia for this, and she tells him not to thank her yet, that they still have a lot of work to do. Fitz agrees with this and says that at least it is a start.

If the heart eyes that Olivia is sporting is any indication, I’d say that it is safe to say that she and Fitz aren’t just talking about the case here.

Just then Olivia’s phone rings and she excuses herself to take the call. It is Jake and he tells her that she had been wrong about Fitz. Jake shares that Fitz hadn’t violated their agreement, that he had indeed stayed in Vermont and minded his business.

As Jake is relaying this, we see Rowan making his way into his workspace and then coming up short just inside the door when he sees that Annie is no longer there. Making his way further into the room, Rowan is startled when Olivia’s voice rings out at him from the darkness. She says to him that it looks like Annie isn’t the only one that Rowan has been talking to.

When Olivia steps out into the little light that is in the room, she kicks a nearby stool in her father’s direction, and when it stops its slide, she orders Rowan to sit. Rowan does as he is told and then...the episode ends! WTF! GRRR!!

That was a lot packed into one episode, yeah? What did Jake find? Did he discover that Rowan travelled to Vermont or is his discovery limited to the secret meeting that Rowan had with Fitz when he returned? How will all of this affect Olivia’s future interaction with Fitz?

What’s about to happen in Bashran? Will Mellie and Rashad ever happen or are they meant to be star-crossed fools of love? Will Mellie continue to let Olivia control every aspect of her presidency? What’s to happen with Cyrus and his oddball admirer Fenton Glackland?

Share what you thought about the episode in the comments section below or share them with me on Twitter!

This is the conclusion of this really long recap/review of Scandal episode 704! I thank you for reading and I will see you all next week!

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