With only one week to go before the season finale, last night’s SCANDAL did what it does best: Took everything we thought we knew and turned it upside down. Let’s strap ourselves in and relive the action-packed episode, shall we?

Shout-Out To Jesus: Given the episode-ending interview Mellie offered up last week, it’s not surprising that we open with Cyrus addressing the press. He says the president is “grateful for the continued support and respect of privacy by the American people.” If he’s hoping that’ll keep the press corp from acting like sharks in chum-filled waters, he’s sadly mistaken! He then utters the two silliest words ever: “Any questions?” They ask, and he evades. Flashing back to earlier, Cyrus give secret service dude Tom — who refuses to allow him access — the kinda talking to only a Shonda Rhimes script can deliver. “I don’t care if you got your orders from Jesus Christ himself as he hung on the cross,” Cyrus declares. “Jesus is not me.  Jesus forgives.  Jesus saves. I destroy. And I will bring vengeance down upon you in a hail of fire and brimstone. You WILL open that door now!” When Tom does, what does Cyrus find? Fitz and Olivia proving that while breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it’s not the only way to greet the day. To say that Cyrus is not pleased is an understatement akin to “Glenn Beck enjoys hearing himself speak.” Liv wants to start managing the situation, but Fitz wants her to stay far, far away from it. He goes all presidential on her, insisting she “stand down.”

Truth & (No) Consequences: At the OPA offices, David points out how ironic it would be if Fitz got booted from office not for stealing the election but for taking a mistress and allowing his lover to influence policy. While speculating about who the woman could be, he proves to be the least observant man on the planet, failing to notice that not one of his fellow gladiators has a poker face. Heck, Quindsay’s face practically screams, “It’s our boss, you moron!” Arriving at the office, Liv is caught up by the team on the fact that Cyrus can’t be the mole. Unfortunately, she runs to make sure the Cytron card is still in the safe, proving to David that Abby lied about having stolen it from him. He takes it like a champ, however, muttering that he’s one of the team now.

Ahoy, Captain!: Mellie takes a meeting with her own fixer… and she actually gets someone from the esteemed Torchwood institute! Okay, not really, but it IS the dude who plays Capt. Jack Harkness! When he insists that all he requires is total honesty, Mellie gives him her patented, “Oh, ain’t you precious” look. “Don’t ask me if I can be honest like I’m some little girl confused by all the books and smart talk,” she replies. “I can be honest. I can also lie. It all depends on what’s in my best interest.” She dismisses him, but he calls her out on every move she’s ever made… including not revealing the name of her hubby’s lover. Why, he muses, did she make that decision?

He’s Da Man: Just when Cyrus thought his day couldn’t get any worse, Fitz informs him of his plan to announce he won’t be seeking a second term. Cyrus tries pointing to President Clinton as a way to weather this, but Fitz plays the trump card: Love. “I am in love with a woman who is not my wife. I want to be with her, not in the shadows, openly. And if that means I have to stop being president, so be it.” Let’s just stop here for a moment and collectively swoon, shall we? I mean, think about it: Does it get any more romantic than a man saying he will give up the most powerful position in the world in order to be with you? Allow me to answer: No, it does not. Okay, on with the recap…

Bible Lessons: Jake takes a meeting with the mystery man, who ain’t particularly happy with him. The mystery man tasks Jake with bringing him the tape proving he has a relationship with Olivia. As for Cyrus? The mystery man says “I’ll handle him.” Uh-oh. Speaking of handling, Vice President Sally Langston praises the way Cyrus is dealing with the situation. “You know what the Bible says,” she intones. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!” Barely masking his loathing, Cyrus takes her to school. “That’s not from the Bible, Sally. Not everything is from the Bible.” At OPA, the gladiators theorize that Langston might be the mole. And behind closed doors, Harrison tells Liv she’s not the fixer anymore… she’s the client. “Snap out of it!” he says. “Tell it to me straight: What. Do. You. Want?” She, however, proves every bit as good at evading tough questions as Cyrus.

Low Blows: During another flash to Cyrus’ press conference, he insists, “If the president addressed every question about his personal life, we may as well turn the oval office into a daytime talk show set.” With James in the press room, it’s pretty clear there will be no nookie in their home anytime soon. In fact, we then see the pair fighting about the fact that James was the one to conduct Mellie’s explosive interview. James declares that the interview was his lucky break, and this statement literally causes Cyrus to laugh so hard he has tears coming down his face. “You think this was your lucky break? Isn’t that adorable! That’s what you’re telling yourself?” I swear, no couple on TV fights nastier or better than these two. “You wanna stand there and tell me Mellie told James Novak? Forget it about Anderson Cooper — who’s a friggin Vanderbilt, by the way — or even Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer… maybe they were all busy! So let’s go with James Novak!” It’s so scathing a rebuke that James is left with a trembling lip and despite him being a total wuss, I actually wind up feeling sorry for him.

Drama Queen: At OPA, the gladiators decide to send Langston’s teenage daughter an E-mail infected with a worm that will grant them access to the family’s home network and, by extension, the White House system. Five seconds later, they’re in! Cyrus and Olivia take a coffee meeting, and he tries to tell her just how bad things will be if Fitz really does give up the office. “The Republic will burn, and the seas will run blood and the four horsemen will ride… all because he wants to be with me, right Cy?” When she refuses to cave, he dismisses her. “Go away. You’re breaking my heart.” And once she does just that, the mystery man takes her seat next to Cyrus on the park bench! MM demands that Cyrus show Fitz the tape of Olivia and Jake’s tryst. He also tells Cyrus to cut all ties to Charlie… or else!

All In: After a flirtatious phone chat in which Fitz and Liv affirm their desire to destroy the republic by being together, she gets a call from Jake. Asked what he wants, he replies, “I want a lot of things that he gets to have first.” Apparently, dude has no problems with sloppy seconds. But Liv says it’s time for them to say farewell. Meanwhile, Mellie’s fixer says the public is waiting to see which way this plays out. “Is it poor President Grant with the cold, frigid wife or poor Mrs. Grant with the mean, slutty husband?” His suggestion: “If we put face to his infidelity, then everything’s comin’ up Mellie!” But before “giving up my most valuable asset,” Mellie insists she wants to know what Fitz will be saying during his statement that night.

Worst. Porn. Ever.: Charlie swings by to pick up his favorite pastry… and instantly realizes he’s being tracked via a powder placed on the bag. To throw Jake off his trail, Charlie becomes the most touchy-feely guy on the planet, rubbing the invisible powder on everyone he passes. Charlie tries calling Cyrus for help, but gets the cold shoulder. Back at OPA, the gladiators figure out that Sally’s not the mole, and the frustration gets to everyone. “If I have to say the word ‘mole’ one more time… ” warns Quindsay, who should really shut up because otherwise, she ain’t got much to do this season. They all go for coffee, leaving David behind to watch Cyrus’ presser. “Watching Cyrus Bean unravel is my porn,” he admits. But when the others return, it’s to find him being held at gunpoint by Charlie, who wants to hire them! Charlie says he’ll only give up the name of the mole if Olivia gets him the same deal she got Huck. After all, the organization has to know that Huck’s alive, yet they’ve not rubbed him out. Instead, Huck decides that he’ll get the name out of Charlie his way! After Charlie writes down the name of the mole, Huck is about to kill his nemesis when Quindsay interrupts. “Are you a gladiator or are you looking for revenge? Because the way I hear it, you can’t have it both ways.”

Placing Bets: Fitz presents Cyrus with his speech and gets absolutely no reaction. In a weirdly lovely moment, the two men wind up laughing in the face of disaster. Mellie, meanwhile, gets a draft of the speech and realizes that Fitz really is going to give it all up. Her fixer points out that Mellie’s reluctance to “go nuclear” by naming names is obviously a sign that she’s still hoping to reunite with Fitz. “I am very good at what I do,” he says. “I can move mountains and work miracles. But I can’t make your husband love you.” Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Mellie insists her husband won’t throw it all away.

No Signature Required: Cyrus finds out that Fitz never signed his statement of candidacy papers, aka the documents necessary to run for a second term. Apparently, they’ve been sitting on his desk for months. Preparing for the worst, Liv presents heir apparent Harrison with a set of files, including a black, sealed one she dubs “a weapon of last resort.” Glutton for punishment Jake gives the footage of Fitz and Olivia sexing it up one more viewing before handing it over to the mystery man. He’s ordered to stay close to Fitz and closer to Liv. “Screw this up again, and we’ll be meeting at the hole instead of at the monuments.”

Holy Mole-y!: Told about the unfilled paperwork, Liv asks Fitz if he ever really intended to run for a second term. Her conclusion? “I think you’re quitting because you don’t believe you can win on your own… I think you  believe you don’t have what it takes to be a legitimate president. And I think you wouldn’t believe any of that, you wouldn’t doubt yourself, if it weren’t for… what we did to you in Defiance. What I did to you in Defiance.” He begs her to drop it, but she points out that if he gives up his chance to run for a second term, she will blame herself every day and eventually, so will he. “We stole your chance. Take it back. Run, and win!” Standing before the press corp, Fitz ditches his prepared statement for something much simpler. “My marriage is none of your business!” He adds, almost as an afterthought, that he plans to run for re-election. As Mellie celebrates her victory, Liv is dealt with yet another blow: Charlie stole the Cytron card and, thanks to Quindsay preventing Huck from pulling the trigger, Defiance is now in the hands of the enemy. And who is that enemy? Billy Chambers, Sally Langston’s former chief of staff. But the real shocker: It’s not Charlie who hands it over to Billy… it’s David!

So spill the beans: Were you surprised by the mole’s identity? And how much do you wanna slap Quindsay for bringing shame to the House of Pope? Hit the comments below!

Richard Simms is the Executive Editor of  Soaps In Depth magazine and the author of Crimes Against Civility, which is available on Amazon.com.

 

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