‘Scandal’ Recap of ‘Buckle Up’: Olivia Fears The Pope Family Curse

“Scandal” pushed forward in “Buckle Up” with Olivia Pope off her game and outwitted by her protegé Abby. Ultimately, after a titanic face-off between them, with Abby throwing Liv’s ego and disdain in her mentor’s face, it seems they realized they are most effective if they band together.

The more important story about Olivia is her breakdown in front of Huck, as she admitted what’s affecting her. It’s not that she killed someone, it’s that she has to deal with how good it makes her feel. Then there’s that nagging issue about her father that came up again. Was she as bad as him? No, she tried to tell herself, “I’m not him”. Yeah, keep that up Liv and see if you ever believe it.

That’s only part of the story, however, and Huck hounded her until she answered the question of why she didn’t pull Jake back from marrying Vanessa.

What’s really wrong with Liv?

Huck and Quinn could see Liv’s state of mind and how different she is. They kept asking why she didn’t save Jake from her father’s clutches, and why she came back to work so soon after murdering someone. In a town where nothing can be kept a secret for long, even when it’s treated like one, the characters in “Scandal” throw around that information without concern about who is in earshot. Anyone else find that the oddest part of this whole thing?

Liv railed at them and Marcus to mind their own business and do their job, which was to assist her in getting Mellie Grant to Florida for the endorsement of that state’s governor. As goes Florida, so goes the election, according to both Liv and Elizabeth North who’s in the Susan Ross camp.

But, when Elizabeth, with a major helping hand from Abby and Fitz pushed the governor in Susan’s direction, Liv went back to the office to grieve and stew in her own juices. That’s when Huck came in and refused to leave until he got her talking. She told him how her father graphically described slicing Jake’s throat if she got him to run away with her.

It’s the pictures in Liv’s mind of that gruesome alternative, added to the pile of images she has about Andrew Nichols’ unrecognizable face that has her twisted, unable to rest or to operate properly. Unspoken, but always there is the loss of Jake, just as she had agreed to make it work with him as a couple.

As she screamed at Abby later, she’s tired of losing and the Mellie campaign is suffering as a result of it. Huck understands splitting your mind in two, with one compartment never able to forget a killing, while the other part spins a tale that the brain can live with about it being justified or necessary. Huck was a sage adviser when he informed Liv that the murdered person never dies in the mind of the killer. Not a pleasant prospect.

We argued after last week’s show that it’s about time for therapy and treatment of PTSD for Olivia Pope and now it’s past time. She needs that island and standing in the sun with Jake, and he’s not walking back through that door.

Cyrus won the battle, but lost the war

The intrigue of Cyrus Beene vs. Gov Vargas’ brother got complicated with dirty tricks everywhere, but it appears Cyrus’ husband Michael has gone off the reservation, moving out and taking Ella with him. He truly loves Cyrus and playing house husband and nanny combined.

He confronted Cy about the affair. Beene did what he always did to James when his dirty business was about to get exposed, which is to belittle the person in his life making their concerns trivial compared to running the country and the free world. But, the couple made up after Michael revealed to Cy that Alex was ready to blow his cover over the shooting that made Gov. Vargas a national hero.

They teamed up to make him go away, making it seem that Alex leaked info and photos about the governor’s little girl and her cancer. It was off limits despite its powerful sympathy vote possibilities. Boom, Alex was gone, but it appears he still has that the shooting incident information. Perhaps Cyrus thinks that since he’s discredited with his own brother, that the governor won’t believe him. Any thoughts on that?

The tarmac summit

Then we got some sweet talk between Mellie and Fitz on the tarmac between their two planes. She was kept from taking off because Air Force One was grounded, supposedly with mechanical issues and no one can take up airspace if the president’s plane might be moments from taking off. Those moments stretched to hours, delaying the trip to grovel in front of Florida’s governor.

Susan, David and Elizabeth made it out, thanks to Abby making believe the mechanical issues existed. Turns out the governor dislikes people who are late, making it a factor in her decision to endorse Susan or Mellie. Hollis Doyle is still running against the ladies but like the Trump-figure he’s supposed to be, no one in elected office has gone public with any support for him.

Part of Liv’s trouble being effective was her inability to find with a solution to the airplane grounding problem, even after calling Abby and screaming her head off. Her usual tricks weren’t working, like when the media was alerted to the situation and flooded the tarmac wondering what the scoop was on it.

Mellie saw Liv was ineffective and boy, is she pissed that this is the Olivia she gets rather than the one that can move mountains? That’s when Marcus, the usually forgotten member of the gladiator team spoke up. He’s got rapport with Mellie after calling her on her behavior while on the campaign trail. He suggested she leave the plane and get the attention of Fitz, who only found out about Abby’s scheme after the press showed up. He wouldn’t leave “the mother of his children” standing there, right?

He walked down the stairs to the tarmac as the entire media corps went crazy. The ex-spouses stood close but not too close and tried to be pleasant about what was going on. Fitz said Abby couldn’t get Air Force One in the air now even if she tried, because it would appear that the mechanical issues were fake, putting her in harm’s way of committing a crime.

But, Fitz relented, because let’s face it, Abby’s not nearly as important to him as Liv, even after their split. Mellie laid it on thick about it destroying Olivia, and her state of mind. Fitz then informed Mellie about the Nichols’ murder and she realized what was going on with Liv. Fitz’s face went into that “Oh no, the love of my life is in distress and I can help her” mode, and he agreed to put Liv first and get the plane in the air.

It all comes down to Florida

It produced a screaming match between Abby and POTUS, as she once again demanded he treat her as he would Cyrus or Olivia. She’s the boss of him, and he runs the country, that’s the deal, or at least what it’s supposed to be. That led to the ultimate confrontation between Liv and Abby. Even shaming Liv didn’t work, because this iteration of Olivia Pope is unable to see what’s she’s become.

Marcus was outed as the guy who came up with Mellie on the tarmac strategy and Olivia raged, livid about being ignored since she’s the boss and humiliated that someone fixed it. There was still something for her to do to prove she’s the best in the business and that was to figure out how to get around Mellie being so late for the meeting in Florida.

She got Fitz to come to Florida, despite being in Susan Ross’ camp, to take the blame for his ex-wife’s absence. Olivia, Mellie and POTUS, came through the door as Susan, David and Elizabeth, along with Hollis Doyle were at this all-important dinner. Once the governor saw Fitz, all was forgiven since everyone was made aware of the standoff on the tarmac.

They joined the dinner in progress and all three GOP candidates were face-to-face, bending over for the 99 delegates the state of Florida has to offer. Conventional wisdom was that as the governor goes, so do her constituents and her endorsement would tip the scales in favor of whoever she endorsed. No one wanted to screw it up, except for Susan Ross. It’s not that she wanted to do it, but she just can’t help herself.

Susan’s David problem

Susan decided to be true to her values and embarrass the governor by taking the side of the Justice Department about prosecuting a matter that involved the governor’s cohorts. She, David and Liz had discussed whether he could give the word and let up on the case. Susan stood for truth, and David said he did too. Liz was pissed and in private scared David about his girlfriend losing everything if he didn’t play dirty.

Susan loved that and it began a process of her forgiving him. What she didn’t know was that David did let it be known to the governor’s staff through back channels that he was coming down on her side of the case. He’d do about anything to get Susan elected, no matter how she would feel about his methods. Doesn’t he know better?

He wanted it both ways. To get her over the hump and make her happy while she thought he was a righteous as her, and to do what he could to make the endorsement go Susan’s way. This whole David-Susan thing has been nagging at me for a long time. David is supposedly Attorney General and yet has time to hang around the campaign like the spouse of the candidate

Oh yes, and he’s sleeping in the same bedroom as Susan on the trail, but on the floor next to her bed. Why not on the couch? Because Susan demanded that he suffer on the floor, that’s why. When Susan was announced as the governor’s favorite she changed her tune about David, allowing herself to be vulnerable and cry about the hurt he caused. They bonded, but with him still on the floor, with a blanket and pillow. See, telling the truth works, even in politics she thought, but didn’t actually say. Yeah, right.

The kicker to the episode was not Olivia’s meltdown with Huck or the fact that she and Abby had it out once and for all. It was that the people of Florida ignored their governor’s advice and voted for Hollis Doyle. It’s the pig vs. the women.

Abby and Liv had their come to Jesus meeting, and Liv’s still of the belief that Abby’s her protegé; if there are goodies to be handed out and power to be wielded it had to be Olivia Pope that wins. She actually had the gall to say, “I want my White House back. I earned it.” So, Mellie’s campaign isn’t about the ex Mrs. Grant, it’s about the ex-mistress of Mr. Grant.

Didn’t she already say she’s tired of losing? Despite that,  Abby and Liv realized they both lost out to Hollis and there is strength in numbers. Isn’t it interesting that just this week on the GOP side of the presidential race, that John Kasich and Ted Cruz decided to do the same thing?

The Shondaland writers do it again.

ABC airs “Scandal” Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT    Image credit: ABC, used with permission. 

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