Joe Morton as Eli Pope with Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on "Scandal"

‘Scandal’ Recap of ‘Mercy’ Episode: ‘You Don’t Take Olivia Pope, Olivia Pope Takes You’

“Scandal” season six reached its first episode without flashbacks in “Mercy”. The first scene was present day, the morning after the night that Fitz and Olivia fell into the White House residence bedroom. However, she awoke looking a bit unsure of where she was.

Yes, as Jake mentioned later in the show, Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant are sleeping together again. #Olitz lives, but something was missing. There was no cuddling or morning sex. The couple didn’t even rehash how good it all was to be back together. Even more surprising was the lack of romance between them throughout. There was plenty of work to do, so let’s get on up and get to it. Olivia never let up and returned to the demanding, order-giving, ruthless self she has morphed into throughout the season.

The problem of the night was getting rid of Peus & Associates who put Mellie in the POTUS chair. The next move for Ruland and Peus was to force Mellie to push Jake aside from the Veep position and substitute Mr. Peus himself. For that, the bad guy knew he had to face Olivia Pope for the first time. Even she was shocked at his demand and without knowing having a clue how to stop it, she refused to cooperate.

After a while, she realized she wanted Jake to avoid being Peus and Ruland’s next victim. She asked him to step aside and Jake gave her lip and not the good kind. He accused her of resuming Olitz, but Liv refused to dignify it all with an answer. We all know Jake didn’t need one as he stood in for all of us who wondered why Liv keeps going back to Fitz. “You know he’s not the answer,” Jake told her. Liv countered with “I’m not looking for someone to save me.”

That was followed by Jake wondering if she was being truthful and the best few lines of the night were spoken. “I saved him, Liv said. “I saved you, and I don’t have time to nurture your feelings because I have to save Mellie. Can’t you put this all aside and help me?” Okay, now we know where this is going.

He was convinced to take the National Security job, but Liv had to buy some time to make another plan work. The press conference to name a VP replacement was imminent. An emergency was concocted that required everyone to head to the WH bunkers. It was almost comical, like watching a bad non-CGI version of a horror movie. Huck was given the assignment of making a drone hover over the White House grounds, ultimately landing it.

Quinn was at his side and it was then that she learned about Charlie’s distance and weirdness. It was all about what he saw in the hospital when she crawled in the bed next to Huck. She picked at Huck until he spilled the beans. The two had to face the fact that there were still feelings between them, but Quinn realized that she loved Charlie as a life partner, while Huck was her bestie. She loved him, but not “that” way.

The bunker strategy was to keep Ruland away from Mellie so she could be part of the group trying to figure out what the heck to do. Mellie was the one who watched Elizabeth North’s skull crushed by Ruland with a golf club and was quaking in her boots. She needed courage only Marcus could provide to buck her up. Abby was picked as the one to be segregated in a bunker with Ruland as 90 minutes ticked off the clock.

The get-rid-of them scheme was concocted by a group that rarely worked as one, and at various times in “Scandal” history has pitted group members against each other. It was Fitz, Mellie, Liv, Cyrus, David, Jake and Papa Pope. Yes, he was taken out of the dungeon of the White House for one purpose; they needed someone to get rid of Peus and Ruland.

What did he do? He engaged in one of his classic monologues, to spit fire and shame them all, particularly Fitz who he humiliated, forcing him to ask for help. After all that, Rowan declined to help them because he was already defeated by Peus and Ruland, believing that trying to kill them was a suicide mission. Olivia refused to believe there wasn’t another way around it all.

She drove the discussion and the intensity of the session. Then it happened again, the lack of mushy romance between Fitz and Liv. He tried to comfort her, buck her up in that soft voice he use in the face of Rowan’s refusal, She refused to engage in it, saying only one word as he reached for her: “Don’t”. A new phase for Olitz?

It was the first time that Cyrus had come fact-to-face with Rowan, who admitted to his face that he was the one that killed Frankie Vargas. During a break in the action Cy joined Rowan and showed him the wine cellar that Fitz installed in the bunker. They spoke as vanquished warriors, taken from the mountain top of power to the basement of the bunker. After they downed a bottle of wine, Cyrus attempted to kill Papa Pope with the corkscrew. Of course, Rowan was one step ahead of him and it went nowhere. But upstairs, a new plan was hatched.

In an earlier scene, Frankie’s widow was interviewed on TV again. She had already thrown her support to Cyrus, but as we know the paid-for Electoral College chose Mellie. The widow asked for peace in the country as weeks of chaos had yet to subside. After the failed attempt on Rowan’s life, Cyrus rejoined the group and this time, Mellie asked him to be her Veep on a unification ticket, in the spirit of what Mrs. Vargas asked for. Cy turned it down despite his still burning desire to be relevant.

That still left Peus to deal with and of course, Mellie’s pick for VP. Liv articulated the qualities of the person needed to heal the country and take on Peus. They needed to reach out to someone who could calm the country and represent a fresh start, someone who didn’t have the stink of corruption. Bingo, an all-female duo took the stage to surprise and applause as Luna Vargas stood beside Mellie Grant.

Time was running out on the lockdown and Ruland came unglued as she realized she was played. The TV news anchor, speaking over those nasty scenes of the drone, said that the all-clear signal was imminent. Ruland wanted to know why she wasn’t with Mellie, who was still supposed to hold a presser to announced the VP pick. Abby and the Secret Service agents weren’t moved by her threats, and Ruland was taken away in cuffs. It led to what might be the point of the entire episode. Liv vs. Ruland.

“I took Mellie back. I am her chief of staff and you are our prisoner. Your mistake was thinking you could take what’s mine and should you make that mistake again, remember this. You can’t take Olivia Pope. Olivia Pope takes you.”

Sound familiar? The transformation into what Papa Pope always wanted for his daughter was complete. She didn’t use the title “Command”, but every one of the people around her in that room of power knew she was. She yearned for the Oval, then demanded the Oval and took the Oval. Mellie was just an instrument she played.

“Scandal” airs Thursdays on ABC at 9 p.m. ET/PT Image credit: ABC, used with permission¬†

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