Scandal Digs The Dirt
Scandal's Presidential race swings into gear, Scandalously.
Who called the meeting? The BNC, Scandal's fictional news network.
What's it about? Sally is about to host the first Republican Presidential debate, so the various campaign managers (plus Hollis Doyle) negotiate the terms.
How'd it go? It seems like Liv mostly gets what she wants, especially when she pulls "if we don't get what we want, I'm taking my ball and going home." In this case, Mellie is the ball and home is an exclusive interview with another network. Her tantrum totally works.
Lady Friends Forever
In the middle of debate prep, Abby calls Liv to gloat over how awesomely Susan is doing. I mean, they have Fitz serving as Hollis Doyle, and he's not interrupting or insulting her nearly enough, so of course she's doing well. Abby tries to tempt Liv into switching sides, but Liv says that even though Mellie isn't a great person, Liv thinks she'll be a great President. Abby alludes to some rumors, and Liv says she's working on it. I like that these two can still be regular friends amidst all of the craziness that goes on with this show.
Plot Lightning Round
So Abby was alluding to rumors that Liv's ex-boo Edison is going to run for President too. Liv meets with Edison, who confirms that he's about to announce. He's a Democrat, so he'll be going head-to-head with Vargas at first. Liv wishes him well, and Edison asks if she's going to tell anyone about "Meridian Terrace." Liv promises to keep this mystery location under wraps, since she owes Edison more than one favor.
David Rosen still wants sexvice from Abby, and reiterates his "two ladies, too much sex" problem without naming any names. Abby really doesn't want to hear it and finally, just to get him to shut up, tells him he has to break up with one of them. David blathers on about how he's walking around in a weird dirty sex trance, and Abby rightfully kicks his ass out of her office.
Speaking of David Rosen: Lizzie tells David and Susan that the press is asking questions about Susan's love life, so she wants them to come out as a couple. Lizzie's brilliant plan is to have David Rosen join Susan on the stage at the end of the debate when the families join the candidates, and to let the media know ahead of time that it will be happening. David and Susan are both reticent, unsure if the other is okay with this public declaration, but both ultimately agree.
Name: Alex Vargas. Age: Early 40s. Occupation: Political Operative. Goal: To get his brother Frankie elected President by any means necessary, and serve as de facto campaign manager even though Cyrus has been brought on in that capacity. Also, I didn't even recognize Danny Pino despite having watched every episode of SVU. I might have that face blindness like Brad Pitt. Sample Dialogue: "I'm not your adversary. We win the Democratic primary, you win the Republican? Then we become adversaries."
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Mellie vs. Liv
Mellie and Liv argue about what exactly Mellie needs to do to improve her favorables, which an OPA focus group shows are low, low, low. Liv wants Mellie to seem more relatable and down-to-earth, while Mellie seems determined to show how smart she is, and it's making her come off as a know-it-all. This doesn't seem consistent with Mellie's characterization so far; she's smart, but she's more people smart and hella ambitious. I would think she would get the same complaints as Hillary Clinton: too calculating, too buttoned-up, wants it too much.
Winner: Liv, because the focus group data shows that she's right.
Alert Type: Shady Jake Alert.
Issue: Liv has Quinn tailing Jake because she's still convinced he's up to something bad.
Complicating Factors: Jake isn't doing anything weird.
Resolution: Quinn goes to Plan B and befriends Vanessa, then gets Vanessa to confide that before she could date Jake, she had to have a security background check and turn over her bank statements and laptop.
Spoiler: Bank statements aren't part of a standard NSA background check, so that's a clue toward what Jake is doing.
Blowing Up Rosen's Spot
Situation: Susan stops into Abby's office to shoot the shit.
What makes it awkward? Susan spots David Rosen's notebook, and Abby has a laugh about how David won't stop complaining about how he's juggling multiple women, not knowing that Susan is one of them. Also, Susan has clearly just spent a month in Florida, based on her bronze face.
How is order restored? Susan is devastated and tanks her debate prep. Lizzie calls David Rosen and tells him to fix it. Susan confronts David about the cheating but he denies denies denies. Susan believes it, and then next time David sees Lizzie, he dumps her. She's hurt but pretends it's all good.
Plot Lightning Round
Everyone is debate prepping in his or her own way. Mellie tries to change who she is completely; Hollis Doyle takes reporters to a firing range and cooks bacon on the muzzle of his gun. That is a thing that happens.
Alex Vargas shows up at OPA and offers Liv dirt on Susan Ross (like what, she doesn't recycle?) in exchange for dirt on Edison. Liv turns him down, but has Huck find out that Alex has basically been doing Frankie's dirty work forever, which allows Frankie plausible deniability of any dirt he digs up.
To make her appear to be a woman of the people, Liv sends Mellie to Gettysburger. Alone. Like, who goes into a fast food restaurant alone and sits and eats? That seems normal. Also, Mellie is so not the type who would wear a baseball cap. If you want her to look like a regular American, put her in yoga pants and a sweatshirt with her hair in a messy bun. Anyway, Mellie sits with some random family and takes press questions and all seems well until she slips up and talks about how she loves coming to Gettysburger on Sundays after church. Gettysburger isn't open on Sundays. Cover blown. Guys, I'm starting to feel like Liv isn't very good at her job. This campaign is a disaster.
Who called the meeting? Liv.
What's it about? She's seeking Rowan's advice on whether she should pimp out Edison to get the dirt on Susan.
How'd it go? Rowan surprisingly takes Edison's side, and says that Edison was never anything but nice to Liv (except for that time he totally called her a whore), so Rowan thinks Liv should refuse the dirt. Rowan gives a big speech about how Liv has always only done bad things if it would help good people (has she?), so she shouldn't get her hands dirty here. Whatever. Where is this coming from? Rowan has ulterior motives here, right?
Plot Lightning Round
Cyrus is feeling threatened by how Alex Vargas is taking over the campaign; the staffers like him better and he's closer to the candidate, being his brother and all. So he gets Tom to try to find dirt; there isn't any. Also, Tom and Cyrus are definitely doing it, which feels like a weird and unnecessary detail.
Quinn reports that Jake is using Vanessa's bank account to funnel money into a SuperPAC funding Edison's campaign. Liv goes to tell Edison about it, assuming he didn't know. But he DID know! And he doesn't care that Rowan is a bad dude! And he thinks Liv is a monster! Fuck this guy. Well, he's right, but I don't like his haircut.
Now that he's not screwing everything with boobs, Fitz apparently just has all of the time in the world to wander around the West Wing in case Susan needs help with debate prep. And she does! But she also wants to talk about why he cheated on his wife. And why people cheat in general. Fitz's advice is that if she feels like the guy is cheating, he probably is. Susan sighs heavily because she knows he's right, and returns to debate prep.
It's A Date
Ugh, These Two Again
Who's on a date? Jake and Vanessa...at least, until Liv texts Jake to meet her.
Where has she taken him? The restaurant bathroom. Where they start making out while Liv reveals what she knows about the SuperPAC.
Are things headed in a horizontal direction? Not horizontal, but Liv does reverse the last time these two were together by giving Jake a handy while telling him that he needs to know that whatever game he is playing, she will win. Then she leaves Jake there with his blue balls.
Wrap It Up
It's Debate Night in America! David Rosen finds Susan smoking outside. She's sad, because she has to dump him: she doesn't trust him. David doesn't deny the cheating, but tries to protest that he broke up with the other women because he loves Susan only. Susan is like, later, dude. Too little too late.
Liv finds Mellie spinning out backstage. Mellie is like, bitch, where have you been all week? The press is still killing me over the burger thing! Also, we have no debate strategy! Liv tells her to chill, and go out there and do her best, and that Liv will fix it later. Liv is kind of the worst campaign manager.
Susan confesses to Lizzie about the breakup. Susan starts crying, and so does Lizzie, probably because she is also going through a breakup and she can't tell anyone. This seems like awesome debate prep. Maybe Lizzie is the worst campaign manager!
Liv meets up with Alex Vargas and gives him the dirt on Edison. Turns out Meridian Terrace was a rehab center that Liv sent Edison to and then covered up. Vargas comes through with the dirt on Susan, but we don't get to find out what that is yet.
And then the debate begins! Next episode, that is. No time for that nonsense this week.