Ready for an all-new season of Scandal? For a refresher and to speculate about the season ahead, be sure to check out Nicole Leapheart's post “Anticipating Scandal Season 3: Gladiators, Grab Your Wine Glasses” as well as Kwana Minatee-Jackson's recap of the Season 3 premiere. And now without further ado, Nicole's recap of Season 3, episode 2, “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.”
NOTE: This post may contain spoilers for all aired episodes of Scandal.
Gladiators, I spent most of this episode with my mouth hanging open, so let’s get to it.
When the show opens, its 5 years ago, and 5-years-ago-with-bangs Olivia Pope has not yet met Fitzgerald Grant, but she does have a relationship with Homeless Huck who knows she has dinner with her father every Sunday because she brings him the leftovers. The family relationship is strained; “Eli” Pope commits to a sophisticatedly bland deception that he works at the Smithsonian, meanwhile the petulant Liv is still angry at her father for sending her to boarding school when her mother died. The tradeoff to rebuilding their relationship is that he pays for her law school loans and she comes to Sunday dinners.
After one of the dinners, we see Liv talking to then-boyfriend Senator Edison Davis, who wants to put a ring on Liv’s finger, but she isn’t ready. The next thing we know, Liv's getting mugged by two assailants, and Homeless Huck comes out of nowhere and neatly dispatches them both, instructing Liv to run away. She does.
In present time, we see Olivia going for a jog when, hey...that guy looks familiar! It’s the other Secret Service guy, Tom (the one who is loyal to Fitz and not a tattle-tale) jogging as well, and passes Olivia a cell phone as he goes by. Fitz was on the line, and after an anecdote about the Dalai Lama, talk about how much they miss each other, and what their lives would be like in an alternative universe, they get down to brass tacks. Olivia puts Fitz on notice that she is going after the White House hard for her client. Fitz tells her to “go for the jugular.” He is so proud of his fierce woman, he is practically a puffed up peacock.
Rowan “Eli” Pope gets on the horn with Cyrus and impresses upon him how much he needs to make Fitz use Liv’s client, Jeannine, as the fall gal for the affair scandal. Cyrus impresses upon Rowan how he can’t make Fitz do anything. Rowan leaves the conversation with a cryptic “Do what you have to, and I’ll do the same.” Cy quips, "You know, some people just say goodbye.” Right about then is when Cyrus finds out that Jeannine is being handled by Olivia Pope and Associates. While Cyrus is shouting many mental F-bombs, Fitz sidles up to him and smirks, “It’s Olivia, what did you expect?”
Back in the past, Olivia asks Homeless Huck about his fighting skills, and he spills his B613 guts. At Sunday dinner, Olivia asks her father to use his FBI contacts to see if B613 is a real thing. He tells her he will look into it to make her happy, but tried to discourage her interest. The most important part of this dinner? Finding out that Liv developed her taste in wine from her father! She didn’t care for it before.
Back in the present, Cyrus and Mellie are double teaming Fitz, who is leaning on his desk like a bored high school student listening to a lecture. Cyrus tell him to “grow some Presidential sized balls” and make a statement that he had an affair with Jeannine. Fitz reminds them that he calls the shots, and he will not lie under any circumstances. That’s okay, because Mellie is always a woman with a plan—she has an aide send over circumstantial but juicy evidence indicating Jeannine worked late with Fitz when she was out of town. The (media) crowd goes wild.
While Liv is trying to solve that problem, she walks into her office, and who is there entertaining the Gladiators? Her father. He walks right up to her with a huge smile and looks over at Huck. “And you must be Huck!” he says, shaking his hand. Jaw. Floor.
Back in the past, we see some B613 come out in Rowan as Liv relentlessly questions him about Huck. Rowan claims that he found out information indicating Huck’s instability but Liv pushes the matter, not agreeing that Huck is dangerous, at least not to her. Rowan shuts her down, hard.
In the present, Liv and her father are in her office having the most cryptic, creepy, and disturbing conversation ever. Their faces were lit up with false merriment, so that anyone looking in would be none the wiser to their actual conversation. She wants him to leave, but he tells her if she doesn’t let Jeannine take the fall, Jake dies. She asks for guarantees about Jake being alive now, and he tells her to talk to Huck about how agents are punished. Meanwhile, in the conference room Quin ponders about the relationship between Liv and her father. (Can we just talk about the apparently new hair/makeup budget for this season? Quin and Abby look a little over-done.)
Not knowing Jake’s fate, Liv has an arrangement with the coroner to call her every time a John Doe matching his description shows up. Fraught with worry, she calls Fitz’s bat phone and demands he finds out if Jake is alive.
Back in the past, Olivia meets a harried David Rosen for the first time. She has him run Huck’s fingerprints in the system, and according to police records, he has never been arrested, completely blowing Rowan’s story. Deciding to investigate further, Liv goes in person to the paper supply company that Huck says was the base of operation. It’s then that she realizes the pen she got from her father is from the same company. She confronts him at dinner, and he gets scary with her, basically he tells her to get herself together and stop asking questions she doesn’t really want the answer to. Liv walks out.
Quin does more digging in the present, and has hacked Olivia’s email to get the dirt on Liv and her father. Huck tells her to be less like him, and more like Liv. (Her shift in character under Huck’s tutelage is chilling, and we’re only two episodes in!) Fitz confronts Cy and wants info from B613 on Jake’s condition. Meanwhile, the Gladiators prepare Jeannine for her media blitz. That night, Liv gets called out to identify another body and Jeannine gets called out by Mellie, who offers her a deal.
In the past we see Rowan’s quiet night interrupted by Liv, who shows up for Sunday dinner unannounced...with her new fiance Edison(!) in tow. She informs her father proudly that her Senator fiance has recently been appointed to the Senate Intel Committee and touts his influence in Washington. When Edison steps away to open some wine, she demands that her father return Huck to her.
The media is ready to interview Jeannine, but when all of Liv’s ducks don’t fall in a row, she realizes someone got to Jeannine. She gets a call from Fitz, who has news that Jake is alive, but he can’t get him released. She lays into Fitz and tells him in no uncertain terms that he better get Jake back, come hell or high water, or why is he President? On a roll, she calls her father for a last minute plea. He’s not budging, but when Liv offers to return to Sunday dinners, he “takes it under consideration.” Finally, Liv gets in Jeannine’s face and tells her if she takes the (cheap!) deal, she won’t be able to look at herself in the mirror.
She never gets to tell her story however, because the interview is preempted by a live speech from Fitz. He tells Cyrus he needs to make Jake Ballard appear or he will spill his guts about the coverup. Just before he hits the podium, Fitz tosses, “How Presidential are my balls now, Cy?” He announces his affair and names Jeannine as his mistress, which nullifies her deal.
Going back to the past, Liv finds Huck back at his perch, a little beat up, but basically fine. She gets a call from her father who tells her she needs to break it off with Edison, but go easy, since he was in a terrible accident and is hospitalized. She agrees, but demands he stay away, and she will do the same.
Quin’s continued digging finds an email where Liv asks her father about Huck. Huck (physically!) confronts Olivia about her father’s role in B613; is he Command? She shakily admits the truth and confesses that she made a deal with her father for his freedom. At home, nursing a glass of wine, Liv gets a call from her father and immediately tell him to go to hell. He tells her to open the door...and a beat-up Jake Ballard collapses in her doorway.
Is Jake rehabbed to the B613 mentality or is he still the conflicted anti-hero from last season? Huck really shook himself and Liv up when he physically interrogated her—where are they going from here? I think she will forgive him before he forgives himself. Sunday dinners are back on the table—Rowan was able to thaw Liv before, can he do it again? And when the hell are we going to see Harrison do something besides grimace?
Next week looks...explosive! (See what I did there?)
Nicole Leapheart's alter ego is Miss Boxy Frown, and she posts book reviews and TV recaps at missboxyfrown.blogspot.com. She reads and watches everything from romance to sci-fi, but enjoys it even more if some smut is involved. And tattoos.