Apr 4 2014 9:29am

Scandal Season 3, Episode 16 Recap: Hard Decisions

Olivia and Fitz in Scandal 3x16Can't get enough Scandal? Join the club—really. Tune into H&H for weekly recaps from Kwana Minatee-Jackson and Nicole Leapheart. Need to catch up? Don't miss recaps of 3x07, 3x08, 3x09, 3x10, 3x11, 3x123x133x14, and 3x15. And now, let's dive into H&H's recap of Season 3, episode 16, “The Fluffer.”

NOTE: This post may contain spoilers for all aired episodes of Scandal. Enjoy!

This episode of Scandal was aptly named because it was a jaw-dropper! There was also a lot of hightailing it out of the room, so I kept count.

As the episode opens we see someone else sashaying down the halls with Cyrus Beene. It’s Abby, dressed in Olivia Pope white. (She looks good, too!) Cyrus, in disbelief, is grilling Abby about why Liv isn’t there. He also calls her Gabby, which unfortunately sticks to poor Abby the whole episode as she has interactions at the White House.

Cyrus pulls out his phone to call Olivia, and Abby reports to him that Olivia is only taking Abby’s calls and Abby better not call unless the White House is burning down. Shaking his head, Cyrus tells (G)Abby that he feels sorry for what’s about to happen in the next room.

In the conference room we see Abby and Cy standing as Fitz, Andrew, and Mellie are seated around a table. Abby starts the meeting, passing out campaign dossiers to everyone. Team Grant is initially quiet and unresponsive until Fitz interrupts Abby with, “Where’s Olivia?” Abby is Olivia’s proxy today, and she lets Fitz know it. Continuing on with the meeting, Abby keeps talking female demographics when Fitz rudely walks out of the room without a word. Mellie quickly exits next, and of course Andrew is not far behind. (Hightail count: 1) Before he takes his leave, Cyrus tosses a compliment to Abby about her coat. Already exhausted, Abby flops down in one of the many open chairs at the conference table.

Where is Olivia Pope? Having a clandestine meeting with her father. She wants to talk terms up front; if they work together, she wants a promise that he won’t hurt Fitz. After a little sparring, Rowan promises he “won’t touch a hair” on Fitz’s head. There is a silent beat as we all try to figure out what that means, but Olivia takes Rowan at his word because they proceed. He gives up the money trail for B613 and Olivia takes that info back to Gladiator Central, aka Pope and Associates. His spy senses tingling, Huck is immediately concerned about where this information came from. When Olivia admits it was her father, Huck flees the room. (Hightail count: 2) She follows him to his office, and Huck cautions that Rowan is treating her like a mark. She insists quite forcefully that her father is on the level and that it is Huck’s job to follow her directives. She wants him to find the algorithm that funnels the money into B613’s secret account and get the code that can shut it down. After initially resisting, Huck does as he is told, albeit reluctantly.

Andrew catches up to Mellie in the hallway and when Mellie tries to play it cool with him, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he is in love with her and can’t pretend he isn’t. Mellie can’t deal with that, so she leaves him to stare after her. (Hightail count: 3)

Abby finally has to call Liv when she catches a press conference with Jeannine Locke shilling a book about her (fake!) affair with Fitz. The book is suitably called Taken for Granted, and Ms. Locke is having a great time at this press conference. She just wants the world to know what a “strong, satisfying...impressive man” Fitz is. When a reporter asks if the President was a breadstick or a baguette, Locke makes it clear that Fitz was a baguette like no other. The White House is burning and it’s time for Liv to get to work.

In the conference room, Team Grant is livid. They figure out that either Reston or Langston got to Locke to stir this pot up, and when the first reaction interview went to Sally Langston (who pretends to be taking the high road) their question is answered. Mellie says what we are all thinking when she exclaims, “That bitch!” Cyrus is ready to pull the trigger on leaking Sally’s daughter’s abortion, but Liv is against sending it out. Cyrus desperately implores Fitz, but all Fitz wants is the room to be cleared for he and Olivia. (Hightail count: 4)

Fitz paces and complains at Olivia. He wants Andrew off the ticket, and Olivia reminds him that he picked him, and now he is stuck with him. She asks him what else he needs. He doesn’t care for her tone, but she goes all in and repeats the question. “What service can I provide for you?” she snaps. Is she the nanny, the bodyguard, or wait, is she the fluffer today? Fitz tells her she is being petty and disgusting, but Olivia argues that she doesn’t have many other choices of emotions to choose from. She reminds him that her life with him is like an unfinished movie that she lives every day and every lonely night. He reminds her that she went into their relationship eyes open. She agrees, and decides it’s time for her to leave. Well, the room, that is. (Hightail count: 5)

Jake has a job for Quinn and Charlie. They are to do surveillance on Marie Wallace, aka Liv’s mom. Jake cautions them NOT to engage, just observe and report like mall cops. Meanwhile, Marie’s contact, the one who makes things go boom, is apparently multi talented—he can make bombs and orgasms appear if Mama’s frisky behavior around him is any indication.

Cyrus stumbles upon Leo Bergen holding court at the White House and it makes him vengeful. Against Liv’s advice, he makes a call to start slinging mud. Meanwhile, Harrison meets up with his friend Claire who makes new identities and she has been contracted to get some things for Adnan and Marie. He begs her to give up Marie because Marie is dangerous, but she insists that she will not give up a potential mentor just to help him. Then she rolls out. (Hightail count: 6)

Liv is in bed wide awake when she gets a call. It’s Jake, and he’s outside her door. He wants to come in, but she won’t let him in. He admits that he is drunk and they both know he could get in if he wanted, but she still refuses him. Liv is still hurt by James’s murder. They argue and finally before he leaves, Jake whispers to the door, “I asked you to save me...but you told me no.” Dejected, he gets on the elevator and goes home.

The next morning at the office, Huck informs Olivia that he found the algorithm, but the account is empty. Concerned her father is playing games, Olivia heads right to Rowan to confront him. He explains in his damn-do-I-have-the-only-working-brain way that Jake has obviously moved the funds and they can probably only be accessed on site. With a code. A code that only Jake has. Rowan, clearly disappointed in Liv’s lack of critical thinking skills in this instance advises her to anticipate his moves by motives at the very least.

The White House has another fire. Liv gets a call from Abby, this time because the news of Sally’s daughter’s abortion has hit the news. Livid, Olivia goes straight to Cy, and they argue. It comes out that nobody is listening to Liv because Fitz is vetting a VP pick in his office. (Hightail count: 7) Liv takes off, interrupts Fitz’s meeting, and escorts the potential pick out of his office. She gets down to brass tacks with Fitz and asks again what he needs so that they can continue the course and he reveals that he needs Andrew and Mellie to stop sleeping together.

Liv handles it Pope style. She has a showdown with Andrew and tells him he has two choices: Fitz or Mellie. Be VP or be Mellie’s short term lover (short term because Mellie only deals with big dogs.) Be part of the team or get eviscerated in the press—and he has 24 hours to give an answer. Next, Olivia waits in Cy’s office with none other than (G)Abby and Leo Bergen. Liv instructs them to play nice and take out Reston so it can be a two-candidate race. How do they do that? By sending (G)Abby and Leo to see Reston’s wife in jail with the evidence that he set her up to go to jail. You know it’s serious when the soul music starts playing in the background!

Charlie the psycho boyfriend and Quinn the jerk are doing surveillance on Mama Pope when Harrison’s friend Claire shows up. Turns out Mama Pope needs more identities from her, and warns her that after this job is done, she needs to leave town. Forever. (Hightail count: 8)

Huck has worked up a piece of tech that can get them access to B613’s algorithm signal, but the catch is that is has to be connected to Jake’s phone for 30 seconds in order to work. When Liv asks how that’s supposed to happen, Huck tells her he is sure she can figure that part out for herself. Cue the awkward conversation about doing what one must. (And doing Jake is such a hardship.) Liv uses the key she still has to Jake’s place and once he sees her cue the bow chicka wow wow music. She puts that man to sleep and gets the job done.

The next day, Reston’s wife confronts him when he goes to visit her in jail. He tells her flat out that if she tries to tell anyone what he did, he is going to put her in the crazy house. What Reston doesn’t know is that he is being recorded and Abby puts the footage online. When Abby tells Leo what she did, he is impressed, giving her the up and down eyes, like David better watch his back!

Meanwhile, reality has set in and Claire realizes that Mama Pope is crazy. She calls Harrison and promises info about Marie in exchange for an extraction. Did this work out for Harrison last week? No it did not. (Hold that thought.) Liv and Rowan are having dinner when Marie shows up looking like a million bucks. She and Rowan have an intense I-can-kill-you-with-a-steak-knife staring contest before Marie reveals to Liv that her current line of work was too dangerous. She should seek other employment. Confused about that statement, Olivia notices Harrison calling her. Marie urges her to take the call...and Harrison informs Liv that his friend Claire is dead. (Sometimes people die so horribly they don’t get killed, they get kilt. This is what happened to Claire.) Her work done, Marie takes off. (Hightail count: 9)

Andrew watches Mellie make a smart and impassioned speech at a female veterans hospital event. He realizes that Olivia is right, and the campaign life is what Mellie wants. He breaks it off with her and when Mellie realizes why, she marches right into Fitz’s office, interrupts a staff meeting, and slaps the taste out of his mouth. “You take everything from me!” she screams. Cy tries to clear the room, but Mellie insists on leaving. (Hightail count: 10)

Abby and Olivia in Scandal 3x16Olivia was feeling mighty low about life, and Abby gives her an Olivia Pope pep talk about being a Gladiator. “Gladiators don’t get to run,” Abby says. “They stitch themselves up and live to fight another day.” I think it worked.

The Gladiators are circling Huck’s desk. He is weaving through all the B613 files and finds the kill switch. Meanwhile, Charlie and Quinn are still watching Marie’s hotel room and what do you know-Marie’s boyfriend brings in a bomb. According to Charlie, it’s the “Mona Lisa of Boom.” You get the idea that it’s hard to impress Charlie at this point in his life, so that bomb is Bad. News.

At Huck’s desk, Huck wants permission to hit the kill switch and shut B613 down.

In the hotel room, Adnan is on a call and wants to confirm White House or campaign trail for the bomb?

At Huck’s desk, Olivia gives the order. B613 immediately shuts down. No surveillance, no phones, no power. No answers. Jake’s face slowly changes as realization dawns that it had to be Olivia who did this.

Charlie and Quinn run to the hotel room (Hightail count: 11), but it’s too late. Marie and Adnan are in the wind and they don’t know what the target is.

The Gladiators are having a celebratory drink when Jake busts in and choke slams Liv into a door. He holds the crowd back with a gun and informs Olivia that she just killed the President.

Should Jake choke Olivia when she makes a bad choice? (Maybe yes.) Is Jake sexy with his shirt off? (Absolutely.) Does Leo have a crush on (G)Abby? (You bet!) Will Fitz die next week? (No! Well, probably not.) I’ll try to keep my jaw hinged in the meantime.


Nicole Leapheart's alter ego is Miss Boxy Frown, and she posts book reviews and TV recaps at She reads and watches everything from romance to sci-fi, but enjoys it even more if some smut is involved. And tattoos.

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1. Bell
This was a crazy episode. Yes David needs to watch his back. I always enjoy when he sits in on gladiator meetings. I was hoping that Andrew could .find a way to choose Mellie. On the other hand I think i would like to see Mellie disengage from the drama of Fitz, Liv,and power struggles. Maybe see her have her own cause like the wounded women and possibly engage with the kids more.
Oh I feel bad for Liv to see her feel like she wore the white hat and possibly pulled them into the light and have it be at the worst moment. Her relationship with her parents reminds me of Alias.
K.M. Jackson
2. kwanawrites
Wonderful recap. My favorite part was as you said, "Fitz getting the taste slapped out of his mouth" so good. I fear Mellie is not going to take this lying down. Things should get even more fun from here.
3. nonoza
I have been yelling @ my computer screen since the Popeheads started this B613 take-down, "what the hell r u ppl doing?" Though their methods leave much 2 b desired, the top secret spy organisation keeps the world on its access. Really, who did hey think wud police the terrorists once they took out B613?
Nicole Leapheart
4. BoxyFrown
Fitz told Mellie a while back to stay in her lane and do some First Lady projects She wants to be a top dog!

Thank you!Mellie holds a grudge, we know that. She put her soul into that slap.

Yes!!! Yes we liked James but he was about to take down a whole branch of government. Did she listen to her father talk about the responsibilties of Command??
5. Bell
Stay in her lane sounds horrible. Did not mean that, lol. I guess I want her to be a top dog in her own right. My historical and political knowledge is small, but I was thinking of Eleanore Roosevelt and Hilary Clinton. Not that I think Mellie is like these ladies but who came to mind when thinking of first ladies who were or became top dogs in there own way. Though got to admit Mellie as Secretary of State would worry me. I'm surprised by how invested I've become in her character as usually she would not be a favorite, but it's been fun.
6. nonoza
I think huck is ryt abt Liv being a mark. I think Rowan helped the popeheads take down B613 becoz he wants them 2 c jst hw necessary it is n get jake ousted @ the same time n get hs job bck.
Nicole Leapheart
7. BoxyFrown
Lol! I agree with you. I meant she should act as a First Lady instead of trying to be President. She is smart, and can definitely hold office on her own, but she just needs to wait her turn. :D

Absolutely. B613 wasn't invented just to hurt Olivia Pope's feelings. lol
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