Scandal Season 5, Episode 10 Recap: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Power

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Scandal's midseason premiere was all about power, and leaving the White House has left Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) anything but powerless.

In the months after leaving Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), Olivia has apparently returned to OPA, and this week, the gladiators have a big-name client: the NSA director, Diane Peters (McNally Sagal). Diane enlists Liv's help when classified NSA files from her private computer get hacked into by a whistleblower — and having the files on a private computer is already against agency rules in the first place. Diane isn't the only visitor to OPA this episode, either — Mellie (Bellamy Young) has enlisted Olivia's help with writing her book.

The OPA gladiators aren't the only family Liv has returned to, though: In the beginning of the episode, we see Liv having a dinner with Rowan (Joe Morton) that appears downright friendly. It's hard to remember that not too long ago, Liv was working with Jake (Scott Foley) to put Rowan in prison. Now, not only has Olivia resumed having regular dinners with her father, but Jake is apparently Rowan's new roommate.

And speaking of Jake, this week's Scandal wasted no time in making sure we know that Liv hasn't been too lonely since her dramatic breakup with Fitz. When Liv returns home from her dinner with Rowan, Jake is waiting at her apartment. The extended scene is proof that Liv's hookups with Jake are way steamier than those with Fitz — Olivia and Jake have a natural chemistry, and I'm guessing that no one, even Olivia, wants to see Fitz's O-face.

But back to Diane and the NSA! Liv and Quinn (Katie Lowes) immediately suspect Diane's boyfriend, Billy, who's also an NSA employee, of being the whistleblower. Billy's phone records indicate a call to the Post about the hacked files, which include details about Project Mercury, a U.S. endeavor that involves tapping into private conversations of world leaders.

Diane takes responsibility for the situation — she hired and vetted Bily in the first place — by resigning at Fitz's request. Unfortunately, the OPA gladiators find Billy's body and realize he's not the whistleblower, just as Fitz appoints Jake the new director of the NSA. When Olivia confronts Jake and Rowan about Billy's death, and the fact that they framed him, Rowan launches into a speech about Washington power and politics.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, Abby (Darby Stanchfield) has become Fitz's "work wife," fielding middle-of-the-night phone calls about foreign policy and upcoming meetings. But by the end of the episode, Abby's had enough, telling Fitz that she's the White House press secretary, not his "companion animal."

Rowan and Jake are living together, Fitz and Liv aren't speaking, and David (Joshua Malina), Elizabeth (Portia de Rossi), and Susan (Artemis Pebdani) are nowhere to be found. If anything, Liv and Fitz not being together makes the plots more interesting, though I'd definitely like to see more of Cyrus (Jeff Perry) next week.
Lingering Questions:

Where the heck is David? Scandal's last episode left us hanging about David's love triangle with Elizabeth and Susan. Are David and Susan off drinking wine coolers during the NSA restructuring? Is he upset that Liv has chosen a red trenchcoat over the white hat?

If Leo is working on a campaign in Texas, wouldn't that be public information?
Abby tells Fitz that Leo (Paul Adelstein) is sick, even claiming he's in the hospital at one point, when really, she tells Liv, he's taken a campaign job in Texas. Surely someone in the White House would have heard that Leo was gone?

Is Mellie Liv's ticket back into the White House? The fact that Liv has agreed to help Mellie with her book suggests we've got some great Liv-Mellie collaboration — including, hopefully, some hooch-drinking — to look forward to in the rest of the season. Mellie's got her eye on the White House — could Liv be her vice president? (Probably not, but we can dream!)

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