When we last left our intrepid Gladiators, President Rashad (Faran Tahir) of Bashran, his niece, and their entire entourage were blown to bits on the tarmac...and Scandal wastes no time revealing who was responsible in the latest episode, titled "Vampires and Bloodsuckers."
It was Olivia (Kerry Washington), Jake (Scott Foley), and their B-613 cohorts. I'll confess to being surprised the show didn't at least take one episode to leave viewers wondering who carried out the attack before showing all its cards. I'm also a little surprised it was Olivia, though at this point, I probably should stop being surprised at anything and just assume Olivia is behind, oh, I don't know, the Kennedy assassination as well.
So it turns out B-613 made a deal with the Bashrani rebel forces to take out Rashad in exchange for the new regime signing the nuclear treaty. That also surprises me; that the rebel forces would want Rashad dead so badly that they would agree to nuclear disarmament. That actually doesn't make a ton of sense. Rashad always said his people hated the nuclear treaty, so wouldn't an uprising rebel faction also be against the treaty? Why would they agree to that? That feels like a plotpoint of convenience to make Olivia do something awful and turn more of her allies against her, but I guess that sticking point isn't really that big of a deal in the grand Scandal scheme.
Anyway, after confronting Olivia about the bombing and revealing she has a witness, Quinn (Katie Lowes) disappears. She was hot on the trail of proving Olivia ordered the bombing, even placing a couple calls to Curtis Pryce (Jay Hernandez) that intimated what she knew without naming names, and then she's just gone. The Gladiators work their tails off to find her, with Olivia giving an Oscar-caliber performance feigning concern for Quinn's safety, when in reality she's only concerned for her own safety.
The trail leads them to the witness, a former Air Force sergeant who served jail time and then went to work for Fenton Glackland (Dean Norris). Charlie (George Newbern) doesn't need to hear that twice before he rushes off to torture Quinn's location out of Fenton. The problem is that Fenton truly has no idea what Charlie is talking about.
What's interesting about this whole race against time to find Quinn is that even though Olivia wants her found for her own selfish reasons, that still means B-613 didn't take Quinn. And in the episode's final scene, Jake finds proof that Quinn was actually in the elevator at QPA, headed to the wedding, when she disappeared. So she's not out there plotting against Olivia – she was actually taken by someone. But who? Even Olivia doesn't have a clue.
Now that's an interesting mystery, one that I hope isn't wrapped up in next week's winter finale (unless the writers have an even better trick up their sleeve for the holiday hiatus). Lowes was actually pregnant in real life (she gave birth in early October) for part of the final season, so she would have had to take maternity leave anyway. What better way to take advantage of that than to have Quinn go missing for a handful of episodes?
With everyone looking for Quinn, that leaves Mellie (Bellamy Young) at the White House, grief-stricken and furious over Rashad's death. Her initial response is to carpet-bomb Bashran, which strongly reminded me of President Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) reaction when Morris Tolliver (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) was killed in season one of The West Wing.
Mellie: "Tell them to run. Tell them to hide. Because I am coming for them. Congressional approval or not, I am going to drop every last American bomb on their heads to make them pay for what they've done."
Bartlet: "Let the word ring forth from this time and this place – you kill an American, any American, we don't come back with a proportional response. We come back with total disaster! ...General, I am suggesting that you and Admiral Fitzwallace and Secretary Hutchinson and the rest of the national security team take the next sixty minutes and put together a U.S. response scenario that doesn't make me think we are just docking somebody's damn allowance!"
It's not exactly the same, because Rashad isn't an American, but in both scenarios the president loses someone he or she cares about and struggles with the fact that as a person, the instinct is to seek revenge, but as the president, you have to stifle those feelings. (If you like Scandal, you'd dig The West Wing.)
But back to Mellie. She comes to realize over the course of the episode that while Mellie wants to rain fire on the Middle East, President Grant cannot do that, so she agrees to recognize the new Bashrani regime and everyone can now move ahead with the nuclear treaty. Poor Mellie: It really is lonely at the top.
So, when will this all come crashing down on Olivia? Is that the winter finale cliffhanger next week? Seems appropriate, since she'll need the back half of the season to rehab herself in all her friends' eyes, unless Scandal is going full dark, no stars with its final season and Olivia is just going to continue her evil spiral. That would be kind of amazing, but I doubt it's the way this plays out.
Odds & Ends
Cyrus: "Turns out, walks of shame are a bit more complicated when you're the vice – what in God's name are you wearing?" Fenton's naked guy apron is outstanding.
Huck being the nervous/authoritative best man was delightful. Guillermo Diaz hasn't been given enough to do this season, so I'm glad he played a bigger role this week.
Huck: "This one is special. You mispronounce one word, mistake a prelude for a welcome, drop a ring or fail to send this couple off with anything but the most sincere wishes, I swear..." Do not cross Best Man Huck.
And the best thing to come out of "Vampires and Bloodsuckers"? David (Joshua Malina) and Abby (Darby Stanchfield) are back together!
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