Scandal Season 6 Episode 4 Recap: "The Belt"

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Say what you will about Scandal, it is not afraid to get real dark, real quick sometimes.

Such is the case with Thursday's (Feb. 16) episode, "The Belt," which focuses almost entirely on Cyrus (Jeff Perry) again, much like last week. And like last week, Perry absolutely knocks it out of the park.

The thrust of the storyline is that Cyrus and Tom Larsen (Brian Letscher) are now in federal prison. As someone who had the first Latino president assassinated, they are none too popular and are being kept in a secluded wing -- the murderer's row of, well, murderer's row.

Cyrus makes the acquaintance of a fellow murderer, a real peach of a guy who ate his entire family -- except the family dog, because what kind of monster eats his own dog, right?

Fun fact: Ralph the family murderer is played by William Duffy of The West Wing. Who knew Ed/Larry could be so creepy?

Anyway, at first Cyrus is just desperate to talk to Tom and get him to recant his story, but that's proving difficult, since literally no one except the guy who ate his family wants anything to do with Cyrus. The biggest betrayal comes in the form of Elizabeth North (Portia de Rossi), who acts like she's going to give Tom a letter from Cyrus, but instead shows it to Michael (Matthew Del Negro), who promptly tells Cyrus he's leaving him and suing for full custody of Ella, because the letter was full of sexy stuff as part of Cyrus' effort to convince Tom that he really loved him all along.

It's pretty rough to watch, since we know Cyrus is actually innocent this time -- particularly when a prison guard (played by Billy Riggins himself, Derek Phillips) lets a group of inmates beat Cyrus to a bloody pulp. His tearful call to Olivia (Kerry Washington) to beg for her help is also pretty rough, because Olivia is kind of washing her hands of Cyrus.

The thing is, she's not wrong about Cyrus needing to be held accountable for a great many things -- Amanda Tanner (Liza Weil), anyone? -- but it's still pretty heartbreaking that she says she'll always be his friend...but she's never speaking with him again. He was her last hope and with that, it looks like Cyrus is done.

He has no friends, no one believes him and even President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) has given David Rosen (Joshua Malina) the greenlight to pursue the death penalty. But just when you think Cyrus is about to attempt suicide and only a last-minute Gladiator save will bring him back from the point of no return, Cyrus flips the script with the help of his new cannibal friend.

You see, Cyrus promises Ralph a kill in exchange for his help and they manage to get the jump on the guard who earlier set up Cyrus' prison beat-down. The deal is either Ralph gets to kill the guard or Ralph gets to kill Tom Larsen, so naturally the guard lets Ralph and Cyrus into Tom's cell because Billy Riggins is nothing if not self-preserving.

But as this drama is unfolding, the Gladiators have realized Tom Larsen wasn't anywhere near Vargas when he was assassinated and they can prove it with security footage. They aren't acting out of any kind of loyalty to Cyrus, but Huck (Guillermo Diaz) has raised a good point about who killed Jennifer Fields (Chelsea Kurtz) -- because Tom has made no mention of her -- and it sends them off on a hunt to prove definitely that Tom (and by extension, Cyrus) are guilty so that there's no way Mellie (Bellamy Young) can have the presidency snatched away from her again.

Unfortunately for Mellie, the Gladiators realize Tom and Cyrus are innocent, just as Tom admits it to Cyrus in prison.

"I didn't kill Frankie. I just wanted to see you suffer. I didn't kill him, that's the truth," confesses Tom.

And Tom manages not to die, something we really thought might go either way. It would be just like Scandal to get someone to recant important testimony only to have that person die before they can tell anyone who matters.

So here's where we are -- Vargas' assassin and whoever was behind it is still out there. Hopefully it's not Papa Pope (Joe Morton) because that seems so obvious by now. It's nice to know that the answer wasn't as easy as Tom Larsen, so let's not fall back into more old habits, Scandal.

But Cyrus didn't do it, not even peripherally by his sociopathic boyfriend acting out of some form of obsessive love. It'll be interesting to see what this does to the Cyrus/Fitz love affair that's been at the center of Scandal since the beginning.

But speaking of romance, it is blossoming on two fronts. Huck has taken up with Fields' friend from the campaign, Meg Mitchell (Phoebe Neidhardt), a statistician, and it's utterly adorable. Huck deserves a good woman, even if the plot introducing her felt incredibly rushed.

And Fitz is firmly in bed with FBI director Angela Webster (Saycon Sengbloh), which is less adorable because seriously, the president cannot be sleeping with the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FFS! That is not OK on any level!

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