‘Scandal’ recap Season 3, episode 16: ‘The Fluffer’

Warning: This recap contains spoilers.

‘Scandal’ is only on for an hour, right? Because I feel like I just binge-watched a miniseries.

There were a lot of wounds being nursed during this week’s episode and I’m not just talking about the still-visible shiner on VP candidate Andrew Nichols’s face. Harrison (and his ego) tried to recover from Adnan’s sneak attack. Jake continued to struggle to reconcile his feelings for Olivia with his brutal job as Command. And Liv? Well, let’s just say that Mama Pope’s comment about her being The Help definitely left a mark.

That’s how we ended up with Abby at The White House, channeling her boss in her chichest white coat. She’s got the latest poll numbers and while last episode’s family interview helped endear the Grants to the public, they’re struggling when it comes to the female vote. She informs Fitz and his very uninterested team of key players that, one, her name is Abby, not Gabby and, two, she is serving as Olivia’s proxy and under strict orders not to call Olivia unless the White House is on fire.


Abby (not Gabby!) serves as Olivia’s White House proxy. Credit: Ron Tom/ABC

Which would be hyperbole, of course, if this weren’t ‘Scandal.’ Just one oh, look we’re in D.C. montage into the episode and Abby dials Olivia to inform her that they have a problem: Jeannine Locke has resurfaced and is promoting a memoir about her steamy affair with Fitz (the one manufactured by the gladiators). Jeannine’s got a book deal and a no-holds-barred approach to press conferences. Prompts one reporter (read: no reporter, ever): At least tell us, whether the president is a breadstick or a baguette.”

End scene.

Olivia did her best to keep things strictly professional with Fitz, who is still seething mad about Andrew and Mellie sleeping together. So mad, in fact, that he wants Andrew off the ticket. Olivia tells him it will hurt his campaign and forces Fitz to address the elephant in the room — the one that’s jealous and not as indifferent about Mellie as Fitz would have Liv believe. Olivia informs Andrew that he has a choice: He can be VP or he can “screw Mellie.” His inevitable choice — political power — led to a major moment between Fitz and Mellie when the First Lady burst into a closed-door meeting to tell Fitz how she really feels (and deliver a slap he’s long deserved). “You take everything from me!”


Credit: Ron Tom/ABC

Liv takes control of other areas of her life, teaming up with Papa Pope to take down B613. If we ignore the fact that it’s sort of ridiculous that the entire fate of B613 would lie in an algorithm, I can admit that it really was heartwarming to see Rowan and Olivia have some quality father-daughter time, even if it was over schemes to infiltrate a top-secret agency that breeds ruthless assassins. Rowan promised Olivia he would not hurt Fitz. A dad begrudgingly agreeing not to harm his daughter’s BF — how relatable! It was also nice to have David Rosen cracking jokes again. After Olivia confesses to Huck that she’s gotten her intel from Papa Pope, David deadpans: “I would have gone with anonymous former government employee.”

While the Popes work on B613, the aforementioned ruthless assassins set their target on Mama Pope. Jake instructs Quinn and Charlie to track Maya, who has reconnected with an old lover and seems to get more and more brazen with each episode. Over at Pope & Associates, Harrison also works the Mama Pope angle, enlisting his friend Claire to get information on Maya’s plans and whereabouts. Claire also delivered the most puzzling dialogue of the night, calling Maya Pope/Marie Wallace a trailblazer and potential mentor. It should surprise no one that things did not end well for Claire.

There’s a roster of people on ‘Scandal’ who are not to be messed with. Maya is just one of them. Another example is Cyrus, who decided to put Sally Langston in her place after she takes full advantage of the Jeannine situation. Against Olivia’s orders, he leaks proof that Sally’s daughter Cassidy once had an abortion. It wasn’t Cy who saved the campaign though — it was Abby, who proved to be a worthy proxy after teaming up with Leo Bergen to take down Gov. Reston with a carefully orchestrated viral video.

We must also count Jake on our list of people who you wouldn’t want to cross, though it’s hard to remember when he’s shirtless and drunk dialing you, I mean Olivia, in the middle of the night. Jake says he wants to sit in the sun with her. Let’s all do Liv a favor and point to a spot on a map that doesn’t involve the sun or Vermont. She needs a third option.

Olivia leaves Jake sad and lonely until Huck tells her the key to getting into B613′s secret funding account is first getting into Jake’s phone. She seduced him passionately and managed to steal his phone while he was sleeping. Again, unrealistic. I am pretty sure assassins, even of the sunbathing variety, sleep with one eye open.

And yes, I know this is television, but can we talk about one more thing that made absolutely no sense? Olivia and Rowan go to dinner and Maya walks in unnoticed? Does she have an invisibility cloak or something?

Whether Maya has an actual invisibilty cloak is up for debate, but the gladiators did unwittingly help her escape from B613′s wrath. Once Huck cracked into the system, Olivia told him to shut it down, which caused a blackout at B613 headquarters and some issues with Jake’s cell phone plan.

It was definitely too soon to be celebrating B613′s demise. Jake turned up so quickly I wondered if Acme Limited and Pope & Associates were in the same building. In a particularly jarring scene, he choked Olivia and slammed her against the wall, all while Huck and her team of gladiators looked on, horrified. Then he delivered this threat/teaser for next week’s episode: “You just killed the president.”

Lingering questions: Is Shonda Rhimes priming us for Quinn’s redemption/return to Gladiator-ship? Where did Mama Pope run off to? And seriously, how does she get around town?

Bethonie Butler is a producer and a reporter on The Post’s engagement team. She oversees online comments and has also contributed to The Style Blog and She The People.
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