‘Scandal’ recap Season 3, Episode 17: ‘Flesh and Blood’

Warning: This recap contains spoilers.


Olivia’s got a lot on her mind. Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Confirmed: Maya Pope is a sociopath.

Even after the murders, the scheming with terrorists, the eating of her own wrists, I still held out hope that there was some ounce of human decency left in Maya Pope. That hope is now sitting in the sun with Jake. It’s making jam with Fitz in Vermont. In other words, that hope is gone.

Mama Pope is such a vicious villain that the gladiators teamed up with B613 to take her down. At the start of this week’s episode, which (fun fact) was directed by Debbie Allen, we learn that Maya has gotten away, a byproduct of the gladiator-led dismantling of B613. Jake is livid. And Fitz isn’t so happy either — he and Cyrus also show up at OPA headquarters because Maya has a bomb and the president’s schedule —  causing major security issues for the campaign, just days from the election. Also, Jake talks very loudly about Olivia sleeping with him to get access to B613′s top secret information. Fitz pouts. Cy confirms that there’s only one person who can help them identify this associate and that person is Papa Pope, much to Jake’s chagrin.

Rowan IDs the associate as Dominic Bell, who he eventually confesses, is the man who ruined his life. Dominic is Maya’s true love. Jake tells Olivia he’ll help the group only if Rowan is asked to leave. She refuses. Jake warns Olivia that Papa Pope’s dad act is just that — an act. “Once his mask comes off…run.”

Leo Bergen, who never pretends to be anything other than the ruthless campaign consultant that he is, makes a deal with a high school girl we’ve never seen before. He’ll make sure she gets into Harvard if she does what he asks her to do. The task? Obtain a DNA sample from Jerry. She obliges…and then some. She’d like acceptance to Yale, too. K, thanks, bye.

Did Sally get hypnotized or something? Four episodes ago she was giving speeches about the Devil and overcooked bacon and now she’s leading the polls and plotting with Leo on all the unethical ways in which she can beat Fitz? Turns out the White House doctor doesn’t care about doctor-patient confidentiality and revealed that Mellie asked for a paternity test for Jerry. Mellie seems all but certain that Big Jerry is the father of her eldest son.

Between that and Fitz having shut down her romance with Andrew Nichols, Mellie has taken to day drinking. I mean, it could have been coffee in her mug. Except I don’t mean that, not even a little.

This was a pretty dark episode, but Mellie made me LOL more than once. Fitz, under strict orders from Olivia not to leave the White House, complains that “someone out there wants me dead.” Fitz wonders why Mellie starts laughing and she informs him: “because you think it’s just out there.”

Fitz grows increasingly antsy as he learns of the death of Sen. Hightower, a friend and political ally. Knowing that Sally will vie for the opportunity to deliver the eulogy, Fitz appeals to Olivia, who says no way. He brings up Defiance and tries to convince Olivia that he needs to go to Ohio to legitimately win this election. She promises he’ll win the election, but notes that he has to be alive to do it. As far as the obligatory eye-rolling session that is Fitz and Olivia’s weekly dialogue, this one was fairly tame. I wasn’t moved by Fitz’s whining — “I miss you. I don’t want you sleeping with Jake. It makes me crazy,” but we already know he’s the jealous type.

Olivia pledges to bring the campaign to Fitz and schedules remote interviews from the White House. Thanks to an olive branch from Papa Pope, Olivia is aware of Leo Bergen’s quest to get Jerry’s DNA. She takes her intel to Mellie, who drunkenly reveals her desire to hurt Fitz the way he’s hurt her and also that Big Jerry — not Andrew, as Olivia assumes — is Jerry’s potential father. This was a strong moment between Mellie and Olivia and reminded me how much I love their scenes together. Olivia promises that Leo won’t get the actual results.

Liv heads back to OPA, where Rowan’s patience is wearing thin. He decides to play a game of Russian Roulette with Dominic, but not before offering Maya a chance to save her lover’s life. She’s declines. Liv cringes on the other side of the door as she hears Rowan fire the fatal shot.

At home later, Olivia shuns the Fitz phone in favor of…Jake! She calls him and tells him about Rowan murdering Dominic. She remembers seeing Dominic as a little girl and not realizing that he was her mother’s lover. Then the truth about Maya sets in. “She loved him my whole life and when the time came to save him she let my father kill him.” They also discuss their feelings and how Olivia’s mission to get B613′s secrets was only part of the night they spent together. Olivia says she loves Fitz, but confesses: “I felt something with you last night and that feels like betrayal.”

Jake sees it differently: “It feels like a first step,” he says. Where can I get a Team Jake t-shirt?

Jake corners David Rosen into helping him do an investigation of his own — running facial recognition software to figure out Maya’s whereabouts. He calls Abby (aww) for some moral support. Abby, while standing over Dominic’s dead body, reassures her boyfriend: “No one’s gonna kill anyone.”

Liv’s plan to finish out the campaign from the White House works — until it doesn’t. Once Fitz learns that Sally is leading the polls, he orders up Marine One. He’s heading to Ohio. Defiance! Cy alerts Olivia, who reasons (with some encouragement from a very unrepentant Rowan) that Maya won’t blow up the school where Fitz is speaking if her daughter is there. Side note: Does Liv have a teleportation device? Because she got to Ohio awfully fast.

After being introduced as a man of “unimpeachable character and integrity” by someone who obviously does not employ a factchecker, Fitz settles into his speech. We’re led to believe that the bomb is underneath the school and Olivia alerts Fitz who makes up a story about setting the basement sprinklers on. Everyone evacuates.

Meanwhile back at OPA headquarters — Huck and Quinn come face to face and get…distracted. This was Huckleberry Quinn’s raunchiest scene yet and that’s saying something, considering how many times these two have licked each other’s faces. While they were getting it on in the parking garage, Maya Pope strolled right past them for a visit with her estranged husband.

By the time Olivia gets back to D.C. (again, dubiously fast), she finds Rowan bleeding and gasping for air It’s unclear what Maya did to him, but it’s not looking good for Rowan. Twitter was not happy. I, too, hope Papa Pope pulls through — I’ve consistently looked forward to watching Joe Morton throughout this season.

As a distraught Olivia calls for help, the extended gladiator family uncovers Mama Pope’s sinister plan. Adnan tells Harrison that the bomb was never in Ohio. Jake and David Rosen figure out where the bomb really is: the church where the funeral for Senator Hightower is being held. And that heart attack Sen. Hightower suffered? It never happened. Maya killed him.


Mama Pope learns how to activate her bomb. Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Fitz is back at the White House, where he is fine-tuning the eulogy he thinks he’s going to deliver at the senator’s funeral. Cyrus knows otherwise, having been informed of the bomb’s placement at the church. When he learns that Sally Langston is on her way to the church, he decides against informing the FBI. Cy is a self-described monster, but I find it hard to believe that even he would let presumably hundreds of people get hurt or killed in an attack that he could prevent. Sally isn’t the only White House fixture at the funeral — Andrew Nichols is also there.

Mama Pope sets the timer for an hour, setting in place the events for next week’s season finale, which has one of the most intense taglines I’ve ever seen: Watch it live Thursday or hate yourself Friday.

Lingering questions: What were the results of Mellie’s legit paternity test? Is Papa Pope going to make it? Is Cyrus really not going to alert any authorities? 

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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