I’m not an effusive person, by and large, but occasionally, Scandal manages to pull off something that makes me shout four-letter words out loud, in my apartment, to no one in particular. Last night, when it seemed like the story had largely concluded, there was one last not-so-metaphorical twist of the knife that had me talking to my house plants.
The cold open to last night’s episode was…confusing. It started with Abby and Leo yelling at each other, and at first I thought I had missed something that happened at the end of last week’s show that had started the conflict, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, it was the introduction to this week’s guest stars: Lena Dunham and her bad wig. The wig was so bad that I assumed her hair must be part of the story in some way, based on the previews; instead, it seems to have been a strong indication of how the wardrobe crew felt about her.
Lena played Sue, a DC girl-about-town looking to publish a memoir of sorts about her sexual exploits with Washington’s elite, powerful and often married. The book proposal made its way into Abby’s hands after being distributed to every major publisher in the country, and although Sue had given all 17 men in the book thinly veiled nicknames, she immediately recognized The Dustbuster as her boyfriend, Leo. (Dustbustering is something I’ve previously heard Lil Wayne rap about. Don’t google it at work. Your IT guy will get ideas about you.)
Abby (and her Reed Krakoff bag) went straight to Olivia, of course, and Olivia went straight to Sue and her unconvincing pigtails, told her she’d be ruining a bunch of people’s lives if she published her book and thought that was that. It wasn’t, obviously, because nothing’s that simple on this show, especially when a guest star is involved. The next day, Sue marched in to Olivia’s office, wearing her most convincing businesswoman attire, and demanded that Olivia come up with several million dollars to stop her from publishing the book. She also gave a really great speech about Olivia’s attempt to shame her for what she does with her own body; it was an episode full of great speeches, really.
Huck and Quinn distracted Sue with that other B-613 guy who’s name I can never remember, and while she was out, they made a copy of her manuscript. Her only copy was written on a typewriter to thwart hackers, a detail that Huck seemed to appreciate. Through the magic of Super Google, they identified all 17 men, one of whom was David Rosen. Abby sure can pick ’em.
At the same time, Huck was trying to “persuade” (that word always needs scarequotes when it comes to Huck) Rosen to grant him immunity in the B-613 investigation, for fear of retribution of some sort. The show wanted us to believe that immunity would somehow keep Huck safe from violent spies who want to put him back in his black hole of despair, but I’m not clear on exactly why they wouldn’t do that anyway, no matter whether Huck could be legally charged for what he did as part of the group. If B-613 operates outside the law, then how does immunity keep Huck safe?
Anyway, if we grant the premise that immunity would be valuable to Huck, time was of the essence. Olivia’s bid to get the people in Sue’s book to pony up money failed (largely because of Rosen?), and they tried to convince us that meant Rosen would have to resign when the book came out. In reality, Rosen is an appointed official with no constituency to embarrass, he was unmarried when he had his dalliance with Sue and she alleged no wrongdoing against him. There is absolutely no question that Rosen would be able to keep his job. No one would even call for his resignation. There is a married US senator who has admitted doing some very fetish-y things with some women who he hired for the occasion, and he is still, like, chillin’ in Congress. Rosen would have been fine.
Abby also would have been fine, in objective reality. In Shondaland, though, we watched her draft a letter of resignation, because her not-that-serious boyfriend, who is not a public servant, did some kooky stuff with a willing, unpaid partner at some indeterminate point in the past, before they were involved. That line of thinking is, again, not at all based in what would actually happen in Washington. It did lead to a spot-on speech about how difficult and dehumanizing it can be to be a woman with a public career, though, and I’m willing to suspend disbelief for one of this show’s grand soliloquies.
Olivia wasn’t quite down and out yet, though. With the ransom payment off the table (and with the safety it would have provided being questionable at best), she had the team dig around in Sue’s past, and of course, they found her motivation. During her job at the EPA, her boss found her kinky dating profile and more or less sexually assaulted her. She managed to stop him, but her refusals ended her career.
In exchange for her silence, Olivia assisted Sue in the first stages of filing a lawsuit against her former boss and set her up on a couple of job interviews, which would have been a tidy, feel-good ending indeed. Scandal is nothing if not messy, though, so when Quinn and Huck visited Sue at home to bring her some lawsuit paperwork, they found one of her 17 manuscript men holding her at knifepoint, looking like he had no actual idea what to do next.
Huck and Quinn relieved the situation, of course, and after dispatching the dude out the front door, Huck grabbed the knife and spontaneously slashed Sue across the throat. She was dead, of course. Huck is absolutely beyond control at this point, but he does know the difference between hurting someone and killing them. Theoretically, he killed Sue because she could still bring down David Rosen, but actually, he just killed her because he’s Huck and that’s what he does when he’s stressed out. Personally, I eat mozzarella sticks from the pizza place near my apartment. We’re all on our own journeys here, but Huck, quite frankly, seems like he might be nearing the end of his.
We’ll have to wait until next week to see how Olivia deals with Sue’s murder and who it eventually gets pinned on, but Quinn grabbed the only hard copy of Sue’s manuscript on the way out the door, so theoretically, it could go in a million different directions. Something tells me that Huck isn’t going down for a random murder after finally securing immunity for all the not-so-random ones.
There were only two other narrative threads sticking out of this episode; first, Mellie wants to run for Senate from the state of Virginia, where she and the president just bought property to establish residency. That Mellie wants an office of her own will likely sound familiar to anyone who, like me, recently binge-watched the atrocious third season of House of Cards, and I’m guessing it’ll go about as well for Mellie. Portia de Rossi came back for a few scenes in this story arc now that her back has healed from what Huck did to it a few weeks ago, but I cannot remember, for the life of me, why she’d still be around. This show has two or three more regular characters than I’m capable of cataloging efficiently.
On a far more fun note, Olivia use a little time in this episode to try to blast herself out of her recovery rut by getting her freak on, perhaps inspired by Sue’s escapades. She met a very attractive man at a hotel bar and managed to disinterestedly pick him up with neck-snapping efficiency, but then she had a PTSD flashback in the bathroom and fled through the kitchen without going back to retrieve him.
At the end of the show, though, Olivia reprised her residency at the hotel’s bar, and there was that same man, still by himself, still looking to buy pretty ladies some drinks. If this were The Twilight Zone, he would have been a handsome ghost who lives in the hotel bar, but this is Scandal, so instead, he went home with Olivia and looked great without his shirt on. Shows have ended on worse notes.