Olivia gets a call from a new client, except it isn’t; not quite anyway. It’s from Fitz’s daughter Karen (Mary Mouser, Dana Delany’s daughter in Body of Proof, making her Scandal debut), who’s slipped her security detail, hitched a ride on a private jet, and gone to a party 500 miles from where she’s supposed to be. Go, girl! She’s somewhat intoxicated, and as Olivia quickly realises, in the smartphone era she needs to be smuggled out of the party without anyone having the chance to film her. So, unusually, an extraction plan is needed for a loaded teen rather than a secret agent. Huck performs some fancy tech footwork to ensure that all of the phones at the party are blocked, or something, and she gets away in a helicopter, which is quite an exit.
All’s well, then? Not quite, although Karen’s righteously defiant about getting away from the Secret Service – “They were standing right next to my brother when he died. What did they protect him from?” – but receives a video, made at the party, of two bros Eiffel Towering her (Urban Dictionary is your friend. But don’t Google it at work). POTUS has to be told, of course, and the makers of the video have to be traced before it gets into the public domain. This is easy enough, but the well-spoken all-American parents of one of the boys, with fabulous insouciance, demand $2.5m in return for surrendering the video. Pay up, Fitz instructs Olivia, with Mellie fluttering around the periphery of the action. This ends in a wonderful scene in which Olivia – part tactically, part genuinely – explodes with anger at the parents, pointing out that they’re pimping their own son and becoming child pornographers.
It’s by no means the only great scene this week: Fitz finally loses it with “Smelly Mellie”, observing – unkindly, but not entirely unfairly – that he’s grieving as well but can’t sit around eating junk food all day as he also has a country to run. Although Mellie pulls herself together for long enough to do some proper parenting with Karen. And Fitz and Olivia re-enter each others’ orbits, with what looks like being the usual outcome until Fitz works out that Olivia went on holiday with Jake.
Which colours the episode’s real takeaway: just as Jake is about to tell Fitz who was behind the murder of his son, Rowan gets there first and manages to persuade Tom to throw himself under the train, dragging Jake with him. (Tom, a silent participant in the Scandal circus for months, has been very skilfully built into a pivotal character.) However, for all that ‘Like Father, Like Daughter’ was remarkably entertaining – and it was; comfortably the best episode of the season so far – I was nonetheless left with the feeling that Scandal isn’t really breaking any new ground at the moment.