Oh man, ‘Baby Made A Mess’ was good. One of Virginia’s Senators is obliged to resign after a sex scandal: adult diapers, that sort of thing. The President endorses clean-cut Charles “Chip” Putney as his successor, and Leo is parachuted in as his campaign manager. Which is a problem, because Chip is Abby’s abusive ex-husband. Abby, understandably, is still traumatised as a result of what Chip forced her to endure, and can’t even contemplate having to work with him when he’s elected. But she has Olivia on her side. Abby: “You can’t handle this”; Olivia: “Watch me”.
Which means a Pope takeover of the campaign of Chip’s opponent, slightly frumpish intellectual and single mom Susan Ross (the fabulous Artemis Pebdani, last seen on Unpopcult as Flo in Masters of Sex). Although part of the campaign involves giving poor Susan a makeover, the show manages to stay true to its essentially feminist worldview by having Olivia observe wryly that this shouldn’t be necessary but probably is. At the same time, though, when Olivia urges Abby to use her platform as White House Press Secretary to stand up and tell the world what Chip did to her, both acknowledge that the future prospects for women who speak out aren’t always great, citing Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky. (For various reasons I’m not myself convinced that those two cases are entirely comparable, but as the general point was well made I’ll leave it there.)
For most of the episode Olivia is spared wondering why people are being killed over a folder with a few photos of her, and frankly I’d like to know a bit more about this arc as well before I lose interest. She does, though, need to find the time to indulge in a little phone sex with Fitz – both kinda hot and slightly creepy, which is exactly where their relationship is at the moment – and go toe-to-toe with her father, who finds out that she went to visit Tom in prison in the hope of finding out the truth about the death of Fitz’s son. There’s a great moment when Joe Morton, as Command, is delivering one of his spectacular scenery-chewing monologues, and Olivia watches him with an almost mocking smile: she’s no longer going to be one of his assets.
And if that weren’t enough, the show ends with a clutch of scenes which go off like controlled explosions: Mellie is back, baby, back; Huck is, well, Hucked, by his son; Olivia reveals that she’s prepared to pay the price of going to war with Command; Cy finds out just how much he can trust Michael; and the three points of the love triangle at the middle of the show are once more together in a room. I couldn’t quite believe that Abby and Leo kissed either, but that apart this was magnificent entertainment.