A panicked Fitz is trying to summon the Joint Chiefs, in order to get them to hold the planet Earth upside down and shake it until Olivia pops out. But a Secret Service man manages to dissuade him, by telling him that the White House is full of people keeping an eye on him, just to make sure he doesn’t do anything he shouldn’t. It’s a coup of sorts, and one I’m calling shenanigans on, because even in Scandal-world I just don’t buy that the milquetoast VPOTUS could somehow gain the devotion of just about everyone in the President’s orbit. Cyrus is the baffled exception, wondering what the hell Fitz is doing suddenly declaring war on West Angola.
So with Fitz under the control of the VP, I started to wonder what Olivia’s team was up to. Well, they’ve worked out that she’s leaving a trail – “breadcrumbs” – in the hope that someone can track her. Huck decides to exert some pressure on Elizabeth North, and there’s a moment which is both entertaining and chilling, when he leaves the OPA office to “visit” Elizabeth; we can see the rage and hunger in his eyes, and because we know Huck we know that his appetite can only be assuaged by torturing someone whether there’s a purpose in it or not. Sure enough, Elizabeth gets the Huck treatment.
None of it – not even our old friend, facial recognition software – gets them much further forward, though, until two important developments. Firstly, a friend of Olivia’s neighbour turns up at OPA. “Where’s the black lady?” she demands. She’s gently shooed away until Quinn works out who she is, and that she might lead them to some evidence about Olivia’s abduction. And the second break is provided by Mellie. I’d actually wondered whether she was in on the coup as well, a delicious prospect which enlivened the first half of the episode considerably. But no; in fact, she’s prepared to take her commitment to her new “partnership “ with Fitz very seriously, adding yet another layer of complexity to their relationship.
The big plan with Olivia, meantime, isn’t just to stop at the war in West Angola; it’s to hang onto her for the whole of Fitz’s second term, allowing the VP to run the show. There’s another somewhat dubious twist, when Olivia persuades her captor Ian that she’s worth more on the open market, as the woman who can control the President, than whatever the VP is paying him. He’s a pro, not an idiot. But he goes along with this, which means – I think – that we don’t need to worry too much about the symbolism of a powerful African-American woman being subjugated and auctioned among even more powerful white men; her half-smile at the end suggests that she’s started to take control back. This was entertaining, although I’d have enjoyed it more were it not, even by Scandal standards, utterly preposterous.