Scandal s4 ep 20

Jake, stabbed a zillion times, isn’t dead, because B-613-hired killing machine Russell missed his major organs – oops – and Jake will go on to survive an hour-long wait for a dodgy Russian doctor named Ilya and a transfer to a rat-infested warehouse, while Rowan tries to find out what’s going on by using Russell as sex-bait. For his daughter. Ew. This doesn’t work, so he uses Russell as pity-bait instead. In fairness, at this – hopefully – late stage in the B-613 game, it’s far more satisfactory to have Rowan shooting someone than subject him to another monologue, so even allowing for the incoherence of the storyline this was all relatively entertaining.

But Ilya will only operate on Jake if Olivia does him a favour: an old KGB assassin friend, the Black Sable, needs some help. Now, we get enough of a buildup – dangerous, frightening, even other operatives scared of her – to kind of know what we’re going to get when the door to her nice suburban house opens; and, sure enough, the Black Sable is now cookie-baking grandmother Mary Peterson (Rondi Reed, who plays Mike’s mom in Mike & Molly). Mary’s problem is that, after nearly 30 years living in spy retirement, “Putin’s hit the reset button”, and she’s been contacted by a handler wanting her to return to her old life. So Olivia’s job is to get the KGB off Mary’s back, and she does this by offering the handler a chance to kill Command. Now, since the Huck/Jake/Charlie/Quinn axis has, to date, been nowhere near successful at that, it’s perhaps optimistic to think that someone else will succeed.

And Mellie’s campaign has hit the rocks after an ill-advised soundbite about how being the First Lady isn’t really a job. Former VP Kate Burton senses blood, and starts whaling on Mellie on her TV talk show. This leads to the best scene of the week – arguably for several weeks, at that – in which Cyrus, who continues to despise Mellie and all her works, and sees her campaign as an existential threat to Fitz’s legacy, is deputed to go on Kate’s show and shoot down her criticisms of Mellie. This he does with a certain amount of panache, although the deal isn’t really sealed until Olivia offers the Mellie campaign some gratis advice, which it sensibly follows.

Sometimes I watch well-constructed, intelligent episodes of shows and think that I should have liked them more than I actually did. The reverse applies here; ‘First Lady Sings The Blues’ was all over the place, but I sort of liked it, even if the mention at the end of yet another what-does-it-all-mean? codeword (“Foxtail”) left me feeling a little jaded. Foxtail had better be good, folks.

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