Scandal s5 ep 7

Fitz, having escaped impeachment, kicks the episode off with a televised mea culpa to the American people, humbly asking for forgiveness so that he can get on with the business of making their lives better. He’s good at that sort of thing, agree the TV pundits; it’s “not a day to gloat”. But while the news shows analyse his speech he is, almost inevitably, gloating like hell, to quote the late politician William Whitelaw (there’s one for the kids); he’s in the White House, popping a champagne cork and celebrating with his staff. And David Rosen and VP Susan Ross are in the throng, flirting rather sweetly. Oh goody, I thought, that’s a ship I can get behind. Hashtag, um, Rossen? Rosen’s love life will recur later in the episode, although I don’t know if I want to think about it.

Meantime, the episode has two main themes. Firstly, Olivia is now in the President’s life, seemingly a permanent fixture in the Oval, and Yoko-ishly calling the shots whenever Cyrus comes in for some quality time à deux with the Commander-in-Chief. Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen, but it’s undoubtedly a thing. Jake accuses her of “spreading like a plague”. Cyrus alleges that she’s carried out a coup. And Fitz doesn’t yet know that she orchestrated the release of Rowan and Tom, although since everyone else either knows or has guessed it’s presumably only a matter of time until that rains on their parade. In effect, though, it’s President Olivia, and Fitz is fine with that for now.

But Olivia still has a day job, and amazingly OPA has a client: Hannah Taylor, a young woman who claims that she was drugged and raped by venerable academic, writer, campaigner, and feminist Frank Holland. Inconveniently, at the precise moment Hannah is meeting Olivia, Fitz is awarding Holland the Presidential Medal of Freedom live on TV. So it’s something of a conflict of interest, but to her credit Olivia doesn’t worry about that, although I think perhaps the show should have worried about it a little more than it did: “I hate the new normal”, snaps Quinn.

Holland and his marvellously sinister wife – that snap of the fingers! – deny everything when Olivia challenges them, so OPA set to work trying to prove that he’s engaged in a pattern of behaviour, and assemble over 20 women with very similar accounts of being flattered then violated. It’s clearly inspired – if that’s the right word – by the complaints against Bill Cosby, and the weight of numbers turns it into more than “he said/she said”. Holland’s accusers invade one of his book readings to confront him; interestingly, the passage he’s reading from includes the phrase “smelling the sweet straw and tang of birth”, which reminded me at least of Ian Fleming’s description of “the sweet tang of rape” in ‘Casino Royale’. I can’t imagine that’s coincidence, or perhaps I’m making a leap too far.

And Elizabeth wants a job, or she’s going to go on The Liberty Report and tell Sally Langston all about her time in the White House. Everyone seems terribly concerned about this; to be honest, at this stage in the game I can’t remember who knows what, so I just assume that they all know everything. So she’s bought off with a job as the VP’s Chief of Staff, and then she goes for an argument with David Rosen, which turns, rather grotesquely, into a makeout (and more) session. No. No. No. Hashtag Rossen. Hashtag anything. Just not that. ‘Even The Devil Deserves A Second Chance’ was better than last week’s episode, mind you, although with Jake now in the field under instructions to track down and kill Rowan, Huck isn’t the only person fearing a B-613 revival.

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