After last week’s car-crash of an episode, the show wisely tacks back to the Presidential campaign, which has generally proved more fertile this season. Mellie and Susan are neck-and-neck on the GOP side, with (Donald Trump) a distant third. Next up is the Florida primary, a big prize; and one which can be more or less guaranteed, apparently, by the endorsement of the state’s Governor, Louise Baker. Her position, as expressed to David Rosen, is that Mellie is the better candidate… but she would throw her weight behind Susan were David to ensure that an investigation into one of her Big Sugar donors is dropped. Susan, of course, refuses to countenance it; David, still trying to impress on her that he’s a good guy after all, won’t do it either; and the two of them, still in a sham relationship, edge closer to reconciliation.
The battle for the nomination, though, is almost beside the point; the real fight is between between Olivia and Abby, both of whom seem to have taken leave of their senses. Mellie is about to fly to Florida, but can’t leave until Air Force One – at the same airport – takes off, because protocol. So Abby decides that the Presidential plane has a mechanical fault which prevents wheels-up, which keeps Mellie’s plane stranded as well. In fairness, it’s a good idea, and it works: only Marcus, the Mellie Whisperer, can keep her calm. (Presumably something’s gonna happen there…?)
‘Campaign Catfight’, as the cable news channels are calling it, is only resolved when Mellie takes matters into her own hands and walks onto the tarmac, in the face of Olivia’s increasingly hysterical instructions not to do any such thing. Fitz realises he can’t leave her there and joins her, and they negotiate a resolution. Although not before Mellie makes a stray remark about Olivia killing someone and Fitz is all, too soon; he then realises that Mellie doesn’t actually know about Olivia crushing Andrew’s skull with a chair – lucky Mellie – and suggests that everyone should make sure that Olivia is eating, sleeping, and exercising. No-one seems to worry about whether Olivia is in the right job at this moment in time, but it’s Scandal. Anyway, the whole sequence is dramatic and effective TV.
But then POTUS, having agreed to move his plane, has to stand up to Abby, whose behaviour throughout the episode is quite remarkable. At one point she bemoans the way in which she’s treated compared to Cyrus, but I honestly can’t remember Cyrus – who, after all, was an experienced political operative and long-time friend of the President – ever speaking to Fitz the way Abby does. “I run you. You run the country. And you don’t question it.” she snaps at one point. Really, Abby? Amazingly, yet again she remains in post.
After all that Governor Baker endorses Susan, who doesn’t know that David made the deal anyway. Oh, David. Something else for Susan to find out. I’m more certain than ever that they’ll reconcile and then the other shoe will drop. But it doesn’t matter: after the “catfight” the Florida Republicans decide to go for (Donald Trump), who is, of course, a man. Can’t trust them women, eh? Which forces Abby and Olivia into the same room, to conclude that they need to join forces to take him down. I’d have wanted it to happen another way, but if we’re getting the two of them working together again I’m good with that.
There’s much less happening on the Democratic side: Cyrus, inevitably, manoeuvres Vargas’s brother – who should, I suppose, be grateful that he hasn’t been gunned down – out of the campaign. Bafflingly, though, Cyrus’s pretend marriage to Michael seems at some point to have become a real one. Michael’s fee-fees are hurt because Cyrus is sleeping with someone else. Since when did Michael care? Well, he cares enough to leave Cyrus. I’m not sure I care about either of them – or, indeed, anyone on the show apart from Susan. But ‘Buckle Up’ had no Rowan and no Jake, and even if Olivia and her PTSD is an arc which refuses to go away I was much more entertained this week.