You only live once; that is, unless you’re Olivia Pope’s mother and you’ve risen from the dead (from your daughter’s perspective, anyway). This week on Scandal, it’s all about YOLO, gladiators (full disclosure: Jess hates that acronym). Let’s see who’s got all the power after this heart palpitation-inducing episode!
1. Maya: Maya has escaped from Eli and is with her daughter, so that’s a plus, right? Except, oh yeah, B613 is after her. Maya doesn’t really seem to care, though, and she’s like, super calm, collected, and casual while dining with Olivia in a safe house. Then she drops a bomb over breakfast: the Liv she sees before her is more Eli than Maya. That is not a compliment. She really does seem to care about her daughter, though; when Abby and Harrison reveal that B613 put Maya on the FBI’s most wanted list, she tells Liv she doesn’t mind a life of running...now that she’s had a chance to see her girl again. It’s kind of sweet. As sweet as anything can be in this crazy world our Gladiators live in. Too bad it turns out (as Olivia remembers via flashback) that Maya actually is the woman Eli put on the no fly list (Marie Wallace), which means she probably really did all the horrible things that were listed there. Did she emotionally manipulate Liv to get help or does she genuinely love her daughter? Who knows, but the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. You’ve got power this week, Mama Pope.
2. James: The dynamic between Cyrus and James has totally flipped. While Cyrus tortures himself by obsessively flipping through the pictures of James and Daniel Douglas, James throws euphemism after double entendre after coded dig at Cyrus, trying to get him to crack. Guess he’s got the power in the relationship now, huh? That is, until he asks for a divorce (after the truth comes out and some nasty barbs are flung) and Cyrus reveals he has photographic evidence of the marital indiscretion. Cyrus doesn’t leak the pics, though, and James’ standing up for himself this week is enough to earn him some power points.
3. Ellis Grey: She is being forced to choose between God and politics by her new #PoliticalAdviser, What’s His Face (it’s Leo), and what does she pick? The need for power is too great (there has be something in the Bible about power and its problems, no?), and she chooses politic. She is now pro-choice. Declaring her intent to run, she tells Fitz, “I’m done waiting for someone to open the door for me and tell me it’s my turn.” To quote the Spice Girls: Girl power! She’s all about the power plays this week, and while we might not agree with turning your back on your beliefs so quickly, we have to admit that Leo and Ellis know how the game is played in Scandal universe. And they came to win. Ellis even shuts down Cyrus’ attempt at blackmail. But then she ends up calling Cyrus a bit later to tell him that she “has sinned,” having most obviously stabbed her husband to death. That won’t get you to the top, Ellis.
4. Olivia: “So, tell me about you,” says Maya to Olivia. Like that could hold the last 22 years. Olivia pretty much says “NM, U?” And then mom tells her she’s not happy. Uh, duh: the magnums of Yellow Tail Pinot Noir consumed nightly by Liv and her crew would be a very clear indication of this. Liv does what she do to get her mom out of the country, even calling Fitz in a gag-worthy scene “just to hear his voice.” Blegh. Fortunately (or un-, as we learn), Fitz steps in and gets MayaMom on a military plane. Except MayaMom is really a terrorist and Liv is about three steps behind her in figuring this out. Not a winning week for Liv.
5. Mellie: Mellie can’t sleep because she’s worried about Fitz’s potential second term and whether or not Cyrus is going to play the cards they so carefully engineered to be in his hand; basically, when is Cyrus going to threaten Ellis with the illicit pics of their husbands together? Mellie snaps at Cyrus to git ‘er done and then stomps down the hall, Sue Sylvester style, leaving a trail of terrifying WH staffers in her wake. Later, Mellie comforts Cyrus...sort of...when she tells him that eventually, he’ll be “fine” re: James’ one night stand. Well, actually, he’ll be “numb,” but according to Mellie, “numb and fine are the same.” That’s sad. But shows Mellie’s insane inner strength, once again. She is our spirit animal in a cement-strong chignon.
6. Fitz: “You want to be her hero. A word to the wise — she doesn’t need one,” says Fitz to Jake, re: Liv. And he’s right. Olivia, choose you. Or choose Jake, we still like him. But still: you’re your own hero! Also, Fitz, your own VP has now turned fully against you; she’s even willing to throw away her beliefs to win. Your campaign is heading downhill, fast. Good thing Fitz’s love life is so on track (eye-roll)...or so he thinks, when he helps Olivia fly her mother out of the country and giggles on the phone with her about jam and Vermont. Except that Liv’s mom is actually a terrorist and this is about to become an international incident. Oops. Not a win for Fitz.
7. Jake: Jake is trying to keep Liv and Maya safe, and he calls the President “Flyboy,” which is a big LOL for us. He demands that Fitzy help “terminate” Eli, and Fitz doesn’t really want to help, so Jake throws the whole “you killed 315 people in a botched plane crash and then became President” thing in his face. Hard to argue with that, eh? In the end, it is Fitz that helps Liv get her mother out of the country, so Jake doesn’t lose, but he doesn’t win either.
8. Rowan: Rowan/Eli lost his wife, whom he held prisoner for 22 years in an underground prison. That’s definitely not a win. However, as Liv realizes at the end of the episode, Eli’s not the real monster...Maya is, and he’s been trying to protect Olivia this whole time. You get some points for that, Command, if it turns out to be true, but since you spent the whole episode one step behind the Gladiators, you’re not on top this week.
9. Quinn: Huck just licked your face, girl, and he has you bound with duct tape on your apartment floor and he is going to ENJOY TORTURING YOU. Because B613 broke him. You are now lying naked on the floor, with your own bloody molar staring at you. Until Charlie frees you and tries to kiss you while you’re crying and UGH Quinn you are such a dummy. Put your towel back on. Charlie is the enemy. Like, the actual, literal, B613 enemy. Despite the icky feelings that scene gave us, at the end of the episode we discover that Quinn made a deal with Huck, and she’s about to kill Olivia’s father by pretending to be a B613 ally. Good plan? We shall find out.
10. Cyrus: Cyrus is the devil (his husband even tells him so), and guess what? HE REALLY IS. Last time we saw good old Cyrus he was setting up his husband (unknowingly) for a little hanky panky with Ellis Grey’s in-the-closet hubs, and James found out and did, um, what Cyrus wanted him to do. But (and stay with us here) Cyrus doesn’t know that James knows what he knows, so James is having plenty of fun with the double entendre. It all comes out, and James wants a divorce. Cyrus, you’re the worst. Why can’t you just prune your rosebushes and be happy? We’ll even let you off the occasional intern. Cyrus sobs in front of Mellie (who hilariously has no idea what to do), and then ends up using the photos of James and Mr. Grey against Ellis. The episode ends with a phone call from Ellis, telling Cyrus that she “has sinned,” and her hubs has like, an ice pick in his back or something. Oof. Cyrus, you are on the bottom. Tough times.
Oy! A lot happened this week, gladiators: Are you ready for the winter finale next week? Will you miss us? Is that an ice pick in Mr. Grey’s back? How much wine will Olivia and her team drink next week (and can Quinn drink more now that she has no teeth)? Does anyone else have "Ben" stuck in their head? Hash it out in the comments below and we will see you next week for more Scandal.