Scandal Recap: The Fish Rots From the Head

Fitz turns the White House into a bachelor pad, while the Secret Service covers up a dead hooker, Mellie seeks an endorsement and Cyrus is playing puppet master.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in ABC’s Scandal
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in ABC’s Scandal Nicole Wilder/ABC

This week’s episode of Scandal operated in a twilight zone where slut-shaming was OK, sneaking into women’s bedrooms at midnight was all good and no one cared about a dead hooker.

Fitz’s endorsement. First, let’s level set. Fitz has been busy, guys. Busy gettin’ busy. He’s picking women out of the rope line at events and having them delivered to his door like egg rolls and mambo sauce at midnight. He, Abby and the Secret Service men have a system in place to get the ladies up, in and out of the executive residence undetected that involves something like a pat-down, cheek swab and parting gift. A one-night-stand assembly line. A conveyor belt of groupies. A booty-call factory.

Meanwhile, Mellie wants Fitz’s endorsement for her presidential campaign, but Olivia tells her that all she needs is for Fitz not to endorse Vice President Susan Ross. At the same time, Elizabeth North, Susan’s campaign manager, wants Fitz to endorse Susan, so she’s tasked David Rosen to sleep with Susan and convince her to get Fitz’s endorsement. As a reward for his obedience, Elizabeth rewards David with more sex. This triad was old and tired before it started.

Somewhere in here, Fitz’s Secret Service men throw a wild hotel party, and Abby asks Olivia to clean and cover up their mess, not knowing that “the mess” is a dead hooker. The Secret Service men swear the hooker was dead from drugs before she crashed through the coffee table, and Olivia buys their story. Better yet, she doesn’t seem to care either way. In fact, Marcus is the only one who cares about the dead hooker, and he discovers via some very light sleuthing that the agents actually killed the woman.

Also in here, Mellie comes by unannounced to let Little Jerry see Fitz, but “Lisa from Treasury” comes out of the bathroom in a robe and Mellie is not pleased. But that’s the Secret Service or scheduler’s fault. Why are they letting folks swing through the executive residence unannounced? Fitz has the right to run through the residence butt naked, covered in clothespins, doing burpees to Jamiroquai if he wants to. Nevertheless, Mellie is upset and she tells Olivia about it. 

So Olivia gets Abby to set up a meeting with Fitz—their first encounter since the dumpster that was their relationship went up in flames. In the meeting, Olivia tells Fitz, “The fish rots from the head.” She means that Fitz’s Secret Service agents are behaving recklessly, negligently and selfishly because they’re taking their cues from Fitz. 

Later, when Fitz offers Susan his endorsement, Susan tells him that she knows that he’s been behaving like a horny teenage boy, and therefore, she doesn’t want his dirty endorsement. Ouch. Fitz says he’s going to become the kind of man whose endorsement she would want. Then he fires the Secret Service agents and tasks David Rosen with bringing them to justice.

Let’s backtrack for just a minute. I never thought the day would come when I would be able to say this, but “if Fitz were a woman”—like, for example, if Mellie or Olivia were president (which seriously might be the case come season 6), and either had a revolving door of sex buddies coming through the White House—people would be accusing her critics of slut-shaming a single woman who simply enjoyed having sex. I’m just saying. 

Cyrus is the best puppet master of them all. Forever and always. Cyrus still has sights set on running Gov. Vargas’ presidential campaign. He already orchestrated Vargas taking down an armed gunman and becoming a national hero, but as Cyrus learns in this episode, Vargas doesn’t want to run for president because he has a young daughter who is battling cancer. So Cyrus weaves a sob story about a dead brother who told him he’d roll over in his grave if he didn’t shoot for the stars or something. That does the trick. Vargas is in, and he wants Cyrus to be his campaign manager. Boom. But, wait for it, Cyrus doesn’t even have a dead brother. Cyrus is not only the best—he’s also the most evil—puppet master of them all. 

Jake is a snake. Olivia is stalking Jake and his new girlfriend, Vanessa, whose résumé makes Amal Clooney’s résumé look just “aight.” But Olivia doubts that Jake is just smitten by Vanessa. She’s sure Jake is up to something. Then, one night, Olivia wakes up in the middle of the night to find Jake standing over her bed, and he’s being super creepy and a real jerk. He tells Olivia that Vanessa is perfect, “but she’s not you.” Then he proceeds to, um, stimulate Liv. But when she asks him what he wants, he says, “Goodbye.” Later, Olivia swings by her father’s house for dinner to find Jake and Vanessa toasting … to their engagement. Say what now?