It’s official: Scandal is baaaack! We knew Olivia wouldn’t be able to stay away from her job, the gladiators and certainly not Fitz, but Scandal-heads were surprised at just how quickly she returned to the fray.
Duty calls. Season 4 kicks off with Olivia and Jake canoodling on an island 100 miles off the coast of Zanzibar when she receives a letter addressed to her alias, “Julia Baker”—a smooth reference to Diahann Carroll’s character in Julia, which is oft-cited as one of the first TV shows to star a black actress. The letter informs Olivia that Harrison is dead (yep), so she returns to Washington, D.C. (and to her fabulous designer coat and boot collection), intent on staying for only a few days—just long enough to plan and attend Harrison’s funeral.
Of course, Jake accompanies her because he’s her fallback accessory. He’s the backup pair of earrings that you keep in your purse for those occasions when you can’t find your favorite pair. Jake is the human equivalent of hoop earrings.
Randy, red, superfreak and Julia. Upon Olivia’s return, she discovers that Pope & Associates has disbanded. Abby is now the White House press secretary, although her new colleagues can’t remember her name. They just call her “Red.” Huck is “Randy the Smart Guy,” an employee at a knockoff Geek Squad. And Quinn is … who knows what Quinn has been up to, but she seems to have plenty of free time to try to get the band back together.
Mellie is unhinged. Fitz and Mellie are still grieving the loss of their son, and we discover that Unhinged Mellie is even more exquisite than Drunk Mellie—wearing whatever, eating cereal straight out of the box and dropping lines like, “It’s 1976 down there,” to describe her decision to stop waxing … down there. Fitz has attempted suicide, but he appears to be stable for now (at least until he reunites with Olivia).
Cyrus and “Lizzie Bear.” It’s hard to say what’s going on with Cyrus, but his new hairdo is surely a cry for help. He spends a lot of time bumping heads with the new Republican National Committee chair, whom he calls “Lizzie Bear.” She gives us season 2 Hollis Doyle flashbacks—yet another Republican in a loud, blond pompadour with unfettered but unwelcome access to the West Wing.
David Rosen moves on up. David Rosen gave up on getting the bad guys after the contents of Jake’s boxes of B-613 files spooked him, but he might not be able to revisit them now that Fitz has appointed him attorney general—a timely development given real-life Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation announcement yesterday.
Papa Pope is a bald-faced liar. With a straight face, Papa Pope told Olivia he had nothing to do with Harrison’s murder (even though his bodyguard killed Harrison). Then he implied that he killed her mother at Fitz’s request (even though he actually just threw her in the B-613 hole). But then, Papa Pope had kept up a 20-year lie about Olivia’s mother dying in a plane crash. Surely by now, Olivia knows that she can’t trust her father.
Harrison’s lightly attended funeral. Olivia, Abby, Quinn and Huck scream, yell at and reject one another because rah-rah, hurt feelings and abandonment issues, but they come together briefly for Harrison’s incredibly gloomy funeral. Meanwhile, Jake stood quietly in the background and Papa Pope creepily lurked from a private car nearby. You know Papa Pope is up to no good.
Olivia dusts off the white hat. Senator So-and-So killed Senator Such-and-Such and asked Olivia to fix the mess. The case touches on weighty issues like sexual assault and equal pay for women, so Olivia steam irons her white pantsuit and takes the case. And just like that, Olivia Pope & Associates is back in business, and Huck and Quinn are right by Olivia’s side. How long before Abby gets over herself and follows suit?
Fitz and Olivia don’t touch … but they don’t have to. In the final scene, Fitz and Olivia see each other for the first time since she skipped town. They pass each other in a busy congressional corridor, but they don’t make eye contact. Their hands almost but don’t quite touch. They both smile because they share something special.
Previously Jake told Olivia, “I’m the one who makes you moan. I’m the one who reaches you in places he can’t touch.” Jake might be hitting the spot, but he’s missing the point: What Fitz and Olivia have is so deep that he doesn’t even have to touch her.
Cyrus was right about Fitz and Olivia: “We’ve seen this movie a hundred times.” Yep, but we sure do love watching it.
Akilah Green is a recovering Washington, D.C., lawyer-lobbyist-politico turned TV and film writer and producer living in Los Angeles. She currently works for Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show, Chelsea. She has also worked as a staff writer for Kevin Hart’s production company, HartBeat Productions, and as a consultant for Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO. In addition, she co-wrote and is producing Scratch, an indie horror-comedy feature film, and is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow Green’s adventures in La La Land on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.