“Scandal” 3.05: “More Cattle, Less Bull”

scandal305We open on Liv (Kerry Washington) and Daddy Command (Joe Morton) out for one of their Sunday night dinners, which as with all of our families, is clearly the result of hardball negotiations involving the release of hostages.

Liv, for her part, is being all passive-aggressive borderline aggressive, angrily stirring her coffee, refusing to share dessert, and generally seething. But Daddy Command thinks it’s all good, since for once she hasn’t accused him of any crimes against humanity. She snarks back that there’s no point, since it gets her nowhere, and typically winds up with him forcing her friends to kill people.

She mentions having to hold her tongue despite being the outspoken young woman her mother raised her to be. And Daddy Command is all, “Your mom had nothing to do with it. I MADE YOU! And if you don’t want your friends killing people so much, tell Huck to stay out of my way.”

Speaking of Huck (Guillermo Diaz) … he and Ballard (Scott Foley) are continuing with their adorable little Hardy Boys investigation of Daddy Command. At that very moment, Huck, working remotely, has hacked Daddy Command’s home security, giving Ballard entrance to his house to copy files from his computer.

In keeping with the “pretty but dumb” moniker I gave him last week, Ballard seems to have waited to do this until Daddy Command is pulling into the driveway, rather than during the TWO FREAKING HOURS he was out to dinner with Liv. So we get one of those “downloading against time” sequences that’s never suspenseful because they always wind up finishing just in the nick of time and we all know it.

So Daddy Command walks in but naturally doesn’t bust Ballard, although he does have this “someone’s been eating my porridge/messing with my computer” look on his face, so his suspicions are raised.

In the Oval Office, Cyrus (Jeff Perry) and The First Mellie (Bellamy Young) are meeting with That Guy from Private Practice (played by That Guy from Private Practice). He’s giddy over seeing such famous Oval Office hot spots as the butt-check indentation left by Grover Cleveland, and the coffeetable rings left by Lyndon Johnson, who notoriously refused to use coasters.

But the real reason they’ve called him there is to ask him to take on managing Fitz’s re-election campaign. He says he’s not comfortable answering in front of Mellie, and she’s all, “Oh, don’t think of me as The First Lady. Think of me as a terrifying succubus who will devour your soul.”

So he lays it on the line, saying the campaign reeks of desperation, the way horny teenage boys reek of Axe body spray. Plus, it’s riddled with problems, from Fitz’s “penis problem” to Mellie’s “frigid shrew” problem. Then he makes an “L” with his fingers, holds it up to his head, and does the “Losers, losers” dance, refusing to take the job.

We cut to Liv on an actual job interview with none other than Congresswoman Lisa Kudrow (Lisa Kudrow). Liv has just answered the question about which Wizard of Oz character she most identifies with, when Congresswoman Kudrow asks her what she would do to help her bid for the Presidency.

Liv responds that the Congresswoman has a lot going for her, but comes off as too inexperienced, like a high school kid visiting college for the weekend, the kind who has too many jello shots and gets up in front of everyone at a dorm screening of Rocky Horror, and strips to their underwear, and pukes (What? Like that didn’t happen to you?). But good news! Liv can help her.

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Throughout the meeting, we see this woman hovering about who Congresswoman Kudrow introduces as Candace, explaining, “She’s my daughter. I MEAN MY SISTER! Why do I keep doing that, ha ha ha!” She sends Candace out so she can have a private chat with Liv, during which she reveals she had a baby at age 15 who was subsequently adopted. Liv advises her to get out front with the story before it can be used against her, which is actually excellent advice. But Congresswoman Kudrow fears that the now-grown-up child will get dragged into it and insists on quashing the story to protect her identity.

So Liv dispatches her Gladiators out to Congresswoman Kudrow’s home town of Butthole, Wiscontana. In the car, Huck is talking on his phone with Ballard about their investigation, while, hilariously, Abby (Darby Stanchfield) is flirting by phone with David (Josh Malina), all, “Tomorrow night I’ll do that to you!” and “I think I’m wearing your underwear. Are you wearing mine?” while everyone else in the car gags.

They pull up at a motel that’s clearly being run by Norman Bates’ younger, much more deranged brother. Then they set out to find all the surviving people who knew about Congressman Kudrow’s baby – ie. the doctor, the baby nurse, Oprah Winfrey, the babydaddy – and shower them with heaps of cash to keep their pieholes shut.

Meanwhile, Ballard and Huck are searching through the computer files from Daddy Command. And they find surveillance footage of the meeting between Fitz and Daddy Command that capped off last week’s episode. After all that build-up, what actually happened was sort of disappointing, pretty much a bunch of “whose is bigger?” male posturing. Fitz asks Daddy Command how many people he’s going to kill to protect a secret no one is looking into. Daddy Command counters that someone is looking because they found a certain IPO address that has been poking around in the Operation Remington Steele files.

Huck and Ballard realize this means they’ve likely been made. And moments later, Ballard gets forced into a car and brought in for horrifyingly graphic torture. Meaning he’s forced to participate in a one-on-one basketball montage with President Fitzgoldwyn (Tony Goldwyn) that goes on for about two hours and comes off like the trying clothes on sequence in Pretty Woman. Finally, they stop the game for more “whose is bigger?” posturing and accusations on Ballard’s part that Fitz plays dirty.

Undeterred, Ballard and Huck continue with their investigation, raising more questions about Fitz’s role and whereabouts during Operation Remington Steele. Someone working on this show clearly realized how boring this was all getting, because at one point Ballard takes his shirt off for NO REASON WHATSOEVER, not that I mind that in the slightest. Game of Thrones is famous for its “sexposition” scenes, meaning scenes where a bunch of prostitutes are having an orgy in the background while a few characters update the plot. I think here we’re getting a shirts-off version of it. Let’s call it “pecsposition.”

Later on, Ballard is in Liv’s office to access Huck’s computer, when she totally busts him. He lies and says he was checking to see if she’s OK. Then he busts her for having come back for her secret Batphone to the President. She admits that she thought Fitz might call, given the White House Correspondents dinner is coming up, and he always wanted her help with the jokes, which is hilarious given we’ve never seen either of them crack a smile on this show much less say anything remotely funny.

To prove her loyalty to Ballard, she tosses the Batphone into the trash, and if you’re going to throw away a secret phone with a direct link to the President, you might want to CLEAR THE CONTACTS LIST FIRST! I swear this week’s episode is like a competition for who can make the dumbest move.

Meanwhile, out in Butthole, Wiscontana, the team run into a little trouble because it looks like the babydaddy is going to go public in a TV interview. This is all at the prodding of Cryus, who is using his underling to try to dig up the very dirt that Liv’s people are trying to suppress. But just in the nick of time, the Gladiators dig up embarrassing dirt on the babydaddy (ie. a secret Real Housewives addiction), and get him to clam up in the interview. Leading Cyrus’ underling to report in to his boss, “We’ve been Pope’d, sir!” Heh.

This is as good a time as any to point out that during the whole trip, the team have been chastising Quinn (Katie Lowes), because Huck apparently let them know about the whole psycho drill thing. So they’ve put her on notice and aren’t letting her do much, and I question the wisdom of responding to a clearly unstable woman by making her feel even more unwanted and ostracized. Haven’t they seen Carrie? Sure enough, by episode’s end, Quinn’s got herself a brand new gun collection – apparently an easy thing to do in Butthole, Wiscontana, where guns are given away like mints in a diner.

Meanwhile, when the team go to question the baby nurse, they learn that Congresswoman Kudrow never placed the baby for adoption. Instead, her mother had quietly raised the baby as her own. Dun dun dunnnn!

So Liv goes for a sit down with Congresswoman Kudrow, all “Ah ha! So miss ‘She’s my daughter, she’s my sister’ really is your daughter!” Congresswoman Kudrow says Candace doesn’t know and it would devastate her to find out, insisting she needs to keep it quiet, even if it will kill her political aspirations.

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