We open in the distant past, a time when children could still freely eat toxic, non-organic sugar cereal, and listened to music on enormous plastic bricks with smaller spinning-wheel rectangle devices inside. We’re seeing 12-year-old Liv, eating breakfast and happily highlighting her dog-eared copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People: Teen Edition!
Then in comes … Mama Pope! And sadly she is not Diahann Carroll (h/t snicks), but she is Khandi Alexander, which is pretty great. She kisses Liv good-bye, all, “I’m about to get on a plane to London, and nothing can possibly go wrong. But just in case, I made casseroles for the next 10 years.” Then she leaves.
Buh-bye Kandi Alexander! See you next in that episode where it turns out you’re still alive.
Back in the present, adult Liv (Kerry Washington) has just heard the news about Fitz’s role in the plane crash from Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and Ballard (Scott Foley), and she’s just sitting there in paralyzed shock, like she’s auditioning for a one-woman show based on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
After several unresponsive minutes, she gets up to leave the office. She explains that only two people can confirm this crazy theory. One is her father who, should she ask him anything, will probably kill someone. The other is the President. “So I’m going,” she says with pre-credits dramatics, “to the White House.”
Click click click — S C A N D A L – click.
At the White House, The First Mellie (Bellamy Young) is convinced that the fact that Liv is on her way over means she’s accepting their offer to run Fitz’s campaign. She’s absolutely giddy over this, literally jumping for joy and clapping her hands, like a tweener who just heard the Jonas Brothers are not only getting back together but are actually (mostly) heterosexual.
Cyrus (Jeff Perry) for his part thinks hiring Liv back is a terrible idea of Greek tragedy dimensions, referencing “the mistress with the waxy wings who flew too close to the sun.” I have to tell you, I was an English major, and I wracked my brains out trying to figure out what this situation has to do with the Icarus myth and I came up empty. Cyrus, dude, if you’re going to dip into classic myths to convey the magnitude of what’s unfolding here, at least pick ones more clearly similar to what’s going on. Maybe something from The Oresteia. Or Valley of the Dolls.
Liv comes in and immediately asks for a moment alone with President Fitzgoldwyn (Tony Goldwyn). Mellie is all, “Oh, so you’re going to start right off with the boinking my husband portion of getting him re-elected, fine by me,” and graciously exits.
Alone, Liv asks Fitz if he did in fact pilot the Operation Remington Steele mission. He sticks his fingers in his ears and says, “La la la, can’t talk.” She persists, and he gets snippy and says that as a regular guy who loves her, he can talk about most anything. But as Commander-in-Chief, some things are classified. So la la la, can’t talk.
Liv looks at him like he’s dog poop on her Pradas, and announces that she can’t possibly work for him, then storms off. When Mellie hears this, she is FURIOUS, bemoaning to Fitz that she “practically wrapped your whore up in a rug and unfolded her in front of you,” and he screwed it up.
So Liv officially goes to work for Congresswoman Josie (Lisa Kudrow). We see the Congresswoman in a series of TV appearances, one on a View-like show where she talks about the only three things they ever talk about on those shows – menopause, advanced quantum field theory, and Lindsay Lohan. She also appears on a GMA-like show, where she makes pie and says her only two vices are “butter and shoes,” and this makes her so incredibly appealing to me as a political candidate that I actually start writing a check to her campaign, knowing full well she’s a fictitious character.
But apparently I’m wrong because these TV appearances are bad? Because we then see Congresswoman Josie’s sister-daughter Candace (Sally Pressman) all, “Turn it off! It’s so embarrassing.” Liv and Abby (Darby Stanchfield) proceed to criticize Congresswoman Josie, saying she comes across as too soft and has to show some cojones if she wants to get elected. They propose rebranding her in a major media campaign, but they need big money for that.
So we then see a montage of Congresswoman Josie begging for money from a number of fat cat, all-powerful yet morally suspect organizations –The Lollipop Guild, Ewing Oil, The Franklin Mint – and pretty much selling her soul to them. Even so, Liv tells her none of them are donating because they still don’t see her as winner material.