Our Scandal season 4, episode 1 recap breaks down the events of the exciting premiere storyline!
What follows is our play-by-play of this very busy and scattered episode, which tracked Olivia trying to put the pieces of her D.C. world back together.
The show opens with Olivia and Jake 100 miles off the coast of Zanzibar. She’s reading Gone Girl on the beach (product placement?) with a glass of wine when Jake comes up to her and they start making out. After a quick bit of romance thanks to a finger, a boat arrives with some fresh supplies for their life on the island. Also in the supply box: A letter from a mystery sender. Although Jake advises otherwise, she opens it to find a newspaper clipping revealing Harrison is dead.
Olivia and Jake head straight back to D.C. to deal with the news. They’re only going to stay for “a few days. In and out” of town, they agree, before arriving at Olivia Pope and Associates. Quinn is the first to enter the scene — it turns out she tracked Olivia down by wine deliveries and then sent the newspaper clipping.
So what’s everyone been up to these past two months while Olivia relaxed? Huck has started a new career as a computer data investigator. Abby is the president’s press secretary. Fitz is firing people left and right. And Mellie… is an underdressed mess eating cereal (“Fruit-Colored O’s”) right out of the box.
Then we’re introduced to “Lizzie Bear,” the RNC chairman, played by Portia De Rossi. She has a tussle with Cyrus over Mellie’s whereabouts and raising money for the campaign. She’ll be a threat this season.
Olivia tries to tell Abby she came back because she wants OP&A to bury Harrison together. Abby is upset over Olivia’s departure, however, and goes so far as to blame Olivia for Harrison’s death.
Jake pays a visit to David because he’s upset the lawyer hasn’t been able to capture anyone associated with B613.
We jump to family dinner time! Rowan invites Olivia out to dinner, where he has a big glass of wine ready for her. Papa Pope says he had nothing to do with the death of Harrison, but she doesn’t believe him. There is some good news, however… He says that Maya is dead. Do we trust him?
Cyrus is upset Olivia is back in town because it’ll disrupt Fitz’s frame of mind. He decides to break the news to the president, who is of course surprised. “How long is she here for?” he asks. There’s no definitive answer during this scene, but there will be later.
We jump to Jake and Olivia, who are resting at her home. After another talk about Harrison’s death, Olivia receives a call from Senator Vaughn, who reveals she “thinks” she just killed Senator Sterling (it’s seems obvious she did). When Olivia arrives at the scene, she discovers Sterling is actually still alive. Crucial vote for the equal pay bill.
Olivia returns to Data Stop to talk with Huck (“Randy”), who’s strictly in business mode. She wants to know if he went back to see his family, but he refuses to answer because he’s in Randy mode. “Unless you come back for good,” he says. It’s an emotional and honest moment in which Olivia realizes how badly she needs to be back in D.C.
Halfway through the episode, Jake and Olivia take a sex break. But the latter can’t stop thinking about Senator Sterling. Olivia reiterates that Sterling raped a woman, but she’s upset because the victim can’t come forward. Why? The consequences against her would be huge. “It’s just wrong,” she says in a moment of social justice.
Jake’s upset by the lack of sex, and reminds her that he can touch her in places Fitz can’t. Scandal!
Olivia and Senator Vaughn meet with her lawyer, but Pope realizes the client is lying. After a little help from Quinn, Olivia realizes it’s actually Vaughn’s assistant who was raped (all of Sterling’s victims look similar). To make matters worse, Vaughn knew Sterling went after these types of women. This sets Olivia off, and she swears to get out of town after Harrison’s funeral.
At the funeral, Team OP&A reunite to say farewell to their former colleague. The camera stays trained on Olivia for an extended amount of time (by Scandal standards), and this moment may make her realize she needs to stay with her people.
Elsewhere, Mellie lies at Jerry’s grave, still very upset by his death. By the end of the episode she’s drinking on a White House balcony — a spot from which plenty of tourists could see her if this was reality (by the looks of the episode 2 preview, her mental instability is going to be noticed by the media). That’s when Mellie drops a surprise for viewers: Fitz once tried to kill himself. He asks her not to bring it up again and she asks he give her fair warning about seeing Olivia. Fitz, however, thinks he won’t see Olivia again.
Not so fast, Fitz. Olivia stands with Vaughn and her secretary who was raped, and secures votes for the aforementioned equal pay bill thanks to a speech on women’s rights. Also happening in a different room: Fitz nominates David to become Attorney General.
And then, walking through the halls, Olivia catches a glimpse of Tom (who killed Jerry Jr.), then brushes by Fitz, their fingers gravitating towards one another for a brief moment.
It was a strong episode about family and caring for one another, and we loved the way Olivia returned to her home.
Scandal season 4, episode 2, titled “The State of the Union,” airs Thursday, October 2 at 9 p.m. eastern/pacific on ABC. Judging by the synopsis and preview, Fitz will be delivering his State of the Union address to the country fresh off his re-election. Learn more in this report.