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Scandal 3×05 “More Cattle, Less Bull” Recap

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The team investigates Rep. Josie Marcus; Olivia and Mellie encounter each other at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner; Jake and Huck close in on the truth about Operation Remington.

Because Sunday dinners are back on, the first scene of Scandal‘s “More Cattle, Less Bull” episode is – you guessed it – a Sunday dinner with Olivia and Papa Pope. Their usual dinner time “conversation” ends with Rowan telling Olivia that if her friends Huck and Jake stay away from him, then he’ll stay away from them.

Segue to Huck and Jake trying to download files from Rowan’s computer while he’s out having dinner with Olivia, AKA, not staying away from him. Huck’s doing the computer and surveillance work elsewhere, so he’s semi-safe, but Jake is currently in Rowan’s office with a 97% downloaded file.

After a heart-stopping dramatic scene in which Jake almost gets caught by Papa Pope returning home from the restaurant, Jake is finally able to escape with the thumb drive.

In the White House, Mellie and Cyrus are trying to hire a man named Leo Bergen (Paul Adelstein) to run Fitz’s re-election campaign. The guy is refreshingly direct, if a bit harsh; he states that Fitz is going to lose, and that he doesn’t work for losers. Mellie and Cyrus flounder a bit in his wake.

Elsewhere, Olivia is meeting with a potential new client: Josephine Marcus (Lisa Kudrow), who wants to know how to make herself into a more viable presidential candidate. Josie likes Olivia and hires her immediately, but not as her campaign manager, as Olivia first thought. Josie wants to hire Olivia to “fix” a problem of hers.

Josie had a baby at 15-years-old that she gave up. Olivia thinks they can turn this in Josie’s favor, but Josie doesn’t want to involve her biological daughter in this at all, stating that the baby is “a grown woman now, and she deserves her privacy.”

Olivia looks proud of her client for once, and calls the team up to send them to Red Springs, Montana, Josie’s hometown. The team assembles in a motel room in Montana and get to business tracking down the five people who know about the baby.

Huck holes himself in the bathroom with his laptop and looks at the files he and Jake got, including a video clip of Fitz and Rowan’s conversation after last week’s cliffhanger. They talk a little about Pete Foster’s death and Operation Remington. Huck pauses the clip to call Jake, but Jake is quickly shuffled into a black van filled with men in black suits. Ruh-roh.

Thankfully, the men don’t take Jake to Command and a hole in the ground, but they do take him to Fitz, which might not be much better. The two engage in a game of friendly basketball, and I’m really weirded out for the entire minute this scene lasts for.

Olivia gets a call from Cyrus asking her to pretty please help him dig up some dirt on Josie, not knowing that Olivia’s now working for Josie. He accidentally gives her a head start on undercutting him, as well, when he tells her that he’s got a team in Montana right now but they’re in over their head. Olivia warns Harrison and the team, and they get right back to work – minus Quinn, who’s now grounded for being a Nosy McNosy Pants last episode.

Harrison and Abby successfully silence two of the three remaining witnesses, but the third one, Josie’s baby daddy, has already been paid off by Cyrus’ team. A news van is waiting outside to interview him. But that doesn’t deter the Gladiators; Abby heads outside to talk to the reporters, insinuating that the White House is meddling in Josie’s affairs, while Huck and Harrison quickly dig up dirt to use against the baby daddy and make sure he stays quiet.

Fitz and Rowan are butting heads over what to do about Operation Remington. Rowan wants to go after Jake, but Fitz is ordering him to back off – not that Rowan takes orders. Mellie and Cyrus are at a loss as to what to do about the growing-ever-strong Josie, and who they’re going to hire as Fitz’s campaign manager.

The Deadly Duo that is Huck and Jake talk again. Jake tells Huck that he was made, but by Fitz, not Command, and speculates that wherever Fitz was in on that day in 1991, it sure as hell wasn’t flying Operation Remington. Huck dispatches Jake to Huck’s personal supercomputer of awesome and talks him through a program that will give them the information they need.

As Jake is leaving the office, he bumps into Olivia, who’s forgotten her Super Secret Fitz Phone and has gone back for it because she has separation anxiety.

She tells Jake about how every year for the White House Correspondents Dinner, she would vet Fitz’s jokes, and how this year she’s waiting for the phone to ring, to see if Fitz needs her again. Jake just listens to her, exuding calm and understanding, and when Olivia tosses the Fitz phone into the trash it’s her own decision. Go Olivia!

Back in Montana, the team has tracked down the final witness, the nurse who was there when Josie had her baby. She seems to be disgusted by the very idea of blabbing to the press, which is good. What’s not so good is what she says next: that the baby stayed with the family, that Josie’s mother raised the baby as Josie’s sister, and that the baby – Candice – is now working alongside Josie as her assistant.

Josie tells Olivia that as badly as she wants to be President, she doesn’t want it bad enough to throw her sister/daughter Candy into the public eye.

Over at the White House, the funniest scene in the history of Scandal ensues: Fitz walks in announcing that he wants B613 gone, and Cyrus very nearly has another heart attack as he flails around staring at the cameras in a paranoid manner. Once he’s gotten them to an angle that’s safe from prying eyes, he stage-whispers “that’s not possible – please do not say those words in that order again or I might spontaneously combust on the spot” (or a variation thereof.)

Cyrus warns Fitz that if he continues down this line, he’s going to be eliminated, “lone gunman on a grassy knoll” style.

The Gladiators are starting to pack up and head back home. Quinn makes a pit stop at the store to return some of the equipment they bought, and uses the store credit to purchase herself a gun. This cannot be good news.

Just before the Democratic Primary Debate, Olivia warns Josie that she’s going to be ambushed with the story of the baby she gave up, and that she needs to be honest and forthcoming with the American people if she is to have any chance at becoming President. And during the debate, when one of the other Democratic candidates – the nefarious Tom Reston – tries to ambush her, that’s exactly what Josie does.

It’s an amazing moment, and Josie has definitely won America’s hearts… at the cost of her relationship with Candice. Josie fires Olivia, and Olivia heads back to her office to chug some wine and stand depressingly in a dark office.

The Fitz phone rings and Olivia digs through the trash to pick it up. They have their “moment” as their theme music plays. Mellie stands by the bathroom door and listens sadly.

Abby and David Rosen continue to have relationship problems, this time being that Abby doesn’t want to go to the Correspondents Dinner with Rosen, so she lied about still being stuck in Montana instead. Later we discover it’s because her ex-husband would be at the dinner, and Abby couldn’t make herself go, even though she wanted to for David.

Jake and Huck’s investigation is going well; Huck’s narrowed Fitz’s location in ’91 down to Iceland. Jake is invited to a dinner date with Olivia at the Correspondents Dinner, where Olivia is brought away to speak to Mellie, who asks her to come back and run Fitz’s election campaign. Olivia looks like she’s seriously considering it, especially when Mellie tells her that Fitz needs her.

After the dinner, Jake tells Olivia that he doesn’t want to play second fiddle to Fitz. He leaves Olivia speechless.

When Olivia returns to her office, at Harrison’s request, she finds that Josie has come back to re-hire Olivia to run her campaign as well. Apparently, Josie and Candice had a nice chat, so Josie has come around to Olivia’s way of thinking. Olivia, however, declines, having made up her mind to run Fitz’s campaign instead. Josie refuses to take no for an answer; she tells Olivia to sleep on it. Meanwhile, Harrison is aghast at Olivia’s behavior (and so am I.)

In the final scene of the episode, Huck has figured out what Fitz was doing in Iceland, and what is being covered up regarding Fitz’s involvement in Operation Remington: there was a plane crash in Iceland that day, and the president was the one to shoot the plane down. The real shocker is that the passenger list included Olivia’s mother.

Oh.

My.

God.

Rating: B

Memorable Quotes

Rowan Pope: It’s just astonishing, that’s all. We’re almost finished with dessert and you haven’t once accused me of any crimes against humanity.

Leo: Your guy has a few things going for him. He’s a decorated vet, he survived an assassination attempt, he’s great on his feet… but he’s got problems. Big problems. Character problems, credibility problems, penis problems, as in “he can’t keep it in his pants.” … It smells like Nixon in ’74 in here.

Ethan: Sir? Sir, please say something. I can hear you breathing, sir.
Cyrus: Yes, I am breathing, Ethan, I am breathing very deeply because I am trying my best not to have another heart attack.

Ethan: We got Pope’d sir!

Jake: You forgot your secret Fitz phone!

Olivia: Who’s vetting your jokes?
Fitz: Me.
Olivia: You can’t vet your own jokes, you’re not funny.

VP Sally: I’m not here to urinate.