Scandal Season 4 Ep. 12 Recap: 'Gladiators Don't Run'

Photo Credit: ABC

A plan never quite comes together on Scandal does it. It all seemed so simple: Ian would sell Olivia to the highest bidder, while she would do everything in her power to make sure said bidder was the United States and the Fitz administration.

But along came Gus--the dude Liv knocked out at what will be referred to as the Guantanamo Bay simulation--is still alive, and he's trying to convince Ian working with the hostage, a.k.a Liv, is bad business. Ian doesn't listen, so he decides to put a bullet in him and take over, which given that he decides to stay on once the auction begins, doesn't make much sense. I mean, violent, lawless tendencies aside, Ian seemed like a pretty fair-minded dude, the kind who may take the biggest cut for himself but wouldn't think twice about splitting cream with his team. But I guess we'll never know now.

Gus taking the reins understandably puts Liv in a precarious position, since Gus wants vengeance for her shooting his friend. Of course Fitz wants in on the auction for, so the government hooks up with a terrorist to bid for them. Huck, Quinn and Jake throw their hat into the ring as well, and if you immediately wondered how these three could swing $200,000, let alone the millions being thrown around for their boss, Huck lets everyone he's got it covered.

Turns out, Huck took the money funneled from B6:13--more than $2 billion dollars to be exact--and lined his pockets with, regarding it as backpay. Still, all the dollars in the world can't get them a seat at the black market auction, which through much whispered riddle babble Huck describes as a very private party only known terrorists are invited to. Jake knows just the person, and before you say “girl you need to move on,” with your best resting bitch face, we see Maya leaning back in her orange jumpsuit, drolling “this should be good,” and growling like she was Eartha Kitt's long-lost daughter.

Of course, Mama Pope lives by quid pro quo, and won't just help because, you know, her daughter's life is on the line. She reels off a list of demands--being moved to a minimum security prison, getting cell mates, being allowed to go outside and feel the sun on her face (is anyone else getting Silence of The Lambs flashbacks right now)?--all of which David Rosen shoots down. Quinn comes up with the bright idea of getting Maya a flatscreen that'll hang across from her cell that she can watch from behind bars (basic cable mind you) and things are a go.

Maya goes to work, sending Huck in after a random drug thief who stole from a drug kingpin named Gustavo, and telling him to make waste of him and his men, which Huck does in a way that's disturbing, even by his previous gruesome standards. Jake, who walked in on the whole bloody, dismembered mess, says as much to Quinn, who brushes it off as “Oh, Huck's always been dark and twisted. He'll pull himself back from the brink.” Hmmm, okay girl.

Back at the secret location auction block, Olivia is trying whatever she can to GTFOT, monologuing to the two young techies about how they never imagined themselves working for a man like Gus and promising to protect them if they help the United States win the auction. Judging from Ian's ice cold corpse laying inches away, she ain't lyin'. However, short-haired tech boy, who grew up dirt poor in a shack, has a response of his own--he didn't dream of being courted by venture capitalists, he envisioned being a billionaire, and if he's gotta sell her off and deal with a lunatic, so be it. Olivia looks utterly deflated as he and the other tech guy exchange a hi-five as her price reaches $1 billion.  

Andrew's been knocked down to size, being squeezed out since Liv's flown the coop, Ian's gone rogue and he's consequently lost his bargaining chip. The White House tries to push him out by forcing him to resign, but Andrew's a crafty bastard, and threatens to blow the whistle on himself and Fitz about the treachery involved in going to war with Angola. But Fitz isn't rolling over so easily, and tells Cyrus if they prove Andrew faked his assassination attempt and mislead the country to war, they can get rid of him. Cy immediately saunters over to Elizabeth office and tells her dime out  Andrew in exchange for avoid jail and becoming his lap dog for the rest of her miserable existence.

Andrew still got an ace in the hole though, threatening Mellie that if Fitz doesn't back off, he'll spill tea the whole world that they were having an affair. Which, given her gender and sexist societal norms, would mean her reputation and any political aspirations would both be mud.

I commented on this last week, but it's worth mentioning again; Fitz and Mellie's relationship has reached a strange, if conciliatory place. Now that she's made peace with the fact her husband is in love with Olivia, and he feels free to admit he loves Olivia, there's this new openness, if not downright civility, happening between them. In what amounts to a tender moment with these two, Mellie asks him what he wants that's possible. He says he wants Olivia back safe. After some soft prodding, he asks Mellie want she wants. She wants to be president, which means Andrew gets to walk away rather than get a chance to ruin her.

Later, Fitz steps outside himself, telling Cyrus he wants Olivia, back not because he loves her, but because he's sacrificing the lives of young men and women in this war because he wasn't courageous enough to sacrifice hers. It's a good scene, one that lifts the drama out of petty, selfish desires and political tomfoolery by bringing the very real consequences of all this double-dealing to the forefront.

Back at the OPA offices, the crew has used Maya, or in this case Marie Wallace's, name to secure a spot in the auction. But no sooner that they start bidding that the auction get suspended. Gus has pulled a fast one, selling Olivia off to who he says is Iran out of spite (and because they offered cold, hard cash up front). Huck depressingly points out the reality of the situation (and proves Jake's earlier argument right that he's well, not alright)--whoever has Olivia, they can use her a s a tool, sever a finger to get sanctions lifted, send a limb to get other demands met. He goes on and on until Quinn snaps and calls him a sick freak, but Huck's unfazed.

“Olivia Pope is dead,” he says, and judging from the last shot of Olivia, her head covered by a black sack as she's lead out into a desert, it's hard to disagree.

Other Thoughts:

---So who do you think bought Olivia? My money's on Eli, but that also feels too obvious.

--Quinn: “It doesn't matter how many times you reinvent your identity. Sally Mae will find you.”

--Liv to Gus: “Be careful, I'm in shock. Anything close to my mouth, I might bite it off.” Daughter certainly channeled mother in that moment didn't she.

--”Cable?” Lawd, Maya can even make “cable”sound menacing and glorious.

--Mellie on when she and Fitz's marriage works best: ”We sleep better when she's (Olivia) lying between us.” Dayum, it may be true, but that is just fucking sad.

--Save for the dream where she called much-needed bullshit on her Vermont-jam fantasy, we haven't much of Abby, and “Gladiators Don't Run,” is her first taste of major screen time this go around. The hour shows just how disconnected she's become from her old life,  Quinn and Huck ice her out when she asks Liv's whereabouts, understandably believing they can't trust the White House. Later, she storms into David Rosen's office, reaming him out for not telling her her best friend--her only friend, as she heartbreakingly notes in the night's best monologue--had been kidnapped. David counters as attorney general, he needed to know, but as White House press secretary, she didn't need to know anything. Officially, he's right. But unofficially, he's been an ass, and Abby rightly tells him so. Chastened, he offers her a conciliatory drink and tells her Olivia isn't her only friend. Awww.