Scandal Season 4 Ep. 13 Recap: 'No More Blood'

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No more blood. That's the promise Huck makes to Quinn, still shaken after hearing about his latest torture excursion, and after she had to listen to him describe in graphic detail how whoever buys Olivia in the black market auction would literally use her body as a bargaining tool--piece by piece.

While her request is understandable, it also feels like one diametrically opposed to Scandal's mission statement. When has Scandal or its characters ever exercised restraint? True, much of this season has been a kind of course correction, a rebuilding of the show's world after the turned up to 11, off-the-rails insanity of season three. But this by and large is still a series driven by unbridled desire--for power, for revenge, justice, sex, love--and an almost compulsive disregard for the consequences of pursuing these things. Huck does keep his promise not to spill blood, albeit in a fingers-crossed sort of way,. Later, we see him injecting a shirtless, saran-wrapped Andrew with a liquid makes him pass out and develop symptoms resembling a stroke after Elizabeth visits OPA's offices and pushes him to make him pay.

Huck's actions could be viewed as a slippery slope on the way down to being possessed by the inner beast Jake refers to (who sets off plenty of alarm bells himself with his rhapsodizing of warm blood on his hands and breaking bones in just the right spot). But taken in the context of the episode, they could also be looked at through the lens of one of the series' favorite themes: individual freedom vs. the greater good of the nation. Elizabeth (and Mellie) clearly wanted revenge, but their retribution against Andrew is also a reminder that no one abuses the good will of the American people for purely selfish gain and gets away Scott-free. Lie? Blackmail? Fix an election? Sure, but in better be in service of the republic.

“No More Blood” hammers this point home by having every character accept this fact on some level and act accordingly. Everyone that is, except Fitz, who is still utterly convinced he can save Olivia, blinkering himself to the idea he might have to order her death if she's turned over into enemy hands. Not deluding himself is Cyrus, who meets with the CIA behind the president's back to talk about “neutralizing” Olivia. Abby puts two and two together and calls him out on it, but Cyrus quickly reminds her job description entails putting the political before the personal.

As Liv gets transported to the drop off point, Cyrus and the CIA director (who you might recall played Otis Williams' mother in The Temptations TV movie back in the day. Ain't nobody coming to see you Otis!) go back and forth over whether to launch a missile that will blow Liv and everyone else to smithereens. Cyrus recognizes one of the men in the Russian group that Gus gave Olivia over to, and oh snap! It's Stephen Finch. Yea, season one Stephen Finch. Definitely the last person you'd expect to come to Olivia's rescue. Thank Abby, who kept in touch after Stephen took off. In an uber boss move, she manages to protect both her friend and her country.

However, if things had gone the other way, she would've bit the bullet the same way Cyrus was prepared to. It's a concept Olivia believes in as well, even when it comes to herself. The emotional barn burner that is the final scene uses that belief to turn her and Fitz's dynamic on its head. As soon as Olivia is alone in her apartment, Fitz is at her door. It's a scene that has played out over and over again throughout series. But rather than collapse into his arms or tumble into bed for some “thank god I'm alive” gratitude sex, Olivia lights into Fitz in a way we've never seen. It's Cyrus' daydream rant come to waking life; she invokes herself and the names of people--Mellie, Cyrus, Jerry Jr.--who have sacrificed everything for his legacy, only to have him make the wrong choice by declaring war and sending young men and women to die instead of sacrificing her.

It's a stunning end to the episode, one that leaves the audience, like Fitz, shell-shocked. Vermont and jam never seemed so far away.

Other Thoughts:

--After Huck, Jake and Quinn bid the whole kit and kaboodle for Olivia but come up empty, Jake goes to see Maya and she instructs him to go to Prescott Lake, where Papa Pope is currently residing. Jake expects to find some compassion and a plan of action, but instead gets a shady extended metaphor/sermonette about fishing and why it's more reliable than expect Jake and Co. to keep Olivia safe and sound. I guess Liv truly is on her own.

--Liv's idea to snatch a pair of keys off the table and tries to make a run for it, before (literally) being smacked down by Gus wasn't exactly her best plan, though her desperation to escape was understandable.

--Jake: “This isn't a high school soccer match. There are no ties.”
--“You're not a person Liv. You're a small country.”