Scandal Season 4 Ep. 21 Recap: 'A Few Good Women'

Photo Credit: ABC

With the season finale next week, a Papa Pope-sized shadow looms over the proceedings, with “A Few Good Women,” like “The Lawn Chair” and “Put A Ring On It,” before, pushes the father-daughter-ex-B6:13-high ranking-government officials showdown to the background in favor of a case of the week.

This time it's the case of Amy Ansen Martin, a female naval officer who Susan Ross encounters on a trip to a base and believes was raped after spotting a bruise on her arm, conjuring memories of a college friend who suffered a similar fate. True to her empathetic but unconventional nature, she decides to bring Amy back to the White House, which earns her an epic reaming out by Fitz and Cyrus. It's not entirely undeserved; her intuition and Amy's injury aside, she had no proof and no confession from Amy. Fitz and Cyrus' position of letting the military handle whatever crime may have been committed sends her knocking on Olivia's door. In fact, while some powerful men offer some backstage assistance, its the ladies of Scandal—a few good women if you will—who drive and champion Amy's cause.

It's a deft move by the show to bring Ross into Olivia's orbit this way; since she doesn't have any designs on power of playing dirty, the only thing that could make Ross break protocol and go rogue is standing up for someone else. Going to Olivia gets the ball rolling, and Amy confesses her rapist was Admiral Holly, a high-ranking, practically untouchable navy commander whose BFFs include Fitz himself.

Once Liv decides to, as Abby put, ruin the White House's day, the story takes on a life of its own, spilling over to Mellie's campaign as the public demands action. Mellie of course, thinks of her rape at the hands of another douchebag in power, Big Jerry, and the way Bellamy Young winces everytime someone says the word “rape,” just twists the knife even deeper. My first thought was she go into rebel, fuck you Fitz mode and come out against him without so much as a hooch-driven rant. But the end result—channeling her grief about Jerry Jr. and taking an opposing position at his suggestion—is much more satisfying, and shows their marriage, for all its faults, is truly a partnership.

Virgil Plunkett, a bumpkin fresh off the turnip truck, is assigned as the counsel to Liv and Quinn's military hearing; it pretty much goes nowhere, as both of them thought it would, though the good admiral drops a crumb when he says he wasn't on the base the night Amy says the rape happened. Later, Amy asks for Olivia to come to the ship and tells her she needs to get an abortion because she's pregnant. With Admiral Holly's baby. Yeah. Olivia somewhat delicately tries to explain if she waits a few weeks, they can pull the DNA and nail the bastard, but Amy understandably wants the procedure done now.

Olivia's impromptu visit gets Amy confined to ship under the vague charge of “conduct unbecoming,” which Olivia and Co. work around by claiming one of Amy's relatives—which as Liv slyly points out to Virgil, could be anyone in her extended family in any stage of medical condition—is sick. But at first, it doesn't seem to matter, as the military declares the admiral's whereabouts classified information. On top of that, Fitz holds on his position during one their late night calls, despite the public outcry and the fact it's Liv client. All appears lost as Olivia holds Amy's hand while she has the abortion.

However, Fitz comes through for both of the ladies in life, requesting and then receiving the classified files Olivia was denied, because well, he's the Commander in Chief, and suggests to Mellie she politically throw him under the bus. It's vintage Olivia Pope, and she follows through on it brilliantly, seamlessly pivoting from Elizabeth suggestion to make Jerry Jr.'s death the centerpiece of her speech (which takes place in Springfield, where he was killed) and segueing into how her military reforms will make the armed forces safer for everyone's children. Olivia takes the new info and gets justice for Amy.

Meanwhile, Quinn and Huck are going to town on Russell—like snatching out finger nails. *Shudders.* Russell not giving up any of the goods on Operation Foxtail, to the point where Olivia nad Huck have to hold him down from stop him from killing himself with a mercury pill.

The incident makes Olivia flash back to her time in the torture camp, later telling Jake her bathroom time there became sacred, if only because she knew it was the one place her father couldn't get to her. Speaking of that, Jake makes the astute observation that he and Russell are two of kind: handsome, slightly arrogant men who have been molded by her father and trained to follow and know her everyone move. They are Eli's way of letting her know he's always there, always lurking, always watching.

In one of the hour's oddest, but shall we say, heartwarming (I'll admit that's a stretch but I'm at a loss for synonyms at the moment), Russell and Jake knock back a beer while commiserating over Papa Pope's sadistic tendencies, his paternal hold over them, and his pretentiousness (“I love retro, but bitch please. Can we not pretend it's not 1973,” Russell says of Eli's musical tastes) and self-esteem crushing competency at his job. The two give each other props for being the agent's agent, and Russell gives lie to to Jake's belief the only difference between the two of them is Russell doesn't care about Olivia when he refers to letting his guard down around her. He tells Jake to look out for her and says he's “glad to be a part of the family,” before asking Jake to “let the crazy dude back in.”

And just where is our man of the hour? After her personal and political triumph, Mellie is whisked backstage, where Elizabeth is promising her a meet and greet with a donor with enough coin for them to run ads 24/7 until the election, as we watch a man mumble something about Operation Foxtail into a concealed device. Wait, Mellie's meeting with...Eli? Mellie is Operation Foxtail? What the hell is going on! See you next week!

Other Thoughts:

--“Ya'll are some crafty ladies.” Virgil, you have no idea. Though it turns out Virgil's pretty crafty himself, as he's not actually Virgil, but a B6:13 agent posing as the now-deceased naval officer (you can guess how he went), and who knocks out Huck before untying Russell and taking off. You can bet Huck's gonna want payback for that.

--Abby: “What happened to Russell...I was rooting for him?”
--Olivia: “He wasn't my type.”