We saw a hint of it at the end of last week’s episode… an “easy way out” of this mess. Killing Cyrus Beene. It would solve all of Mellie’s problems, right? Maybe. But Scandal has never been about the easy way out. And now, after this doozy of an episode, things are not so simple.
“People Like Me” seems to center around handling the snake that is Cyrus, but it ends up being about something more sinister and complicated. It became about the people we push aside and underestimate. In the back of my mind, having Cyrus being the villain for the rest of the season was fine, and just fine only because I thought he could very easily be handled. He has committed so many crimes over the years it just didn’t faze me much. But this—this is a new twist—Cyrus AND Jake, as equals. With no more Robotic Jake. That’s something much more powerful than just Cyrus.
Here’s a summary:
This episode opens as it closed last week: Mellie asking Liv, rather convincingly, to just take Cyrus out of the equation entirely. She frames it as “a just war”, and Cyrus as “the architect of the war”. Mellie gives a spiel about how she kills everyday as the President, and neither she or Olivia is above fighting this war. Her argument that Cyrus is the least innocent of anyone getting killed by drones is a compelling one, but not for someone who wants to see Liv truly redeemed. Olivia neither disagrees or agrees, but we all know. It’s time for her to handle this, in whatever way necessary.
Meanwhile, Cyrus is very optimistic about his plans. He tells Jake not to worry about doing anything to stop Olivia and her team because, “Impeachment is nigh!”. But what we should be paying attention to is not Cyrus’ glee, but of Jake’s growing unhappiness stemming from taking orders like a robot for so long. Clearly, something big is going to happen involving Jake because his convenient wife gets a place in this episode! She expresses concern about what will happen if Mellie is impeached or gets in further trouble with the law. He tells her they’re “a team” (uh, since when? I haven’t seen this team member in a good 10 episodes).
The real drama begins when Cyrus receives flowers, and hidden in them is a message – “need to meet”. He assumes it’s from the special prosecutor, aka Gary Clark from Grey’s, and heads to their secret meeting spot.
Surprise! It’s really Liv, cracking open bottles of wine! She gives Cyrus the option to confess his sins and drop this investigation, and of course he does not take her up on it. The option is to keep him kidnapped in the room, with Huck sitting (very scared by the way) outside the door. As part of this intimidation Olivia grips a chair menacingly… we remember what all she can do with a chair. But, of course, Cyrus is chill. He plays with Olivia’s mind and asks her one question—without Fitz in her life does she think she’d be the same person? And eventually, he gets to his point. Cyrus would be absolutely the same person. If he wasn’t killing people for Fitz it’d be for someone else. If he wasn’t trying to unseat Mellie from the Oval, it’d be someone else. In other words, he is who he is and that will never change. Olivia cannot talk him out of this, plain and simple. As for Olivia? Of course she would be different, and Kerry Washington’s acting here is superb. She calls Cyrus sad and unchanging for staying stagnant in his evil.
And let’s not underestimate Liv. She does have a plan, which Huck reveals to us when he himself figures it out. 3 bottles of wine, 2 of the same. One different. Of course, the one that is different is poisoned. Duh! Silly me. But throughout this whole Olivia and Cyrus exchange, we can see Olivia debating giving Cyrus the wine, believing she has the time to decide. She doesn’t.
But anyway. Back to Mellie. As seen in the previews for this episode, she has taken up with talking to Jake via the NSA camera hidden in the Oval Office. She talks to him about Karen’s boyfriend, Neil Fitzpatrick. According to Mellie, Neil and Jake have quite a bit in common. Both are strong men in public, but in private are really just looking for a woman to mommy them. It’s true, Jake has followed one girl to the next, and just acts as each new person’s dog.
Eventually Jake and Lonnie discover Cyrus is missing, and Jake easily finds him and Olivia. Olivia was in the middle of deciding whether or not to hand Cyrus the cup of poisoned wine, when Jake busts in. Seeing Olivia bumble the way she does when trying to get Cyrus to stay and drink the poison is unnerving. Jake quickly figures out what Olivia’s plan is, and instructs her just to shoot both of them instead. He tells her to actually do something herself, instead of sending “People Like Me” (aka Jake) to do it. It’s a fair point. Except that time Olivia killed that dude with a chair. Can’t forget that!
Vanessa gets another scene! She overhears Jake taking charge against Cyrus’ wishes and talking to Lonnie about getting Olivia named as a person of interest in the hijacking, and complains to Jake that they were supposed to be safe, and she was supposed to be Jackie Kennedy—not the Vice President’s bitch. Well, it is hard to be Jackie Kennedy when you only get an episode once a season. Anyway, Jake explains that he is aligning himself with the “strongest allies so [they] don’t get left behind”.
Finally, we are nearing the end of the episode, in which two of my favorite scenes happen. Olivia, obviously #shooketh still, tells Mellie she couldn’t kill Cyrus, and gives the most inspirational speech I’ve heard from her in a while. She tells Mellie that now they fight the way they should’ve been trying to fight this whole time—smarter, better, and more just. Among the great quotes in the speech are “the sins of our past leaders do not need to be our sins” and “now we find a way to serve the tsunami”. This whole thing gave me #I’mWithHer vibes, and it offered the first twinkling of hope in a long while. In the spirit of taking on the tsunami, Mellie unprecedentedly takes the podium at the White House press briefing and says herself that she is not guilty, and truth will prevail.
However, not everything can be sparkles and girl power. Seeing this empowered Mellie on TV prompts Cyrus to visit Jake at his house. And… something is definitely off about Jake. He’s breathing hard from a “disagreement” with Vanessa. Fishy right? He brings Cyrus to the kitchen, and the camera is obstructing what is later revealed to be Vanessa’s bloody dead body, but viewers have the ability to feign ignorance while Jake gives his own version of an inspirational speech. He tells Cyrus that he has already told Lonnie what to do about Olivia, because Jake gives orders now. According to Jake, Cyrus and him are equal partners… like him and Vanessa were, but Jake had to ~dissolve~ their partnership. It sure would be a shame if Jake had to dissolve him and Cyrus’. Clearly, Jake is not a bitch baby anymore.
And one last thing. Olivia brings Fitz (who yes, was in this episode, but offered nothing useful) an expensive bottle of wine and they spend the night together. Of course they do.
Personally, I feel like there definitely shouldn’t be enough free time for this, considering both Mellie and Olivia are getting subpoenaed.
Side note: Is anyone interested in getting Charlie out of prison? No? Okay.
Another side note: Papa Pope (Joe Morton) directed this episode, which is all well and good, except I really just want Eli back!
Here’s what you need to know:
We see a few important developments in this episode, but the most important is of Jake’s character. Jake embracing evil is something we haven’t seen at all before, and it’s slightly refreshing. Too often recently he’s been thrown to different people, acting passively on their behalf, and we haven’t gotten to see him truly to do something. We’ve overlooked Jake for so long, and now it’s looking like everyone will pay for it. He has clearly chosen in the good versus evil battle that this is shaping up to be. How long will it take for Cyrus and Jake to turn on one another, since Cyrus clearly knows Jake is crazy? I don’t know. But what I do know is that Olivia has clearly chosen to embrace good, and I look forward to seeing QPA, Mellie, and Olivia battle against the two people who have killed more than anyone else on the show. Cyrus’ touch about how he would be exactly the same without Fitz was a nice one, because it shows that there isn’t going to be redemption for him. Evil and power-hungry is who he is, and there is no changing sides on this one.
With two episodes left, I’m on the edge of my seat. Next week’s episode, titled “Standing in the Sun” surely points to bright skies.