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'Scandal' Season 7 premiere recap: Having it all

Kelly Woo
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Warning: This recap for the “Watch Me” episode of Scandal contains spoilers.

Olivia Pope has it all — all the power, that is.

The seventh and final season of Scandal opens with a quick montage taking viewers through the aftermath of Mellie’s inauguration as president. Cyrus becomes veep in the wake of Luna Vargas’s murder. Mellie is pushing the Vargas bill, which will give free college education to everybody. And Olivia is in complete control of the White House and B613, using her position as command to crack the whip on hesitant senators.

Seeing Olivia in full boss mode is wonderful. Even better? The scene where Olivia dresses down her father, who seems a tiny bit afraid of his daughter. He complains about her spying on him, then mourns that she’s become a version of him. “You cannot have it all, Olivia,” he says.

“Watch me,” Olivia replies, a glint in her eye. (We still want to be Olivia Pope when we grow up.)

Meanwhile, over at OPA … scratch that, now QPA … Quinn and the gladiators are desperate for cases. They’re badgering David for a contact when in comes Madeline Stewart, whose professor father, Joshua, has gone missing in the fictional country of Bashran.

Huck does his tech-whiz thing, and they soon discover that the professor is no such thing — he’s a CIA spy! And Joshua Stewart has apparently been taken captive by the Bashranis. So, Quinn takes the case to Liv, who assigns it to Jake (after some sexy time). He counsels her to take out the spy; at some point, after hours of torture, the spy will talk. And they can’t have the spy talking.

At the White House, everyone is in full “whip the votes” mode for the Vargas bill. Olivia dispatches Cyrus to win over Democratic Sen. Diane Greenwald. She is voting no because the free college education bill should be a win for the Democrats. Then, she tempts Cyrus with an offer: Wait four years, and he can push through the bill as President Beene. He really likes the sound of that. And when Liv assigns him an apparently mundane task (meeting with a group of young girls/future leaders), he seems on the brink of defecting.

Back to the missing spy situation: Liv decides she doesn’t want to take out Joshua Stewart and instead pulls in Mellie to order a rescue operation. Jake disapproves, but Liv puts him in his place. “This isn’t my father’s B613,” she declares. “I run the show. You do what I say.” Yass, boss!

As part of the rescue, Mellie meets with the Bashrani ambassador. He acts as if he has no idea what she’s talking about and condescendingly notes that sometimes intelligence is wrong. Meanwhile, Jake is getting nowhere with the rescue plan and circumvents Liv by going directly to Mellie herself to advocate for a strike. She agrees, and when her chief of staff vehemently argues against it, Mellie cuts her off. This is her decision and it is final. Olivia is not happy.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal. (Photo: ABC)

So, while Mellie and Jake monitor the strike from the Sit Room, Liv goes to see the ambassador. She blackmails him by putting his own son in the crosshairs of Huck’s sniper rifle. He finally relents and makes a call.

Liv hurries to the Sit Room to connect Mellie to the ambassador. Joshua Stewart has been delivered to the U.S. embassy and is safe and unharmed. This frees up Mellie to meet with the rangerettes, and before she does, she gushes to Cyrus about what a great job he’s doing as VP. Not only that, but she is so happy that they are friends. Guilt washes over his face. He goes to Sen. Greenwald again, this time to call her out on the hypocrisy of voting no on a bill that is good for the people and that she actually supports.

Turns out, the whole Greenwald offer was a trap. Olivia was behind the whole thing to see if Cyrus took the bait, but the man does have a conscience. He’s proven his loyalty now. Someone Olivia can’t trust? Jake. He comes over to have more sexy times, but she shuts him down. Although he apologizes for going around her, she says that sleeping together has made him forget that she’s his boss. “This is over,” she says, before telling him to return home to his wife.

While Jake appears to be out of the picture romantically, someone new might be sliding in. Curtis Pryce, the host of a news show, is majorly crushing on Olivia. She doesn’t think much of him, especially when he cut her off early on his show, but … he is kinda cute. So, she runs into him at a restaurant and arranges for them to meet up at a hotel later. The Pryce is right. (Sorry, we had to.)

Olivia is a woman who has it all, as is Mellie. And if they want it to stay that way, they have to work together. Mellie yells at her for sneaking around and disobeying an order, after which Olivia tells her off for listening to Jake over her.

“The men outside these oval walls want to take it all away from us,” Olivia says.

If Mellie wants to end up as a monument, she should trust Olivia. Otherwise, she’ll just be an asterisk. And Mellie definitely wants to be a monument.

Lesson: Always listen to Olivia Pope.

Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

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