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Grief is a force to be reckoned with, and if you let it, it will destroy you. Whether you’re dealing with the loss of a child, spouse, relationship, marriage or even power everyone finds different ways of coping. That’s the running theme of the latest episode of Scandal with some guns, booty calls and hot male hookers for good measure.

Booty calls: That’s the casual discussion Jake and Olivia engage in on their morning jog. Jake is taking his power back; he has decided that he will not wait around to service Olivia. As the considerate bloke that he is, however, Jake has booked a hotel room just for the sole purpose of booty calls; it’s his way of asserting independence. Olivia is not too pleased (a little passive aggressive, still, if you ask me).

Olivia takes a detour from her jog to meet with Cyrus on a park bench. He bemoans how he can no longer eat red meat. It’s a conspiracy, he says; the doctors and staff all got together and decided to torment him by forbidding meat. But the friendly banter soon takes a turn for the worst: blackmail.

Cyrus is so determined to have Olivia work for the White House that he has concocted a ploy with the Internal Revenue Service to get her into fiscal hot water should she not cooperate. “Cyrus, you do know know I’m not afraid of the IRS, right?” Olivia responds.

That’s when Cyrus takes out the big guns he threatens to tell Fitz that she calls to ask about the prez everyday, and that she misses him. Her face changes. “Sorry to be such a bastard, Liv,” Fitz says. “Craving meat; that brings out the worst in me,” he adds. Ouch. I forgot, what with that island vacation and all

Olivia’s mission involves getting America’s sweethearts, the Elliots, to the State of the Union address on gun control. One is a POW who was held captive by the Taliban for two years, and the other is a heroic wheelchair bound school teacher who saved kids during a shooting. They are the poster couple for the gun control bill. Only one problem: They hate each other.

“The Taliban is better than you,” the husband says.

Quinn and Huck, Olivia Pope Associates’ own dysfunctional couple, babysits them. Ah, the irony.

But beneath all that loathing, there is love between the Elliots, and there is grief over love lost. Their marriage may never recover,
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but if they show a united front for the sake of the bill, Olivia will find a way to spin the divorce while keeping both their images intact.

Fitz has put gun control at the centre of the SOTU address, which raises the question: Is this president really a Republican? Have any of his policies on the show been?

It’s a valid question. Elizabeth (troublemaker Portia De Rossi), head of the Republican National Committee, certainly doesn’t seem to think so and she’s simmering. That’s not entirely untrue she’s unhinged at best but the death of a child will do that to you. Mellie doesn’t care what anybody thinks anymore; she has given in to her grief, and right now, it’s the only thing that matters (chips and fried chicken aside). She’s not going to smile for the cameras anymore.

That doesn’t bode well for the SOTU address. Mellie refuses to appear. Cyrus has a hear to heart with her: It’s not without an agenda, but it’s also not without its moments of sincerity. He too has suffered a great loss. Not only has Cyrus lost the love of his life, but also someone who enabled him to truly feel like himself.

But to Mellie, the comparison is not the same; the loss of a child is different, more significant. It’s a point that Cyrus (rightfully) takes exception to. “A broken heart is a broken heart. To take measure is cruelty,” he says.

Still, “We’re not the same” she responds, leaving Cyrus alone with his broken heart, staring into the distance.

Incredibly, Abby, not content to merely live in Liv’s shadow, takes things into her own hands and has quite the pep talk with Mellie. She might have not lost a child, but kids die all the time, and not everyone gets to mourn in Ugg boots for three months often not even for three days. They have to go back to work, and so does Mellie. She needs to be the first lady and make the bill happen, so that less people have to lose their kids. Instead, he blackmails a senator into endorsing him. So much for that white hat.

President Fitz is about to deliver the State of the Union, but before doing so for old time’s sake he asks for the room to be cleared so he and Olivia can talk. Old habits die hard. Fitz tells her that he needs to hear what Olivia thinks. She declines. “Don’t you think you owe me this much?” he asks.

Olivia relents. But what does she owe him exactly? Her mother killed his son so there’s that, I guess.

Liv’s consult results in Fitz going off teleprompter, focusing on his own loss before moving on to the grander issue. Addressing the elephant in the room. “We’re dealing with our loss in the best way we know how,” he says. “There were thousands of people last year who lost their lives in a completely avoidable way how many other people’s children are we going to let die before we put a stop to this.” The crowd breaks into standing ovation. Mellie is there, too. She put on a dress and a brave face, but falls apart in the privacy of her chambers. Fitz comforts her tenderly.

The speech is hardly finished before Olivia is at Jake’s door. “If I want to summon you I will summon you,” she says. Before he gets a chance to protest,
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she slips off her trench coat to reveal nothing underneath it. Hot.