The client-of-the-week in this episode is the Democratic congresswoman Josephine Marcus, played by the always brilliant Lisa Kudrow. Last week, we saw her as the President’s biggest critic who got a huge boost in the polls after Mellie was caught on tape saying not-so-great things about the Congresswoman under her breath. Now, she is running for president.
She interviews Olivia, and then hires her on the spot to manage the campaign. She admits to Olivia though that she doesn’t need a campaign manager as much as she needs a fixer. We learned in the last episode that Josephine, as a teenager, had given birth. This is what Josephine wants Olivia to fix. She wants to keep this under the radar. When Cyrus calls Olivia to see if she wants a job fishing out information about Josephine, Olivia sends her Gladiators to Redwood, Montana to take care of the baby scandal. They set out with briefcases full of cash influencing the few people who know to keep it quiet. While Harrison and Abby are trying to convince the “baby daddy” to keep quiet, Cyrus’ man on the ground shows up with a TV news crew to expose the congresswoman’s secret.
In a quick phone call, Harrison finds out from Huck that the “baby daddy” has a standing sleepover with local women, unbeknownst to his wife. This is enough to convince him to keep quiet about Josephine. In the meantime, Olivia attempts to convince Josephine that the best way to deal with the secret is to come clean before it is leaked out.
Cyrus feeds the teen birth story to former Governor Reston (remember him?) just in time for the Democratic hopeful debate. Josephine takes Olivia’s advice, and makes a beautiful, very heartfelt confession about making a mistake and giving up her baby for adoption. Fitz, Mellie, Cyrus and company are watching the debate. Cyrus is sitting on the edge of his seat waiting to watch Josephine go down. But her confession is so powerful, even Cyrus knows, “She just won America’s heart.”
Josephine’s sister, Candy, is smart enough to know what is really going on. She is really Josephine’s daughter. Josephine’s mother raised the baby as her own. While Olivia sees what Cyrus does – a victory for Josephine – Josephine doesn’t quite see it that. She fires Liv jut as quickly as she hired her.
While this was the main storyline, there were a few plot updates and new plot lines. Cyrus calls on a guy named Leo to run to reelection campaign. Private Practices‘ Paul Adelstein plays the political guru who tells Cyrus, “The man looks unhappy.” Of course, he’s talking about Fitz. Leo’s observation is that Fitz’ heart is not into it, and he cannot win like that. Cyrus is not the only one courting Leo. During the White House Correspondents’ dinner, Sally (the VP) walks into the men’s room behind Leo and offers him the job of running her campaign.
Liv has an invitation to the dinner, and does end up going with Jake Ballard on her arm. It’s not long before we seem to find ourselves falling back int old habits. Liv is whisked away by the secret service to what she (and we) think is some private time with Fitz. Imagine her surprise when it is Mellie instead. Mellie, perhaps hearing what Leo said about Fitz’ happiness. If Fitz is going to win the election, they need Olivia. And we all know that Mellie hungers power more than anything else. As such, she begs Liv to be the campaign manager. As she tells Liv, “He’s not alive when you’re not here. You’re everything to him.”
Olivia doesn’t give Mellie an answer. But, come on, why wouldn’t she? And this may be why Liv does not give Josephine a solid answer when she is asked to return as Josephine’s campaign manager.
And finally, Operation Remington. Huck manages to stumble onto video of Fitz and Rowan talking in Rowan’s office. Fitz is sick and tired of seeing people die all to protect a secret that nobody is going to figure out. Rowan disagrees. Huck and Jake continue to dig up evidence. Fitz, they learn, was in Iceland the day after the mission is question. It is from there that he shoots down a plane on behalf of the US government. A plane, the duo learn, is a passenger plane where one of the passengers is Olivia Pope’s mother.
The themes of keeping secrets and telling secrets is one which we all should be able to relate to. Olivia’s advice to Josephine about being in control of her own narrative, which includes telling her own secrets is good advice. Rowan, Fitz, Cyrus are all trying so hard to keep Remington a secret, that it only creates more secrets and more lies. King David had similar problems trying to keep his scandalous affair with Bathsheba a secret. One lie lead to another and to another, until it snowballed into something that David could not control.
The lesson from Olivia, that she is not able to do for herself, is narrate your own story.