Saturday, February 27, 2016

Scandal 5x12 Review: “Wild Card” (Nothing Is As It Seems) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“Wild Card”
Original Airdate: February 25, 2016

Cyrus is pulling out all the punches to get a new presidential candidate on the map, Olivia is unraveling her father’s secrets, and Quinn and Charlie are... babysitting? One thing’s for sure: nothing is as it seems in this week’s episode of Scandal.


The episode opens with Fitz making out in the back of his presidential limo with reporter, Lillian Forrester, whom we met last week. Unfortunately for Fitz (and fortunately for the viewing audience), Abby interrupts them, kicks Lillian out, and proceeds to inform Fitz that he is “wildcarding.”

Apparently, official protocols and procedures need to be in place when the president decides to engage in any sort of activity with a woman that is more than friendly (referred to as “wildcarding” by the secret service). Ambulances have to be restocked, security has to be beefed up, the woman-in-question’s home has to be swept and cleared by the beefed-up security team. Fitz balks at all this, because Fitz is Fitz and as such so often forgets that he is the President of the United States.

Abby is on the verge of a nervous breakdown all episode as she tries to get Fitz to see reason. Meanwhile, he’s sneaking Lillian in to his bedroom for another make-out session, much to Abby’s ire. Nothing stays a secret long with this administration, and so it’s not all that surprising when a stealthy photographer gets a shot of Lillian exiting the White House via the private residence, her hair all a mess.

Abby had the perfect distraction for the press though, since a previously unknown governor was almost killed, and there’s nothing like an assassination attempt to divert attention from the president’s latest fling.


We finally have a name for the mysterious Pennsylvanian governor that Cyrus was stalking at the end of last episode. Francisco Vargas (played by the charming Ricardo Chavira) grew up in Philadelphia, his parents were immigrants from Mexico, he served in the Gulf War, he married his high school sweetheart, and they have two lovely children together. In short, he’s the perfect person for Cyrus to hone into a presidential candidate.

Not only does he look and sound like a president, but Cyrus’ assistant, Ethan, could dig up absolutely no dirt on him. Francisco Vargas is squeaky clean. The only problem with him, it seems, is that no one knows who he is. He has absolutely no name recognition outside of Pennsylvania. How many episodes do we think it’ll take before this man’s dark secrets come out? Or, if he truly has none, then no doubt five minutes after signing with Cyrus he will, because we all know Cyrus corrupts everything he touches.

With the help of Tom, former secret service and B613 agent, Cyrus sets up a staged assassination attempt that is sure to get Governor Vargas on everyone’s radar. Tom blackmails a white supremacist to carry out the attempt. Tom threatens the life of this man’s son, and that does the trick. The white supremacist takes down a couple of armed guards on his way to kill Governor Vargas. The guy’s heart clearly isn’t really in killing Vargas though, and he stalls so long that Cyrus starts to get nervous the police sniper team will take out the armed gunman before the governor can perform a heroic act and take the guy out himself.

In what appears to be a clever behind-the-scenes maneuver on Tom’s part, the governor is shot in the shoulder. It seems clear from the security camera footage that the white supremacist did not actually deliver that shot, but in all of the hullabaloo, no one seems to notice or care. Meanwhile, the governor, injured shoulder and all, tackles the gunman and wrestles him to the ground just as SWAT storms in.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how a hero is born and a road to the presidency is paved. Cyrus couldn’t be more proud of himself, and it’s clear we’ll be hearing more about Francisco Vargas is the days to come.


Quinn hasn’t gotten much screen time this season, but last episode we saw her and Charlie are still together (meh), and it seems to be going as well as can be expected for two assassins who’ve tried to kill each other in the past. Apparently they’ve even been planning a road trip together like a nice, normal couple.

Before they can take said road trip, however, an old assassin buddy of Charlie’s calls up last minute in need of a babysitter. Now, anyone who watches this show knows Charlie is the last person you’d ever want near a child. He’s kidnapped and killed several children in his day, so babysitting one? Definitely not something I would trust him with. As Charlie himself points out, he probably wasn’t his buddy’s first call for childcare, but he’s happy to help out a friend in need. So, the road trip is postponed, and Charlie and Quinn are off to babysit.

Turns out, Charlie and Quinn aren’t the worst babysitters in the world. But, with Shonda Rhimes there’s always a twist, and with this twist Quinn is completely in the dark. Remember how Tom threatened the life of the white supremacist’s son in order to get him to go along with the assassination attempt? Well, turns out Charlie’s assassin friend with the kid to babysit? This is that kid.

So while Charlie, Quinn, and this child spend a fun-filled day playing mini-golf and watching Frozen, an assassination attempt is unfolding and this child is at the center of it. Everything goes off without a hitch, the child is returned unharmed to his mother, and Quinn is left feeling all lovey-dovey toward Charlie, convinced he’ll make a great father someday. Ugh, gross.


It’s been clear since Scandal came back from its winter hiatus that there’s an unfolding plotline around Rowan Pope (played by Joe Morton) that involves Jake, the NSA, and the White House. What’s unclear is exactly what Papa Pope is planning, but since it was announced this past week that Joe Morton has been made a series regular, you can bet whatever it is, is going to unfold in a big way.

Olivia spends the better part of the episode in denial that her father is up to anything. She so badly wants to believe he truly has changed and is enjoying retirement from being the most evil man in the world. Though why she would think, after all this time, he could even be capable of change is beyond me. Fortunately, Huck is around to bring her back to her senses.

Papa Pope’s plots are always big and sinister, and they are always power grabs. He’s already set Jake up as head of the NSA, and he’s positioned Olivia as the backer and hand-holder of one of the biggest presidential candidates in history. But what does it all mean? My guess is Shonda won’t keep us waiting for much longer, but there’s bound to be twists and turns along the way.

Gladiator Gems:
  • “You’re wildcarding, sir. You know what that means. Please tell me you know what that means, so I don’t have to say more words. Of course you don’t. Because the universe hates us both.”
  • “I can smell the change in the air. It smells like hairspray and apple pie and fresh manure. Like America itself.”
  • “A monster does not change. A monster is always hungry. Do you not understand that when the monster gets hungry, he will turn around and eat you?”


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