'Scandal' recap ('Put a Ring On It'): season 4, episode 17

Mellie and Liv working together - just because. CREDIT: ABC

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Mellie and Liv working together - just because. CREDIT: ABC

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Friday March 27, 2015

After all the weightiness of the second half of this season, this episode felt sweet and sad courtesy of Cyrus Beene, the hideously ambitious and craven yet oddly human chief of staff. And it ends with a wedding! But this wedding is about as real as "Bachelor" episode.

Better yet, it's at the White House, in all its sham glory, as Sally Langston (former vice president, now Fox News-type pundit) calls it.

Cyrus has paid off escort Michael to stay with him once he discovered Lizzie Bear had been using Michael to spy on him. This happened many many episodes ago and we haven't seen Michael in a good while.

They are clearly not any closer. Michael stays on his side of the house. Lonely, he is caught getting a little touchy-feeley at a gay bar and the TMZs of the world jump on the news. Liv's idea to "fix" it: have Cyrus "marry" Michael.

R.I.P. James Novak: Cyrus still holds a candle for his dead husband James Novak. We get to see some tender flashback moments with them. Cyrus keeps a shot of them by his bed for good reason. We also see his first wife, that poor soul. They were married 14 years until she realized he was gay and they moved on.

More flashbacks: Fitz gave Liv a vintage heirloom ring before Cyrus' marriage to James.  It's nicknamed "sweet baby." In present day, she tries to find it. Of course, she eventually does and wears it at Cyrus' wedding. Fitz sees it. Yes, there's an understanding there. No matter what happens, Fitz and Liv are interconnected.

Punditry! Sally Langston is happy to play a self-righteous Mike Huckabee on TV. "Right there is the real seat of power," she says pointing at the pundit seat to Liv after she rejects an offer to be Secretary of State. She wants to blow the lid on Michael by interviewing his secret lover and embarrassing Cyrus.

But... Sally can't beat Liv at her own game. Sally's own dead husband was secretly gay and had coincidentally slept with... Michael. Convenient! And suddenly, the secret lover is "handled." But couldn't they have just paid off secret lover to walk away? Wouldn't that have been easier?

Life as optics: Speaking of bribes, Liv pays off Michael's parents a nice six figure amount to show up and play nice before and during the wedding. The father, of course, is a raging homophobe (and football coach, natch). But they take the money and play nice because that's what people do on "Scandal." "We need them for optics," Liv says in typical cold Liv mode.

Hate is a strong word: "You would kill me with your bare hands if you could get away with it." - Michael to Cyrus. "No one would even miss me. I am nothing. It is the day I am dreaming of and I am nothing."

"I would never murder  you. That's a rookie move. I'd pay a professional to do it." - Cyrus to Michael.

Cyrus knows who he is, a "filthy monster" holding on to power any way he can. "You are a good person," Cyrus says. His daughter needs that. His promise to Michael: "I may not do it well but I will do my best to be your someone. You're not alone. Okay?"

This was the lowest rated "Scandal" of the season probably because it had relatively little "scandal." And no Jake. Or David Rosen. And almost no Quinn or Huck. And what is Daddy Dearest up to lately?

Plus I sort of miss drunk messy Mellie.

Grade of this episode: B/B-minus. Sweet moments with Cyrus and Novak and Sally Langston is always nice flavoring but otherwise, not much to chew on here.