Scandal Review: Stand Together, Die Alone

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WHO GOT SHOT? Scandal Season 3 Episode 14 wasted no time revealing the answer to last week's question: 

R.I.P. James Novak.

What an emotional roller coaster of a Scandal episode that was tonight! 

In one breath I was complaining to my husband about the way certain characters had been written and two scenes later I allegedly shed a tear over Google Chat with TV Fanatic staffer Leigh Raines about that ending.

When Scandal Season 3 Episode 13 cut away, I knew that it was likely James Novak whom Jake had shot. I didn't think there was much of a chance that David Rosen, the lifeline to the US District Attorney's office and a series regular would be killed. 

I don't think I expected to be so moved by James Novak's death and the many ways it affected those involved.

The decision to intersperse flashbacks of James and Cyrus' early relationship and scenes of their life together with the current happenings was a wise one. They provided relief from the tension of the moment and also allowed for a little more fleshing out of Cyrus' character.

He's more than just a political monster.

It was a very Cyrus Beene move to throw himself into his work as a method of distracting himself from the emotional pain and turmoil of losing his lover and Jeff Perry gets two big hugs from me for that breakdown behind the podium at the press conference. 

When he told Jake to fix it, I truly don't think this is what he had in mind and yet, here it is. Political problem solved. Personal problem in its place.

Speaking of Jake, I was displeased with his scene with Olivia in his office because it felt like yet another time when a character is torn down so that another becomes the desirable love interest. We've seen it time after time on this show where Jake and Fitz alternate between being built up and torn down so that week to week neither or one or both men look like ideal candidates for Olivia.

I was a little ragey that it felt like it was happening again, and to an extent it was. But then my rage gave way to something like sympathy for Jake, especially by the end of the night.

He's Command. Being Command means making tough calls. Instead of putting those decisions on the heads and in the minds of those in his charge, he's taken them on himself knowing that he'll carry the full weight of them for the rest of his life. 

Rowan Pope, former Command, is responsible for 183 deaths while he was Command. He gave the orders to have 183 people killed and carries that burden with him every day. That burden made him the hardened man he is.

What's interesting about those two scenes is that both men are broken or being broken by the weight of being Command. 

Rowan Pope shared that responsibility with the other B6-13 operatives while Jake shoulders the responsibilities himself. 

There is no right way to be Command. People will die and someone will be responsible. 

But then there's that scene at the end where Jake apologizes to James Novak and sits with him while he dies. When I say I shed a tear or two there, I'm absolutely not lying. Coming fresh on the heels of Cyrus' breakdown, that scene and seeing Jake's decision not to let James die alone, reassuring him the whole time, it 

That is how Jake is different as Command. And that is what will ultimately break him most. He doesn't seem to have the capacity to emotionally detach in the way that Rowan Pope can.

And Rowan Pope is most certainly emotionally detached.

I know that the Joe Morton fans out there will say that his vitriol-tinged monologue tonight was perfect and amazing and it was. It was incredibly well-written. But it didn't have to be laced with hate. At least not all of it.

He could have said much of what he said with the voice of resignation or remorse or just not contempt that easily could have been directed at the fact that his daughter needed him. 

Or maybe he did need that anger because he's mad at himself for all the terrible things he's done in the name of saving the Republic which threw him out on his ears the first chance it got.

Olivia is slowly cracking under the weight of all of this, so it was good to see her step up at the press conference and handle things for Cyrus. I half expected her to jump into action when Abby, Harrison, and Huck all burst into her office, but no. She just sat there not taking charge. Again.

Can we give her a case and let her spout off her quick and slightly insulting but completely persuasive speeches instead of having her mope about all the time? Please? Can we do that?

Other notable moments from tonight:

  • Adnan Salif is NOT on board with Maya Pope/Marie Wallace outsourcing her terrorism. In fact, she's ready to get out of the country to avoid complicity in whatever Maya's planning. Those few scenes gave us one of the best Scandal quotes of the night.
  • HUCKLEBERRY QUINN! O. M. G. There's a very, very thin line between love and hate. Or lust and hate. Or whatever it is going on between those two. Wow. I didn't see that one coming, but now that it's happened we all should've seen it coming. He feels ownership or kinship or something because he "made" her and she betrayed him. I'm very intrigued by this.
  • Abby and David FOR LIFE. Break up any other couples on this show and throw them together with whomever you want, Shonda Rhimes, but do NOT mess with Abby and David. Period. 
  • Mellie totally went there. Sure, she was drunk and she'll probably blame it on the aa-aa-aaal-cohol, but sorry, FLOTUS. You don't get a pass. You don't even get a pass because your husband has been cheating on you for years. Sorry. (Full confession: There's a part of me that was definitely cheering her on, but yeah, cheater cheater, Mellie.)

It's hard to believe but there are only 4 episodes left in Scandal season 3. Only 4 more episodes in which the myriad storylines warring for screentime right now can all be brought to a close.

Or perhaps they're just being set up for next season, which is probably more likely. At this point I can't see how Shonda and Co. can wrap all of this up with a bow and hand it to us in just 4 episodes' time, but wonders never cease, right?

What did you think of Scandal Season 3 Episode 14? What do you think about Jake's approach to Command? Are you sad James Novak is dead?

Here's your first look at Scandal Season 3 Episode 15, "Mama Said Knock You Out."


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (114 Votes)

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.


I can't tell you how disturbed I am by all this sympathy for Jake. The guy killed three innocent people. How does the fact that he sat and waited for the guy that he shot to die absolve him of his guilt? Those women had families, loved ones, children. And with one fell swoop, he took all that away from them. The writers refusal to let anybody be completely good or completely bad is now wearing very thin. That conversation with James as he lay bleeding to death on a road was the worst, because it was meant to elicit sympathy from viewers, and it annoyed me a lot. James had a husband and a child who will now grow up without the one parent who truly wanted and loved her. Don't ask me to sympathise with the guy who decided to kill him because he was rejected by a woman he slept with twice. And just to make things even worse, this was after we saw him clearly threaten Olivia's life if she interfered. Jake apologists can wax lyrical about him all they want, but when he was introduced to the audience, he was spying on Olivia for both Fitz and her father. We find out that Jake is B613, which means that he's done the same things that Huck has. We then learned that Jake's mission was always to sleep with Olivia. Then we saw him give the sex tape of himself and Olivia to Rowan to use as he saw fit. When Olivia found out he was spying on her, she ended up in hospital after a struggle between them when he wouldn't allow her to leave. He then used Olivia as a shield when Rowan sent an operative in to kill him for disobeying orders. When Olivia rescued him from the hole, he then tells a frightened and vulnerable Olivia that her dad wouldn't hesitate to slit her throat if necessary, something that puts her into even more of a tailspin. When he suspects that Fitz was flying the plane that Olivia's mother was on, him and Huck go off half-cocked and told Olivia that the man she loves probably killed her mother. Jake later goes to Fitz to help him kill Olivia's father, Fitz refuses because as much as he himself hates Rowan, he's still Liv's dad. Jake doesn't care about that and finds some rent-a-cops to try to take out Rowan. He fails miserably and ends up killing some other people. My point is, he didn't come in as a good guy and the writers have been trying to play this game of light and shade with him to keep him viable as a love interest for Olivia. If they'd really wanted a proper rival for Fitz, they would have introduced a guy who was just a decent person, with no ties to the White House, or B613. The only thing that Jake has going for him is the fact that he's single. And I'm sorry, that's just not a good enough reason to root for him. Especially not now that he actually threatened Liv's life.

@ Kendy

I think we've seen that Olivia is drawn to these dangerous men; a basically decent guy couldn't begin to hold her attention.

@ Kendy

Also in your rant about Jake and B613 you forgot Fitz was also B613. He murdered 300 people because he was ordered too and now is hoping Jake keeps it a secret. He also kill Olivia's mentor fairly easy. None of the guys a good guys in the whit hat sensor. But even Huck is better than Fitz. He doesn't blame everyone for his misdeeds.

@ Kendy

Cyrus has ordered muders with no remorse yet people still feel sadness for him. Even though he is the reason James is dead. People can pick and chose who they feel remorse for. If Olivia can have a job that drove her dark why not acknowledge the same with Jake. Why should we suddenly take the moral high role with him?

@ Kendy

Absolutely right. I'm becoming tired of this nonsense. I really really loved this show once...Now it's all about the murders.


Huckleberry Quinn! Yes! More please! :)


Most viewers felt James was the one who got shot, although no one was certain that the writers would not fool us. Powerful scene when Cyrus broke down and Fitz escorted him off stage.
I'm Team Abby and David - how cute they are. I'm glad Olivia talked David out of making a bad choice to go against Jake.
Mama Pope is scary and I thought Papa Pope was fierce.
Why do Olivia and Huck believe that Quinn needs saving? She's gone to the dark side, beside she was never a good fit with the Gladiators.


This was an excellent episode and the reason I don’t miss Scandal on any Thursday. All of the characters were brought together so well and defined. James, Liv, Jake, Cyrus ,Rowan, Fitz, and David. You could truly see the compassion and pain in everyone’s dialogue tonight. Although Jake was the murderer, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, as Rowan said, “As command, you either send someone to kill or you do it yourself.” Which you could tell from Rowan, that it’s eating him up inside, but up until this scene he’s only allowed Liv to see this side of him. Somehow maybe she can still save Jake, without being romantically involved. I’m sorry the Mellie/Andrew (mildew, not my term) love scene was boring, and Andrew is the reason, he’s nice but nothing more. He just doesn’t compare to any of the other men on this show. Fitz (TG) is built like a brick house, and is also handsome. Jake, well he’s fine and handsome. Harrison is definitely the total package, exceptionally handsome and a fine ass body. Besides Mellie is not giving up Fitz, although she should. She doesn’t want to lose to Liv, even though she already has lost him. The reason Olivia doesn’t bother to bark back at Mellie’s rants is because it’s not necessary, the game is over, and Mellie was never in it. This episode really did outshine this moment that has been built up in the media for the last few months. If you blinked you missed the love scene. David and Abby’s love scenes have been more intense than this couple. The last few minutes made me cry. I haven’t cried at a t.v. show since, St. Elsewhere went off the air (the last episode). I felt for James and Cyrus, this couple was truly in love, and their meeting during the campaign says it all. They fell in love instantly the same as Olivia and Fitz. I’m glad we were able to see their flashback and their dance, oh I’m definitely re-watching that scene with Gladys Knights’ song playing in the background, it brought those last moments home and it hurt. Lastly the friendship between Olivia, Fitz and Cyrus. To see them all together at the press conference and Cyrus breaking down with Fitz coming to comfort his friend, that was touching and so realistic. Then to have Liv step up to the podium and finish her friends work so poised and dignified as only she can be. I’m glad the writers are allowing Olitz to just be, leave them alone, and let them just be in love and exist. The writers have plenty of time to figure out their endgame. Seeing them working closely together and basically being a team, is enough for me and a lot of other viewers. Their relationship has made so many other characters on this show relevant (Mellie and Jake). Stop trying to throw everything at their relationship. This is Scandal, some weeks it’s an OMG night, others it’s Olitz and then we get episodes like this, remember “752.” All make for good t.v. and good ratings. It’s amazing, Scandal continues to bring it every week. I don’t know any other show that the media is constantly writing articles about or referring to “Olivia Pope,” in certain news stories – “What would Olivia Pope do?” Bravo Scandal keep up the good work.

@ Kaston

Funny, to hear someone else who wasn't impressed with the Mellie and Andrew love scene.

@ Excited+Fan

I thought it was awkward. There was just something about it that was just plain awkward.

@ Excited+Fan

Since it wasn't a love scene I'm not surprise. Just like their first kiss, it was like 20 seconds at the end of the scene. That is not a love scene. That said I find them great. MellAn talk. Not just sex, or opining or arguments or giving orders. But talk. With smilies. Plus the vp looks like a southern gentleman. Yum!


I was glad to see James go. He's been nothing but a whiny wimp for 3 seasons. I cheered when Mellie finally gave Fitz a little of his own cheating nonsense back. It's ironic that the guy who murdered 3 peope at the beginning of the show turns out to be the noblest person in the cast, since almost everyone else on the show is a murderer as well, except for Olivia. And she is the daughter of two murderers herself, so how long can it be before her damaged genes kick in and she kills someone.

@ Brian

That noble guy also threatened to kill Olivia if she didn't stop digging into B613. I must admit, I'm perplexed by all this sympathy that Jake is getting. He killed three innocent women. Who had families, and loved ones, maybe even children who will miss them. So what, the fact that he sat with James and waited for him to die makes him noble? If I'm lying there dying and the asshole who killed me was pontificating about how sorry he was that I was about t die, I would be so pissed.


I kind of knew it would be James as he is a recurring character opposed to David's contract character and also the way Cyrus was talking to him earlier. I teared up when Cyrus was up on the stage and just cracked and bust out crying. I was yelling at Olivia get him off the stage. It was nice that Fitz came out and went up and got him and was his shoulder to cry on. I dont know how I feel about Jake sitting with James as he was slowly bleeding out. I dont want you to die alone, so I will sit here and watch you die instead of calling an amblance for you.


i was bothered by huck and quinn. i cried the whole time they played the song at the end. poor cyrus!! poor james!! i felt like olivia and rowen's scene was very informative. he seemed a little less hatefull.


I disagree. I think Rowan's speech had to be laced with anger. He is still the guy who was COMMAND, lest we forget. But the reason that speech was so powerful was because it accomplished multiple things. First, it establishes the fact that he still has some good in him. It also establishes that he hopes he can eventually be saved by Olivia. it is that hope that allows him to carry the burden. And finally it showed how him and Jake are very much alike. Jake is a younger Rowan who is 180 lives deeper down the rabbit hole. That three in 183 is there so that we can easily make this comparison.

@ Ricardo

Jake has killed more than three people, surely we know this? He was in B613, think about the things that Huck had to do. Jake has killed more than three people. And don't forget that he killed the girl Rowan sent to kill him in the season two finale.


I didn't cry during Cyrus's breakdown. I just thought now he knows how the families of the people he so easily ordered murdered feel. Sometimes you have to pay the Piper and he only wants blood. During Liv's entire scene with her dad, I was thinking Jake asked you to save him. Especially when papaPope said her job is to bring monsters to the light. She refused to go into the light with Jake and chose to stay in the darkness with Fitz. He asked her to save him. And she didn't. And I think that's why she's taking it so hard. It looks like we are headed for an assassin triangle. Who will Quinn chose. And do I really want Huck in a relationship? Should be interesting. I loved David and Abby. How her first thought was the run to him. And how she never let him stay in his dark place. If anyone was the white hat in this episode it was Abby. MamaPope is too cool for school. Witj the ease she has at killing, I'd run for the hills like Harrison's girl too. I can't wait until the eventual showdown with her and Olivia. And can we please add papaPope for a good measure. Last but not least, finally Mellie! The way Andrew looks at her at all times (I don't know how the actor pulls that off by the way) I'm surprise it took her that long. I get people think her marriage tearing apart in her fault and she should have went to Fitz with the rape. But if Fitz was the kind of husband she would tell her rape to wouldn't she already have told him? Fitz is so selfish that he makes everything about him. Maybe Mellie did not want to deal with him and his how does this effect me attitude while trying to survive such an attack. Maybe she didn't want to be peppered with questions instead of compassion. Too bad she is going to get caught. Mellie is running on emotions. The woman in the green dress in that window in the promo is clearly her. All in all a great show.

@ CJ

She wasn't hesitant to tell Fitz because she thought he was going to make it all about himself. He can be self-centered, but he does have some humanity. The reason she didn't want to tell him was because she was raped by his father. She didn't know how to approach it, or didn't want to, or couldn't bear to talk about it because it would be too horrible and strange to say "your dad raped me." But, she should have told him. If not for a few days or a week or two weeks, whatever. I think their marriage could have survived that.


Did we ever find out who Jake was talking to in the dark at the beginning and end of the episode before this one?

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Scandal Season 3 Episode 14 Quotes

Jake: It's unfortunate. Life is unfortunate. Random. Coincidental. Bad things happen to good people all the time.
Olivia: No, you make bad things happen to good people.

[to Adnan] I don't make bombs. I make money.