Meet Olivia Pope & Associates. They're fixers in Washington D.C. If you have a problem, you'll definitely want them on your side.
D.C. A woman runs across a busy street into a crowded bar. She motor-mouths a one-sided conversation with an insanely good looking black guy, named Harrison. She (Quinn Perkins, but goddamn if she doesn’t look like she could be Alia Shawkat’s older sister, and I seriously want to call her Maeby) tells him that she doesn’t do blind dates, and she just wanted to stop by and tell him that because she didn’t want to stand him up, but she’s not interested thank you very much, and holy shit if this dialogue is going to be as Gilmore Girls-ian in speed, I may very well go insane. Then again, a lot of it is a bit repetitive and I’ve realized not all of it is actually useful.
Anyway, Harrison shuts her down because, hey, this isn’t actually a blind date, it’s a job interview and Quinn’s all, I didn’t apply to work for you, and if I were Harrison I would’ve slapped her by now because she is presumptuous as fuck and we’ve only known her for a minute. Harrison tells Quinn to ask him who he works for and again she gabs for an unreasonable amount of time but eventually he reveals her real purpose. This wasn’t actually a job interview. She has the job. And her new boss? Olivia Pope. Quinn’s eyes go wide and thankfully this news shuts her up.
Harrison takes on Quinn’s speedy-talking ways, and damn, he sells it, and it is worth watching this scene just for his dialogue, but I’m not transcribing, because I don’t get paid for that. The main point is this:
Harrison: I'm not a baby lawyer. I'm a gladiator in a suit. Because that's what you are when you work for Olivia. You're a gladiator in a suit. You want to be a gladiator in a suit. You gotta say it.
Quinn: I want to be a gladiator in a suit.
Elevator. Olivia (and I know she hasn’t been formally introduced but if you know nothing about this show, you at least know who the star is) and fucking DESMOND FROM LOST ride in what looks like a service elevator, and you know it’s a Shonda Rhimes show when... Anyway, Desmond is a little freaked out that whoever they’re about to meet is going to kill them. Olivia brushes this off by asking if he’s proposed yet, establishing that these two are just good buddies, thanks very much. Desmond really wants Olivia to come up to his level of stress especially since they don’t have all the money that was promised. Olivia doesn’t seem to have known this (and having watched the rest of the series, this kind of seems weird but whatever, it’s the pilot, I’ll go with it) and asks why. Desmond says that the ambassador couldn’t come up with the entirety of the money and therefore, impending doom! Olivia’s still not worried and continues to badger Desmond and Desmond’s all, um, we have bigger fish to fry, like Ukrainian mobsters who will want to kill us!
Liv and Desmond exit the elevator and meet up with their gang members. Olivia speed talks her way into only giving them half of what was asked of them, and I’m sensing this is going to be the pace of the show, and it’s hella fun to watch, not as easy to write about. I will persevere. She sweet talks her way and ends up scaring two Ukrainian mobsters into leaving the country and she looks good doing it. This storyline will go nowhere, but it shows us the power of Olivia Pope and basically you always want to be on the side where she’s defending you, not scaring the living shit out of you.
Olivia Pope & Associates. Harrison brings Quinn to her new place of business. We get introduced to the rest of the gang. Huck, a hacker, ex-CIA, but we don’t talk about that. Desmond’s name is Steven, litigator, and then there’s Abby, investigator, and of course, Olivia, the head of this merry band of gladiators in suits. Quinn comes into their conference room and immediately babbles about how it’s such an honour to be there and what not. Here’s what you need to know:
Quinn: I so admire your work in the White House. It's an honor to work for your law firm.
Olivia: We're not a law firm. We're lawyers but this is NOT a law firm.
Steven: Law firms are for pansies.
Olivia: We solve problems.
Abby: Manage crises, save reputations.
Quinn: Right of course. It's still an honor.
This is the basis of the show. Know it. Live it. Love it.
Everyone disperses after a job well done and poor Quinn is left standing around, and I feel for the girl, but buck up, this is the job of a lifetime. Anyway, the night’s not over quite yet. There’s a new client. A good-looking well-dressed man limps in, spattered in blood. He tells them that his girlfriend is dead and that he’s the primary suspect. Quinn gapes into the commercial break.
Lt. Sullivan “Sully” St. James, our bloody client, is in the conference room while Abby relays all they know about him. He’s a decorated war vet, who served in Eye-rack (uuuugggghhhh, can’t anyone learn to pronounce it correctly?), and they babble along about his accolades. Basically, he’s a massive hero. Also? Super right-wing, “anti-choice, pro-gun, hates the gays and likes it when the kids pray in school.” Abby is not pleased. Ah, we have found our bleeding heart liberal.
The dead girlfriend is Paige Montgomery. She’s been found by the police, with three shots to the head, and it’s not looking good for our good friend Sully who ran from the scene of the crime. Quinn, who will be our exposition leader tonight, asks how they go about things like this and Olivia gives us a handy numbered list of how she gets shit done. And she does get shit done.
He was going to propose, have babies the whole nine yards. “She was my best friend.” Steven asks point blank if Sully killed Paige and he vehemently denies it, but says he fled because he is a well-known figure, and it wouldn’t be so good for the public to see him like that. I dunno, that seems pretty weak, but whatever, I’ll give it to him, he seems appropriately distraught. During the murder, he was out for a walk, stopped into a bar for a beer. Abby asks if he owns a gun, and well, duh, he owns a gun, but he states that it’s because he was in the military.
Our gladiators conference. Steven thinks Sully’s guilty, Harrison doesn’t and Abby’s not interested at all with taking the case. Clearly Huck gets no vote, which I say sucks. Olivia exposits that her vote always boils down to her gut, it’s never led her astray before. She tells them that they’re taking the case. Steven hilariously asks why they bother having a vote and then Olivia counters with “you’re pretty, and smart,” and I’m cracking up, I like this relationship.
Olivia then takes control of the situation. She lays down the law for Sully: they’ll clean him up and help him out, but, HE MUST NOT LIEEEEE! And so the investigation begins.
Olivia is outside banging on the front door of... JOSHUA MALINA! Yay! And until he is named, he is going by Will Bailey, because, well Joshua Malina plays all his characters pretty similarly and I love Will Bailey. Olivia begs Will Bailey to hold off on arresting Sully for 48 hours and Will Bailey is not impressed as he was asleep, but tells her that she really doesn’t have much power anymore since she no longer works for the White House. Anyway, he doesn’t hold much stock in her “Spidey-senses,” Sully’s guilty and that’s that. Olivia barters for a bit and is able to get 24 hours. The hunt is on.
Abby shows up to the scene of the crime and blackmails one of the cops there to let her in to see the body. She does it without batting an eye too, and I enjoy her. She takes pictures all over the apartment which appear...
... on the window of the conference room back at Pope and Associates. Harrison explains to Quinn that if they do their jobs well, they’ll never have to bring these cases to court. They don’t want to have to work within the confines of the law, so to speak, because they can usually fix things on their own. “It’s not about solving a crime, it’s not about justice, it’s about our client.”
Morgue. Steven shows up and acts all man-whorey with the morgue technician, and we see that this is how he gets his shit done. He wants Paige’s autopsy fast-tracked and we get a good look at all the holes in her head and ew.
Pope & Associates. Quinn and Harrison peruse the morgue photos. Quinn asks if anyone there has anyone to go home to since they’ve been at it all night. Harrison shuts her down quickly. No. “Gladiators. In suits.” Got it.
Montage, montage, montage of deducing and getting all the information possible about the case. Olivia tells everyone that it’s not enough. Steven’s pretty much had enough of this shit, tells everyone again that he believes Sully is guilty, even Abby is agreeing, but Olivia is still adamant. She points to the gun found at the scene of the crime, so Abby springs off to see if anyone pulled any prints off it. Olivia then points to a picture of Sully and Paige looking very happy and lovey-dovey. Steven relents that a man in love would need motive, and they’ll need to find it before the police do. Olivia gets a text and promptly leaves. But they still need more.
In front of the White House. Olivia meets an older man, and he immediately asks her about the Sully St. James case. She tells him that she’s working on it but she needs his people to keep quiet about it. Older Gent is fine with that, as long as he’s kept in the know. Now for why he asked her there. This man is Cyrus Beene, chief of staff to the President of the United States. Olivia states that she doesn’t work for them anymore but Cyrus won’t let up. He tells her that there’s an aide who’s spreading lies (and her legs). Apparently, she hooked up with the President. Now that’s just bad form. Jed Bartlett would never let that shit fly, then again, he and the FLOTUS were total OTP. Sorry, my Sorkin is showing. Anyway, Cyrus is all, there’s no way he did it, and, SPOILER SPOILER, I feel like Olivia would have reacted differently to hearing this news, considering what we find out at the end of the episode. Again, since it’s the pilot, I’ll let it slide. For now. Cyrus needs the situation handled and who better than our resident fixer, Olivia Pope?
Olivia won’t take on the case until she’s met up with the President. She needs to be able to look him in the eye and know in her gut that he’s not lying. Cyrus is adamantly opposed to this but Olivia won’t be deterred. Prez will make time, or she won’t take the case. End of.
Pope & Associates. Olivia and Steven conference about how she’s about to embark to Camp David. Going to the White House would be too official, and she wants no press around. Anyway, the conversation steers back to Steven needing to propose and *yaaawwwwnnn* this storyline is unnecessary, except for the clear looks of longing that Abby has for Steven. Meh, don’t care.
Quinn runs up to Harrison and thinks she may have found something in Paige’s emails. Paige emailed a friend Ariel Massey who she was supposed to meet at an Embassy party on the night she was killed. Harrison asks why she didn’t attend and Quinn is stumped. Harrison is all, girl, you gotta think things through before talking to any of us. Olivia won’t like that shit.
Museum. Abby is meeting with Ariel, who tells her that Paige canceled on her at the last minute. Ariel pleads with Abby that Paige loved Sully but that her and Paige used to be fun-loving gals. Ariel breaks down and Abby’s having none of it. What’s Ariel hiding?
Camp David. Olivia drives up, listening to a radio reporter claiming the White House will make no comment about Sully St. James. Looks like Cyrus has kept his promise. And speak of the devil, there he is. Olivia asks why the FLOTUS is there and Cyrus informs her that this isn’t like the election. The First Marriage is stronger than ever. Olivia’s face falls just a tad, and good acting on Kerry Washington’s part. She really does kill in this role. She picks it up just in time for the aforementioned First Lady to waltz in. Olivia and Mellie warmly hug and they small talk, and finally we are introduced to Shonda Rhime’s President of the United States. He is dashing. Of course he is.
Outside. Prez, Cyrus and Olivia walk the grounds followed by secret service. Prez is grateful that Olivia is taking her case considering how busy she must be with Sully St. James. The lying aide is Amanda Tanner, and OMG it’s Paris from Gilmore Girls and I don’t even care if she did sleep with Prez, I’m just thrilled that Liza Weil is going to be on my TV again. Cyrus can’t fire Paris without a scandal (hey, that’s the name of the show!) and as of yet, she hasn’t spilled to the press, so I'm kinda curious who she did speak to since the allegations are clearly out. Anyway, Cyrus wants Olivia to keep it that way. Olivia needs proof though. She asks Prez point blank: did you sleep with Paris? He tells her straightaway no. He says there’s only one person he loves. Somehow, I don’t think it’s his wife he’s talkin’ bout. But we’ll get there. Olivia will take care of it. Cyrus is pleased as punch.
Pope & Associates. Quinn and Harrison are waiting for the forensics result on the gun. Abby gleefully, and I mean gleefully, she literally says “wahoo,” skits into the room. “PAIGE WAS A WHORE!” She’s very pleased by this news. Anyway, apparently Paige was less than faithful and was sleeping with some other dude, Henderson, who she met up with the night of her murder, ergo: another suspect. Abby runs off to do some digging.
Olivia, back from her excursion, tells Quinn to dig up anything and everything she can find on one Amanda Tanner, then she’ll accompany Olivia somewhere. That’s it, there’s nothing really funny or witty I can say right now.
Some park. Quinn follows Olivia and literally stumbles after her, asking what she needs to do. Olivia cuts her short and says she’s only there as a witness. Olivia’s about to get down and dirty. They follow a blonde woman with a golden retriever and OMG IT’S PARIS, YAY! Olivia cuts to the chase. Paris’ life will become a living hell if she decides to come forward with her false allegations. She will be our new Monica Lewinsky, and if that won’t deter her, I honestly don’t know what will, because I can’t imagine anything worse. Olivia runs the gamut of how much info they were able to pull up on Paris in just an hour. Private stuff. Stuff that Paris wouldn’t love getting out. Then again, Quinn’s no hacker so unless she enlisted Huck’s help, I can’t really imagine it was too difficult to find that information out anyway.
Paris starts weeping, pulling the whole “he said he loved me,” blah blah blah, he also gave her the dog, which is kind of a weird thing to do, but whatever. Olivia’s not having it. She wants Paris to resign ASAP, pack up and leave town, and then she’ll be free to lead a normal life in Anytown, USA. Paris scurries off in a wailing mess. Olivia turns to a gaping Quinn (God, she gapes a lot, I hope she stops that) and says that if Quinn gets subpoenaed, she can testify, but if not “this never happened.” Olivia calls someone, I assume Cyrus, and tells him. “It’s handled.” I practically expect a building to explode in the background and for Olivia to walk away in slow motion, it’s that badass.
Pope & Associates bathroom. Quinn is crying in a stall, and I don’t blame her, if that’s what her new boss is capable of in a 30 second conversation, what could she do if she really got going? Huck confronts her about it, and says, in this line of work, in this business, there’s no crying (in baseball). Olivia never cries, which is a nice gesture of loyalty, but Olivia will be crying at least twice in pretty much every upcoming episode (including this one), so I find it hard to take that bit of dialogue seriously.
Quinn asks the question that’s on everyone’s lips: why was she hired? Good question Quinn, that’ll be a main storyline component of season 2! Thanks for the foreshadow! Huck responds with a very nice speech, which I’ll just copy because I won’t do it justice:
“You're here because you worship her. You want to be her. You think if you're near her, if you stand in her light, you'll finally do stuff that matters. Because you need to believe that there's something greater than a 9 to 5 crap job. That there's a higher purpose. That your life has meaning because the world feels big and you feel lost. Am I right? Olivia Pope fixes things. That's who she is. You need fixing. I don't need to know your story. We all have a story. Everyone in this office needs fixing. You're a stray dog and Olivia took you in. Don't question it.”
And boom, goes the dynamite.
Olivia’s office. Olivia watches multiple news feeds on her multiple TVs. Prez is just coming off a chopper with Cyrus, so she takes this opportunity to really make sure she didn’t almost ruin some poor girl’s life. She calls up Cyrus, he passes the phone to Prez, and asks him: did he buy Paris a dog? Prez is confused, and Liv gets him to look right into the lens of the video camera of whatever network she’s watching, and he smiles. Olivia relaxes, and thanks him.
Steven comes in with the other storyline and tells Olivia that Sully is being hunted by network TV execs. Everyone wants him on their shows. Abby enters and tells them that she’s found out that the man Paige was sleeping with has an alibi for the night of the murder. Even worse? This guy Henderson says that Sully knew about his relationship with Paige. This does not look so good for our good friend Sully. Even worser? Harrison pipes up that forensics came back and Sully’s prints are all over the murder weapon. Olivia = not pleased.
She rushes out into the hallway and confronts Sully about knowing about Paige and Henderson. Turns out he did, but he’s not pressed about it. He knows she used to be a fun-loving gal, but he’s so totes cool with that. Olivia tries to impress upon him that he’s still not out of the woods. How exactly can he explain why his prints are all over the gun that killed Paige? Because he picked it up that’s why, then he goes on a spiel about being a soldier and blah, and repeats himself from a dozen times ago that Paige was his bestie, and we get it.
The gladiators convene in Olivia’s office and Olivia begs them to find someone who can testify that they saw Sully at the time of the murder. Abby’s so not convinced, but Olivia’s the boss so you better hop-to, soldier. Huck comes in saying that he got “it” and what “it” is, is a whole load of engagement rings and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz we’re back to this Z-storyline. They’re for Steven to pick, and again, Abby is so totes jealous, but whatever, this storyline sucks, bring back Paris!
And speak of the devil, PARIS IS BACK!!!!! She bursts into Olivia’s office, with no help from Quinn who is a terrible bouncer. Paris wants Olivia to give Prez a message and Olivia hilariously retorts that it’s “not appropriate” and I’m dying on the floor, because you were literally threatening this woman like 10 minutes ago, but whatever. Anyway, Paris knows that Olivia would be able to give Prez a message, she’s quit her job, all she wants is to talk. Olivia shuts this down real quick and sends Paris down the elevator. And who comes up the elevator but WILL BAILEY! He’s, unfortunately, the bearer of bad news. He’s come to arrest Sully, but Olivia says they still have 40 minutes according to their 24 hour deal, so no dice, Mr. Lawman. Olivia beseeches Quinn to call Abby: “time is up.”
Bar that Sully was at the night of the murder. Abby exits, and tells Steven that no one there says they saw Sully, he’s screwed. Steven grins and points upwards: security cameras. They may win this yet.
Security Office. Harrison brings $500 and pizza to a security guard. The security guard hilariously asks him to show him the pizza, to make sure it’s the right one. Fuck the money, there had better be sausage up in this bitch! They finally get the guy to focus and they get him to track down the footage of when Sully would have been at Maddy’s Bar. The gladiators smile. Looks like we found our alibi.
Pope & Associates. Olivia saunters in with gladiators in tow. She tells Sully that there’s not much time left, so shut up and listen. “Sully, you’re the most decorated hero since the Vietnam War, you come from a family of soldiers. You make your living making speeches for the conservative right. And you’ve said over, and over, Paige was your best friend. Not your lover, your best friend.” Sully’s not looking too hot right now. Abby flicks on the TV and shows the security footage of Sully... macking on a dude. Wah wah wahhhhhhhh.
Olivia pleads with an incredibly stubborn Sully that she needs the name of the man he was kissing so that he could verify Sully’s alibi. I guess video footage isn’t proof enough, but whatever. This is the part that is actually quite heart-breaking, because Sully chooses to be arrested for first-degree murder than to come forward and tell the world he’s gay. This is the part that makes me angry for those who fear to come out because of what will happen to them if they do. This is the part that makes me upset, livid, crazy, because it’s wrong, and unfair and no one should have to hide from consensual love. Blergh.
Later, Huck asks Quinn if she’s seen Olivia. Olivia’s gone down to the police station to plead Sully’s case. God bless her, the woman’s not given up yet. Huck says that he just got a call and if Quinn could pass on the message. He just found out that Amanda Tanner just attempted suicide. Quinn gapes again, and this time I don’t blame her.
D.C. Police Station. Press is gathering outside but Olivia’s strong moral code will not allow her to leak the alibi. Sully’s still their client, she has to do what he asks. Olivia gets a text, presumably about Paris’ attempt to shake off her mortal coil. She leaves but not before instructing her gladiators to implore Sully to change his mind. Steven has to leave to propose and ugggghhh I don’t care.
Hospital. Paris is asleep with bandaged wrists. Thankfully, no press here, Paris never told the press about Prez so no one is all that concerned about her right now. Olivia seems to be satisfied with that and turns to leave but Quinn stops her. Quinn believes that Paris is telling the truth. Olivia doesn’t entertain this notion one iota, but Quinn persists. She spins her story: Paris attempted suicide, but had no intention of dying. She called Olivia right away because she knows that Olivia has contact with Prez and therefore he’ll find out about it. Paris believed that if he found out, he’d come rescue her and call her “sweet baby” and suddenly Olivia stops her. Something has clicked. And it’s no good.
Oval Office. Olivia waits for the President, and gets a call from Steven urging her to come to the restaurant he’s at. Well, Steven, your boring storyline is gonna have to wait. Olivia has some ass kicking to do. Prez comes in with Cyrus but Olivia looks at him so despairingly, that he asks everyone to leave the room. They leave and Olivia finally speaks. “Sweet baby?” she asks, and it is heartbreaking. Kerry Washington kills. She repeats it a few time, her voice breaking. The Prez says nothing but points up to the security camera on the ceiling. He moves her into a blind spot in the room and we finally get our revelation.
Olivia had an affair with the President, and he was sad that she left him, so he banged an aide. It's not exactly kosher to blame your girlfriend troubles on your mistress, especially when the wife has yet to appear in the picture, but I’ll leave that for later. Olivia breaks down, telling him she left him for all the right reasons (um.... he's married and the leader of the free world for starters) but he pretty much ignores this, because it is a Shonda Rhimes show and she needs to fill her nookie quota. They kiss for a bit, but Olivia is still shaken. She asks him once more if he gave Paris the dog, and he responds by telling her he loves her. Not the right answer. She slaps him and yells at him for “clouding [her] judgment” and for having her verbally torture a girl who attempted suicide because of her. Liv’s not having a great day. Prez again, doesn’t seem to care and kisses Olivia more fiercely and I’m getting a little annoyed by this, because is he listening to her at all? This should be the first sign that this is not the man for you, gurl.
Cyrus bursts in saying that he can hear them yelling, and they break away too late, and uuugggghhh everything is annoying. That could have been anyone walking in, do they have no self-restraint? Cyrus, to his credit, says nothing but to tell Prez to wash up. He’s got lipstick on his mouth and he still has to make that speech to the French President. Prez leaves and Cyrus is shocked. Olivia can’t believe that he didn’t know about them. “I guess it didn’t matter enough.” She storms out.
Restaurant. Boring storyline continues. Steven has cold feet, and I promise you, this will not matter in the slightest so I’m just going to skip over to the part where he leaves to propose and Olivia breaks down in the coat closet, and it’s sad, and I really do feel for her, Kerry plays the scene to perfection. I may just fangirl over her for awhile.
D.C. Police Station. Olivia sits down with Sully and looks so resigned, it’s really powerful. She reminds us that we still don’t even know who killed Paige, which is a little bit scary, but she goes onto say that living a secret can only bring you pain. She speaks from experience. Thing is, Sully shouldn’t have to live a lie, it’s not fair for him to and it finally seems to dawn on him that Olivia may in fact be right. Sully remains silent, however, so Olivia gets up to leave. Before she does, he tells her: “John Lattimer. That’s his name. And I do. Love him.” We finally get a win for Team Gladiators in Suits.
Press Conference. Sully stands in full regalia, his many medals pinned to perfection with his fellow soldiers by his sides. “I am honoured to have served my country. I am honoured to have been injured serving my country. Just as importantly, I am honoured to be a gay man who served my country.” AND THE CROWD GOES WILD, and I shed a few tears, and it really is quite moving, even though we took the longo way round to get here.
Pope & Associates. Huck, Quinn and Harrison take down the Sully St. James case from their windows. Quinn rightly asks what happens now, since they still didn’t find the killer. Huck says it doesn’t matter, but Harrison corrects that it does, but just not to them. They served their client. They’ll bring the information to the police, and then their job is done. Quinn asks Harrison if they really are the good guys. Is Olivia a good guy? Harrison responds, “No. She’s not one of the good guys, she’s the best guy.” Quinn accepts this, though I’m sure she’s still thinking of Paris practically shitting her pants back in the park. They repeat their mantra, though, and it is cute. Gladiators. In suits. Damn straight.
Olivia’s office. Cyrus comes in and congratulates Olivia on a job well done with Sully’s case. Anyway, Prez wants to see her. Olivia doesn’t give a fuck. She tells Cyrus that he better pray to God Amanda doesn’t spill her story, because she’s now a client of Olivia Pope & Associates. Shit is going to go down. And I cannot wait.