Found her! The fourth season of Shonda Rhimes‘ much-anticipated political series Scandal returned Thursday, Sept. 25, with yet another dramatic premiere. Going into the episode, the burning question after the season three finale was: “Where in the world is Olivia Pope?” That mystery was solved in the first hour, along with several other big surprises. Here, Us Weekly recaps the five biggest moments from the episode.
1. Olivia Pope Is Julia Baker
Gone Girl, indeed! Olivia Pope was last seen boarding a plane with Captain Jake Ballard, headed off to some unknown destination. The show’s opening scene reveals a curly-haired Pope, sipping a quality red and (very subtly!) reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl on a gorgeous tropical island. The newly-relaxed Pope, who now goes by “Julia Baker,” is completely off the grid — 100 miles off the coast of Zanzibar — with the hunky Capt. Ballard.
Soon after, she receives a letter from somebody who’s found her, and opens it to an article clipping of Harrison’s death. She decides to return to D.C. for “a few days, in and out” to plan her friend’s funeral.
2. Portia de Rossi’s Character Is Scary, As Is Cyrus’ Toupee!
Scary and hairy! Portia de Rossi made her debut on the premiere as the scary RNC chair who’s come to the White House to discuss the Oval Office’s recent rogue actions. While referring to President Fitzgerald Grant as “our boy,” de Rossi’s ‘do also has its own face-off… against Cyrus’ crazy big toupee.
3. Capt. Jake Ballard’s Sexy Speech
Salute to that! Pope is already riddled with a case that she is begged to tackle upon her return. While she’s in bed with Jake, everyone’s favorite fixer is doing just that — attempting to problem solve. He then goes on an epic rant about their sexual relationship. “I am the one you like to ride,” he tells her. (OMG!) “I’m the one who makes you moan. I’m the one who reached you in places he can’t touch.” Also, holy crap.
4. Mellie In Uggs
“Did the First Lady get dressed today?” After losing her son Jerry to meningitis as witnessed in season three, Mellie has swapped her power suits for Uggs and pajamas. One poignant scene from the episode features the dysfunctional first couple visiting their late son’s grave. Mourning and more agitated with Fitz than ever, Mellie, wearing her boots and nightgown, collapses on the grass beside the tombstone as she stares up at the clouds with a vacant expression. Fitz looks at his wife in her raw moment of grieving.
Later, she reappears with Fitz on a balcony, where it’s revealed that Fitz attempted to commit suicide after the death of Jerry and the disappearance of his mistress Olivia. He reveals to his wife that Olivia Pope is back. “I’m not going to see her,” he tells Mellie, who goes on a tirade in response. “When you see her, you will tell me,” she says. She also tells him that the thought of having sex with him is repulsive, adding: “One thing I do not do now is wax. It’s 1976 down there.”
5. Fitz and Liv’s Close Encounter
Olivia makes the decision to remain in Washington after handling her first case. As she exits the courthouse, the President is on the opposite side of the room, flanked by aides and other staffers. The two walk toward each other with no expression, As cameras zoom in on their hands, Fitz’s pinky finger gently lifts up toward her as they nearly but not quite touch.
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