No, you didn’t actually sit on your remote and switch over to the news: Scandal just got a tough-talking presidential candidate who might seem more than a bit familiar to those following the real-life race.
Hollis Doyle, the smarmy oil tycoon who’s out for his best interests and no one else’s, returned to throw his hat into the political ring, which means we have three Republican candidates (still much less than the real-life primaries started off with) and one Democrat — because Vargas is running for office, too.
Doyle came waltzing in with the premise of giving his stacks of money to either Mellie or Susan’s campaigns — if, of course, they’re willing to support his interests. After meeting with both of them, he goes rouge and launches a bid of his own — stealing Mellie’s campaign slogan and plan to launch her campaign at her childhood elementary school, to boot, all while sounding a lot like another guy we’ve been hearing a lot of this election season. All that was missing was a promise to build a wall.
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On the other side of the race, Abby gets wind that Cyrus has been running Vargas’ campaign, which means he’s going behind the president’s back and the GOP’s to work for a candidate across the aisle.
When she first floats Vargas’ name to Cyrus, he feigns vague recognition, but Abby says she knows about their phone calls and visits to Harrisburg and has photographic evidence of them meeting, to boot. Bluff, called. He changes course and claims Vargas sought him out to run his campaign, tells Abby he made a mistake and asks her not to tell Fitz.
She agrees, but then goes to Olivia and admits she wants Cyrus’ job and she now has information that would give her the chance to take it. Liv asks if she should wait her turn for the position, and Abby reasons that’s what a good person would do — but the Cyruses of the world, the Cyruses of Washington, aren’t the types to wait in line, and she doesn’t know if she should be that type of big dog.
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Olivia gives Abby a warning: Power corrupts. If she goes after Cyrus she’ll lose the white hat, and it doesn’t come back once you throw it away. “Be a better person,” she says.
It’s advice Abby decides not to take. Choosing Team Big Dog, she goes to Fitz, tells him Cyrus is running Vargas’ campaign, and asks what he plans to do about it. He doesn’t know — at first, it looks like Cyrus has got him in a corner, because exposing him as a turncoat would not only make his administration look bad but also leaves him having to fill a chief of staff position. Abby offers another alternative: Let him go quietly, which lets him step away and pursue whatever he chooses, and that Fitz wouldn’t have to look far at all for a replacement — because she’s right here and would be his best general and greatest champion. (Lean in, Whelan!)
The job is hers, Fitz says — but if she wants Cyrus’ gig, she has to fire him first, which she does.
NEXT: Olivia steps up her spy game with Jake [pagebreak]
Olivia, meanwhile, takes her spying on Jake to a whole new level — the Carrie Mathison, Homeland-style, having-gladiators-install-cameras-in-his-home level while she’s listening to Vanessa share how she and Jake met. Turns out he crashed into her in line at Shake Shake and made her drop her phone, cracking the screen (which she’s saved that way as a memory of their meeting), and then they “conveniently” ran into each other again not long after at a Georgetown café.
After dinner, she goes to her apartment and turns on her TV, which shows Jake and Vanessa at home. “I see you, Vanessa,” she tells the screen. Totally normal! Even more normal: She watches again as the two of them start kissing and undressing… during which Jake looks directly at the camera. Guessing this is another example of how you can’t spy on the head of the NSA without him knowing about it.
He goes over and confronts Olivia about the peep show, and she demands to know what he and her father are up to. Jake says some really hurtful things — calls her pathetic and sad, chalks her actions up to daddy issues, and says he loves Vanessa because she’s smart and beautiful and “capable of loving him back.”
Olivia is unmoved — “Your girlfriends aren’t girlfriends,” she says. “They’re marks.”
Jake gets in close, staring right at her. “Did you enjoy it, watching us?” he asks. “Did you pretend that you were her? Did you get off when she got off?” Olivia doesn’t answer. He walks out of her apartment, but it’s not the last we see of him tonight.
I’ll get back to Jake and Liv in a minute, but we need to talk about Huck and Quinn and Marcus, too. After seeing a new guy with Kim while spying on Javi’s soccer game, Huck goes into old-school, scary Huck mode and thinks the boyfriend might be a mark he and Charlie tortured back in their B613 days (someone they call “Six Toes,” because, well, you can guess what Huck and Charlie did to the other four).
He goes to take out the guy (conveniently driving up just as this man’s car broke down, his cell phone mysteriously missing) and the rest of OPA goes out to try and find and stop him before anything bad happens. Marcus, perhaps not surprisingly, isn’t happy to know he was kept in the dark about Huck being a trained assassin, and Liv tells Quinn she needs to start treating him like he’s part of the gladiator family. This does not sit well with Quinn, who goes off on her boss — they used to be family, she says, but then Olivia abandoned them for Fitz and the White House, and now that she’s back she’s only focused on Jake.
“Why do you hate us?” she demands to know. “What did we do to deserve this treatment?”
“I WAS KIDNAPPED!” Olivia fires back. Her captors took everything from her, she tells Quinn, and she went from being sold on the auction block to being back in the Oval Office because after having her freedom taken away during that week, she’s going to be as selfish as she can and take anything she wants.
Their fight gets interrupted by Huck dropping his ex’s boyfriend at their feet (thankfully, alive). Not “Six Toes,” as it turns out. Just a nice guy who loves Javi and wants to propose to Kim. Huck realizes, sadly, that he needs to let them go and move on. So, no more soccer surveillance for him.
But things end nicely for Quinn and Liv, who tells her she can be selfish because she knows she can leave Quinn in charge of everything while she’s on an island with Jake or with Fitz at the White House. It’s a nice vote of confidence that seems to settle Quinn, at least enough that she humors Marcus’ question when he asks what they mean by “the island.” (Sadly, not a Lost reference. I wish.) When he asks if she’s ever killed anyone, though, that gets a no comment.
With that sorted, Olivia meets with Jake again at a restaurant and says she wants to stop “all the crazy” and that she’s been doing all the stalking and spying because she misses him. Vanessa comes to join them, but before she can sit down she drops her phone — and suddenly, her meet-cute story from the beginning of the episode clicks something for Liv, and we see that’s also exactly how she met Jake. An “accidental” bump in line at one location, followed by a “coincidental” meeting again elsewhere.
The dude’s definitely up to something, which means no drinks with the happy couple for Liv tonight. She claims there’s a work emergency that needs handling, steps outside, and immediately calls Quinn, telling her to step up the surveillance on Jake.