Scandal’s not known for its regular use of onomatopoeic episode titles, so when they went and dubbed this one “Thwack!” (yes, with an exclamation point for emphasis even), you just knew it was going to be significant. And while the moniker definitely has some actual auditory relevance in a moment that required a slew of “violent content” warning snippets, it also signifies the ferocious removal of Olivia Pope’s white hat now and forever more — and just when she’s snagged the Catholic blessing of Mellie Grant, no less!
It all begins with a mercifully quick misunderstanding between Abby’s surveillance team and Fitz’s girlfriend, Lillian Forrester. Abby — who’s devolved into a walking, talking personification of code red at this point — suspects that Lillian is pregnant because she’s been spotted frequenting a health facility which has an abundance of OB-GYNs on staff. She’s sure enough to confront Fitz about it and lament his lack of “Chief Citizen” role model status when she’s interrupted with the news that a baby-Grant-to-be would’ve been a helluva lot better than what’s actually happening right now.
Turns out, Andrew Nichols is back in the picture, and the former Vice President is on a sly warpath (again), this time wrangling in a media ally — that’d be Lillian — to reveal an unknown oral history of the War in West Angola. Now, Abby’s *really* got something to freak out about.
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Andrew’s got some major wear and tear from his brush with Pope & Associates’ hit squad (well, Huck), but he can speak well enough to put the president on blast for going to war over his then-mistress, and there are legal implications for everyone involved. This calls into order a White House kitchen meeting of Fitz, Olivia, Mellie Grant, Elizabeth North, a reluctant David Rosen, a blissfully immune Cyrus Beene, and, of course, Abby in level 10 crisis mode.
They’ve got a couple of options here, and only one of them is a sure thing — the Eli Pope-endorsed silencer route. Olivia’s a big N-O on that note and says that if they can destroy every shred of physical evidence to back his story, they’ll all be fine. But no one seems 100 percent convinced, even her. She even experiences a sudden onset of PTSD flashbacks to her escape from the bunker as she walks the hallway.
(By the way, that briefly close proximity of Olivia and Fitz and their new shared mission here haven’t done much to warm up her attitude toward him; he tries to thank her for coming when he called, but she icily retorts that it was Abby, not him, who got her to the table. So there, harrumph.)
Back at OPA, Marcus is busy drumming up a Catholic endorsement for Mellie Grant by way of Cardinal Suarez — which seems like a wild goose chase to keep him occupied thanks to Mellie’s umpteen-hour filibuster in support of Planned Parenthood until he actually gets it done. His absence from HQ means Olivia’s free to speak-shout loudly at Huck about his handiwork on Andrew Nichols and forbid him from finishing what he started. Instead, they’re to put their technical skills to use and delete any shred of communication between Andrew and Mellie.
Surprisingly, Huck heeds Olivia’s order here, even after Elizabeth passes along Andrew’s hospital information in the parking garage and does her best to prod him into the job by reminding him that his work MOM was kidnapped and sold because of this dirtbag.
Meanwhile, Cyrus is still Team Vargas and advises Frankie not to parade the footage of his almost-assassination in a commercial but rather to craft a secondhand social media image to that effect. Frankie’s brother is clearly butthurt when Cyrus’s direction is taken above his, so he decides to do a little digging as to whether there are any other reasons Cy might not want the video to get out, and ah, yes, the grassy knoll! He tasks his team with finding out exactly who our friend Tom is and why he’s seen in the surveillance footage from the shooting. Ruh roh.
NEXT: Mellie takes matters into her own hands…