The people have spoken. Or, rather, the scheming people behind their presidential campaigns have.
Scandal locked up the presidential candidates in both parties, but not without some dirt-digging, revelations of massively private personal information, and a marriage proposal that was accepted and then called off by the episode’s end. Yeah, a lot happened tonight, guys.
We started with Hollis Doyle leading the Republicans, despite (or perhaps because of) the “Make America Great Again” type things he says on the campaign trail. This means Liv and Abby have put their war on ice, agreeing to back off each other’s candidates until Doyle is out of the race. But both of them begin to plan for an eventual cracking of the ceasefire and immediately order their counterparts to dig up dirt on Mellie and Susan, respectively.
Meanwhile, Cyrus comes to Olivia with a problem: He honest-to-goodness believes in Frankie Vargas as a candidate and potential president, but the guy keeps losing every other primary. She tells him they’re really losing to her father, but she won’t fight him because there’s no way to win.
And speaking of Rowan, he hands Abby a piece of information that, as he puts it, could “crush” Mellie Grant’s campaign: that Olivia aborted Fitz’s baby before she left the White House.
David and Susan, meanwhile, are so happy together that he’s bringing her Gettysburger and telling her he thinks of her and their life together anytime he argues a boring case, which means they should probably get married. So he proposes, and she agrees, despite the fact that not too long ago this guy cheated on her and was sleeping on her hotel room floor solely so they could keep up political appearances.
Everything the newly aligned (for now) Abby-Gladiators try to take Doyle down fails, from dodgy tax practices to sexual assault accusations from his ex-wife to revelations he goes hunting with a member of the KKK and refuses to disavow them. But things change when Liv manages to get Doyle to reveal he doesn’t actually believe any of the things he says to his supporters and gets it on tape, leaking it to Sally Langston and The Liberty Report. That gets him and his Trump-esque “Dare to Be Great Again” slogan out of the race.
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Olivia also tries to pull Edison away from her father’s control by convincing him to tell the press what he really thinks about Hollis’ campaign, which leads to an epic speech denouncing him and his supporters and speaking about Black Lives Matter and what American greatness really is. The candid comments lead him to drop out of the race, leaving Vargas as the Democratic nominee. Jake and Rowan watch on the news, and Papa Pope knows it’s his daughter’s handiwork.
NEXT: And then another Republican drops out of the race [pagebreak]
So now it’s down to the two Republicans left in the race: Mellie and Susan. Both campaigns agree to meet in the Oval Office with their staffs and share the biggest piece of dirt they have on the other. If you stay in, the stuff becomes public. If you drop out, it stays quiet. Olivia goes first, dropping the bombshell about Rosen cutting a deal with Gov. Baker to get Susan her endorsement, which infuriates Susan because it means he lied to her, again, and angers Fitz because of tiny things like ethics and breaking the law.
Susan asks what Abby has, but she doesn’t reveal the abortion. Instead, she shares intel Elizabeth North gathered about Mellie seeing a psychic at the White House after her son’s death. With that, Susan says she’s out; in her office she tells David that it’s his fault — he convinced her to run for president, made her want to win, and now he’s taken it all away. She can’t be with someone who doesn’t believe she can win on her own, so she kicks him to the curb and formally withdraws from the race. Mellie, now the Republican nominee, celebrates with Marcus — they almost kiss — before she gets pulled away to speak to the media.
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With the nominations all sorted, Olivia goes over to Abby’s with a bottle of wine in tow, wanting to know what she really had on Mellie. Abby admits they didn’t have anything else on her, but admits what she had on Liv.
“My abortion?” she asks, simply.
“I didn’t want to hurt you,” Abby tells her.
“That would have been a smart move for a campaign, taking down Mellie by shaming me. But the thing is, I’m not ashamed at all. The only person who would have really been hurt is him,” she adds, referring to Fitz. “It would have hurt him. And not just publicly.”
Fitz doesn’t know, she tells Abby. No one knows. She asks how Abby found out, and she says it was Olivia’s father. And he’s not done with her yet.
And neither, it seems, is Jake. After making a show of threatening Edison as Rowan watched, when Papa Pope leaves the room he gives him a message to send to Liv: He needs her help. He wants to escape. He wants Edison to let her know he’s “chasing the sun.” Could it soon be Jake and Liv against Papa Pope?