Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of Scandal. Read at your own risk!
In an episode where alliances were broken as quickly as they were made, Scandal mirrored the real-world U.S. election perhaps a little too closely for comfort. By hour’s end, the Democratic and Republican nominees were revealed. Here’s how we got there:
After his surprising win in Florida, Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) enjoyed a Donald Trump-like surge in the polls, even while news that he allegedly raped his wife and was pals with a KKK leader went public — a storyline shockingly planned before similar real-world events made headlines, according to Shonda Rhimes.
After Hollis said he’d take on the first contender to drop out as his running mate, Olivia (Kerry Washington) looked prime to take him up on his offer, but used the opportunity to secretly film him trashing Americans. Bye, Hollis!
With the race now down to Susan and Mellie, there’s a lot of backdoor mudslinging during the hour. Rowan (Joe Morton) reveals to Abby (Darby Stanchfield) that Olivia aborted Fitz’s (Tony Goldwyn) baby, but Abby decides against using the info, while Olivia reveals that David Rosen (Josh Malina) broke the law with the Florida governor. Susan then ends her campaign, paving the way for Mellie to become the Republican nominee.
On the Democratic side, Edison (Norm Lewis) realizes he’s not actually in control of his campaign — Rowan is. With a little push from Olivia, Edison unleashes to the press about Hollis, effectively ending his campaign. Francisco Vargas (Ricardo Chavira) becomes the Democratic nominee, meaning it’s Grant vs. Vargas in the upcoming election.
Now the question remains: Who will be their running mates? “Some surprising choices for veep,” Malina recently told EW. “What Sanders and Trump might call ‘yuge.'” Added Scott Foley: “Nothing any of us had predicted. A lot of jaws on the floor in the table read room.”
Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.