Olivia wants to catch some rays with Fitz, while Jake is dragged deeper into the mud

By Katie Atkinson
Updated March 14, 2014 at 03:15 AM EDT
Eric McCandless/ABC

Scandal

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Jake is a polarizing character on Scandal, mostly because he gets in the way of the clear endgame of Olivia and Fitz. He’s been looked at as the sweet, loyal puppy dog waiting in the wings while the president will always be Liv’s first choice. But let’s not forget, this puppy dog is more of a pit bull. He kills people and keeps secrets for a living, and the latest episode reminded us of that darker side. This week, Jake bared his teeth with killer speeches and a killer ending. Maybe he kept his shirt on for the full hour so we could finally have a clear view of who this man really is with no distractions.

But let’s not skip to the ending: We begin with Jake in a shadowy room talking about what it takes to be in B613. No connections. No family. No light at the end of the tunnel. We get a few nuggets of intel about Jake’s Indiana upbringing, and it starts to really make sense why he’s chosen the brooding, complicated Olivia Pope as his love interest. “There’s been so much blood,” he says, to no one in particular, of his life in the top-secret government organization. “This becomes your family, and you can’t imagine any other life.”

On to Leo Bergen, who’s enlisted Sally Langston’s preacher to help with debate prep (Leo stresses his “preacher-Sally confidentiality” agreement). He’s flown him in on a private plane since the “servant of God won’t fly coach.” How does Shonda manage to come up with these one-liners for Leo and Cyrus? It turns out the pastor has a pretty steep job ahead of him. Sally is one centimeter away from speaking in tongues when they walk into the room, rambling about cloven hooves and frying pigs and making zero sense — but still scaring the bejesus out of us. Godspeed, preacher man.

Over at Grant campaign debate prep, there’s a lot less biblical bacon. Andrew Nichols is filling in for Governor Restin, while Mellie is putting on a delicious Southern drawl to fill Sally’s sensible pumps. Cyrus calls up Liv to tell her what a great job Fitz is doing and how she needs to see his debate skills for herself, but she has a few guests at the moment. David Rosen is over at Liv’s playing the tape of Cy’s conversation with Sally about covering up the murder of Daniel Douglas. Even though David lays out all the evidence for Olivia (“Watergate had less to go on,” the U.S. attorney says), she still can’t wrap her head around why Cyrus would help Sally and why he would pimp out James in the process. “If Cyrus Beene needed to cover up a murder, he’d come to me,” she says. (We appreciate that you’re good at your job, Liv, but maybe don’t brag about murder cover-ups to a U.S. attorney.)

“I know about Daniel Douglas,” Liv says, walking into Cy’s office. And he doesn’t deny anything; he just says he has it under control. She laughs at how preposterous it is — especially that every person in the presidential debate is a murderer. “It’s literally murderer’s row,” she says, laughing maniacally. She also points out that, like Defiance all over again, they’ve stolen Fitz’s chance at a clean campaign. “I can’t do this again. I want to walk into the light and feel the sun on my face,” Liv says, storming out of his office.

NEXT: “I want to drink too much wine”

So who does she turn to for comfort? Jake. After weeks of Jake always showing up announced at her place (where there’s no beer), Olivia shows up on his doorstep, bearing Gettysburgers and wine (for herself). While he recognizes she’s going through some sort of crisis, Jake is told to ask no questions. “I want to eat too many fries, drink too much wine, and have a relaxing evening with my fake boyfriend,” she says. Not a bad setup, really. So he plays along, telling her about his day “selling paper.” We all know that’s not their world, and Jake offers to run away with Liv, who of course refuses. But can’t she just enjoy her fake boyfriend in the meantime? “If you get drunk tonight, I will take advantage of you,” Jake tells her, before admitting that he actually won’t. He also says two words you don’t often hear from a male character on TV: “Save me.” And that’s all Olivia needs to hear. “Take advantage of me, Jake,” she says. See, things don’t always have to be so complicated.

Leo’s plan to have the preacher get Sally back on track appears to have backfired. Instead, she confessed to the murder and her preacher said she now has to confess to the world. Another development: God and Sally are no longer on speaking terms. So Leo does what any good campaign manager would do: He tries to stall, asking Cyrus to delay the debate and, when that doesn’t fly, asking to cancel. “If this debate happens, you are going to jail,” he informs Cy.

Since Olivia has refused to help David in his quest against Cyrus, he’s forced to brainstorm a solution for himself. “What would Olivia Pope do? Someone should really put that on a bracelet,” he says as he and Abby lie in bed. But it isn’t just Liv who wants David’s quest to end; Abby does too, for her man’s safety. Cyrus doesn’t have David and James in his crosshairs (yet). He meets up with Jake and gives him this job: “I need you to kill Sally Langston.” But Jake says something Cy doesn’t often hear: No. He says the role of B613 is to protect the Republic, not settle petty White House squabbles. Of course Cy does what Cy does best and turns his personal issue into a matter of national security, but Jake’s not buying it. He recognizes Cyrus for the mouse that he is, running around on a wheel, and turns the condescending tirade around on him. Point #teamjake!

Meanwhile, back at “Acme Limited Paper & Supplies,” Quinn has been banished to the front desk while the big guns do the B613 dirty work. She accuses Jake of putting her out of harm’s way to stay in Olivia’s good graces. “I bet she’s got you thinking you’re part of her family — a good little Gladiator earning Liv’s love,” Quinn says, just like a spurned member of that very family would say. “Watch the way you talk to clients, Perkins, we’re starting to lose fake business,” Jake shoots back. Is it just us, or did the writers step up their Jake game in this episode?

NEXT: Sally Langston needs to confess

After Cyrus tells Liv that he, like Leo, wants to cancel the debate, he takes her to see Sally for herself. The VP tells Olivia that she doesn’t want to confess, she needs to confess. “Without him, without a sign of his love, I’m worse than dead,” she says of her recent lack of contact with G-O-D.

We’re more than halfway through the first episode when we get our first Olitz scene — and it’s not even in person. Liv calls Fitz to remind him of their dream home (and fantasy life) in Vermont. But she’s got bigger things to discuss. Despite Cy’s wishes, she tells Fitz that Sally killed her husband, and Cyrus and Mellie covered it up. She also has a request: Fitz needs to throw the debate.

Now Jake is the one bringing food to Olivia’s door. She tries to keep it light by talking about his day selling paper, but he’s ready to get serious. He wants to leave the people they’ve become behind and, to borrow Liv’s words, “stand in the sun.” But he can tell by the look on her face that it’s too late. “You’re going to stand with him.” Jake is, and always will be, Liv’s second choice. And this realization couldn’t have come at a worse time. Now that he knows he’ll never be Olivia’s number one, he doesn’t care about upsetting her — so Quinn is getting a big assignment. The former Gladiator breaks into OPA headquarters, cracks the safe, and has all the intel about the Daniel Douglas murder. But how will she use it?

Backstage, Liv is asking Fitz again to throw the debate. Her plan: If Fitz stumbles, it will be the sign from God that Sally has been asking for that she’s meant to continue in the race. But Fitz isn’t buying it. “I’m surrounded by people who have completely lost their minds,” he says — and truer words have never been spoken.

During the debate, Sally is barely holding it together, and we find out that Jake has given Secret Service (and B613) agent Tom the go-ahead to shoot the vice president if she goes off script. But Fitz saves Sally from making her confession — and from getting shot by a sniper — by cutting her off mid-sentence. That’s all the sign from God Sally needed. All of a sudden she pounces on the president and his “moral failings” and forgets about brutally murdering her husband. What do we think: Is she just going to crack down the line instead?

NEXT: Will the real Publius please stand up

Leo is already starting his victory lap in Cy’s Chief of Staff office when he notes a strange buzzing sound. Cyrus pokes around and discovers the bug left in the picture frame by James. Publius is about to be outed…

Olivia pays a visit to the Oval Office after the debate, and when Fitz pouts about having to tank the debate, Liv tells him to grow up. “Grow up? I’m the only adult within 10 miles of here,” he spits back. She says his dream of running a “clean” campaign is just that: a dream. “There is no clean, just like there is no Vermont,” she says. She’s not saying that to be harsh (even though it was totally harsh); she’s just trying to get them to face reality and live life as it actually is. Commence the make-out!

Back at the Beene-Novak household, the Publius mystery has been solved, but Cy isn’t calling a hit out on his husband. He understands why he felt forced to go against him, and all is forgiven. Clean slate. So James heads over to meet David Rosen, reporter Vanessa Chandler, and the NSA employee who leaked the phone call to begin with, but it turns out David didn’t call the meeting. Jake (!) approaches the group and kills both ladies — AND THEN HE FIRES ONE MORE SHOT.

Wow, what an ending, especially after Jake had one of his sweetest and sassiest episodes yet. Was a new Rowan born tonight? Or is this a whole new breed of Command, seeing as Rowan never did his own dirty work? And where was the payoff from last week’s reveal of Adnan and Olivia’s mom palling around D.C.? Hell, where was Harrison? Another wild ride, and another explosive ending. What did you think, Gladiators? Who did Jake take out with that bullet?

Follow Katie on Twitter: @ktatkinson.

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