Always a team player, Mellie is in the middle of shooting a behind-the-scenes look at the East Wing, to rehab her image. Basically, she has to drone on about curating the White House’s art, etc, poor thing.
Flashback to 15 years ago in Santa Barbara. Fitz and Mellie are fooling around, with his dad yelling for them to get outside. He pries them from the bedroom and introduces them to Rocker Hair Cyrus, an incarnation of Cyrus Bean that is immediately both fascinating and terrifying. Cyrus is there to help Fitz make it into the California governor’s mansion, and is pleased with what he has to work with: a tall Navy vet who graduated from Harvard Law and has a gorgeous wife.
Present day. Back to the gun range with Quinn and Charlie. Her shot is improving, and she’s pleased. She grills Charlie about his current job. He’s a private investigator, exposing cheating husbands and their young mistresses, and landing new jobs through word-of-mouth referrals from jilted wives.
Quinn is disappointed at the un-sexy look of a post-B613 lifestyle and Charlie shoots back, “I know. It’s like Willie Nice coaching Little League.” (I’m assuming that’s the name of a prominent coach of some sport. Google failed me.) He doesn’t even plan to kill the project manager he’s targeting, but to record audio.
Liv’s Fitz phone is ringing as she leaves her apartment, but her resolve wavers and she rushes back to answer it. She is silent on the other end, until Fitz threatens to hang up. He wants to know how she is, but she’s understandably still pissed.
She thought she knew everything about him, and now comes to find out he’s another puppet for Command. He wants her to stay away from Jake because he’s a marked man, but Olivia insists that Rowan is the dangerous one.
Fitz is shocked that she knows Rowan, which is confusing. How does he not know who her father is if they’ve had this storied love affair? Were they not talking at all, in-between the broom closet and campaign trail hotel-romps all those years?
Back at her office, there’s a new project on the dirty-window-display: her mother.
Mellie is still droning on about all of the White House paintings she’s having restored. Blah. There’s a bit about Mellie being from North Carolina, but calling California her home state because she moved there when she got married.
The reporter asks her if she made sacrifices to join the Grant political dynasty, and Mellie flashes her a frozen smile. “I consider home to be wherever Fitz is.”
Flashback: Cyrus is laying down the game plan to win California. Hicks will vote for him because of his dad’s farm subsidies, but the new wave of Latino immigrants further south will be less likely to vote for this wealthy candidate. Fitz’s dad suggests he learn Spanish “rapido,” but Cyrus advises against it because voters can always spot a phony.
Instead, Cyrus wants him to ignore the immigrants, but focus on his war hero past instead. Fitz disagrees. He’d rather wait and work toward building a name for himself. His dad, of course, wants him to do what he’s told, but Fitz shuts it down, leaving Mellie open-mouthed and Daddy Grant frustrated.
Present day. Mellie is unhappy about this latest insult to her intelligence and resume. “It’s bad enough that I have to spend my days picking out drapes and digging holes in the Rose Garden, but to pretend I actually enjoy it – on camera?” Cyrus wants her to fix her image, to apologize for Fitz’s affair, which he admits is unfair, but ‘Merica.
They segue into their more nefarious scheme: picking out an escort to seduce Daniel Douglas Langston and ruin Sally’s campaign before it can even launch. Cyrus wants a girl with a ‘sexy” tattoo on her bum, but Mellie suggests a lady of the streets and a freak in the you-know-whats, because she knows that will appeal to Daniel, given all of her experience with Southern perverts. Cyrus compliments the choice, saying she’s better at choosing escorts than china patterns.
Cyrus rushes off to manipulate Sally into going to Iowa to get her out of town. He is accosted by an angry James, who wants to know if he feels guilty about the Mellie interview. Cyrus claims he doesn’t control that, but James insists he controls everything. “Which is why I want to kill you and have sex with you at the same time,” he deadpans.
Cyrus suggests he take it up with the press secretary. There will be more interviews if Fitz gets re-elected, but James is still upset. Cyrus wonders if he had his morning shake, but James insists that this is genuine anxiety. He’s worried about his career.
Olivia is finally coming clean to her team about her family and her mother’s murder. She admits that her father is a dangerous man. She’d understand if they don’t want to help her, but her ever-loyal team promises that they’re all in. She wants them to be especially sure, because of Fitz’s involvement. They are all aghast at that news.
Quinn confronts Huck again, this time lambasting him for knowing about Olivia’s drama ahead of time. She claims she’s more than some adrenaline junkie, and is interested for the right reasons. He dismisses her to the conference room, as he should.
The whole team, plus Jake, is fast-talking their way through some exposition. The plane Fitz maybe shot down wasn’t full and was secretly delayed. Fitzgerald Grant II (aka Daddy Grant) is the chairman of the subcommittee to oversee the investigation of the crash.
Flashback: Fitz’s father joins him for a drink that's really an excuse to re-start an old argument about Fitz joining the Navy against his dad’s wishes. Fitz's dad wanted him to go the college-law school-justice system route, but Fitz wanted to fly planes in the service of his country. His dad insists that he wanted to prove his manhood, but a man doesn’t need to “run away to the Navy to get away from his daddy.”