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.”
At first, the Navy had Fitz doing desk work because of his senator father, but he was eventually given a chance to fly, and then was given “an order.” Now, his father wants him to campaign on a lie, but his dad insists he should be grateful that this lie exists, and should let it go.
The really horrible side of Fitz's dad is on display right now. He tells Fitz that he has nothing else to go on but his name. He’s his son, but he’s not as smart, or as interesting. He made Fitz, so he can destroy him. This season really is an epic look at bad fathers.
Abby reports back to Olivia about their findings, including the involvement of Fitz's dad, but really, Abby just wants to hug her, even against her will. It’s a sweet moment that reminds you that Abby is Olivia’s friend, not just her employee.
Charlie’s staking out his target when he realizes that he, too, is being watched. It’s Quinn. He finds her and tosses her a jacket, then tosses her up against the wall, kisses her and leaves.
Mellie stops Sally in the hallway to feed her some fake story about one of her staffers being sexually harassed by Daniel Douglas. Sally insists that Mellie’s staffer is lying, then leaves when Mellie’s TV crew shows back up to take some shots of her traipsing around the White House with Baby Teddy on her hip.
They set out for the Oval Office. Fitz’s secretary tries to stop them, but Mellie opens the door and finds it empty. Fitz can’t even be bothered to show up for this publicity stunt?
Flashback to Cyrus leaving the Grant estate because of the family drama. He says he has enough of that at home with his wife, and we see how much things really have changed for Cy. Cyrus says he’s on board if they decide they want to turn Fitz into a politician, but if this is just an ego boost, that is Mellie’s job. as his wife.
Mellie balks at this. She’s a partner at a law firm, which Cyrus immediately tells her she’ll have to give up. She falters, insisting that she’s just going to charity work. But Cyrus insists that Fitz will be her full-time job, and Mellie promises that she will have Fitz ready to work if Cyrus comes back the next day.
As Cyrus hangs up with “Amber” the escort, Mellie storms into his office, raving about Fitz not being in the Oval Office when he promised he would be. She’s doing this “Vanna White routine” for him, and she needs him to meet her halfway. She wants to know if Fitz will act like he has some sense at their interview tomorrow. Mot even Cyrus can promise her that.
Abby and Harrison interview Mrs. Rowe, who was the gate agent for the flight. She tells them that the flight was held at the tarmac by a federal marshal and someone was taken off the plane.
This is news to Harrison and Abby. It wasn’t mentioned during the news report, despite the fact that the woman told the investigator who interviewed her. She assumed there was nothing important about it, because she never heard talk of it again. She didn’t see the man who was taken off the plane, but can’t forget the name: Omar Dresden, b.k.a. Fakename McGee.
His family believes he died in the crash. Huck agrees to do some hacking and Liv sends Harrison and Abby to track down more witnesses. Meanwhile, Charlie calls Quinn to make plans for tomorrow night.
Sally gushes to Daniel Douglas that she heard from Leo Bergen about the progress she’s making financially. She also wants to make it clear that he can’t be out there sleeping around while she’s trying to run for president. He insists he understands, and she agrees never to bring it up again.
Flash back to Mellie assuring Fitz Jr. that he’s a decent father, which he believes to be true, since he doesn’t beat Fitz like his father beat him. Sure, he slept around, but his wife never knew.
He tells her that Fitz shot down Flight 522 because intel said there was a dirty bomb on board. Fitz was ordered to shoot it down, so it wouldn’t hit its target and start World War III. The government had to lie about the collateral damage to avoid the lawsuits.
Mellie is understandably disturbed. Fitz Jr. picks that moment to grab her knee, which quickly turns to the most disturbing thing we have ever seen on this show. Fitz’s father raped Mellie on their couch and even though the scene is only about a minute long, I still feel that we deserved a trigger warning at the beginning of this episode.
It also makes it even more awful that Fitz treats Mellie like something stuck to his shoe. She’s waiting for him in the Oval Office, walking around the Presidential seal on the carpet in her bare feet, drink in hand. He tries to dismiss her, but she won’t be pushed out. He left her hanging. She’s tired of doing everything herself; he is supposed to be her partner.
Fitz suggests they don’t pretend to be something that they’re not, but she has given up too much for him, even while he shames and disrespects her. She waves away the fact that he never loved her, but she says the least he could do is be her friend, to show up for her and not treat her like a stranger.
Mellie creeps into the bedroom, telling some lie about being on the phone with her father. Fitz insists she climb into bed with him instead of taking the shower she desperately wants. The image of her crying silently while he continues to whine about his daddy issues is heartbreaking. A strong, present-day Mellie lying for Fitz when it seems like he isn’t going to show up for the camera crew is even more infuriating.
But he does show up at the last minute! New leaf, maybe?
The interviewer asks Mellie about the terrible poll numbers after airing her dirty laundry in front of the world. Mellie struggles to find words, and finally (FINALLY!) Fitz shows up for her, calling the question an attack. He says, in no uncertain terms, that the affair was his fault, a mistake that he has apologized for, and asks the American people to move on with them. About time.
No word on Omar Dresden, but P&A has a good lead on a guy working on the tarmac that night. He still lives in D.C. and Jake agrees to stop by.
Quinn joins Charlie on the job. He’s trying to grab a file for his client, and asks her if she’d like to drug the guy guarding them or to disable the security cameras. When she tells him that Huck let her torture someone in the past, they kiss, and she heads in to drug the poor security guard. Unfortunately for Quinn, there's enough poison in that syringe to kill the man. She freaks and flees.
Flashback. Mellie joins Fitz Jr. for breakfast. He wants to apologize for things getting “out of hand last night,” but Mellie refuses to discuss it. She insists that he tell Fitz what he needs to hear to get him back on track. Fitz Jr. tells her she’s an asset, but she corrects him: “I am his wife.”
Present-day. Fitz and Mellie are prepping for a dinner on-camera. Fitz insists they cut out a comment Mellie made about Jackie Kennedy having it easy, as she could wear gloves to those events. Good call, Fitz.
When the camera crew leaves, Mellie thanks him for what he said during the interview. He tells her he meant it. They enter the dinner, holding hands.
Amber’s in the corner with Daniel Douglas, flirting to Cyrus’s delight, when James interrupts his joy. Assuming more whining is to come, Cyrus tells him that he didn’t get the interview because of the Josie Marcus incident last week, plus his failure to ask Mellie the hard questions during their interview. But James has news: he was fired via email. He’s not happy with Cyrus, obviously.
Amber’s also striking out. Mellie figures she’s not his type, but apparently James is. So, male escorts then?
Fitz has someone new tailing Olivia. Rowan heads to a prison to visit “Omar Dresden”.
Jake gets to the office building and sees the man Quinn just murdered, their link to Omar Dresden, being loaded into a body bag. Quinn is in an alley, frantically calling Huck, when Charlie comes up to her with security-camera footage of her killing the security guard and the news that she belongs to B613 now. Happy now, Quinn?
Fitz is getting the rundown on Maya Pope and an old copy of “Elijah Pope’s museum badge photo.” He’s shocked to realize that Command is Olivia’s father. We, the audience, are slightly less shocked that “Omar Dresden” is actually Maya.
Flashback. Fitz has just begun the campaign for governor and Mellie calls for a toast. It’s gushing and sweet, but their interaction with Fitz Jr. is tense. Fitz notices she isn’t drinking, but she insists that her maybe-pregnancy is early. If it’s a boy, Fitz insists on naming him Jerry, and a look of disgust flashes across Mellie’s face.