No time for small talk -- too much happened in this episode. Husband-murdering Sally Langston is still running for President, you guys. I mean, if nothing else, you have to respect the gall. Olivia’s working on Fitz’s reelection campaign (as if there was any doubt) mapping out her talking points. But Sally has a surprise for all of us. While she plans to run against Fitz as an independent in the upcoming election, she will not be resigning as vice president. She says this right after she calls Fitz a corrupt, childish tyrant, y’all. Sally does not know how to chill. You have to respect someone that bold. Got to. And it could actually work. Fitz isn’t popular enough with Congress to get them to boot her from office. Plus, there’s precedent for it. Remember when Vice President Thomas Jefferson ran against President John Adams in the 1800s? (You didn’t and neither did I.) After watching Sally’s announcement no one is happy, but Fitz is out of control. He downs a glass of brown liquor and throws a decanter at Cyrus’s head. An impressively spry Cyrus ducks and the glass shatters against the wall. How far is too far, Fitz? Fortunately, Olivia comes in to be the voice of reason. She tells Fitz he should stop drinking because 1.) It’s not even noon yet and 2.) He’s the president of the United States – what if something major happens, like Iran declaring war on us, and he’s in the Oval stinking drunk? Of course, he is fully committed to being childish right now, so he tells Liv to consult Sally instead. Liv sails back into work mode. She admits this is a problem, but she and Cyrus have a plan: to win the base back by picking a strong new running mate. They have already started making a list, but Fitz has other plans. He has already chosen Gov. Andrew Nichols of California, his former lieutenant governor. Liv is not happy. Not only are they from the same state, but Nichols is a straight, white man and Liv says Fitz needs to focus on diversity and winning support of women. Fitz is focused on Sally’s betrayal and wants to run with someone he can trust. Cyrus, Mellie and Olivia all think this is a bad idea, but Fitz is insistent. He kicks them out of his office, and when Liv stays … he kicks her out, too. David Rosen and James meet again because this time David is the one with proof of a major crime. Unfortunately, the recording of Sally’s call to Cyrus after murdering D.D. would be inadmissible in court, and David won’t tell James where he got the tape from (bet $5 it’s Abby), so James plans to leave. I mean, Cyrus got him that gig as White House press secretary and David kinda told James to kick rocks when he told him about his suspicions a month before this. Harrison calls David because that Salif person he used to do illegal things with back in the day is still trying his best to get back in the U.S. David refuses to help at first, but eventually gives. Jake’s still Command and he’s meeting with Charlie to see if he’ll be a “problem.” Charlie promises he’s a good soldier. He’ll take orders from whoever is running the show. When Jake asks Charlie about Quinn, he plays dumb for a moment, but then says she’s a “good kid who went through a rough patch,” and uh … I don’t know if that’s what I would call it. Jake goes on to insist that Quinn is not B613 and she never will be. The remaining P&A; folks are busy vetting Nichols. His record as governor was successful, but during that time he dated models and actresses, which turns Liv off. Still, he kept it age-appropriate, according to Abby, so maybe there is a chance. In her interview with Nichols, Liv points out that he could ruin his image by running with Fitz, but Nichols insists he wouldn’t have anything without Fitz. After all of their background checks come up clean, Liv has Cyrus run polls. Nichols is polling well with men, but Liv says that’s not enough. Fitz needs to win women back after his infidelity went public, and she tells Cyrus to talk Fitz out of running with Nichols.
But, as Cyrus points out, loyalty is the most important thing to Fitz right now, which is why he made Jake head of B613. Liv flips at the news because Eli/Rowan is way classier than me and kept it a secret. She rushes to find Eli/Rowan at his favorite spot: U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, where he used to take her after her mom “died.” Goodness, these people’s lives are complicated. We aren’t 20 minutes in and I’m tired. At least their relationship seems to be on the mend. Olivia respects Rowan (I’ve picked a name and I’m sticking to it) for allowing her to hate him, rather than tell her who her mother really was. He demands she get to the point. She tells him she knows he’s been replaced as Command, and he rattles off that sorry “I’m Chief Curator at the Smithsonian” cover. She just wants to tell him she knows what happened and apologize. But Rowan is bitter, because obviously. He tells her she’s been oblivious, “skipping around fields full of bombs and mistaking them for daisies.” He lays it out bare in words Olivia probably never wanted to hear from her father: how the married man she’d been sleeping with kidnapped him and tortured him with details about their sex life while helping her terrorist mom get away, like an idiot. The kicker? “The man who defiled you also defiled an organization that I gave my soul to build.” And now? Fitz has a new enemy, one who knows all of his secrets. Rowan just keeps the quotables coming. ‘The greatest weapon I have against him calls me ‘Dad.’” He officially gets scary when he tells her to grab her stuff and run because he plans to kill Fitz. We aren’t even in the middle of the episode and Rowan Pope is already threatening the life of the sitting president, y’all. White House reporter Vanessa Chandler gets an anonymous text asking why there was no autopsy on D.D., but that will have to wait until later because Abby is about to face off with Leo Bergen on TV, sticking with Liv’s talking point about Sally’s move being a threat to national security. But Leo pushes back hard, calling Fitz reckless for hiring Liv, his “alleged mistress,” to be his campaign manager. Welp. Both the host and Abby are shocked that Leo would go there -- Abby because she knows that Leo’s telling the truth and the host because Fitz already named Jeannine Locke (‘member her?) as his mistress months ago. Leo decides to get even messier, saying that Fitz could have had more than one mistress. Poor James is having to field questions about the affair from a zillion reporters and Olivia seeks out Cyrus’s help. They need to find dirt on Sally, but Cyrus insists he doesn’t have any. And then, just in time, Vanessa Chandler asks James about D.D.’s autopsy. It’s public record, so why has it been sealed? Sally’s worried, too, so much so that she can’t listen to Leo’s pep talk about how refocusing on the Olivia/Fitz affair is making her numbers shoot up. Sally believes that this is punishment for turning her back on abortion, not murdering her husband, because … she says she didn’t do it. Can we stop and be grateful for the look on Leo’s face when Sally said, “The devil murdered my husband when he snuck inside of me”? He doesn’t know if he should be afraid, concerned, exasperated or all of the above. He heads to Cyrus’ office, where they exchange a few barbs about whose candidate is going to win. Eventually, Leo stops with the pleasantries and tells Cyrus that he knows who helped cover up D.D.’s murder. Charlie and Quinn are grocery shopping and trying to figure out how to get her into B613, because now she actually WANTS to be in it. Ugh. Go away. Fortunately, Charlie says they can freelance because people are always going to need to have other people killed. Charlie gets a call from Cyrus, who has a job for him, one that requires Quinn to kidnap a boy named Billy from school. An unhappy James demands that Cyrus keeps him in the loop about all of the White House dirt so that he can, you know, do his job effectively. But of course, with this administration, that’s impossible. He just wants James to tell them to refer all of those questions to the office of the vice president. Olivia asks Abby and Huck (Hey, Huck!) to look into D.D.’s death and within two seconds, Huck hits something suspicious. In addition to there being no autopsy, there is no record of who viewed the body because the medical examiner never signed the form. Abby and Huck pose as reporters from The Post and visit the medical examiner who tells them that D.D.’s blood work showed signs of sudden cardiac arrest. Abby asks her if she has copies of the test results, but the M.E. says she destroyed them because she ran those tests without Sally’s permission. Of course, Abby and Huck came prepared for this. They’d dug up some dirt on the M.E., whose boyfriend took her on a search for cheap prescription drugs to smuggle back over the border. Of course, the M.E. insists she didn’t know what he was up to, but Abby continues to push. The M.E. offers up an elaborate story about a drunken D.D. falling and hitting his head on a toilet, and an embarrassed Sally wanting to keep it quiet. Turns out, Charlie and Quinn got to her first, threatening to hurt her son, Billy, if she didn’t feed Abby and Huck a lie. Fortunately, they didn’t harm, or even scare Billy. Quinn even looks disappointed in herself. David’s had no luck deporting this Salif character because he has powerful friends on the Hill. It’s a slow burn, this Salif storyline. After getting chewed out by Cyrus for being unable to stop Fitz from opening fawning over his Liv, Mellie invites her to a public lunch to “make a respectable woman” of her, because of course, no woman in her right mind would be friends with her husband’s mistress. All of this is discussed with fake smiles plastered on their faces. This is only step one of Mellie’s game plan. She’s also compiled a list of eligible bachelors for Olivia to date publicly. Harrison borrows Abby’s gun because Salif sent him a photo from a business trip to Dubai. All the other people in the photo are all dead, so it’s an obvious threat. Back to Nichols, who I almost forgot about. Liv is testing him in front of the camera, trying to get past his “playboy” image issue. She wants to know why he won’t settle down, without replying with a canned answer that the audience won’t buy. He says that he had his chance at marriage and lost it, so he married the job. He refused to marry someone he didn’t love in the meantime. Liv visits Fitz and they have a tug of war over whether Lauren, his secretary, should leave the door open or closed. Liv wins, and the door remains open and Fitz across the room. She’s done all her research on Nichols, and she agrees that Nichols is good and that she can spin it, but she still knows, in her gut, that he is the wrong choice. But more importantly, she wants to resign. The rumors about their relationship are preventing her from doing her job. She also tells him about Mellie’s plan to have her keep up appearances by dating one of the men on that list. Fitz closes the door, they make out and he refuses to let her resign. She asks him why he made Jake Command. Of course, it’s because he needs all of the shady things he did under Rowan’s orders to stay hidden and who better to hide them than Jake? Which is interesting because she doesn’t feel that Fitz trusts her, which is really why she feels she needs to resign. He insists he won’t win without her, and she leaves, assuring him that she isn’t going anywhere. Harrison is in his office, gun at the ready, when a pretty woman sneaks up behind him. He threatens her with the gun, and wait ... is this Adnan Salif? She kisses him, he pulls away, rethinks it and then it’s sexy time. What is going on here? Leo’s back in Cyrus’s office being a jerk again, this time, sitting at Cyrus’s desk, making jokes about his family. A fed up Cyrus just goes straight to threatening to cut off certain body parts of Leo’s and shove them down his throat. Leo, realizing today is not the day, gets up with a shrug. He’s really here to discuss the leak. Like Cyrus, Leo has a lot to lose if the truth about D.D. is discovered, so he suggests they join forces, and Cyrus agrees. Problem is, James has gotten his conscience back and bugged one of the picture frames on Cyrus’s desk. He and David are listening to everything. Looks like James can’t be bought off so easily. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to take Cyrus down. David worries because the recording is still inadmissible in court, and because whoever is tipping off Vanessa Chandler is in danger. And of course, James is the source. Of course. Liv is at home drinking about a gallon of wine when Jake comes by to visit. She confronts him about B613 and he insists that he couldn’t reject an order from the President, and that he can do a better job than Rowan. Olivia asks him to give Quinn back, but Jake doesn’t have her. He brings up her mother, but she reminds him that Rowan didn’t start out a monster. B613 made him one. And she is finally realizing that doing the work she does is stripping her away from being a person, herself. Her Vermont dreams are drifting away, but what she really wants to know, is if Jake is a “patriot.” Which is code for “Will you pretend to date me to keep up appearances even though it will make Fitz furious?” And he is, but right now, he has more important things to do. Like announce his running mate. Sally, for one, is anxious find out who Fitz’s running mate is, but Leo can’t help her with that right now. He has to have a shady secret meeting with Rowan Pope. And Fitz’s running mate? Andrew Nichols, who apparently has a thing for Mellie. Did not see that coming. But I definitely don’t hate it.