The stakes feel a little higher after last night's "Scandal." Rowan Pope was a shadowy background threat in the first half of the season, as the show focused on Olivia's kidnapping and the dastardly Andrew Nichols. (Remember him?) But as the season draws to a close, OPA needs a new Big Bad to rally against. Bring in Papa Pope, played by Joe Morton, and his Shakespearean monologues.
Rowan's counter-attacks have taken their toll. Jake is still healing from the attempt Russell (aka Franklin aka the Dreamiest B613 Operative since Jake Bae-llard) made on his life. Jake asks Olivia updates on the Russell situation, and she will only tell him "it's handled."
Huck and Quinn are in full torture mode, holding Russell in the empty apartment across the hall. They try to pump him for info on Foxtail, or to at least track Rowan's call when he checks in.
On to the case of the week. VP Susan Ross is doing a meet and greet on a naval ship when she spots an ugly bruise on the wrist of the base's communications officer, Amy Martin. When they are alone, Susan asks Amy about the injury. The officer insists that she got it during training, but Susan, whose college roommate was sexually assaulted, believes that Amy was raped.
Susan takes Amy to the White House where she tries to convince Fitz to intervene. Naturally, Fitz and Cyrus are furious that she removed a service woman from duty and wants Fitz to step in despite the fact that the military handles its own legal matters. What's more, Amy still hasn't admitted that she was raped.
And so, Susan does what they all do when faced with trouble: she calls Olivia.
Mellie is having problems, as well. She is three points down and needs to get more women's votes if she wants to beat her opponent. He may be a "hateful misogynist," but he shaved his head in solidarity when his wife began chemo.
Elizabeth suggests she campaign in Springfield because of the city's high women voter turnout, but Mellie hasn't been back there since Jerry's death.
Meanwhile, Amy decides to comply with the investigation. She was raped by the celebrated and decorated Admiral John Holly. When Abby tries to dodge Liv's questions about Fitz and Mellie's stances on the case by diverting back to girl talk about Liv's man drama, Olivia decides to "ruin the White House's day" with one of her trademark press conferences.
Fitz insists that the Department of Defense will handle it, but Mellie feels differently. As a rape survivor and a compassionate human, Mellie urges Fitz to step in and make it clear that they do not condone rape, but he won't budge.
Back in the torture apartment, Russell indicates that he wants to talk. It's a ruse to get Huck to remove his gag and mouth guard so that he can bite down on the kill pill tucked in the back of his mouth. Liv holds Russell down as Huck pries the pill out if his mouth. It causes her to have some disturbing flashbacks to her own kidnapping.
At her place, Olivia gives the rapidly healing Jake his pills. Jake spots Russell's blood on her sleeve and tells her that he knows they are holding him next door. He tells Liv that Russell won't talk because, like him, Russell was hand picked by Rowan to study and seduce Olivia. The only difference is that Jake is in love with Olivia, something Rowan would call "a defect."
After much fighting, Olivia gets a military tribunal. Amy is given a lawyer named Virgil who looks about 10. The first meeting goes badly and the admiral denies the rape and follows that up by calling Olivia an enemy to America.
Fed up, Abby goes rogue and helps Olivia with the Navy case. Amy calls for a favor. She needs an abortion. It pains Olivia to say it, but she suggests that Amy try to stick it out eight weeks so that they can do a DNA test.
Amy refuses, and a higher-up steps in to intimidate Olivia. He says she is a civilian who is on the base without permission and that Amy is being kept from her duties. Yeah, he's definitely a part of this.
While Olivia is away, Jake pops over to the torture apartment to talk to Russell. He promises Huck that he won't kill the guy and once they are alone, he unties one of Russell's hands and gives him a beer. He knows that Russell won't give anything up about Foxtail. He's basically just curious about one of Rowan's other favorites.
Rowan used to talk about his formers like they were perfect. "Then why are they all dead?" Jake asks jokingly. It's all very disturbing but Rowan was the closest thing Jake and Russell had to a father. They bond a bit over Rowan's grandiose catchphrases, and Russell shows off his mean Rowan impression. It's simultaneously sick and...cute? Jake says that Rowan must be proud of Russell for almost killing him.
Russell doesn't think that Rowan will be happy because Olivia found him out, but Jake insists that Olivia finding out is Rowan's favorite part. "It's how he lets her know that Papa Pope is in charge," says Jake. The scene is touching, gross and uncomfortable. Cold and disturbingly relatable, all at once.
Due to "conduct unbecoming," Amy has been restricted to the military base. OPA devises a plan to sneak her out by saying one of her relatives is ill. They get her back to Olivia's apartment but they hit another roadblock. The Pentagon refuses to give them access to the naval base security logs so they cannot disprove Holly's alibi.
Olivia calls Fitz and demands his help. She is upset at the wrongness of it all, pointing out that a member of the US military cannot sue the government if they are raped because it is considered an injury in the battlefield. She and Fitz both admit that their jobs suck, and she goes off to support her client by holding her hand while she gets an abortion.
After he is done confiding in Olivia, Fitz ends up comforting Mellie. Elizabeth wants Mellie to "lean into" Jerry's death by talking about it in great detail. It's an effort to appeal to women voters on "an emotional level" but Mellie doesn't want to exploit her son's death. In fact, she almost throttles Elizabeth for the "lean in" comment.
Fitz gives her the advice that Olivia would, telling her to throw him under the bus and then walking her through it.
He later helps Olivia with her case by getting her those security logs. They show that the admiral was in the operations building, as he said, but Captain Weaver, the man who kicked Liv off of the base earlier, moved around freely.
Olivia wonders aloud if the security tapes would show the Weaver scanning Holly's card for him in order to establish an alibi. Holly says those tapes are classified but Olivia reminds him how easily she got the logs.
Cut to a news report: the security tapes are leaked (probably by Huck, although it's never said) and they show Holly dragging Amy into his office. The public is outraged, and there is a cry against rape culture in the military.
In Springfield, Mellie follows Fitz's Olivia-inspired cues perfectly. She denounces his official decision not to intervene and demands protection for America's children, specifically those "who fight for our freedoms."
Between Mellie's rousing speech and Amy warmly thanking Olivia and Quinn, I almost teared up. That feeling died when Quinn spotted something on the base. It was a photo of the REAL Virgil. Turns out, Amy's baby-faced representative was actually B613. While Liv and Quinn were distracted, he went to the torture apartment to free Russell.
What's worse, we see a secret service agent mentioning "Foxtail security" and realize it's Mellie's code name. The last shot of the episode is of Rowan warmly greeting an oblivious Mellie Grant.