Fitz has been calling Olivia every night, trying to figure out just what "hope" means when it comes to their relationship.
But she refuses to talk to him about it until he gives her a full report on Jake's conditions at the prison (i.e.: Is he being fed and protected from violent criminals?).
Of course, Fitz doesn't want to have her, out of all people, ask about Jake Ballard, but she won't budge.
He doesn't get what he wants from her, and Mellie, who he doesn't see standing in the balcony's doorway, overhears.
Quinn is more determined to find out who killed Caitlin Winslow now that she knows Olivia is in danger as well. She pops over to the Winslow home and grills about the night Caitlin disappeared. He'd claimed to be out of town on business, but he was really having a secret meeting at work. What exactly is the name of his law firm? Wolfram & Hart?
She presses him on a few key points, namely the reason for his fake alibi and Olivia's involvement. He listens to her calmly before pulling out a gun and insisting that he can't help her. She thinks he's going to kill her, but he turns the gun on himself.
Abby is having some trouble at work, as well. Virginia's Sen. Lewis McDonnell has had a very lewd sextape hit the news. In it, he's drunk and in a huge diaper, pretending to be a baby while an escort cheers him on. He even poops himself.
Poor Abby has to field questions about it from the White House press corps. The senator resigned and they want to know whom Fitz plans to pick. The name that's been floating around is one Charles Putney. The news hits Abby like a bag of bricks, but she keeps it together on stage.
Turns out, Abby knows Putney, a fact that Cyrus knew but wants her to brush aside because professionalism. (The delightfully slimy Leo Bergen, who seems to be doing quite well, despite former VP Sally Langston's devastating loss to Fitz, is managing Putney's campaign.) Charles, or "Chip," is her horrible ex-husband; the son of a Virginia senator who beat her while they were married. When she left their dreadful political marriage, Olivia beat him with a tire iron.
For the past couple of episodes, Huck has been stealthily bonding with his son, Javi, by anonymously playing him in an online video game. Javi uses the chat feature to ask Huck if he wants to meet up with him on Thursday and Huck immediately agrees.
Quinn calls him into the conference room. Olivia is frantically alternating between blowing up David Rosen's phone to demand updates on Jake and asking Quinn about the Winslow case. She's got so much going on that they've decided not to tell her about the photos of her that were in Caitlin's folder, which seems like a safe decision since her best friend's abusive ex-husband just popped back into the picture, adding more drama to Liv's steaming pile of awful.
Abby calls Liv for help and she rushes down to the White House to bring her a change of clothes. Abby's pretty much a mess. She kept it together when she saw Putney, but she went straight to the bathroom and vomited, getting some on her dress. Olivia assures Abby that Fitz wouldn't endorse Charles' bid for the senate if he knew that Charles used to beat her, but Abby doesn't want to mess up Fitz's progress. They need Charles' votes on the Hill. Refusing to take that no for an answer, Olivia pushes Abby into accepting the help that she needs.
I love that they are friends again. Abby and Olivia's relationship is one of the "Scandal" backstories that I've always wanted the show to expand upon.
Olivia, the Queen of White Suits and Political Spin, beat a man with a tire iron to protect Abby. There is so much story there that needs to be explored.
Anyway, Quinn and Liv trek into Virginia to visit Charles' competition, a woman named Susan Ross. Her campaign headquarters is a mess and Olivia immediately launches in her plan to make Susan a viable candidate, starting with having a volunteer take down an exceedingly depressing banner and demanding to approve all campaign materials before they go out. Naturally, Susan doesn't hesitate when Liv offers to run her campaign pro bono. They then give her a makeover and begin trying to dig Abby-free dirt on Putney.
Leo pops into Abby's office to sexually harass her, but his grossness is interrupted when news of a car bomb going off near an American embassy in West Angola hits. Unsure of whether or not the bomb was intended for the embassy, Fitz decides to send in the U.S.S. Truman.
Seeing an opportunity to figure out if Michael is the one who has been feeding info to Lizzie, Cyrus decides tells him that they are sending in the U.S.S. Roosevelt and has someone monitor the news outlets so that he can see if Michael took the bait.
Olivia's also doing some investigating. She pulls some strings to get an off the books meeting with Tom, who, like Jake, is being held in Super Max along. She wants to know why Tom lied about Jerry's murder (Haha. Tom. Jerry. Get it? I'm sorry. I'm childish.), but he has a few questions of his own. He wants to know why Liv, who he calls Helen of Troy, is special enough for all of the presidential drama, why she left him and if it was an order from Command.
He then launches into a story about Fitz visiting her apartment when she was away and tells her about Fitz's suicide attempt. Undeterred, she demands the truth from Tom, but despite all of his big talk, he's still a coward and he gives Jake's name again.
Liv's work on the Ross campaign isn't going easily, either. Turns out, Susan isn't camera-friendly at all, but after seeing Susan's daughter, Casey, playing with Huck, Liv gets an idea. They shoot an exceedingly cute campaign ad featuring Casey and it goes viral after about six hours. Leo sees it and instantly knows that Liv is behind it.
Afterward, Charles corners Abby in the parking deck, trying to bully her into having Olivia back down. He thinks that he's got her totally shaken, but Abby rummages around in her car for a bit, whips out a gun and threatens to kill him and use PTSD as her defense in court. (I cheered.) The coward backs down and drives away.
Abby goes to OPA, frantic and flying high after confronting Charles. Liv takes her gun, but she tells Abby to use her podium to take Charles down. Tell all of the reporters exactly who Charles is and be a hero. But Abby doesn't see it that way. All of their clients who stood up and told the world the truth became Monica Lewinsky and Anita Hill. They stood up, but what happened after? When this show is good, it is very good.
Fitz calls Liv with a full report on Jake's prison conditions, but that doesn't brighten her mood, for obvious reasons. Fitz is "annoyed" that she's repping Susan, but he doesn't press it. She tells him about her visit with Tom and confronts Fitz about his suicide attempt. He won't admit it and accuses her of only saying there's hope for their love (ick) in order to save Jake. She insists that she wasn't lying, but she is understandably offended when he demands that she "come over here and prove it." She refuses, but he starts describing exactly what he'd do if she came to the White House. This has to stop.
Leo pops in to Abby's office to gloat because he's finally found some dirt on Susan. Turns out, she isn't exactly a widow. She was never married to Casey's father; a tidbit that Leo thinks will help sway Republican voters against her. Fed up, Abby gives Leo a detailed rundown of the abuse she suffered at Charles' hands. She is on a roll in this episode.
When Olivia gets home, her creep of a father is waiting in her living room to confront her about her visit to Tom. She dismissively tells him to go home and he launches into a speech about everything he's done for her and how powerful he is. He tells her to never choose someone else over him again.
She tells him that he's wasted a lifetime doing the wrong things, and he warns her that she'll fail if she goes up against him. This is the Pope v. Pope battle I want. Things should ratchet up a bit between them soon since a prison guard claiming to have been sent by Command shanks Tom.
Her dad isn't the only thing Liv has to worry about. Jeremy Winslow's body has been found. Huck and Quinn finally show Liv the photos from Caitlin's folder.
There's also the matter of a bored and bitter Mellie, who has taken Lizzie Bear's bait and agreed to go up against Fitz again. She's talking foreign policy and drops the gem about West Angola including the U.S.S. Roosevelt line. Cyrus's aide hadn't heard Lizzie mention the ship or Angola, at all, so he instantly perks up when he hears Mellie say it.
Back at the White House, Leo stops by the press room to give Abby some news. Someone leaked the truth about Sen. McDonnell's clip to the press. Turns out, Charles set him up in order to steal his seat, hiring the escort and leaking the video to the press. Abby instantly knows that Leo was the one who turned Charles in and she is pleased, even allowing him to kiss her.
Fitz confronts Mellie about her interview, but she reminds him that he wanted the "real" Mellie back. She's been holding their family together for years and the first time it got difficult he turned on her. At that very moment, Liv calls and Mellie answers his phone. After the shanking, Tom called Liv and confessed to everything. Unbeknownst to Tom, Liv was actually the one who had him attacked. She knew that he would only turn on her father if he thought that Command made an attempt on his life.
After Huck came to their meeting spot and left without actually approaching him, Javi tracks down his father using his IP address. It's adorable, but it definitely won't end well.