I was right. James Novak is dead, and it honestly couldn't have ended any other way. He knew too much, and Cyrus had a heartbreak coming to him after all the bad he's done.
Let's back up. After shooting Vanessa Chandler, Shelby Moss from the NSA and James, Jake turns his gun on David. But David has a choice. He can cooperate with B613 and help them cover up the murders, or he can die, too.
David chooses life, which means helping Jake make James' murder look like a "carjacking gone wrong."
At the White House, Olivia is trying to do anything she can to keep Cyrus calm, and to make sure his distraught staff doesn't further upset him.
We are then, cruelly, treated to the first of several flashbacks to the beginning of James and Cy's relationship, which really twists the knife.
First up, the day James and Cyrus met on the campaign trail. James, a reporter from the Boston Dispatcher, approached Cyrus for get a quote on Fitz's thoughts on immigration, since Cyrus hadn't returned any of his calls.
Cyrus first pretends not to know who James is, then mocks the piece he wrote for his "tiny little paper" on Hollis Doyle's influence on the Grant campaign. James snarks back that his piece was a "meticulously researched cover story." Cyrus pretends to have not read it, but James insists that he did, blah blah blah, Cyrus insults James's pleather jacket, James insults Cyrus's really gross beard. The seeds of love are sown. (RUN JAMES! HE IS THE DEVIL!)
Present day: Mellie, Fitz and Andrew are reeling at the news. Olivia suggests they suspend the campaign for a few days, out of respect, and Fitz agrees. Mellie, on the other hand, fears it isn't wise, and Andrew points out that they will have to worry about the gun lobby now.
Fitz is incredulous at the thought of "sucking up to the gun lobby" the day after his press secretary was shot, but Mellie points out that liberals will begin "braying" about gun control in light of James's death. Fitz will be the only one not politicizing James's death.
Which starts with Sally, who calls to give Fitz her fake condolences, promises to suspend her own campaign for the next few days, hangs up and begins to talk strategy with Leo. They plan to poach the support of the gun lobby endorsement from Fitz.
In the pressroom, the White House reporters are being super intense (I mean, obviously -- the WH press secretary was just murdered) and James's replacement cannot deal. Meanwhile, Liv notices that Vanessa Chandler isn't there. Uh oh.
Liv goes back to the office and asks Harrison to check on Shelby Moss, filling him and Abby in on her hunch that Vanessa, Shelby and James were all murdered. Of course, Abby freaks and rushes to check on David.
She's even more upset when she finds out he's investigating the case, because she fears it will put him on the radar. He insists that James' murder was a "random act of violence." Abby, who seems determined to get her boyfriend killed, keeps pushing. David all-out begs her to stop searching for the conspiracy and let him get through the day. It's painful enough, having to investigate the death of a friend.
I want Abby to do something other than be the concerned girlfriend with awesome hair this season, because this "David you're in danger. Don't lie to me" bit is getting old.
Liv calls Jake, shares her theory that James was killed because he knew too much about D.D. and asks Jake to look into it. Which is ironic, because Jake is in the middle of burying Shelby and Vanessa's bodies in the middle of the day. I find it a little hard to believe Command has to bury his own bodies. Seriously.
MAMA POPE IS BACK. Turns out, Adan Salif hired Marie, thinking she was a terrorist (because she, y'know, blew up a plane). But Marie insists that that was personal. Marie doesn't use violence to aid any convictions. Quote: "I don't make bombs. I make money." Mixtape dropping April 2.
Adan's pissed because recruiting an actual terrorist means bringing someone else into the fold, but Marie wants someone else to take the fall for whatever crime they're planning.
Harrison hasn't any luck finding Vanessa or Shelby, and Olivia suspects Leo Bergen was involved. Right now, though, she has to focus on getting an apoplectic Cyrus to chill. He's discovered Sally's plan to steal the gun lobby's support from under Fitz, and is frustrated because everyone wants him to mourn instead of work.
Flashback: Nighttime on the campaign bus. James flat-out asks Cyrus why Fitz hasn't spoken out about marriage equality when he has a gay campaign manager. Cyrus all but blushes, insisting he's not gay, but James points out that he shaved off that awful beard. And, for the record, he looks better without it.
Present Day: Huck hasn't found anything on Bergen, so Olivia asks him to check out the safe and see if there's a clue as to who broke into it. Of course, Huck installed a camera in the safe. Of course he's just now thinking to look at the tape. Of course.
Meanwhile, Quinn and Charlie are recruiting Lance McCullum, a mechanic with liver failure and two carjackings on his records, to take the fall for James's death. The lure? The promise of a guaranteed liver transplant in prison. He goes for it and B613 starts planting the evidence, but David isn't ready to arrest him yet. His excuse is that it's "too soon." But really, David is just the only decent person on this show. He can't send an innocent man to prison lightly.
Flashback: While Fitz gives a speech, James approaches Cyrus and is flirting hard. Cyrus gets all blushy again (it's pretty cute); when James calls him on it, he admits that he doesn't "indulge very often."
Laughing, James says, "I'm not a dessert" and ensures Cyrus that he likes him and wants to date him, despite the fact that he's a Republican. Because he's intense and strong with a "very, hot mouth." A lot of quotables this episode.
He leaves it to Cyrus to make a move, and he does, grabbing James with a huge kiss. *knife twist*
Present Day: Liv's come around to letting Cyrus work, and after a moment of discomfort, Fitz goes with it, too. They decide to send Mellie and Andrew to Texas to talk with the gun lobby. Sally's ahead of them, ranting about the gun control laws passed in California during Fitz's time as governor.
She's back at it after last week's meltdown. Sally has layers. But she doesn't have a way to Texas. Cyrus had Air Force Two grounded. Ha.
Marie and Adan are meeting with a couple of under-terrorists who work for a guy named Ivan. Marie's upset because they scheduled a meeting with Ivan himself, so when Adan suggests they negotiate to get a meeting with Ivan afterward, Marie empties a few slugs into one under-terrorist's chest. That's one way of making your point.
Huck checked safe cam and tells Liv that Quinn broke in, which means B613 knew everything. Liv goes to confront Jake about James' death. At first, he gives her the "bad things happen to good people all the time" line, but when she pushes, he yells that he is Command. It was his call, and unlike Rowan, when something awful needed to be done, Jake did it himself.
Flashback: James, tired of being treated like a dirty little secret, is furious that Cyrus doesn't want to take him to the inaugural ball. But Cyrus is terrified of coming out, especially to Fitz.
Present Day: Olivia's hit bottom -- so bottom that she's called Rowan because she needs her dad. What's the point of protecting democracy and freedom if everyone she loves is evil? Rowan isn't surprised at all when she tells him about D.D. and James' murders.
He's responsible for the deaths of 183 people. It was never easy, mand he knows that Jake is having just as tough a time as Command. He promises Olivia that is punishment enough. Everyone is worth saving. Even the monsters.
Mellie and Andrew make progress with the gun lobby, promising a speech from the White House, but Cyrus has other ideas. Up against a Democratic candidate who shot and killed his wife's rapist and Sally, Fitz can steal liberal votes and avoid seeming like a flip-flopper by coming out against guns in the wake of James' death.
Flashback: Cyrus pulls Fitz to the side and tells him nervously that he's involved with a reporter. Fitz is likeable for the first time, making it clear that he knows Cyrus is gay by asking him if he loves "this person." When Cyrus says yes, Fitz reminds him that love is all that matters.
Present Day: Fitz's approval numbers are up, and David still hasn't had Lance McCullum arrested. Abby finally pushes David to tell her the truth about the murder and the fact that he's supposed to send an innocent man to jail for it.
Meanwhile, in the most disappointing scene of the season, Huck breaks into Quinn's apartment to kill her…and ends up sloppily making out with her. He thinks she got caught on his camera on purpose, in hopes that she could still be a gladiator. She spits on him, and the kissing/mauling starts. She kicks him out. But worst of all, Quinn's still alive.
At P&A, Abby, Harrison and Huck all approach Liv with their drama. She's quiet, but she's decided which one to take on. She meets David and offers to help him. Not with the Lance McCullum thing – he'll have to lose that battle – but with taking down B613.
She gives Cyrus the news about the arrest; he decides to talk to the press, himself. But then he remembers the Inaugural Ball. With Fitz's blessing, Cyrus pulled James on the dance floor. People in the crowd stared, but Cyrus didn't care.
I'll be honest, that flashback made me cry. And it has the same effect on present-day Cyrus. He's left sobbing in front of the entire press corps, finally mourning his husband. It's painful and awful and even if Cyrus is the Devil, this is so sad. RIP James. You'll be missed.
-- Cyrus basically told Jake to kill James, right? That whole speech about saving the Republic from learning just how flawed its leadership is was basically Cyrus putting another hit out on his husband, in my opinion. Adds an interesting layer to Cyrus' grief. How much has he, too, had to give up for the fake U.S.?
-- Mellie and Andrew are getting pretty tight. Cute banter while practicing with a couple of shotguns (of course, Mellie is an excellent shot. Fits right into her character), a heated debate about gun control and then a teensy sex scene.
-- Jake threatened to kill Olivia if she keeps pushing about James. Worst luck with men, ever? (Jake's still fine, though.