One thought kept crossing my mind and timeline last night: "Jake really is Command."
We start off the episode with a chopped monologue from Jake about what it means to be Command, and how it requires you to have no ties and no family. This is going to be bad.
Elsewhere, Sally is having a breakdown during debate prep: there's a bizarre, religion-tinged ranting about Fitz being the devil, complete with cloven hooves, complete with the phrase "Yum, yum, crispy piggy. Yum yum." It's so bad that Leo Bergen called in her pastor to help her get it together, and even he seems to doubt whether or not he can reel her in.
Fitz is busy with prepping, as well, with Mellie playing Sally and Andrew Nichols as Governor Reston. Mellie makes a really good Sally, and is positively glowing while pretending to debate, which is more proof than ever that she should BE THE PRESIDENT AND NOT FITZ.
Anyway, Fitz is rocking debate prep, which is making Cyrus excited enough to leave Olivia giddy voicemails, asking why she's not there … and she's not there because her team is busy bringing her up to speed on the D.D. murder case. Huck, Abby and David Rosen play her recordings from Cyrus's office.
Liv's confused as to why Cyrus would be involved in any of this, since he hates Sally, and would probably have used the knowledge that she killed her husband against her. Except, David points out, Cyrus caused Sally to snap by "pimping out" James to D.D.
Liv freaks when she finds out that James is working with David against his husband, but David rattles off all of the concrete evidence they have against Cyrus, Sally and Leo, insisting that Watergate had less to go on.
Honestly, Liv seems most upset that Cyrus had to cover up a murder and didn't consult her, but she hasn't been on her game lately. When is the last time that Liv had a client that wasn't Fitz, her mother or herself? How is she even paying all of these people, let alone paying for the awesome maternity top they are using to hide Kerry Washington's baby bump?
Liv heads to the White House to confront Cyrus, and he's too worn out to lie to her for long. She bursts into laughter when she grimly realizes that all of three of the presidential nominees are murderers (Reston killed his wife's lover, pretending he thought him a rapist). To which Cyrus hilariously replies, "Nobody's perfect."
As darkly ironic as that may be, it doesn't change the fact that Fitz's clean slate is gone. He can't redeem himself from having "won" a stolen election if the entire ballot is full of cold-blooded killers. That doesn't change the fact that Liv doesn't want to help and be dragged "back into the dark."
Abby's busy "paying her dues" at B613's cover business: a paper company. She's not happy because she'd much rather be killing people, but Jake tells her that she is not ready. He also puts an organization-wide ban on "freelancing," which…I can't believe Rowan allowed that in the first place. It's one thing to murder people to protect the Republic and another to be a hired gun.
Speaking of Rowan, he's very unhappy with Leo, since Sally's taken a hit in the polls. I snorted when Rowan called Reston a "known unknown," because of Samuel L. Jackson's Gin Rummy from "The Boondocks." (Warning: explicit language in all of these links.) But he wants Reston to win to restore the balance of power since Fitz/Sally stole the election.
Abby's shocked that Liv won't help David, but Jake is even more shocked when she shows up to his apartment with food, asking him to be her fake-boyfriend for the night. Jake plays along for a bit, and then confides in her that every time he steps into B613, he realizes all over again that he is Command. Under the weight of the decisions he makes and the knowledge he has, he really hopes for a day that he can just be normal, which is all Liv really wants, too.
They can't have it, of course, but what they can do is have sex again. Fitz is not going to be happy.
Sally's pastor hasn't had any luck getting Sally's head back in the game, in fact, she confessed to him … and now she wants to confess to the American people at the presidential debate, in the hopes that she will hear God's voice again when she prays. Leo frantically warns Cyrus of Sally's plans, pointing out that Cyrus will go to jail, too, if she confesses. That's enough to get him to help.
Quinn's at work, busy being super rude to a customer who called in to order paper, while Charlie's just shocked that they actually sell paper. Cyrus calls, hoping to hire Charlie again. Of course, he turns it down because he's been banned from freelancing.
So, after telling a terrified James that he loves him "no matter what," Cyrus meets Jake to ask him to kill Sally Langston. Annoyed with having to continuously clean up the West Wing's messes, Jake reminds Cyrus that his duty is to the Republic, not to the president.
But Cyrus argues that this is for the Republic. The American people can't discover that the U.S. Government is so corrupt that the overtly religious Vice President is a murderer and the first lady and chief of staff covered it up. It would tear the nation apart. He finishes his plea by reminding Jake that Rowan would have handled this already.
Elsewhere, James and David have decided to meet with Vanessa Chandler and another reporter because Cyrus saying, "I love you" really, really freaked him out. David thinks they need more time, and insists that he isn't getting cold feet. He just wants more evidence, but James argues that they have plenty, enough to have D.D.'s body exhumed.
Cyrus asks Liv to convince Sally not confess on live TV, but since Sally greets Olivia with "Olivia Pope. The Devil at my doorstep … my last temptation" I don't think Sally has any plans to waver. She also gives us a Sunday school lesson about Jesus' pleas to God after Judas's betrayal. She knows that Liv isn't a "woman of God," so she can't understand, but Sally insists she can't go on like this.
Before the debate, Sally is on her knees, praying, while Leo is begging her to rethink her plan to confess. Liv is desperate enough to call Fitz and ask him to throw the election, in order to make Sally believe it's a sign from God. Of course, Fitz isn't willing to do it, because he's Fitz and it is a bit much to ask.
Although Jake responded to Cyrus' request by saying he doesn't have time for Cyrus, a mouse after a little bit of cheese, he does give Quinn her first, real assignment: to break into Pope & Associates to find out Publius's true identity. I don't think Cyrus's rant was all that changed his mind.
Jake seemed most disturbed by the thought of Liv choosing to be at Fitz's side, yet again, which is why he's willing to enlist Quinn (who Liv explicitly asked him not to hire to B613) instead of one of his seasoned agents.
Jake has a plan in place, should Sally seem that she is about to confess: Secret Service/B613 Agent Tom hidden in the rafters with a gun with a scope.
There is a moment when it seems like Tom will have to shoot, but Fitz jumps in and pretends to say that he is "proud" of his personal failings, which snaps Sally out of it, and she gets in a few zingers about his terrible foreign policy and the weak economy. Back in the game, just like that?
Later, Leo's ecstatic about the debate, but Cyrus vows that that's the last freebie from Fitz's camp. Leo leaves, snarking that he won't be able to deal with "that buzzing sound" in the Chief of Staff office once he takes over, which leads to Cyrus finally discovering the microphone James hid in one of his picture frames. (Very surprised Cyrus doesn't have his office swept for bugs.) This will not be good.
He confronts James about it, but he seems more understanding then anything, which is a red flag for me, and should have been for James, who still heads to his meeting with David and the reporters, only to have Jake arrive, shooting the reporters in the head before turning his gun on James or David, who are both off-camera.
The teasers for this episode promised that the last 30 seconds would be intense. That they would change history. But honestly? I was a little underwhelmed. While it was shocking to see Jake murder people in cold blood (up until this point, we'd known that he'd killed people in the past, but this felt different), did he kill James, David Rosen or both?
My money is on James, since I really can’t see Cyrus apologizing and declaring his love unless he’d already put a hit out.
What do you think?
Zero Harrison, Adan Salif or Mama Pope this week, and only one Rowan Pope and Mellie sighting, each. Disappointing.
Liv had several opportunities to run away with Jake and she didn't take any of them, which is why I am done rooting for her.
If David is the one that dies, Abby is going to be distraught, and even though their relationship has stopped being interesting, it would still be sad to watch.
Over in the Oval, Liv and Fitz are back on again, even after she told him there is "No Vermont" and no chance for a clean campaign. Womp.