So, remember that time that Cyrus fell for the spy/male escort Elizabeth North hired to dig up dirt on him and then found out he was a spy and was forced to get engaged to him in order to avoid a major political sex scandal? Well, "Scandal" finally did, too.
Olivia is woken from an intense nightmare (more on that later) by the news that Michael, the man to whom Cyrus is reluctantly betrothed, just got caught fooling around with another man in a club called Gentleman John's. There are some pretty incriminating Instagram photos. This could ruin Cyrus, who has pushed the wedding back four times. His disdain for Michael is still fresh as the day it was born and this recent drama is not helping matters.
Olivia's plan of attack? To have a beautiful, heart-wrenching wedding at the White House. They can't ask Fitz to sign off on it because he's trying to pass some important bill and needs the Tea Party's support. So Olivia thinks of another solution: Mellie. Due to the fact that Olivia is proposing that the first lady host a "gay, Republican wedding" at the White House, Mellie's a little hesitant. But Olivia does some of her persuasive speechifying and convinces Mellie that this will be great for her Senate campaign. Fitz stands by Mellie's decision, but his official statement is that his "views remain unchanged." OPA pays off the man Michael hooked up with and try to pass off the photos as shots from Michael's bachelor party, and they begin prepping for the ceremony.
Throughout the episode, we get to see flashbacks of Cyrus' first two marriages. We've never actually seen his ex-wife, Janet (Emily Bergl), and as expected, the story is heartbreaking. Cyrus proposed to her when he was running for a comptroller seat. He and Janet had only been dating a short time, but he felt that he needed a wife in order to succeed. From the looks of things, he was truly hoping they could make it work.
It also seems that he was hoping marrying Janet would be a quick form of conversion therapy. In a wedding flashback, one of his groomsmen, Ronnie, asks him if they are still on for "racquetball" the following week. Cyrus insists that he has only played "racquetball" a few times. Ronnie says "It's a hard sport to give up."
But that is just what Cyrus plans to do, and his political aspirations aren't the only reason he plans to go through with the marriage. He's also afraid because, judging by the convo, this was taking place during the '80s AIDS epidemic. Cyrus did not want to "die because [he] couldn't control [himself]." Why must his flashbacks always make me cry?
Everything seems to be going swimmingly until Sally Langston happens. After losing her bid for the presidency, Sally is now a cable news talking head with a show titled "The Liberty Report," and she has decided to go to war about this marriage. She has it "on good authority" that Michael's nightclub romp was no bachelor party, and she is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with solid proof. (Mellie's "There is a word for you, Sally" gave me chills. Ugh, Bellamy Young is so amazing in this role.)
Elizabeth North is furious that Mellie went in on Olivia's plan without consulting her. She is her campaign manager, after all. Because Mellie is Mellie, which means she is a boss, she shuts that noise down immediately. She makes it clear that she and Elizabeth are not friends and that Elizabeth could never be her. Elizabeth is her employee and Elizabeth does not get to lecture her. Elizabeth gets the picture, calls Mellie "Mrs. Grant" and sets off to persuade Michael's parents to attend the ceremony. And, ladies and gents, that is how you handle THAT.
Michael insists that he doesn't have anymore dirt for the press to find, but Olivia has Huck dig anyway. Olivia also knows that Sally's intel had to have come from an unwitting inside leak. It's not 100 percent clear if Olivia already figured it out, but Abby knows that she is the source of the problem. When she was talking to Leo before leaving for work, she'd offhandedly mentioned the White House "war rooms" they'd had to figure out how to fix Cyrus' latest scandal.
When she gets home she confronts Leo for ratting them out to Sally. The couple has instituted "separation of church and state" rules within their relationship, meaning they do not bring work home and vice versa. But Leo insists that she was the one who talked and he knows that she would use info she got from him. Actually, he calls her a "hypocritical secularist," because the church and state metaphor was too good for the "Scandal" writers not to flesh out.
Meanwhile, Cyrus is kind of unravelling. When he sees Michael on his side of the house (blah, something about a laundry mix-up, blah), he has another Janet flashback. This one is from right after Fitz became the governor of California. Cyrus wanted to share the good news with Janet, but she was drunk and ready to confront him about the state of their marriage. Though she insisted that she would never get a divorce in the past because she was Catholic, she was unhappy, lonely and having an affair. She was also certain that Cyrus was gay. The flashback then segues into one of James, sitting on his bed, asking him if they were moving too fast.
Over at OPA, Huck plays some convo he intercepted from Michael's phone using some complex hacker wizardry involving "triangulation." Turns out, Michael had been sleeping with some guy named Philip Reed. Abby, who listened to Leo's voicemails while he was in the shower, comes in with worse news: Philip Reed is going to be a guest on Sally's show.
The team wants to cancel the wedding, but of course, Olivia has a plan.
But first, another flashback. This time, it's of Cyrus and James' wedding. James was worried that his marriage to Cyrus would compromise his journalistic career. Cyrus promises that he would never ask James to do anything that would go against his principles, which we all know is a flat-out lie.
Olivia has another nightmare and, once again, it is all about her kidnapping and her taking off some ring in front of Fitz. Flashback to the Cyrus/James wedding again, this time from Liv's point of view.
Olivia was busy readying the honeymoon suite when Fitz came in to confront her about resigning from the White House. He then gives her a ring that he never felt comfortable giving Mellie. It is a one-of-a-kind piece called "Doux Bébé," or "Sweet Baby," in English.
The ring belonged to his great-grandmother, whose father bought it for her debutante ball while he was at an auction in Paris. He wants her to wear it so he can know that she is "there," or something. Sit still and listen carefully. You might be able to hear my eyes rolling from where you are. If this scene doesn't already sound repetitive enough, guess where the wedding was held? Freaking Vermont.
Present-day Olivia frantically searches for Doux Bébé and finds it in the vase where she hid it. The next day, she heads to the Oval to ask Fitz to help Cyrus by giving them a bargaining chip to solve the Sally Langston problem. Of course, Fitz notices that she's not wearing the stupid ring. He then tells her that going behind his back to Mellie was a "nice move." I hate him so much.
Olivia goes to Sally with their bargaining chip. Olivia asks Sally what she truly wants. She reminds Sally that, during the campaign, Fitz only beat her on foreign affairs. Olivia acknowledges that this was probably due to sexism but tells Sally that a few years as Secretary of State could fix that. What's more, Fitz has already signed off on it. Unfortunately for Liv, Sally has no interest in the Executive Branch anymore. She has decided that being a talking head is a way to truly help the people.
Defeated, Olivia and Cyrus decide to "throw Michael under the bus," telling the press about his affair. That is, until, Cyrus meets Michael's parents. At dinner, they gleefully tell Michael that they are only attending his wedding because they were paid a large sum of money by Elizabeth North. Michael is devastated and his parents are both so cruel that it is almost cartoonish. He also has a flashback of the first time he fed James a story a.k.a. their honeymoon. Basically, Cyrus' heart grew a few sizes.
In the war room the next day, Olivia instantly picks up on Cyrus' change of heart and they switch gears. They do some digging and Olivia finds a way to shut Sally down. Turns out, Sally's late husband (the one she murdered, 'member?) was one of Michael's regulars during his days as a sex worker. Olivia threatens to go public with the news and Sally backs down.