After all of the messiness that went on with the Grant family last week, Liv is taking a much-needed vacation from Fitz, while sending Abby to the White House as her "proxy." Cyrus isn't happy about it, but Liv made it clear that she will only answer Abby's phone calls and that Abby is not to call her unless "The White House is on fire, in flames, burning to the ground."
Abby assures Cyrus that she can do the job, but makes a point to mess up her name (the fact that they continue to call her "Gabby" for much of the episode is so shady) and tells her that he almost feels sorry for what's about to happen to her.
Clearly, Mellie, Fitz and Andrew still haven't worked out their issues. They sulk through Abby's entire poll stats rundown. The interview gave Fitz's numbers a bump but women "who want to break the glass ceiling" are still into Sally and Reston visits his wife in jail every week, making him popular with women voters, as well.
Abby's sure that this upcoming Warrior Women of America event will gain them more traction with women, but Fitz isn't hearing it. He's just furious that Olivia's not there, leaving the meeting abruptly. Poor Abby even has to endure Cyrus snarking "Nice coat," about her Olivia-esque white trench.
Liv and Rowan are meeting about B613, but before she accepts his help, she wants to be sure that he won't harm Fitz. He'd originally threatened that Fitz "won't make it to his second term," a feat Rowan feels Fitz is accomplishing all on his own. Fair. But Rowan does promise Liv that he won't "touch a hair on his head," which knowing Rowan, still leaves room for plenty of loopholes.
But Liv accepts the promise and asks him about B613's funding. Where do they keep the money? In the late '80's, they hacked in to the federal budget and rerouted tiny amounts of money from each organization to a black box account. Every agency and taxpayer unknowingly finances B613, and only Command controls the account.
They can only access the account by finding the algorithm that will lead them to the account, which means plenty of hacker-speak from Huck this episode. Huck's upset when Liv admits that she got the intel from her father (David Rosen: "I would have gone with Anonymous Government Employee").
Huck's sure that Liv's a mark. He knows that Rowan promised her something (hmm, Fitz's safety…), and insists that if he promised her something, he's going to take something away. At first, Huck refuses to do it, but Liv reminds him that they all do things that they don't want to do, and THIS is the job.
Just when I'd finally come up with a couple's nickname for Meldrew, Mellie wants to end it. You know, in light of the fact that her only daughter walked in on them having sex. Of course, Andrew isn't giving up, telling her she deserves a man who actually loves her and isn't just playing the part.
Bad news on the TV. Jeannine Locke, the former White House staffer who took the fall for Fitz and Liv's affair, has written a new memoir about the "affair" called "Taken for Granted: My Time as a Presidential Mistress." Classy stuff. At a press conference, she claims that she doesn't want to hurt the president, but to let the world know what kind of man he is … and then proceeds to make a few awful innuendos about his penis. No "Scandal" viewer will ever be able to look at a baguette quite the same way.
Olivia's definitely back on the job now. Apparently, someone helped Jeannine land a second book deal, after P&A paid her off the first time. They assume either Reston or Sally is behind it, and Sally, for her part, is on the news, gleefully promising to keep Fitz in her prayers.
Cyrus wants to leak the story of Sally's daughter Cassidy's abortion to the news, but Liv reminds him that they agreed not to use the abortion, because it's old news and they want to stay above the fray. Fitz gets annoyed by their squabbling and kicks everyone out, except Olivia.
He's obviously furious that she sent "Gabby" to him in her place. He also wants Andrew off the ticket, and a list of new VPs on his desk in the morning. Liv is against it, calling it an "amateur move" that will guarantee that he loses the election. It's too late in the campaign for this.
But what really sets Fitz off is Liv asking him if there's anything else he needs from her today. She wants to know what job she's fulfilling – nanny, maid, bodyguard, fluffer? She asks if she's there to make Fitz feel "hot and manly" so that he's not jealous of Meldrew? He calls her disgusting, petty and jealous, but she reminds her that their relationship isn't going anywhere. All she has is a house in Vermont that she can't live in, and a man who makes her promises that he can't keep. Damn, Liv.
Fitz insists that he isn't the bad guy. Their relationship isn't something that "happened" to her. Liv accepts that, but still insists that Andrew stay on the ticket.
At B613, Jake's given Charlie and Quinn an assignment: to spy on Marie Wallace. Of course, Quinn recognizes Liv's mom, but assures Jake that it won't be a problem for her. Marie is busy snuggling with one of her friends from the old days. She asks him to bring her "flowers" and then gives him a suitcase full of money from Ivan. This cannot be good.
Leo Bergen's in the White House, making jokes about Fitz's sex scandals and comparing him to JFK, who got stuff done, despite all the "skinny dipping and starlets." Cyrus makes a call, deciding it's time to "join the fray."
Harrison meets with another of his former crime buddies, Claire. He tells her that he needs to find Marie Wallace, but Claire refuses. Not that many women are as high up in the criminal world as Marie Wallace, and Claire isn't willing to upset a potential mentor for Harrison.
Liv's sleeping when a drunk Jake calls her from outside her door. She refuses to let him in, and he reminds her that he can break in, if he wants. But they both know he won't do it. He misses her, but she won't let him end, because he kills her friends. He insists that James wasn't her friend, promising that he would never kill her friends. Wow.
At that, she asks him if he can "hear the B613" in his brain. He can, but he just misses her. She refuses to let him in, and he bangs on the door, scaring her. It's actually kind of sad. Jake's loneliness is palpable.
Huck thinks he found the algorithm, but it's an empty legacy code. They think that Rowan played them, but actually, Jake moved the money, because he didn't trust Rowan.
Meanwhile, Cyrus leaked the Cassidy abortion story. But Liv reminds him that most mothers of a 13-year-old daughter would have done the same, and now all of those mothers' votes will go to Sally. Cyrus flips it back on Liv, telling her that she can't send an amateur in to do her job, because her boyfriend was mean to her. Plus, Fitz is meeting with Senator Ramirez to vet her for the VP spot.
Liv rushes over to the Oval and kicks Ramirez out of the meeting, claiming there is a national security issue. Of course, Fitz is upset that she was rude to a U.S. Senator, insisting that Ramirez would make a great VP. Liv finally makes Fitz admit that he needs Andrew to stop sleeping with Mellie in order for this to work.
So Liv goes into full-on fixer mode. She meets with Andrew and threatens to ruin his entire political career if he won't end it with Mellie. The only way to drop him off the ticket and not have it hurt Fitz is to make all of America hate Andrew. Of course, Andrew doesn't want to end the relationship, but Liv reminds him that Mellie's into power. Mellie won't stay with him when he's teaching political science at a second-tier liberal arts college. She gives him a 24-hour deadline, until she does her job and ruins him.
It's cut-throat and it's the Liv that we've missed all these months. Seriously, best scene Kerry Washington's had in quite some time.
Olivia forces Cyrus and Leo to set aside their problems and work together to take down Reston, by telling his wife, Joan, the truth about her lover's death. (Remember, Reston walked in on Joan and her lover having sex. She cried rape. He shot her lover, pretending that he truly thought the man was a rapist, but Reston actually knew the truth, and still let his wife take the fall.)
Charlie and Quinn spy on Marie, and Charlie questions Quinn's loyalties to B613. Marie's busy asking Claire to get them a large number of fake U.S. passports in 24 hours. Marie tells her to leave town forever, after she drops off the passports.
Huck needs Liv to place some tech thingy on Jakes phone in order to piggyback into the B613 servers. He very awkwardly suggests that she sleep with Jake in order to get to his phone because "we do what we have to do."
Liv breaks into Jake's apartment and of course, he falls for it. As they cuddle after sex, Liv looks incredibly sad, but gets what she came for.
Mellie's laid out tie options for Fitz because they still have the Women Warriors event later. He snatches them out of her hands and drops them on the floor, and she dutifully lays them on the bed. I hate him for being such a hypocrite toward Mellie.
Reston visits his wife in jail and she confronts him about shooting her lover. He threatens to have her shipped out to a mental ward, and let her rot there, unless she does exactly as he tells her.
Harrison gets a call from Claire, who promises all the info he needs, but she wants out. Apparently, Claire wasn't as crafty about it as she believed because Marie Wallace awesomely crashes Liv's Sunday dinner with Rowan to warn Liv to back off. At that moment, Harrison calls with the news that Claire's dead. They left her body on a park bench, neck slit. This is all so messed up.
At the White House, Leo assumes that Joan Reston didn't bite. But Abby has video from the visitation room at the prison, and has already uploaded a clip of Reston threatening Joan. He's already down 15 points in the polls.
Mellie and Fitz meet with the Warrior Women of America and Mellie gives great speech about sacrifice, calling the women "the very best of us. The very women we should all aspire to be." After watching her speech, Andrew's made his decision. He tells Mellie they have to end it. Of course, Mellie knows that this was Fitz's doing, and storms into the Oval, slapping him and screaming "You take everything from me!"
After a pep talk from Abby, Liv finally gets some good news. Huck successfully hacked into B613. He can shut everything down right from his P&A computer. On Liv's orders, he does it. But unfortunately, he does this just as Quinn and Charlie see Marie and her team with a bomb, a bomb that she plans to use to assassinate Fitz.
As their celebrating with a wine toast, Jake storms into the office and grabs Liv by the neck, telling her that she just killed the president. Oops?
• Cyrus seems to be in a good place in the grieving process. He's back to making quips and putting people in line.
• Charlie has never dated anyone but Quinn, which makes him even creepier than I thought. This is why everyone gets annoyed with Quinn. Dating him was a stupid, self-destructive decision.
• Harrison after figuring out that Liv is seducing Jake to get to his phone: "Jake Ballard. Dude could probably kill with a bendy straw, but at the end of the day, he's just a normal guy. Put a fork in him." Huck: "Or a syringe."
• A showdown between Rowan and Marie is everything I need in life.