The plot of "Scandal" often moves at breakneck speed, which is why episodes like "The Testimony of Diego Munoz" feel like they are allowing the writers to tie up loose ends in order to get us to the next, coveted OMG moment.
That's not to say Thursday's episode was without its fair share of drama. It was just no hour-long commentary on race and policing in the U.S. like last week. Instead, we start off with Susan Ross, the senator Fitz and Mellie (who is conspicuously absent this episode) chose to replace the traitorous Andrew. They picked Susan because they think she will be both loyal to Fitz and no match for Mellie in a future presidential election, and at the beginning of the episode, they seem to be right.
During the announcement to the press, Susan tries to deliver the charming speech that Abby carefully crafted for her, but stumbles when she gets to the scripted anecdote about her daughter. She winds up awkwardly laughing (and snorting!) on national television. The backlash from the press and the American public is swift, so Cyrus tries to recruit Olivia. Of course.
But Olivia has some problems of her own. Not only has she taken to walking around her apartment with a loaded gun at the ready, but her dead neighbor's friend, Rose, (or, as Quinn calls her, the "Where's the black lady" Lady) is still asking questions. The management company is just itching to get that apartment back on the market, and Olivia jumps in to help Rose get them to back off for a few more days. Rose says she's worried about her friend Lois, and feeling responsible for her death, Olivia decides to have Huck and Quinn search for the body.
Their mission is complicated a bit when Huck's wife, Kim, shows up at David Rosen's office with the B613 files that Huck gave her earlier in the season. It was his attempt to prove that he wasn't lying about being recruited and subsequently kidnapped by a super secret spy organization. After reading it, she believed his story and wanted to hold the folks who did this to her husband accountable.
Of course, David Rosen promptly freaks out because bringing B613 to justice would mean damning every central character on this show. He's also reeling because, at first, he has no idea who Kim's husband is because she calls him by his real name: Diego Munoz. David rushes to alert Huck and Jake to this new development and just as Jake is planning to take out this Diego Munoz, Huck cops to the whole thing.
He promises that he will take care of things and get Kim to stop this crusade.
Meanwhile, Abby has hired her boo, Leo Bergen, to get Susan Ross ready for her shot at the VP seat. First, Leo has her go on Jimmy Kimmel to laugh off her embarrassing Rose Garden speech. Then Leo starts to really whip her into shape. His training is brutal and requires her to answer tough, rapid-fire questions about the decisions she would make if Fitz died and she became president. Eventually, Susan cracks under the pressure and quits, declaring Washington politics "play-acting." Abby is furious and ends up firing Leo.
Instead, she tries to recruit Olivia. Abby promises that Olivia would not be helping Fitz, but would, instead, be helping her and Susan. She also suggests that Olivia take the gig in an effort to soothe her own PTSD by helping a politician who actually seems like someone good.
Olivia agrees and gets Susan to come back and win over the Senate committee responsible for confirming her as VPOTUS simply by being herself.
Susan does wonderfully, but there's just one small problem: the Senate hates Fitz as much as I do. Olivia realizes that their apprehension has more to do with him than Susan and begrudgingly goes to the White House to sit in while Abby and Cyrus tell him so. Furious that they are parroting Olivia's words to him while she stands on the other side of the Oval, Fitz rushes over and gets in Olivia's face to demand an explanation. Olivia stands her ground and reminds Fitz that he launched that sloppy war with West Angola, sending troops to Africa days after he'd promised that he wouldn't do so. Fitz tries to tenderly remind Olivia that he did that in order to save her life, but she doesn't want to hear it. Instead, she wants him to go to the Senate to apologize for his actions. In the end, Fitz eats crow, the Senate confirms Susan and her daughter holds the Bible at her swearing-in ceremony.
When she's done handling Fitz's problems, Olivia still has to figure out a way to help Rose get some closure. As Rose describes her relationship with Lois (they talked every day, vacationed together once a year, etc.), Olivia realizes that the two women were more than friends. She sweetly asks Rose if they were a couple. Rose tells her about their 60-year love story, which started when they were only kids. Lois' parents discovered how they felt about each other and moved their daughter away. Lois ended up marrying a man named John, but after he died, she and Rose reconnected. When Olivia asked her why she never moved in with Lois, Rose simply said it was because Lois kept her apartment too hot. It's the cutest thing, ever, and Olivia knows that she has to help this sweet, old woman find some kind of solace.
Huck and Quinn find the body in a nearby morgue. The kidnappers had dumped her in a Maryland park. They find a casket for her and Olivia spins a comforting story for Rose. She tells her that Lois had a brain aneurysm in Georgetown, on a bench by the river. Olivia tells her that Lois died painlessly, with the sun on her face, all the while imagining herself on the beach with Jake. Rose's love for Lois brings up old, unresolved feelings about Jake and Fitz, and by the end of the episode, Olivia seems to be working her way back to something akin to normal, throwing out the wine-stained couch cushion and settling in with some red wine and a bowl of popcorn.
Huck is also struggling to get back his old life. He tries to convince Kim not to press things with David Rosen, but she has this unflappable faith that the attorney general will be on the side of good. Huck tells him that Kim refuses to back off and David tells Huck to testify, saying that the B613 story was something he imagined due to his PTSD.
Huck has dinner with Kim and Javi before giving the testimony and gets a glimpse of what his life with them could be like. The next day, in David's office, he tries to lie as planned, but has flashbacks of his life with Kim, including Javi's birth. When David asks him about the hole Kim described during their first meeting, Huck finally tells him the truth, describing the tricks he used in order to stop himself from going insane while in solitary confinement.
Also, side note: wouldn't it have benefitted B613 to, I don't know, RECRUIT PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY WANT TO BE IN THE STUPID ORGANIZATION. There had to be more people like Quinn, who actually wanted in on that life. Stealing people's lives away and then expecting unflappable loyalty? It doesn't matter if you threaten to kill them if they talk. At some point, enough becomes enough and impending doom is no longer enough of a deterrent.
When Huck walks Kim to her door, she gives him a sweet kiss and his giddy smile is just adorable. We rarely see Huck happy. Fortunately for Huck, David really is the forthright attorney general that Kim believes him to be. Despite Jake's apprehensions, David decides to go after B613, once and for all. Jake worries that it will mean bringing them all down, but David assures him that the right people will be punished, which means we'll probably be seeing a lot more of Rowan Pope in the near future.
After Olivia's kidnapping and the police shooting, this episode felt like a pause for the show to catch up with itself and set the course for the rest of this season. That's not to say it was without its high points: Cyrus teasing Abby about her taste in men, Huck getting closer to finding happiness, and Rose and Lois' 60-year relationship were just a few. But it was, nonetheless, the show resetting the board and showing us where we are about to go next: back into B613 land and, possibly, back after Rowan. It's retreading on old territory, but hopefully, it can go to new places. I still want to know more about Abby and Liv's friendship, Rowan undoubtedly has plenty of cards to play and at some point, Olivia will have to take stock of her love life again. Let's just hope there is no mention of freaking Vermont.