This week’s “Scandal” takes the Season 3 shocker cake, for sure (so far!).
The episode, titled, “More Cattle, Less Bull,” begins with Olivia fulfilling her Sunday dinner duty with Daddy Dearest (Rowan Pope/B613 Command), who thinks he’s making progress with his daughter, as they’ve made it all the way to dessert without Liv accusing him of… things he does. She quickly sets him straight, letting him know that she’s decided to smile prettily through their weekly dinners and refrain from being “brave,” as being brave somehow ends with him making her friends kill people. Daddy says Huck’s foray back into murder was his own choice, and asserts that if Huck leaves Command alone, he’ll do the same – and the same goes for Jake.
Across town, Jake and Huck (Juck!) are doing the exact opposite of leaving Command alone, as Jake is in Rowan’s house attempting to steal computer files, while Huck oversees surveillance and remotely disarms the alarm system. Rowan returns from dinner while Jake is still in the house, but doesn’t appear to have discovered the intrusion.
At the White House, Mellie and Cyrus are trying to convince Leo Bergen (played by Paul Adelstein) to run the President’s reelection campaign. Leo says Fitz has some good points, but he’s also got some major problems, including, “penis problems” since he “can’t keep it in his pants,” and a glaring “his wife is a frigid shrew problem” (oh snap!). Leo declines the offer to run the campaign as he won’t work for “losers,” and Fitz looks like a miserable loser. Mellie, who is sporting exceptionally big hair for this meeting, is not pleased.
At Josephine Marcus’ house, Liv is pitching OPA’s services to the Congresswoman (Lisa Kudrow) by laying into her Gladiator-style on how she appears too inexperienced to be President and/or trusted with nuclear codes. It works – Josephine hires Liv, but not as her campaign manager. She wants Liv and company to “fix” the lid on the fact that she had a baby at 15, though only five people know. She does not want her secret daughter’s privacy to be painfully invaded. (However, we know from last week that Cyrus has already dug up this dirt.) Liv summons the Gladiators to Josie’s childhood stomping grounds in Montana to get to work.
While at the dingy Montana (might as well be Bates) Motel, Huck hacks into surveillance cameras and listens in on Fitz’s meeting with Command. Fitz is not happy with Rowan’s disposal of Pete Foster and asks why people have to die to protect the Operation Remington secret that “no one is looking for.” Huck relays the info to Jake via phone, as a black SUV pulls up and men in suits insist Jake hop in.
Surprise! The suits weren’t sent by Command, but by Fitz, who greets Jake while shooting some hoops at the WH. A sweaty Jake vs. Fitz basketball game ensues, but ends as Fitz falls on his backside and the Secret Service rush to his side. “I thought you didn’t play dirty,” says Fitz. “When in Rome, right?” Jake fires back, adding that he’s “not talking about Olivia.”
Back at OPA, Cyrus calls Liv and offers her a job – he wants her to dig up dirt on Josephine. Liv turns it down, then informs her team that they’ve got company in Montana. Quinn complains to Harrison that Huck is “freezing her out.” Harrison (in what is the best line of the episode thus far) calmly replies, “Yeah, you went all ‘Drill, baby, drill’ on him. He told us.” And with that, Creeper Quinn is “grounded.”
Harrison and Abby pay off the Montanians who know Josephine’s secret, except one Billy Joe Lee, who happens to be Josephine’s daughter’s baby daddy and is about to do a TV interview expose set up by Cyrus and company. Too bad Billy Joe has been cheating on his wife for two years and would like to keep the lid on the side-piece info! He quickly gets back on board with Operation Keep-Josephine’s-Baby-A-Secret.
At the WH, Fitz calls Rowan and tells him to “lay off Captain Ballard.” Rowan goes full-Command-voice to proclaim, “You do not give me orders.” The Pres goes full-Fiesty-Fitz to retort with, “That changes, starting right here, right now.” They get into a “don’t test me” match and Rowan hangs up.
Juck confer via phone about stepping up their Destroy Command mission, as Command and the Pres are clearly aware of their recent digging into Operation Remington. The B613 bros get into an amusing IT nerd-off while Jake tries to run a special program on Huck’s computer at OPA headquarters. Liv walks in, Jake pretends he stopped by to check on her. She’s there to pick up her special Fitz phone, as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is days away and she’s always attended in the past. They leave together to get burgers.
The Montana Gladiators chat with a nurse who was on hand for Josephine’s delivery. She reveals that the Congresswoman’s baby was not exactly adopted – cut to: Liv telling Josephine, guess what? We know your protective “little sister,” Candice, is your daughter. Josephine does not want her sister to find out the truth and refuses to play ball with Liv’s honesty plan.
Over in the Oval Office, Fitz tells Cyrus he wants to “get rid of B613.” Can they force them out by eliminating their budget? Cyrus explains that people who question Command’s spy group have a way of immediately committing suicide. Though, in Fitz’s case, Cyrus cautions it wouldn’t be a “suicide,” it would be “a lone gunman on a grassy knoll.”
It’s go-time at the televised Democratic Primary Debate, where Josephine hopes to make headway in her quest for the Democratic nomination. Liv sees familiar faces and warns Josie she’s about to be ambushed by the secret baby questions. Little “sister” (secret daughter) Candice shows up just in time to watch Big Sister Mommy get forced into revealing the truth. Josie sticks to the “I put her up for adoption” story, but Candice pieces the puzzle together. Josie, scared for the fate of her relationship with Candice, fires Liv.
Liv goes home and drinks away Josie’s dismissal with her signature glass of red as the Fitz phone rings. Fitz quietly admits he’s “hiding from Mellie in the bathroom,” while Liv admits the equally embarrassing, “I just dug the phone out of the trash.” Liv tells Fitz he’s not funny, and can’t possibly vet his jokes for the WHCD (a task she used to handle for him). Their conversation takes a serious turn when Fitz admits he’s “ashamed,” and feels like he has no right to make jokes because he “is the joke.” He’s “the guy who can’t keep it in his pants,” just like his father. Tipsy Liv advises Fitz to “own” his tarnished image and mock the heck out of it. And, sigh, he says, “I love you.” Surprise! Mellie is listening to Fitz from outside the bathroom door.
Back at OPA headquarters, Abby takes David Rosen’s call, but tells him she’s still in Montana. He walks in on her, chides her for lying to him, then walks out.
Meanwhile, Juck have discovered that the President was in Iceland during the time Operation Remington has him listed as flying the rescue mission. They’re not sure why.
Liv convinces Jake to take her to the Correspondents’ dinner, where Olitz immediately lock eyes from across the room. She is soon summoned to a private suite, where she assumes she’ll meet up with Fitz, but is instead greeted by Mellie. The First Lady, who is rocking a dramatic scarlet gown, starts off with, “I like your new boyfriend. Is he married?” but quickly turns to pleading with Liv to run Fitz’s reelection campaign. “He needs you, Olivia. He is tired and broken, and it isn’t the job – it’s doing the job without you,” she tells Liv. Wow.
“He’s not alive when you’re not here. He can’t breathe when you’re not here. He doesn’t have the will to run, much less win, when you’re not here because you, you’re everything to him, Liv,” she continues. “He needs you, so I need you. Come back to us.” Mellie admits that Fitz doesn’t know about this little proposal, but says he’ll obviously be on board. As her final move, Mellie pulls out the Defiance trump card, telling Liv that they both “owe him this.”
Abby shows up at David’s, dressed in her gown for the WHCD, but tells him she couldn’t force herself to get out of the car. We finally learn why she’s been acting so weird – her abusive ex-husband was going to be there. David tells her to just be honest with him, as that’s what “normal people” do.
Back at the WHCD, Jake tells Liv he knows he was just a prop, used as an excuse for her to see Fitz. He won’t “play second fiddle” to anyone and he’s taking a cab home.
Harrison calls Liv – the Gladiators are assembled at the OPA offices with Ms. Josie, who has sorted things out with her sister-daughter and now wants to re-hire Liv, this time as her campaign manager. Liv turns it down. Josie asks her to sleep on it. Creeper Quinn is tucked away in her OPA office, opening a cardboard box. It contains a shiny new toy she picked up in Montana – a handgun.
As Jake arrives back at home from his forlorn cab ride, Huck is waiting for him inside. Huck says he figured out what the President was up to in Iceland. Turns out, on the day Fitz was listed as flying OR’s rescue mission plane, he was actually shooting down a 747 carrying 329 passengers on behalf of the U.S. government. Oh, and he has the passenger list, which contains the name Maya Lewis. No big deal, right? Think again, Shondaland twisty fans! Maya Lewis is just her maiden name. Her married name was (prepare to pick your jaw up off the ground) Maya Pope. Just to hammer that home, Fitz shot down a plane on which Olivia’s mother was a passenger.
Juck head to Liv’s house to tell her about their shocking, grim discovery.