Olivia’s secret affair with the President isn’t a secret anymore and her father isn’t happy about the situation. In fact, he doesn’t sound very happy with his daughter at all. After whisking her off to the airport, he reads her out about how mediocre she’s become. Before he puts her on the private plane that’s waiting to jet her off to some sunny beach for eight months, only to come out of hiding with a new identity, he tells her that she’s really no more than the woman men just sleep with. She raised her skirt and opened her knees to a man with too much power. He tells her that she’s not rare or special and her story is no different from 1,000s of others. In case she’s still thinking she has a chance at being more than that, Rowan explains to her how those in power will expose her belly, then gut her, choosing the President over her. Her beloved Fitz isn’t the one in charge – power is in charge. He mocks her for wanting to be the First Lady when she could have been anything she wanted to be – Secretary of State or better. Rowan asks her to repeat what he’s taught her, that she has to be “twice as good as them to have to get half what they have”, and, from what he’s seen, she’s failed miserably. He orders her to do what she’s told come hell or high water and then says “I’m the hell and the high water.” There’s no question as to where Olivia got her talent for shooting from the lip.
She boards the plane and calls Cyrus who begs her not to leave. Olivia asks Cyrus who released her name but he doesn’t answer her. Instead he continues to plead with her to stay and help Fitz. He believes that if the President thinks she’s dead, Cyrus won’t be able to help him. She gets off the plane, which incenses Rowan who shouts that the White House will destroy her. Olivia says “That’s what Mom used to tell me about you.”
The White House is in damage control mode and Cyrus and Fitz would like Vice President Sally Langston to be out front, taking some of the engagements in lieu of the President. Sally is disgusted by the affair and wants no part in “aiding and abetting” Fitz’s cheatin’ heart. Fitz talks to Sally alone and tells her that he’s going to give a statement, taking full responsibility for his failings, then asks Sally to help him buy just a little more time. She agrees, then starts to tell Fitz about her husband, which sounded like he may be doing his own straying from her bed and their vows.
Olivia arrives at her offices, surrounded by reporters and Huck whisks her inside. She tells the gladiators that they’re going to going on – business as usual. She starts working the phone, calling clients, who want nothing to do with Pope & Associates. They’re not keen on the idea of having a scandal-fixer embroiled in a huge scandal of her own.
Cyrus asks his husband, James, if he knows how the reporter got Olivia’s name, but the best he can come up with is to ask around at Malloy’s, the local watering hole frequented by bottom feeders. First Lady Mellie asks her Secret Service agent the same thing, but he insists that he didn’t divulge Olivia’s name – a mistress, yes, Olivia, no. The local news is airing a video of Fitz leaving Olivia’s house in the middle of the night, and Cyrus tells his assistant, Jeanine, to start a kill folder on Olivia. A file is put together which is filled with pictures of Olivia in the company of rich, powerful and older men. Her background reveals that her mother dies when she was twelve and that she never lived at home after her death. Oh, this has daddy issues written all over it.
Speaking of whom, Olivia gets a call from Rowan and they meet, a la Deep Throat, in a parking garage. She wants to know what happened to Jake Ballard, who we last saw being stuffed into the same hell hole where Huck spent too much time. Rowan says that it’s none of her business, Jake refused an order and no one refuses an order in his business. Rowan proceeds to explain how he keeps America safe and free, so that we can watch reality TV and sleep well at night while he fights the good fight or whatever he and his CIA friends at B613 call it. He still wants her to get on the plane and do as she’s told but she’s got her own plans. Olivia calls a number at the NSA, gives an ID number and the password “Providence”. She enters a top-secret bunker where Fitz is waiting for her. He’s angry that she used the “fire alarm” and wants to know why she risked that one lifeline for this meeting. Olivia tells him that they’re already under attack and this is worth the risk. Mellie walks in and the three of them start to has out a plan to save Fitz’s presidency and the Grant’s marriage. Before they get down to the nitty-gritty, Olivia asks Mellie to stop referring to her as whore, at least to her face. Then the negotiations begin. What’s the number of sexual encounters between Olivia and Fitz is Mellie comfortable with? The answer is two – one on inaugural night and one after Fitz was recovering from being shot. They agree on two and Mellie leaves. Fitz walks towards Olivia, and she backs away, wary that he wants to add another tryst to the count. He just holds her and she sobs in his arms.
Mellie isn’t one to go down without a fight though and wants Cyrus to help her fix the whole thing. She doesn’t want the President to hold a press conference and offer the public a “come to Jesus” moment. Of course not.
Back at Pope and Associates, Harrison is holding a DVD and asks his co-workers “Are we gladiators or are we bitches?” That was rhetorical, right? Harrison hands the DVD to Cyrus. Jeanine is with the White House press corps when they see a video on the television where a drunken Jeanine is gushing over the hot, doable President Grant. The report also includes some emails and James is now talking about how everyone owes Olivia Pope an apology. Olivia looks at her gladiators and asks, “What. Did. You Do?” They fixed it, that’s what they did – that’s what they do.
Fitz and Mellie have also seen the breaking news and she’s looking pleased as punch. She tells her husband that he can go out and give any story he wants, but she and Cyrus won’t be standing by him. She got the idea to leak Jeanine’s name when he leaked Olivia’s, realizing that he was the one who had the most to gain. He’d told the Secret Service who spilled the beans at Malloy’s. Mellie’s victory lap is short-lived as Fitz tells her that she just set Olivia free. As long as the world thought Olivia was the mistress, she was at Mellie’s mercy. Check and mate. The Grants are at war – this was just the first battle.
Cyrus goes home and,when he enters his bedroom, he finds James passed out and Charlie waiting for him with a gun. He’s delivered to Rowan who has a sealed file with him. When the seal is broken and the folder is opened, there’s a report about what happened in Iran when Jake and Fitz served together, and it’s enough to cause Cyrus to gasp, “Oh my God.”
Pope and Associates have a new client – poor, hapless Jeanine.