For the past couple of weeks, things have been building up to what happened in this episode. Congresswoman Josie Marcus is no longer a candidate for President, brought down not by Cyrus or Mellie, but by her own sister/daughter who faked a burglary of Josie’s campaign offices – Watergate-style – and then tried to blame Governor Reston’s camp. Charlie, at Rowan’s behest, has been recruiting Quinn as an asset. She’s felt a little disconnected from the rest of the gladiators and Huck, in particular, leaving her vulnerable Charlie’s display of affection and camaraderie. She also managed to kill a security guard, unwittingly putting herself into the hornet’s nest she really knows nothing about, and now she’s on a security video committing the murder. Fitz had Olivia delivered to him at a house he bought in Vermont. Fitz told her that he purchased the home for their future as a couple with kids and jars of homemade jam. She fell for it – she always does – and the two made love before she was whisked back to Washington on Marine One. Prior to their liaison, Olivia was angry with Fitz for not telling her who shot down the plane that killed her mother, but a few well-placed promises of happily ever after and all, it seems, is forgiven. It’s all in the service of country, and at the pleasure of The President, I guess.
We also saw some flashbacks of Fitz, his father, Mellie and Cyrus – pre-Presidential campaign. Fitz’s dad is just about the worst person ever and raped his daughter-in-law, calling into question who the father of her child is. That incident, along with all of the other things Mellie has given up, made me slightly more sympathetic to the person she’s become and the place she finds herself in now. Vice President Sally Langston wants to run for President, as Fitz approaches the end of his first term, but she has her own philandering husband, Daniel, to worry about. Knowing his reputation, Cyrus and Mellie plot to lure him into something by hiring a hooker to chat him up at a cocktail party while Sally’s out of town. He doesn’t show any interest in her but he’s delighted to meet James, Cyrus’ husband. Cyrus sees this an opportunity and arranges for James to spend a quiet night with Daniel, complete with a photographer to capture any pictures of Daniel’s advances on James. James, after thinking about some things Cyrus said to him, makes the decision to do more than anyone could have expected and the pictures are more than Cyrus wanted to see.
Olivia’s mother, Maya, is alive and has been a captive of Rowan’s for twenty years. Rowan wants to send her away, to some distant place where she can never be heard from again. She attempts to commit suicide by gnawing on her own wrist. She also manages to escape and find her daughter. And so, here we are.
Huck has captured Quinn, stripped her naked, bound her hands and feet and is readying his tools to make her pay for her betrayal to him and, more importantly, to Olivia. He’s about to extract one of her teeth with a set of pliers when his phone rings. It’s Olivia, and after she tells him that her mother is alive and at her apartment, Huck tells her to get out ASAP. He then turns back to Quin, says to her that he has time for just one, and promptly and efficiently takes a molar from the screaming Quinn. Give me a second. OMG! OMG!! OMG!!!. Okay, I’m back, composure regained.
Sally and her campaign manager are arguing over whether she’s ready to turn her back on her family values stance and embrace the notion of pro-choice. Leo tells her that if she can’t do that, she’ll never get elected. Well, whoever thought that politicians remain true to their beliefs, anyway? Sally decides that her Christian values don’t really matter after all. She wants to be President and she’s willing to do just about anything to make it happen. Cyrus, on the other hand, has one family matters of his own to deal with. James gave him the photos of his tryst with Daniel and the two are barely speaking. Both of them know what happened, and why, yet neither of them want to say it out loud. James toys with his husband, telling him how Daniel went deep and that he wants to meet up with him again, in their own house this time. He expresses his feigned dismay, by telling Cyrus that it could have been a threesome if Cyrus wasn’t tied up for the evening. Daniel, however, is beside himself over the article James is writing and tells him that what happened between them was just a momentary lack of judgment. He says that he’s not gay, he’s man who made a mistake and that being gay is a sickness.
Rowan is angry at Charlie for not being able to find Quinn. He tells him that she can’t be an asset it she can’t be found. Quinn is trying to free herself by breaking a glass and cutting through the duct tape but Huck arrives back and, after placing more tape around her hands, extracts a second tooth. No, I’m not going to go crazy a second time – just one tiny, little omg!
Fitz and Mellie, having heard of Sally’s plans to run for office, are berating Cyrus for not doing his job. After Fitz storms out, Mellie asks Cyrus about what happened with James. Cyrus begins to cry and Mellie understand what happened. She tells him’ “It hurts until is doesn’t”, then assure him he’ll be fine. She also reminds Cyrus that Sally is “a weed in our garden” and that he needs to see it through.
Jake is fed up with Fitz and the way he’s handled everything. Fitz is equally tired of vying for Olivia’s affection and tells Jake that he’ll never be her hero because she doesn’t need one. Jake walks out of the Oval Office after telling his former friend that it must be nice to have other people to fight your battles. Go Jake!
Charlie finally finds Quinn, unties her and has her rinse her mouth to relieve the pain. Quinn begins to cry because Huck hurt her and now she fells she has nobody, which upsets Charlie. He tells her that crying is against the rules – big dogs get bit. She drops her towel and the two make love. Quinn’s relief comes from the strangest places. Most of us would need some Vicodin first.
Cyrus is showing Sally the photos of James and Daniel, but the Vice President tells him that she’ not intimidated by him, anymore. She also says that he’ll never release the photos because it would mean destroying his own husband and marriage. Cyrus calls James to apologize, telling him that he’ll never use the photos or show them to Sally and that James should consider them burned – except that he just did show them Sally.
The gladiators, after cutting a tracking device from her neck, have been trying to find a way to spirit Maya out of the country and get her to a safe house in Hong Kong, but the FBI has placed her on their most wanted and no-fly list. Olivia is wondering how they can get around it when she decides to call Fitz. He knows that her mother is alive and offers to help but Olivia is afraid that any help from him will be considered interference with an FBI manhunt, landing him in jail. He tells her that he’s going to help anyway – “consider it handled” – and orders a military plane to whisk Maya away. As Olivia and her gladiators deliver Maya to the plane, Abby tells Olivia that she should hug her mother good-bye. It could be the last time she sees her, so Olivia runs to her mother and two embrace. Maya boards the plane, and, as it’s taxiing, Olivia ha a flashback to the morning her mother was getting ready to board the plane that was shot down twenty years earlier. Her mother had already left the house when the phone rang. Picking it up, a man asks for Marie and the young Olivia tells the caller that her mother’s name isn’t Marie. In the present, Olivia makes a frantic call to ask Huck what name was given for her mother on the no-fly list and he tells her that it was Marie Wallace. She turns to the gladiators and says tat the monster is not her father, but her mother.
Quin, with Charlie by her side, is in Rowans’ office. She tells Rowan that she has something for him but wants the security video first. She also has a syringe in her pocket.
Cyrus has returned home to a husband who’s been typing “I WANT A DIVORCE” over and over on his laptop when his phone rings. It’s Sally and she tells him that Daniel has committed suicide. He’s on the floor behind her, covered in blood, and whether it was suicide or Sally’s wrath is still up in the air.
* you only live once
Next week is the mid-season finale whether we like it or not.