Mellie, Liv and Fitz fight while dealing with Sally Langston’s decision to stay on as VP and James plots to take Cyrus down in Scandal’s “Ride, Sally, Ride.”

We come back to the Scandal White House with Liv (Kerry Washington), Mellie (Bellamy Young) and Cyrus (Jeff Perry) in crisis mode: Vice President Sally Langston (Kate Burton) has just announced that she will be running against President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) as an independent in the coming election. Just when Fitz’s new campaign manager, Liv, comes up with a strategy to paint Langston as a selfish and reckless woman, Langston drops another bomb in her public address – she will not be resigning her position as VP.

Fitz Needs A New Vice President

Fitz is livid, as are Mellie and Cyrus. Politically, Fitz can’t go to Congress to request Sally’s dismissal, he simply doesn’t have the political capital to pull it off, and her decision to stay on makes it difficult to argue that she is putting the nation’s security at risk by making the President look weak and the White House disorganized. James (Dan Bucatinsky), the new press secretary, presses Cyrus for what he should say to the press, but the message keeps changing and the truth is increasingly difficult to spin. Even Liv is having trouble with this one, especially since Fitz dismissed her from his office after deciding, point blank, that his new running mate would be his lieutenant governor of California, Andrew Nichols.

Cyrus and Liv agree that Andrew is a horrible choice. Nichols may align with the President’s progressive views and he may be likable and loyal, but he is also another single, straight, white male. He adds no diversity to the ticket and is known as a bit of a playboy. Paired with the President’s reputation as an adulterer, Nichols is sure to alienate female voters. But, with Fitz unwilling to listen to reason, Liv gets to work vetting Nichols and defending the President from Langston’s attacks.

Harrison (Columbus Short), Abby (Darby Stanchfield) and Huck (Guillermo Diaz) look into Nichols' past and find nothing – no dirt, no skeletons, literal or figurative. So the team focuses on Fitz, and Abby goes on a political talk show to start circulating the idea that Sally is being irresponsible. Unfortunately for Abby, going up against the VP’s campaign manager, Leo Bergen (Paul Adelstein), proves fruitless. Bergen slams down Abby’s suggestion that Sally is creating an unsafe environment by publicly doubting the President’s character and ability to lead and changes the conversation by bringing up Fitz’s alleged affair with his own campaign manager, Olivia Pope. Abby is caught off guard, and though she tries desperately to brush it off, Leo has successfully reignited the rumor that Liv and Fitz had an affair while he was in the White House.

Meanwhile, Liv has other problems to deal with when she finds out that Jake (Scott Foley) has been appointed the new Command of B613. She goes to her father (Joe Morton) to try to talk to him, to let him know that she’s here for him, but he shuts her down, hard. He tells her that she is in trouble, and that she is surrounded by bombs that are about to go off, and Fitz is the biggest of them all. He tells her that Fitz had him abducted so that he could let a fugitive (Liv’s mother) escape and that he took B613, an organization Rowan sold his soul for, from him and now he has made an enemy the likes of which he has never faced. Essentially, Rowan promises Liv that he will use her against Fitz – “And the greatest weapon I can use against him calls me ‘dad’” – and will most likely kill him, so she should run from Fitz as fast as possible.

At a White House press briefing, James is navigating through an ocean of questions about the nature of the President’s relationship with Olivia when one reporter asks something else. After receiving an anonymous text message from ‘Publius,’ hinting that there might be more to Daniel Douglas’ death than was originally disclosed, Vanessa Chandler (Jennifer Peo) asks James why the Vice President’s dead husband’s medical records were not released to the press, and whether or not there was an autopsy. Liv sees this as an opportunity to get the heat off her and Fitz, but Cyrus dismisses it. Later, Leo goes to Cyrus’ office and warns him that he knows Cyrus helped Sally cover up her husband’s murder, so he better not get any ideas.

Liv And Mellie Lunch

Liv, not one to give up that easily, gets Abby and Huck to look into Daniel Douglas’ death while she works with Mellie to quiet the rumors of any sexual relationship between her and Fitz. Mellie, being the genius first lady that she is, invites Liv to lunch at a DC news anchor and journalist hot spot, with paparazzi snapping pictures from outside. The ladies insult each other and talk strategy with fake smiles on their faces, and, though Liv probably does not enjoy being called a ‘whore’ by Mellie, she admits that the lunch was a smart idea. Mellie then hands over a list of acceptable eligible bachelors for Liv to choose from. Liv has to start dating someone publicly, only then will the rumors truly die down.

Liv isn’t too thrilled by the idea, and neither is Fitz when she runs it by him during an argument in the Oval Office. She tells him that her being his campaign manager is already causing him problems in the media and that if he is not going to listen to her about who he picks as VP, if he’s not going to trust her, then she would rather resign. Fitz isn’t having it and kisses her to ensure she doesn’t leave him. In the end, Liv stays on as campaign manager, but she also gets herself a fake boyfriend: Jake. After Jake assures her that Quinn is not, nor will she ever be, a member of B613, Liv asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend for the good of the country, as a ‘patriot.’

Quinn Sticks With Charlie

While Liv is setting up her love life, Huck and Abby go talk to the medical examiner who signed off on Daniel Douglas’ coroner’s report. They ask her questions about the lack of autopsy, and blackmail her with an old drug arrest. The coroner says that Daniel Douglas was drunk and he slipped and fell, hitting his head and dying of a brain bleed. She insists that Sally asked her to lie to keep his memory intact. Of course, that’s not the whole truth. The truth is that Cyrus’ fixer, Charlie (George Newbern), and his new girlfriend/side kick Quinn (Katie Lowes) kidnaped her young son and are holding him hostage to make the coroner lie to Pope and Associates.

Since Huck kicked her out of the Gladiators, and pulled out her tooth, Quinn has a new goal: to make it into B613. The only things she has now are her boyfriend, Charlie, and the special skill set Huck gave her when she was still part of the team. Nothing good can come of this relationship, especially since Jake told Charlie to stay away from Quinn and promised retribution should any harm come to her. Liv still wants her back, but Quinn doesn’t know that. So for now, she’s shopping for a torture toolbox with Charlie and helping him kidnap and torture people.

After an episode of ambiguity, James revealed his true agenda at the White House: he wants to take down Cyrus, or ‘the monster’ as he calls his husband. It turns out James is the one feeding Chandler with information about Daniel Douglas' suspicious death and he also planted a bug in Cyrus' office. He brings a recording of Cyrus and Leo discussing the murder cover up to David Rosen (Joshua Malina). David is hesitant to accept James as a partner, citing the many times James has come to him with promising leads and then abandoning him when the danger kicked in (i.e. Defiance), but James insists that he wants to take down Cyrus for good.

Harrison Gets A Visit From His Past

Things got a bit more interesting for Harrison this episode, when he finally came face to face with Adnan Salif (Nazanin Boniadi), his old boss who has, in recent years, killed all of their other associates. Adnan was issued a visa and is in the United States and Harrison is sure she is going to kill him. So sure, in fact, that he steals Abby’s gun and begs David Rosen to ask around and see if Salif could possibly be deported (she can’t be, and David doesn’t love being used as Harrison’s personal gopher.) When Salif does show up, late at night at Pope and Associates, Harrison points a gun at her and then decides to have sex with her instead.

Finally, Fitz announced Andrew Nichols as his running mate to the public after Liv says she can sell Nichols to the public. In a one-on-one earlier in the episode, Liv got Nichols to tell her why he’s a serial dater and perpetual bachelor. He was in love once, and wanted to get married, but it didn’t work out and now he refuses to get married unless he is in love again. What Liv doesn’t know is that Nichols’ one true love is none other than Mellie Grant! Scandal!

Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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