Liv chose to run Congresswoman Marcus’ Presidential campaign over Fitz after learning that Fitz may have been the man behind the airplane crash that killed her mother in Scandal’s latest installment, “Icarus.”

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is reeling from the news that President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) may have been involved in a top secret military mission that shot down the commercial plane Liv’s mother was traveling on – all from orders from Command (aka Liv’s dad). She’s practically catatonic in her office, and B-613 alums Huck (Guillermo Díaz) and Jake (Scott Foley) are acting as gatekeepers, blocking Pope & Associates from her office while she digests the news. But Liv doesn’t have all day to wallow – Congresswoman Josephine Marcus (Lisa Kudrow) and Mellie (Bellamy Young) are both hounding her to run their respective campaigns, and if she doesn’t make a decision soon, both offers could disappear.

It’s time for action, so Liv marches straight into the Oval Office, where Cyrus (Jeff Perry), Mellie and Fitz have all gathered. They think that her pilgrimage to the White House means she’s in. Before Liv can make her decision she wants Fitz to tell her about Operation Remington. Was he part of a secret mission that shot down a plane over Iceland? Fitz refuses to answer, and denies the mission’s existence. That’s confirmation enough for Liv, and she denies his offer to run his re-election campaign and walks straight out of Fitz’s office and into Congresswoman Josie Marcus’ arms.

Mellie and Cyrus are livid, to say the least, and, once Fitz tells Cy that Liv knows about Operation Remington (or thinks she knows), Cyrus goes on the offensive. Afraid Liv will double cross them and use Operation Remington against the President, Cyrus does what he does best: blackmail.

First, he goes to Command (Joe Morton) and breaks down the situation. The game plan: Command will deal with Jake and his incessant snooping and Cy will focus on the election. In an effort to get rid of Jake Ballard once and for all, Command compromises one of Jake’s confidants, who was supposed to be doing him a solid and using her security clearance to get the flight transcript from Remington. Instead of a report in her purse, she had a gun. She’s shot down before she can use it by a mysterious guardian angel, or member of the President’s secret service team. Fitz assigned surveillance on Jake when he learned Command wants him dead. The two have an awkward, and unhelpful, confrontation – Jake wants the truth, and Fitz is still angry that Jake also wants Olivia.

Meanwhile, Liv is staying busy working with Josie. The Congresswoman’s image is good: she’s funny, straightforward, and extremely likable, but a good image doesn’t win elections, money does. In order to line up big, top tier donors, Josie is going to have to show herself as a strong woman who can keep up with the big boys. Essentially, Josie has to find away to fight against the sexist perception that a woman cannot be President, but Josie is resistant; she doesn’t want to have to act tough or go on the defensive. Liv sets up a serious interview with James (Dan Bucatinsky), Cy’s husband, and she’s got a trick up her sleeve.

Seconds before the interview is set to begin, Liv and Abby (Darby Stanchfield) accidentally-not-really show Josie a supposed attack ad making not so subtle jabs about Josie’s gender, implying she isn’t tough enough to be President. The push does the trick: once the cameras start rolling, Josie delivers a speech on sexism in politics and slams her opponents in the process. Pope & Associates: 1. Cyrus: 0.

As frustrated as Cy is by the Congresswoman’s advancement in the election, he also has another plan set in motion. He’s going after Harrison (Columbus Short), hoping to blackmail him into ruining Josie’s campaign. Cyrus calls Harrison and threatens to get his old boss, Adnan Salif, a Visa allowing him back into the United States. Before Pope & Associates, Harrison was a car salesman who broke the law for insider-trading. Needless to say, if Adnan Salif sets foot on American soil, it’s game over for Harrison. Harrison thinks he’s got the problem solved when he asks Huck to somehow hack into the system and make it impossible for Salif to obtain a Visa, but Cy’s not done pulling strings.

When he’s not busy manipulating Harrison, Cyrus is busy working his magic on an unsuspecting VP Sally Langston (Kate Burton). Langston is prepping her own secret play for the White House and wants to orchestrate a Tea Party attack on the President in the hopes that Fitz will then ask her to smooth things over with her conservative base, giving her free range to campaign on the down low. Everything appears to be going according to plan for Sally, until Cyrus meets with a Reverend Sally revealed her plans to and learns she’s definitely going to try to run against Fitz. To neutralize Sally, Cyrus and Mellie decide to go after her weakness: her philandering husband.

Liv calls her dad in tears and admits that she wants to ask him so many questions (presumably about Remington and her mother), but is afraid to ask them for fear that he will kill her friends. Command tells Liv she can ask one question, and he tells her that he did not give the order to have her mother killed. He refuses to reveal anything further, and Liv hangs up on him. Later, Fitz shows up and asks Liv why this one mission matters so much to her. She admits to him that one of the people killed in that plane crash was her mother. Fitz is horrified, but quickly masks it and, again, insists he doesn’t know anything about Operation Remington. Liv kicks him out.

Finally, a more nefarious facet of Command’s plan is revealed when Charlie (George Newbern) ‘bumps into’ Quinn (Katie Lowes) at the shooting range. He helps her with her aim, and the two flirt. With Huck shutting her out, Quinn is vulnerable to Charlie’s charm and his knowledge of the dark side (torture, killing, etc.) that is so seductive to Quinn. The episode ends with Charlie on the phone with Command: he’s grooming Quinn to be a recruit.

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

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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