You guys, I’m ready to make a somewhat surprising declaration: Last night’s episode of Scandal was good. Not “good for this season,” or “good relative to all the bad episodes lately,” but legitimately, objectively good. The stuff going on felt exciting and like we were continuing to move through the plot, and even though last week’s episode had a pretty significant red herring, this week didn’t slow down when it reversed course. We’re finally getting somewhere.

This week, we got straight back into the action with Quinn, who found Jake and answered the last episode’s essential question: Is Jake dead? Jake is not dead! He is thoroughly stabbed, though. They called Quinn’s ex-boo and took Jake to a warehouse where they got a doctor with a literal doctor bag to come and shine a light in his eyes and be like, yeah, he’s gonna die. For reasons I could not entirely follow, Olivia was emphatic that he could not go to an actual hospital.

The doctor who attended to Jake was Russian, and in exchange for his services, he wanted a favor for a KGB friend of his. This is Scandal, so no one can just, you know, call a doctor from a listing on Jake’s HMO’s website. There has to be a Russian spy involved. The doctor referred to David as “scared man with glasses,” though, so he can stay.

The KGB agent who needed help was masquerading as an American grandma, and she’d just gotten her first murder assignment in 27 years because Putin is losing his grip on things in the Scandal universe, too. Olivia tried to intimidate her handler into releasing her from duty, but as anyone with any sense already knows, you cannot intimidate a Russian spy fixer by being serious-faced and raising your voice a little at his day job.

She went back offering him her father’s head on a platter, and because murderous international spy agencies are competitive with each other, it was a more effective tactic for currying favor. It wasn’t totally effective, though; Rowan was tipped off that it was all happening and executed the handler, the spy and her grandkids before Olivia even knew what was happening, because he is the pettiest person alive. Papa probably wouldn’t let Olivia win a game of driveway basketball when she was a kid.

Elsewhere, Mellie was still trying to get elected to an office of her own. Sally went on her cable news show to denounce Mellie’s candidacy for senate because she remembered learning about checks and balances in middle school and felt pretty sure that the executive branch and legislative branch shouldn’t be literally boning. Good news: I’m fairly confident they don’t do that anymore! Conflict of interest, solved.

It appeared as though Mellie et. al. hadn’t considered that people were obviously going to have that concern, or that a first lady running for congress might not be legal. (It is, mostly because it was too ridiculous a possibility to consider back when the constitution was written and women were basically chattle.) It seems like something that someone should have considered, at some point, but maybe being powerful for so long makes you forget that you sometimes have to play by others’ rules.

The president sent Cyrus on to Sally’s show to defend Mellie’s senate run, and he did a fine job of it–we would never, of course, expect a First Gentleman to abandon all of his professional ambitions to tend to the White House garden. Sally isn’t exactly an intellectual titan, and it’s always a pleasure to watch her simmer with self-righteous, ineffectual rage when she gets upstaged.

Cyrus couldn’t fix everything, though. Even after his appearance, polls showed that most Americans still thought it was a somewhat incestuous and uncomfortable idea, and the president’s staff went so far as to suggest floating divorce rumors to drum up sympathy for Mellie.

Fitz finally called Olivia, and she finally gave him the correct answer–Mellie doesn’t need the country to vote for her, just the people of Virginia, who, you know, might actually like having a senator who’s more powerful and connected and close to the president than any other in the country. Duh. That might screw up Fitz’s legacy, but I think he already did a pretty solid job of that simply by being himself.

With all that unpleasantness dealt with, there was, of course, the small matter of Olivia, Papa Pope, Jake and the Boy Toy. Papa Pope mostly seems to have ordered Jake’s murder because he wanted Olivia to call him, and when she didn’t, he (correctly) surmised that he was still alive and sent Olivia’s boy toy back out to fix that. He tried to lure Liv into his clutches by offering her a bottle of wine and his naked body, but, in spite of a healthy dose of considered hesitation on her part, it did not work.

When the boy toy went back to Papa Pope in failure, he shot him in the arm to put him in the hospital, anticipating that Olivia and her team would assume he was being targeted by the same people who came for Jake, and indeed, she swooped in and took Russell to the staphylococcus-covered battlefield hospital where Jake was being held. Once there, he tried to kill Jake again, but because Russell was mostly hired for being pretty, he failed to do it again, despite the fact that Jake was literally strapped to a bed and he had a very sharp medical knife to use.

Because the team seemed to forget that boy toy Russell even existed in the room, though, that meant they talked fairly freely around him–he’s how Papa Pope knew about the Russians and that Olivia had offered them his head in a platter, which is why they all got shot. Olivia eventually figured that out, and she closed the episode on top of Russell, with a gun to his head. He was shirtless, of course–Shonda knows what we like.

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