Sally causes problems when she meets with the NRA. Meanwhile, someone unexpected seeks help from Olivia’s firm; and Olivia and Huck have surprising realizations.
It was James, guys. It was James. Jake shot the poor dude in the back as he was running away and then threatened to shoot David Rosen as well unless he agreed to fall in line – and agree, he did, because honestly who wouldn’t?
David Rosen is given the lead on James Novak’s case – most likely to tie up any loose ends that Jake Ballard may have left – which leads to him lying to Abby and Olivia about it.
With the help of Quinn, Charlie, and a gun, the murder is pinned on a man with a failing liver, shitty insurance, and a history of carjackings. He agrees because inmates get free medical care, and it looks like the case is open and shut – until Rosen backs out of pointing the finger at an innocent man.
The White House
Cyrus is in shock after finding out about James, and spends most of his time flashing back to happier, non-murder-y days, or screaming at people like poor sweet Ethan.
Fitz and Sally Langston agree to pause their campaigns for a few days to mourn James’ death. Sally and Leo naturally aren’t planning to honor this agreement at all, jumping on the chance to get the gun lobbyists on their side.
Workaholic that he is, Cyrus refuses to take his days off and works with Fitz and Olivia to thwart Sally’s plot. They send Mellie and Andrew in to meet with the NRA, and she gets them to agree to back Fitz if he makes an official White House speech supporting gun rights – but Cyrus wants to try something different and back gun control instead. “If we can turn a few purple states red, why not?” he states. It works; the NRA fully backs Sally Langston, but Fitz’s approval ratings are rising high. Also, Mellie and Andrew get it on during a passionate, drunken debate about guns, so there’s that.
Mama Pope and Adnan Salif
Mama Pope/Marie Wallace and Adnan Salif’s partnership has only just begun, and already it’s fraying around the edges. Adnan has hired Mama Pope for some nefarious purpose and is reluctant to bring in anybody else on the plan, but Mama Pope needs a fall guy and “it’s not gonna be me.”
When a meeting with potential allies goes sour (Mama Pope takes offense at being relegated to meeting lackeys instead of the top dog, and kills one of said lackeys) Adnan realizes exactly how screwed she’s gonna be if this all doesn’t go to plan. She reaches out to Harrison for help, but is spooked and runs.
Olivia Pope and Associates
Olivia figures out quickly that the assumed carjacking incident that James Novak died in wasn’t a carjacking at all, when both Vanessa Chandler and Shelby Moss turn up missing. She calls Jake to get him to look into it, which is ironic, because he’s looking right into a grave he just dug for poor Vanessa and Shelby’s mangled bodies.
Huck’s the one to find the link they need; by going through security footage from a camera at the back of Olivia’s safe, he sees that Quinn had broken into the safe and stolen files. Huck brings this information to Olivia, and Olivia goes straight to B613 and Jake Ballard.
“Who put you up to this?” she asks, at which point Jake screams in her face that he’s Command and this was his call, and that he was the one to pull the trigger. He tells her to let it go, and drops a thinly veiled threat that “bad things happen to good people all the time.” Ho-lee shit, son.
Speaking of “Ho-lee shit,” guess where Huck’s been while this is all going on? Lying in wait at Quinn’s apartment, that’s where! Apparently he was planning on killing her until he realized that he was the one who trained her, and he trained her perfectly – so he would never have seen her face on camera unless she wanted him to. That, then, somehow translates to “you’re still a Gladiator,” and then into “let’s smash our faces together and make out.” I really didn’t see this one coming.
It takes some mulling over, but Olivia eventually decides to convince David Rosen to arrest the wrong man, saying they need to “lose this battle so we can win the war.” The crime is pinned on the guy with the failing liver, and Olivia is the one to tell Cyrus who “killed” his husband.
Cyrus tries to announce the details to the press, but in a final heart-wrenching flashback, is overcome with emotion and begins openly sobbing, leaving Olivia to continue where he left off as Fitz ushers Cyrus away. In the last scene of the episode, we see James’ final moments; he died in pain, but at least we wasn’t alone, because Jake sat with him the entire time.
Honestly, I think I’d rather die alone than with my murderer sitting above me saying “sorry this hurts so much but like, I gotta do it so I don’t get caught, man,” but to each his own.
Olivia: Ethan, stop crying, or you’re fired.
Flashback!James: You really think I’m gonna take fashion advice from a guy with a neckbeard?
Adnan: You blew up a plane.
Mama Pope: That was personal. Terrorists use violence to advance their convictions. God country. But since I’m not burdened by those I’m more of a facilitator. I don’t make bombs, I make money.
Ethan: I did everything you said, I held his calls, I canceled his meetings, I did a bunch of stuff wrong on purpose just so he could yell at me which usually makes him feel better but I’m sorry Miss Pope, I couldn’t stop him.
Cyrus: I know what you’re doing, and I appreciate it, I do. Thank you for caring about me and my health, I mean it. But asking me to sit on my hands while Sally Langston steals the gun lobby and with it, Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania, and The White House in a single meeting, that’s not helping me. That’s involuntary manslaughter.
Cyrus: I don’t… I don’t indulge very often.
James: Indulge? Cyrus, I’m not a dessert. I like you. I’m attracted to you. Now that you’re divorced, I wanna date you. Because you’re intense, strong, and… even though you’re a Republican, you have a very hot mouth.
Leo: Cyrus Beene, that grief-stricken son of a bitch.
Olivia: Fitz gave you the keys to this office and immediately you became my father!
Jake: I am different! Because when something awful needed to be done, I did not pull some poor, broken soldier out of the Hole and make him do something that would give him nightmares for the rest of his life, I did that awful thing myself. James Novak died in a carjacking. Accept that, and the world keeps spinning.
Olivia: And if I don’t?
Jake: Bad things happen to good people all the time.