In a show where tiny details like the clothing colors foreshadow the mood and actions of a character, we should have ALL predicted who would save the day from the line that Quinn uttered last episode. Some of us did, and the rest of us didn’t catch on.
The Iranians win Olivia in the auction, but the deal fails when Gus takes Liv for the drop-off. Liv lies to both sides about their intentions, telling each of them that the other is there for an ambush. Each party gets in their cars and goes their respective ways. Well played, Gladiator.
Mellie warns the vice-president, “This is as high as you fly, Andrew. Go any higher, and you get shot down.” Like Icarus, who was told not to fly too close to the sun lest his wax-constructed wings melt off. Andrew says he will make sure she’s never president of the United States. He should know better, because nobody — nobody — puts Mellie in the corner.
Olivia could write Gossip Girl: American National Security and put the entire country in jeopardy, so the fact that she might end up in enemy hands could start the Republic crumbling. It would actually be better for the country if she died before she ends up in the wrong hands. In spite of the head of the CIA and everyone telling Fitz this, he is still deep in Operation Save My Boo. Cyrus is so pissed about it that he does a whole speech in his head about quitting, because Fitz is a lovestruck nincompoop who is possibly running the country into the ground through the rise of his peen.
Mellie (in her red dress) tells Liz North that she needs to handle Andrew, because she totally owes her for saving her from a second Huck session. Back at OPA, Jake tells Huck to tuck in his inner monster who likes to kill for sport, and Quinn makes him promise: “No more blood.” Liz shows up and tells Huck to help her make Andrew feel some pain (or kill him), but since he just made that vow to Baby Huck, he tells her that he’s fresh out of ass-whoopings and killings.
David brings up the possibility that the administration might “neutralize the asset” and it freaks Abby out! Her suspicion is confirmed when she sees the director of the CIA coming out of Cy’s office. She confronts the chief of staff, who admits that if they lose the auction, Liv has to die.
The auction for Olivia is back on, and with a few minutes left, the Gladiators bid $2 billion under the name Marie Wallace. Russians match it as the bidding comes to an end and it ends up in a tie. Gus turns to Liv to make the decision and her not-so-hidden enthusiasm to pick Marie Wallace makes him decide to give her to the Russians. They’ve lost, and Abby tells the Gladiators to reach into their Barney bag for a solution, because the CIA will kill Olivia before she’s handed to whoever just bought her. Now it’s real in the field.
This isn’t the real Hail Mary, but Huck ties the VP to a chair and sticks a needle in his back. When Andrew falls out of the chair, Huck tells Liz to call 911. Operation Save Liv is in effect as Abby calls David to see if he has any Interpol connections. Jake goes to visit Mama Pope in jail to see if she has Russian contacts who can help, but she says nope. She does, however, send him to Prescott Lake, where Jake finds Papa Pope living a bitter life of retirement, fishing, and earth-tone clothes. Ex-Command cackles that he's barely left and Liv is in the deepest trouble of her life. Father Knows Best in so many ways. But too bad, because Rowan tells Jake, “I don’t have a daughter.” All the welps that ever welped in Welpchester!
At the CIA building, Cyrus and the director are ready to drop a missile on the car taking Olivia for the drop-off. Beene tells them to wait to launch them as the satellites zoom into the Russians who exit their cars and Gus removes the hood covering Olivia’s face. The man standing opposite Olivia is a bearded Stephen Finch: the Gladiator from season one! Liv takes his gun, turns around, and shoots Gus in the knees. Then she proceeds to kick his ass with all the revenge-rage she can muster.
Back at the White House, Cyrus gives Abby a verbal pat on the back, because it was her call to Interpol that connected them to Steven, who then used a favor that a Russian gang owed him to collect Liv. Abby tells Beene, “Once a Gladiator, always a Gladiator.” But let’s not forget that Cyrus almost killed her friend and the godmother to his phantom daughter who we never, ever see. She must be raised by a nanny. I low-key miss James, by the way.
Olivia asks Stephen to come back to D.C. with her to be a Gladiator again, but he tells her he’s happy right where he is. The press announces that VP Andrew “Icarus” Nichols suffered a major stroke and we see that he’s now in a vegetative state. The lesson here, in case you couldn't guess: He flew too close to the sun (a.k.a. Mellie’s ambition) and got burned.
Poor Liv clearly has PTSD, and seems to be kinda in a daze. Jake and Quinn escort her home, where Huck is adding four locks and two deadbolts. She insists on being alone in her apartment, but as they leave, Fitz arrives looking like a little boy whose lost security blanket finally got returned.
He asks if she got hurt, and Olivia flips out. She says she wasn’t raped, but she’s pissed that he’s a lovestruck nincompoop who sucks at being a president. The person whom the president went to war to save tells him he failed a major test because he “sent thousands of innocent soldiers into harm's way, some of them to their deaths, for one person …” Yes, that is a GREAT point that needs to be made, but it’s got to be a gut-punch for Fitz. He went to war for her.
Liv doesn’t even say “thank you” for turning everything on its head because you love me so much that you put me before the entire country. Nope. She let his ass have it because he made a stupid decision. Ex-boyfriends haven’t even jumped on a two-hour flight to see me but Fitz is starting international conflict for her honor? The least she could have said was “thank you.” Sheesh, Olivia.
The episode ends as she throws some rings at him and shows him the door. Oh, Liv. Poor, confusing Liv.
Questions for pondering:
Ever noticed how red Mellie’s “I’m about to wreak havoc and/or get shit done" color is?
Will Stephen be lured back to join the Gladiators?
How much have you missed Papa Pope?
“You moron. You child. When are you going to learn? The finest minds in our government have told you what needs to happen, and STILL… I built you from the ground up. You are all that I have to show for my life. I made you a warrior. I made you a king. I made you leader of men. And THIS is what you do? THIS is what you leave me with?” – Cyrus’s wishful speech to Fitz
Jake: They added a beast inside me too. And he’s a really good guy. But I do not let him out. Ever … he’s not allowed out to play. You have to keep your guy in, Huck. You have to lock him all the time. Otherwise, one day, he will be strong enough to lock you in and you’ll never get out.
Huck: Liv locks him in for me.
“You may be Liv’s puppy, but I’m kinda yours.” – Quinn to Huck
“She is his beating heart held at the hand of his enemy … As long as his heart is out there, we are screwed. We stop it. We stop that beating heart.” – Cyrus to CIA director
Rowan: Unbelievable. I’ve been gone how long? I mean, has it been a week and already you’ve lost … no, not lost. She’s been taken.
Jake: These are professionals.
Rowan: And that distinguishes them from you, now, doesn’t it?