SPOILER ALERT: This recap contains storyline and character spoilers for the "It's Handled" Season 3 premiere episode of "Scandal."
"Scandal" Season 3 to "Scandal" Season 2: You just got served!
Seriously, we did not think any episode could be more nuts, more jaw-dropping, more wack-a-doodle than May's finale. We. Were. Wrong.
Because this premiere? Pretty sure we did not blink once. Breathing was difficult. Words hard to form. Typing notes nearly impossible. Intense scene was followed by an intense-r scene (totally a word).
As we saw in the finale, Olivia's world was shattered when someone leaked her name to the press as Fitz's mistress. Her father, Rowan — aka Mystery Bench Guy, who was Jake's B-613 boss — swooped in to "help" her. As we see in the premiere, his idea of "help" is to make her disappear (not like that).
We live-tweeted the whole thing. Let's play back the tape!
Twice as Good
Sitting in the limo, still in shock, Olivia has the wherewithal to ask her father the first question we want to know the answer to: Why did he try to have her killed? Rowan replies that he was trying to kill Jake, not her. OK, so not the worst father in the world …
But still really, really terrible. First, he berates her for believing that Fitz and the White House will help her through this. "Whose body do you think they'll burn?" he roars. Then, he brings up advice he drilled into her as a child:
"You have to be WHAT?" "Twice as good." Really supportive advice from dad. #Scandal— Yahoo TV (@YahooTV) October 4, 2013
Liv breaks down and finally agrees to his plan, which is to get on a plane, assume a new identity, and disappear. But before the plane takes off, she calls Cyrus, who doesn't want her to go. She accuses him of plotting to throw her under the bus, which he declaims.
Cyrus begs Olivia not to take off, and she decides to believe in him. Rowan's furious. "What is happening is I am taking care of myself," Liv tells her father. Then, she lays one last zinger on him:
Over at the White House, everyone's in a tizzy. Cyrus wants VP Sally Langston to take over Fitz's upcoming appearances, but she refuses to help a cheater. Fitz asks to speak to Sally alone, but rather than blowing his top, he does something rather surprising:
Fitz is apologizing to Sally of all people! "I did not live up to my promise to be the best man I can be." #Scandal— Yahoo TV (@YahooTV) October 4, 2013
Fitz is prepared to deal with the consequences of the affair, and asks Sally to buy him some time to make a statement. In her nicest, softest voice, she agrees. Huh. Sally has a heart!
At Pope & Associates, Olivia informs her team that they're not going to do anything about the rumors. Her team's reaction: WTF. While Olivia tends to the clients who are jumping ship, Harrison decides to take charge. Whatever their boss says, "We handle it."
At the White House, Cyrus pumps James for some insider press info, and learns that the reporter who broke the Olivia story hangs out at the same bar as Secret Service agents. Aha! That's the source of the leak! But, luckily, as Mellie learns from SS Agent Hal, he did not reveal Olivia's name.
Unfortunately, more corroborating evidence comes out — a cameraphone video that shows Fitz, in the background, emerging from Olivia's building. Oops. That leads Cyrus to order a "kill folder" on Liv.
The "kill folder" is not what it sounds like: It's just a folder filled with gossip and dirt on Liv. After looking through it, Cy decides they should play the "ambitious slut card." Dirty, dirty, dirty!
After Rowan once again lambastes his daughter, she pointedly inquires about Jake's whereabouts (he's still in that hole, remember?). He urges her to get back on the plane as she's run out of options, but she coolly replies, "I'm never out of options."
Then, Olivia dials some mysterious number and gives some passcode. She's ushered into a supersecret bunker room. When the door opens, it reveals … Fitz!
Truth or Dare
Apparently, the mysterious number was only to be used in major emergencies. "We're already under attack!" Liv yells at Fitz. She waits for a third party to join, but it's not Cyrus — it's Mellie! Whoa. Just … whoa.
The three of them in that bunker … incredibly tense. The hairs on our arms all stand up. They pow-wow about a plan. Olivia outlines one that involves Fitz and Mellie giving a joint statement in the Rose Garden, trotting out their kids, and giving another big interview to James.
But Mellie balks. She doesn't want to answer endless questions about her husband's ongoing infidelity. That long of an affair is humiliating.
"That is not you making a mistake. That is not you cheating on me." "That is me being in love with another woman." Damn. #Scandal— Yahoo TV (@YahooTV) October 4, 2013
So, Liv asks her how many times is OK (meaning, how many times she and Fitz had sex). They agree on two — once on inauguration day, once after the assassination attempt. The three agree on a plan, and Mellie storms off.
Fitz gently asks Olivia how she's doing. Dude, how do you think she's doing? Liv lets herself cry on his shoulder for a minute, then leaves.
Gladiators, Prepare for Battle!
At the White House, Fitz informs Sally of his intention to 'fess up to cheating on Mellie. She's proud that he's sticking with his family, then alludes to her husband having a "very good time" in D.C. Guess we know why Sally was so mad about Fitz's infidelity!
Didn't think we'd ever feel bad for Sally. But why is Fitz hurling himself on the grenade? #Scandal— Yahoo TV (@YahooTV) October 4, 2013
But wait! Mellie totally lied about agreeing to the plan. She goes to Cyrus to figure out something else. And over at Pope & Associates, Harrison seems in on it, too. When the others are dubious, he rallies the troops:
And with that, a video hits the news. In it, a young communications aide named Jeanine Locke blabbers about how "hot" Fitz is. Then, more "highly-placed sources" reveal that Jeanine was Fitz's mistress! One talking head even says Olivia is owed an apology.
Poor Jeanine goes to Cyrus for help, and he assures her that the whole White House will support her (as he smiles like the cat who ate the canary).
A very angry Olivia storms into her office:
And a very angry Fitz storms around the Oval Office. He plans to go ahead with the statement — amended to absolve Jeanine — but Mellie stops him. She admits to concocting the whole Jeanine plan, and got the idea from him … after he leaked Olivia's name himself. Flashbacks show that this is true!
Fitz is cold. "You and I are at war," he snarls. He leaked Liv's name to get her out from under Mellie's thumb. Now, Olivia is free.
Harrison says the same thing to a still angry Olivia. "There is nothing wrong with a little self-preservation," he says. "Doesn't mean you don't wear the white hat."
Oliva gives him a look that could ice over the Amazon. "We've got a client. Let's go to work." That client? One Jeanine Locke.
Meanwhile, Rowan uses Charlie to whisk Cyrus away to a secret meeting. Remember that mission where Fitz met Jake Ballard? Well, seems that mission is a lot darker than it sounds. Rowan gives Cyrus a folder. When he opens it, Cyrus actually looks scared!
So, Jeanine is now Olivia's client, and whatever Fitz did on that mission with Jake is bad enough to shock Cyrus. Yikes. #Scandal— Yahoo TV (@YahooTV) October 4, 2013
If this roller coaster ride goes any higher, we'll all end up in space. Whew!
What did you think of the season premiere? Sound off in the comments below!
"Scandal" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.