In addition to causing emotional upheaval for #TeamFitz, #TeamJake and everyone in between, Thursday night’s episode also taught us 10 life lessons:
1. You win wars by deploying weapons that your opponent doesn’t possess.
In this episode, Olivia, Papa Pope and Fitz battled it out over Jake’s fate. Even though Papa Pope initially convinced Fitz to turn Jake over to him, Olivia proved to be the ultimate puppet master when she convinced Fitz to spare Jake’s life. As she told her father, “I have weapons at my disposal that you can’t possibly possess.”
2. Hope is one hell of a commodity.
The weapon Olivia possessed was the ability to convince Fitz that if he spared Jake’s life, she and Fitz might still have a chance at a future together. When Fitz gave Jake the good news, he told him, “Consider it my gift to the woman we love.”
3. True power hides in plain sight.
Remember when Jake told Papa Pope to start packing because his days were numbered? Papa Pope let Jake know that his swagger was his downfall. Unlike Jake, instead of showing Fitz his cards, Papa Pope played Fitz like a fiddle by pretending to be everything from Fitz’s wet nurse to his prayer partner. At the end of the day, however, Olivia showed everyone that true power rocks a white pantsuit.
4. Real friends take risks for you.
Abby knew that Olivia was having nightmares, worrying about Jake, so she strolled up to Fitz in the Oval Office and charged him up about Jake’s whereabouts. “I'm asking the married man who used to sleep with my friend what exactly he’s done with the man she’s currently sleeping with!” Go, Red!
5. Be easy with the “b-word.”
Although Fitz was highly pissed off about Abby’s brazenness, he did as she asked and filled Olivia in about Jake’s situation, but not without calling Abby a bitch first, and Liv shut him down immediately: “Don’t call her a bitch when you would describe a man who did the same thing as ‘formidable,’ ‘bold’ or ‘right.’” Message!
6. Know your worth and set your price accordingly.
Cyrus is still shagging Michael the sex worker, and he’s wide open! While Cyrus showered, Michael checked Cyrus’ phone and saw an email about a White House plan to close military bases. In exchange for relaying this valuable information to Lizzy, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, Michael let her know that his rates had gone up. As with all goods and services, the laws of supply and demand apply.
7. Saying “rumors” creates rumors.
The very savvy Lizzy repeated the “rumor” of the base-closing plan during a televised interview, and like clockwork, it spread through Washington like wildfire.
8. Before you head out on a witch hunt, you might want to look at your own back door.
When Abby told Cyrus that finding out who leaked the information about the base closing wasn’t in her job description, Cyrus let her know that if it was up to Fitz, she wouldn’t have a job. Ask and you shall receive, Cyrus. Abby started digging, and she dug up Cyrus’ dirt—that he’s a sugar daddy to a sex worker. It’s safe to say that Abby’s job is secure.
9. Handlers can get handled, too.
During this episode, former President Cooper died of a stroke, and the man who was convicted of his failed assassination attempt 30 years earlier asked for Liv’s help to exonerate him. Believing in his innocence based on looking in his eyes, Olivia put on her white hat and led the crusade, only to find out that the man just wanted the autopsy to prove to the whole world that he was, in fact, responsible for President Cooper’s death. David Rosen responded, “That’s why our judicial system isn’t based on looking into people's eyes.” One point for David Rosen.
10. When someone with wisdom to share speaks, take notes.
When President Cooper’s widow, Bitsy, a pot-smoking, martini-drinking straight shooter, came to the White House to plan her husband’s funeral, she let Mellie in on all of her first lady secrets. As it turns out, Bitsy was running the country (negotiating peace accords and what not) behind the scenes while her attention-deficit-disorder-suffering husband was busy shagging his secretary. However, as Bitsy lamented, at the end of the day, she’ll only be remembered as “the wife of a man who did something with his life.” This revelation aroused Mellie’s ambition, which she had quietly tucked away long ago. Reinvigorated, Mellie agreed to Lizzy’s earlier request to deny rumors about the base closings to the press, even though she knew that doing so would back Fitz into a corner. Mellie’s back!
Akilah Green is a recovering Washington, D.C., lawyer-lobbyist-politico turned TV and film writer and producer living in Los Angeles. She currently works for Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show, Chelsea. She has also worked as a staff writer for Kevin Hart’s production company, HartBeat Productions, and as a consultant for Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO. In addition, she co-wrote and is producing Scratch, an indie horror-comedy feature film, and is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow Green’s adventures in La La Land on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.