Fitz (played by Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia (Kerry Washington) are back on.
Screenshot from Scandal

After last week’s gut-punching episode, you’d think Scandal might want to cut us a break. You know, give us a chance to catch our collective breaths. Why not try a very special musical episode? Or even a “Where are they now?” recap of the gladiators who mysteriously went missing? What ever happened to Olivia’s old partner, Stephen? Or David Rosen’s sassy assistant, Alyssa?

But alas, there is no rest for the emotionally wrung out in Scandal land. Let’s face it—we’re all “Pope heads.” We need a bigger fix after every hit, and this week’s episode, “Vermont Is for Lovers, Too,” delivered all the blows.

Just a few minutes in, we got the most grisly scene in Scandal history. Desperate to see her daughter, Olivia, one last time before getting transferred to some prison in Siberia, Mama Pope digs through her own flesh with her teeth until she strikes gold and gets sent to the hospital. No amount of Walking Dead reruns could prepare you for that.

Meanwhile, Mellie, who we all know is harboring the biggest secret of them all, can’t ever seem to catch a break with her cheating husband, Fitz. Just when she thinks he might be drifting back to her by default, Fitz steps into the other room to call Olivia, who, as always, doesn’t know whether to hate him or love him.

Actually, everyone with the misfortune of falling for someone on Scandal is toeing that thin line. All relationships on the show, whether Cyrus and James, Mama and Papa Pope, Liv and Fitz or even Huck and Quinn, teeter on the verge of complete bliss or total destruction. Here’s a list of the best quotes about the show’s ever-fraught relationships.

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“I’ve been sitting in this cell for over 20 years hiding in the bowels of our justice system. You have to give me something, one thing before you throw me out with the trash, please.” —Mama Pope to Papa Pope

We still have no idea why Olivia’s mother is in a supermax prison. But we do know that Papa Pope—aka owner of the only “World’s Most Murderest Dad” mug—is responsible for locking up his wife and keeping her from her daughter. With Liv getting closer to the truth, Rowan Pope decides to transfer Mrs. Pope to an even deeper cell somewhere in Nowheresville and refuses to let her see Olivia one last time. Talk about family drama.

It’s much more fun to pretend I’m your boyfriend.” —Spy Charlie to Quinn

Now that B613 pretty much owns Quinn, she’s trying to make the best of things by not getting found out by the rest of the gladiators at OPA, especially Huck. This poor girl found herself mixed up in a real-life murder-mystery romance and has no clue how to get back to reality. Also, why hasn’t someone put Charlie’s photo on dontdatehimgirl.com yet?

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“I’d say this is a new low.” —Mellie to Cy

As if manipulating every decision every person on planet Earth makes weren’t enough, Mellie and Cyrus have added “pimping” to their professional résumés. In a bid to blackmail Veep Sally Langston out of the presidential race she’s plotting, Mellie and Cyrus are secretly dangling Cyrus’ husband, James, in front of Sally’s secretly gay husband, Daniel Douglas. Got that?

“From now on you’re gonna mind your elders, color inside the lines and do exactly what I say to do, when I say to do it and not one second before. Am I clear?” —Harrison to Candace the Campaign Manager

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In proportion to his sexy, Harrison doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. After three seasons we finally get a Harrison hookup. But unfortunately it’s with Candy the Campaign Manager, who manages to screw up the entire campaign when she gets too big for her britches. The very same britches Harrison manages to get into.

“I do, I feel guilty.” —Cyrus to James

At this point James has no clue that his powerful husband is pulling his strings as hard as he is. So when Cyrus suggests that the newly unemployed James write a “puff piece” on Daniel, James thinks his husband feels bad for being insensitive. Too bad Cy got his guilt gene removed before moving to Washington.

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“This house is yours, ours. I had it built for us.” —Fitz to Liv

Just when Liv thought she was out, Fitz pulls her back in. Seriously. These two crazy kids are going to be 75 years old talking about, “Let’s give it one last try!” The short story is pretty simple: Fitz killed Liv’s mom (allegedly), then Fitz shows Liv the big ole house he bought with plenty of room for pumping out kids, and jam, then Liv melts.

“He’s the head of B613; he knows what he signed up for. Do what you have to do.” —Liv to Fitz

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With visions of sugarplum jam and rising property values dancing in her head, Olivia basically gives Fitz the go-ahead to “handle” her father. Oh, and she tells him not the sell the house “yet.” So the plan is to marry the man who might be responsible for killing your entire family? Oh, OK.

“Once you open that door, you cannot close it again. It changes everything.” —Mellie to Cy

Before they go through with the whole “trick your husband into outing Sally’s husband” thing, Mellie warns Cy about the dangers of mixing business and marriage. But Cyrus, ever the optimist, has all the faith in James, telling the first lady, “My husband’s not your husband.” Would you like an ice cube to go with that burn?

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“It feels good to be back in the saddle.” —James to Cy

Turns out James is hardly the clueless little housewife his husband thinks he is. Not only did he figure out what Cyrus and Mellie were up to, but instead of hightailing it home, he delivers a checkmate. He sleeps with Daniel and comes back home as if nothing happened, knowing full well that Cyrus would find out.

“We need to talk about who you’re working for.” —Huck to Quinn

Finally the Huck-Quinn-B613 love triangle has come full circle. Through the magic of technology, Huck has found out that Quinn murdered the sole witness to see who got off the plane that eventually crashed with Liv’s mom onboard. All along, Quinn had been turned on by Huck’s former gig as a torturer. Now she’ll get a firsthand look.

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“Hi, Livvie.” —Mama Pope to Olivia

The one relationship on the show we still don’t know enough about is between Olivia and her mom. We do, however, know that her death was the defining moment in Liv’s life. Now that Mama Pope has escaped from prison and somehow made it to the exact dark alley Olivia passes on her nightly commute, we’ll see how the two Popes do face-to-face after all these years. 

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.

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Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.