Olivia (Kerry Washington) trades dirt with Gov. Vargas’ superfine brother, Alex (Danny Pino).
Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Scandal's presidential campaign is in full swing, and this week, all of the candidates are gearing up for their first debate, which will be hosted by Sally Langston on The Liberty Report. 

Billionaire narcissist Hollis Doyle, aka "the Texas Truthteller": He's the Donald Trump of Scandal's presidential race, which is brilliant. Hollis is just going to tell it like it is. The truth doesn't need prep. While everyone else is preparing for the debate, reporters have followed Hollis to a shooting range where he shows off some Texas magic. He’s cooking bacon by wrapping it in foil around the barrel of the gun while he shoots. I can't lie. I was pretty impressed.

Sen. Mellie Grant: The former first lady has a people problem. The problem is that people don't like her. They think she's out of touch. Olivia Pope tries to fix Mellie's image by sending her to Gettysburger in a baseball hat to dine among "the people." Great idea. That is, until Mellie botches the plan by improvising, aka doing too damn much. When reporters ask Mellie if this is the first time she's been to Gettysburger, Mellie says she used to go every Sunday after church. Oops! Gettysburger is closed on Sundays. Now Mellie is out of touch and a liar. 

Vice President Susan Ross: Somehow, someway, David Rosen is still sleeping with both Susan Ross and her campaign manager, Elizabeth North, who orchestrated the whole triangle. As he explains to Abby Whelan without revealing their identities, he's enjoying good sex with a good woman and nasty sex with a nasty woman. Moments after Elizabeth convinces Susan and David to make their relationship public after the debate, Abby tells Susan that David keeps freaking out about how hard it is to juggle women. The plural of "woman." Ouch. 

When Susan confronts David, he denies it. Then he immediately calls things off with Liz, who seems disappointed. While she was encouraging David to sleep with Susan, she wasn't sleeping with anyone else. How surprisingly quaint. 


Later, before the debate, President Fitz Grant, a known cheater, tells Susan that she should trust her gut. And she does. She breaks up with David, but the press is expecting them to appear together, so she still has to do the post-debate photo with him. Susan tears up backstage before the debate, and when she explains to Liz why she's crying, Liz starts crying, too. Then they hug. Umm-kay. 

Gov. Francisco Vargas: Cyrus Beene is officially running Francisco's campaign now. Or is he? When Cy tries to rev up the campaign staff, he's quickly upstaged by Francisco's brother, Alex. Who is "foine." Not fine. But "foine" like they might say in a black sitcom on UPN in the '90s. Alex has been running his brother's campaigns for years, and he's never lost one. He's foine. I think I said that already. And charismatic. And, apparently, willing to play dirty. He approaches Olivia with dirt on Susan, and he wants dirt on Senate Majority Leader Edison Davis in exchange. Olivia refuses to play dirty … at first …

Senate Majority Leader Edison Davis: In this episode, Edison announces his campaign for president! Edison is also Olivia's ex-fiance whom she left for Fitz. But when the story about her being Fitz's mistress broke earlier this season, Edison vouched for her on national TV. Olivia lets Edison know she owes him a favor, so she won't spill his secrets during the campaign. Meanwhile, Quinn Perkins has been cozying up to Jake Ballard's fiance, Vanessa, and she figures out that Jake is using Vanessa to launder money through her bank account into Edison's super PAC at Papa Pope's request. What? Why?


After Gettysburger-gate, Olivia has to do something to turn the poll numbers around, and she's actually considering using the dirt she has on Edison. So much for her word. Well, it makes sense that when Olivia approaches Papa Pope for advice on whether to use the dirt she has on Edison, he advises her not to do it. When Olivia goes to warn Edison about her father, it turns out that Edison already knows all about Rowan because he's already in bed with him. Olivia warns him, "You're getting into bed with a monster." Edison corrects her: "I'm getting into bed with a monster's father." Bloop.

Olivia then texts Jake from the restroom of the restaurant where he's dining with Vanessa, and when Jake comes to find out what she wants, she pushes him into the restroom and shoves her hand down his pants. She lets him know that she knows that he's using Vanessa to support Edison's campaign. She also lets him know that "nobody will ever ride you like I did." So there's that, too. Before leaving him hanging, Olivia warns him, "You tell my father that whatever game this is, I will win." Ewww.

Before the debate begins, Olivia and Alex trade dirt on Edison and Susan. Olivia tells Alex that Edison went to rehab for an addiction to painkillers. How does Olivia know? Olivia was the one who sent him to rehab and covered up the story. In the last scene, Olivia opens the envelope that Alex brought with dirt on Susan …


All the while, Cy has been relegated to the sidelines. In fact, he's so far off to the side that he's at home in bed while the debate is happening. But you know Cy doesn't take things lying down. He's got Tom Larsen digging into dirt on Alex. By the way, we've now got the second clue that Cy and Tom are shagging. Oh wow. 

What dirt does Alex have on Susan?

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.