Like last week’s episode of Scandal, there were enough flashbacks this week to give you whiplash. Luckily for you, I’ve sorted it all out below.
The past is prologue. One night after vice presidential candidate Cyrus Beene gave an impressive debate performance on the campaign trail, Cyrus noticed that his running mate, Frankie Vargas, had struck up a not-so-mild flirtation with the new campaign videographer, Jennifer Flowers. Well, Cyrus wasn’t about to let his dreams of getting into the White House be derailed ... so he called Tom Larsen for help. Remember Tom? He was President Fitzgerald Grant’s Secret Service agent but also Papa Pope’s top B613 goon and later Cyrus’ lover—that is, until Cyrus stopped answering his calls as soon as Frankie asked him to be his VP. Despite having been abandoned by Cyrus, Tom was willing to do whatever Cyrus needed.
Later, Tom met Cyrus at his hotel to let him know that he had taken care of Jennifer. He joked that he had to raise his voice, but the problem was solved. Then they celebrated as Tom whispered sweet nothings in Cyrus’ ear, like, “You’re an exceptional man who needs to be at the top of the ticket.” Tom (and the rest of the world) knows that Cyrus has always wanted to be president.
Well, as it turns out, Tom didn’t just raise his voice at Jennifer. He beat her like she was a grown man, and when Jennifer told Frankie, it led to the footage of the fight between Frankie and Cyrus that Huck had discovered, in which Frankie vowed to put Cyrus in jail as soon as he became president.
Cyrus angrily confronted Tom, but you can’t put Tom back in the bottle. Tom saw Jennifer as a threat to Cyrus’ presidency. And guess what? He saw Frankie as a threat, too. Cyrus warned Tom not to touch a hair on Vargas’ head, but Tom is a machine that was stuck on one setting: Kill Frankie Vargas.
Back to the future. Remember Michael, the former escort whom Cyrus was forced to marry after the press found out that they had been cavorting? Well, the last we saw of him, Michael had discovered that Cyrus was having an affair with Tom, so he moved into an apartment in Virginia and took Cyrus’ daughter, baby Ella, with him.
Cut to the present and Michael is frying eggs for not-so-baby Ella in the kitchen of the home that he shares with Cyrus. Cyrus and Michael seem happier and more functional than ever ... until Abby Whelan calls to warn Cyrus that a shitstorm is coming in 3, 2, 1. Cyrus turns on the TV to find Attorney General David Rosen announcing that he’s reopening the investigation into Frankie’s death, and Cyrus may or may not be a suspect.
So Fitz meets with Cyrus and gives him two options: 1) He can be convicted and executed for the assassination of Frankie Vargas; 2) He can step down, and Fitz will make the investigation go away. Cyrus says there’s no way he’s giving up the country. He believes this whole investigation will blow over by the end of the week.
That is, until Tom resurfaces out of the blue with a call to Cyrus. He tells Cyrus that he feels used and hurt, and the only thing that gives him comfort is knowing that he can take everything away from Cyrus by simply opening his mouth. Here we go ...
Michael is down for his man like four flat tires, so he brings a bag of groceries into the house. One of them is a box of rice that contains a gun, which Cyrus takes with him to meet Tom in a park in the middle of the night. This is the first time Cyrus has seen Tom since he told him to eff off and die, but he tries to get Tom with the okey-doke: “I loved you, and I still love you.”
In response, Tom starts barking. Pause. This is why you can’t just be sleeping with any old body. Folks out here are crazy. Play. Tom keeps barking. He accuses Cyrus of treating him like a dog who can be put on a leash. Then they both reach for their guns, but only one of them is a trained assassin, so there’s that. However, Tom doesn’t kill Cyrus. He warns him, “There are fates worse than death.”
Well, Cyrus knows that Tom has dirt on him that will end his political career. He fantasizes aloud to Michael about what a transformational first 100 days he would have had as president, but ultimately he sends the message to Fitz that he has accepted his offer to step down ...
Too bad it’s too late. Tom confesses to shooting Frankie—wait for it—under direct order from Cyrus Beene. Damn. Cyrus had just enough time to say goodbye to Michael and Ella before David and the feds came and collected him from his doorstep.
On the bright side, someone’s loss is always someone else’s gain. With Cyrus in jail, Olivia Pope delivers the news to Mellie Grant that the Electoral College will have no choice but to vote for Mellie: “You’re the next president of the United States.” Something tells me it’s not going to be that simple.