Papa Pope did it. He killed President-elect Frankie Vargas. On election night. With a gun. Who knew? I mean, everyone knew that Papa Pope was involved in Vargas’ assassination. He’s always pulling the strings, but this episode shows us how Papa Pope came to pull the trigger this time.
We start off 53 days before the election, when Papa Pope receives a package letting him know that Sandra, an old flame from graduate school, is in town giving a lecture. When Papa Pope sits in on her lecture, their eyes twinkle at each other. She leads him to a nearby lab, where she was just put in charge, and invites him to be her partner in geeking out about dinosaur stuff.
But he soon discovers that there are cameras all over the lab. So Eli puts on some Marvin Gaye, pulls out some fancy red wine and seduces Sandra into a nearby closet, where he promptly throws that lovey-dovey shit out the window and puts a gun to her head demanding to know what the hell is going on. She confesses that “they” threatened her life if she didn’t deliver him to “them.” That’s all Papa Pope needs to know for him to come out of the closet, yelling, “You want to talk to me? I’m right here.”
“They” emerge, and it’s Sarah, the woman in the red dress from last week’s episode, and two guys ... well, until one guy shoots and kills the other guy just to let Eli know how crazy he is. Then it’s just Sarah and one guy, and they want Mellie Grant in the White House—or they’ll kill Sandra. They’ll do it. Didn’t you just see that guy shoot his friend?
Later, Papa Pope tells Sandra not to worry: “I got you.” The next thing we see is Sandra waking up in Papa Pope’s arms. Is she really into him or is she just trying to stay alive? After all, folks are out here trying to survive and the episode is called “Extinction.”
Nonetheless, Papa Pope, energized after a night of lovemaking, is on the job. Eli is certain that Mellie won’t win the election on her own, so he gets one of his goons to rig the voting machines in San Benito County. But Olivia Pope, deciding to win the White House fair and square this time, has Huck unrig the machines. Damn. How easy is it to tamper with voting machines?
With plan A foiled, Papa Pope tries to ship Sandra off to that small island off the coast of Zanzibar where he shipped Olivia so many seasons ago, but Sandra refuses to go (because she doesn’t know any better).
So Sarah ups the stakes. Since Eli couldn’t rig the voting machines, now he has to kill Vargas on election night—or else. Sigh. Papa Pope tells his goon to set up shop on a nearby rooftop and shoot Vargas during his victory speech, but Papa Pope himself crawls underneath the stage where Vargas is speaking and shoots him from underneath the floorboards. When he links back up with his goon, Eli tells him that he has to take the fall for this. His goon turns out to be Nelson McClintock, the guy the FBI arrested for killing Vargas in the first episode of the season.
It’s all coming together now, but it’s not over. Sarah and her partner want Papa Pope to frame Cyrus Beene for Vargas’ murder before they let Sandra go free and clear, so Eli calls Jennifer Fields, the Vargas volunteer, and tells her to make the call to the FBI blaming Cyrus for the murder.
We’re good, right? Of course, we aren’t. Now Sarah and friend know that if they put a gun to Sandra’s head, Papa Pope will do anything. Friend says, “We found your weakness. Don’t beat yourself up. We’re just better than you.”
So Eli shoots Sandra in the head just to prove that they don’t run him. Sorry, Sandra. Then Sarah pulls out a live video feed of Olivia and says that she has someone watching Olivia who can put a bullet in her brain at any moment. With that out of the way, they have a new proposition: Put Cyrus in jail and Mellie in the White House.
So when Olivia comes by asking if Papa Pope killed Vargas, he denies it and convinces her that Cyrus killed Vargas and that she has a second chance to win the White House if she sends Cyrus to jail. Survival of the fittest.
Once Olivia leaves on her new mission, Eli mourns over Sandra’s dead body. Oh, Papa Pope. Who knew he had a soft spot for anyone other than Olivia?
And, more importantly, who exactly is Sarah? Who does she work for? And why do they need Mellie in the White House??