Warning: This recap contains spoilers.

We’re nine episodes into the fourth season of ‘Scandal’ and what have we learned? Papa Pope still holds all of the (kill) cards.

Much of the episode was focused on Rowan’s movements as Jake and Olivia tried to track him down. “As for my father, hunt him, find him and kill him,” Olivia tells Jake and Fitz.  I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but I imagine that this is what’s it like.


Jake’s got Olivia’s back.(ABC/Tony Rivetti)

In the background, Olivia still found time to take on a crisis — someone (Elizabeth, ahem) leaked the photos of Cyrus and Michael. She also gave an impassioned speech using the phrase “bitch baby” multiple times and took an ill-timed dance break. Way to multi-task, Liv.

Tonight marked the return of Mama Pope, who was found in (I think) the same hole where Huck and Jake were held by Rowan. Maya Lewis didn’t offer much in the way of information about her husband, but she did have some great lines –among them, “look around boo” and “girl, you need to move on.”

The view wasn’t exactly pleasant. Quinn finally got a hold of Olivia to inform her that Kubiak was dead and had been working with Elizabeth North and her lover, Vice President Andrew Nichols. Their motives became pretty clear over the course of the episode —  they’re pushing Fitz to go to war with West Angola following the terrorist attack that targeted Andrew. But it turns out that they’re involved with a group called WACO (an acronym in which the WA is for West Angola). And that terrorist attack? Staged.

The only thing Quinn can’t figure out is why the group has photos of Olivia. It’s a wonder Quinn and Huck were able to do their jobs in spite of the drama in their own lives. Huck’s wife still doesn’t believe his I-was-a-spy story and Quinn (along with Jake and Huck) realizes that Rowan is trying to erase any trace of B613 and that she’s in danger of getting killed.


Last gladiators standing. (ABC/Mitchell Haaseth)

Upon finding out her would-be fate, Quinn tracked down Charlie to warn him, which led to old habits. Quinn wasn’t too happy when she discovered that Charlie had been tasked with killing her. But Charlie proved his love(?) by giving Huck the B613 files he needed to convince Kim that his spy story is the truth.

Meanwhile, fellow Spy Dad Rowan was laying low, presumably in a B613 safe house. It turned out that he was actually in Olivia’s apartment, casually uncorking wine and listening to Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life.” The two shared one of their trademark exchanges of run-on sentences. Olivia: “You’re a sick lonely man who only knows how to lie and call it love.” Rowan: “There would be no Olivia Pope if not for me.”

Olivia reached for a gun that Rowan left precariously in her reach and it proved to be a test from her dear old dad. The gun turned out to be unloaded, but Papa Pope learned that his daughter was willing to kill him. He left her with this parting message: “No matter how hard you try to deny it, you will miss me when I’m gone.”

Despite her shattered nerves, Olivia managed to come up with a great solution for Cyrus’s publicity nightmare, advising Cyrus and Michael to tie the knot. At first, Cyrus refuses, opting instead to offer his resignation, which Fitz reluctantly accepts. Olivia figured the only way to reach Cyrus was to act like him, which sounded something like this: “Who are you, Cyrus? Are you a little bitch baby?”

By the end of the episode, Olivia did what anyone under that much pressure would do. She danced! With Jake! This scene, expertly paired with Stevie Wonder’s carefree “Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing,” led us to the winter finale cliffhanger. While dancing, Olivia pulled a Kelly Taylor and told Jake that she wanted both him and Fitz and that she chooses…herself. “You can dance with me or you can get off my dance floor.”

Jake only left the dance floor to grab some blankets, but it was long enough for Olivia to disappear. Just as Jake realized the woman he loves was no longer in the apartment, Fitz learned (from VP Andrew) that Olivia has been kidnapped. The worst part? Whoever took her had the nerve to spill some du Bellay on her minimalist couch.

It will be several weeks before we find out to whom we should send the dry cleaning bill. ‘Scandal’ returns January 29.

Lingering questions: Are Cyrus and Michael actually going to get married? Are Abby and Leo Bergen a thing? If so, poor David Rosen. Where is Papa Pope headed? What does Mama Pope know about Rowan’s actions? And most importantly, where is Olivia?