Quinn, Huck and Jake (Katie Lowes, Guillermo Diaz and Scott Foley) team up to find Olivia. (ABC/Nicole Wilder)

I’ve always loved “Scandal”‘s clever show titles, but “Where’s the black lady?” just about takes the cake.

Because I’ve chosen to ignore the sheer absurdity of the save Olivia plotline, there was a lot I liked about this week’s episode, starting with the awesome cameo by veteran actress Marla Gibbs (of “The Jeffersons” fame).

Gibbs’s character, Rose, helped tie up some loose ends from last week’s episode. Remember apartment R, where Olivia was held hostage as Jake ran outside of her building frantically searching for her? Turns out, it belongs to Rose’s friend, Lois. Rose hasn’t heard from Lois and decides that Olivia Pope is the only one who can help find her. “Where is the black lady? The one in charge.”

The one in charge! Rose gets it. Unfortunately, Olivia is still missing. And her poor unsuspecting neighbor, Lois, won’t be turning up anytime soon.

Somehow, VP Andrew has managed to get much of the West Wing on his side in his quest to have Fitz declare war on West Angola. As Fitz tries to mobilize the CIA, NSA and FBI to help him look for Olivia, he gets a rude awakening from a bold Secret Service agent. The agent tells Fitz that he and other White House staffers are watching his every move. Instead of serving at his command, they’ve been instructed to serve as a sort of support group, intent on keeping him from taking drastic measures to find Olivia.

That translates to Fitz as not being able to talk comfortably in his own home. Take, for example, how he tells his wife (welcome back, Mellie!) that Olivia is missing. He fakes an intimate moment with Mellie, practically kissing her while telling her that his mistress has been kidnapped. On a scale of one to ridiculous, it was topped only by Mellie’s response, which was basically: Go get your girl.

Mellie wasn’t Fitz’s only unlikely confidant — he also sought advice from Tom, the Secret Service agent who murdered Jerry. Tom tells Fitz that there’s no one in his security detail that he can trust (and let’s face it, Tom would know). When Fitz wonders if there’s any place he can speak privately, Tom suggests Olivia’s apartment.

And so it’s there that Fitz and Jake put aside their differences and meet to discuss how they’ll get Olivia home safe. For his part, Fitz demands to see proof that Olivia is alive and Andrew brings him a video of Liv announcing that she’s being held against her will and that the only way to keep her alive is to declare war with West Angola. Liv’s captors gives her a copy of The Clarion International — (that font looks rather familiar) — and cue cards that make her stay sound a lot more pleasant than it actual is.

Behind the scenes, Olivia is smart enough to add a prop — a glass of water. As Huck, Jake and Quinn scrutinize the video, Huck realizes that the glass of water was an intentional move by Liv — her captor, Ian, is reflected in the bottom of the glass. They run facial recognition programs, but don’t have any luck in matching the face with a name.

Huck has other ways of getting information about Olivia’s whereabouts. He pays Elizabeth North a visit as she’s putting her young daughter to sleep and maniacally threatens to “cut that girl open and make you watch.” Liz confronts Andrew about his plans and he reminds her that she wanted the war with West Angola. “I’m gonna be the next president of the United States,” he tells. “I don’t think you want to miss that train.”

That calms Liz down enough that she doesn’t rush to get Huck the information he wants. Rose gives Huck and Co. another lead to work with when she tells Quinn that Liv had a key to her neighbor’s apartment. They go to Lois’s apartment and find the ring that Olivia smartly pushed underneath the doormat. They also find the Internet connection, which allows them to trace the last person to log into the network. This eventually leads them to Ian.

Meanwhile, Fitz begrudgingly declares war on West Angola, a move that upsets Cyrus greatly. He paces. He throws a mug. Typical Cyrus. Fitz orders him to read a report on the military action and Cy is so vehemently opposed that he almost misses the message that Fitz has written on it: “They have Olivia.”

Olivia appeared broken in her first few scenes, but after Fitz’s war announcement, she seemed to slip back into gladiator mode. When Ian brought her dinner, she asked for beef stew and a creamsicle — orange, because that’s what she grew up on (also they’re the best), and to be shot in the head. Ian assured her that she’d remain held — alive — through the remainder of Fitz’s term. Then she’d be killed.

Having figured out that Ian is simply taking orders, she reasons that she’s resourceful and he’s after money, so they should put their respective skills to the test. How? By selling Olivia on the black market. We can always count on Liv to combine reverse psychology with a Shonda-esque catchphrase to get people to bend to her will. “Do you want to be a babysitter or do you want to be a boss?”

Back in D.C., Huck returned to Liz’s house with his red torture toolbox. When Liz went to Mellie for help the next day, her back looked as if she’d slept on a bed of X-Acto knives. Seeing that Liz had nothing to do with the kidnapping, Mellie confronted Andrew. And the award goes to. … Mellie, who seduced Andrew to sleep and stole his cell phones, allowing Huck, Jake and Quinn to find Olivia’s location: Harrisburg, Pa.

Wait, what? In an effort to stay under-the-radar, Jake gets David Rosen to order a drug raid at a warehouse in Harrisburg. When Jake shows up with the DEA, things look really promising until they realize that Olivia is no longer there.

That would have been too easy, right? Instead, Olivia’s on a private plane with Ian, heading to, well, wherever you go to be sold on the black market. That blowout, though!

Lingering questions: Why is the war with West Angola this important? Where is Rowan? Did Olivia stop at a salon on her way out of Harrisburg? And did Mellie really try to save Olivia Pope?