'Scandal' recap: The battle lines are drawn and war is coming for Fitzgerald Grant

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tony-goldwyn-scandal-recap-abc.jpgHell hath no fury like a former B613 commander scorned, huh?

As "Scandal" roared back into action on Thursday (Feb. 27), the show made one thing abundantly clear: Eli Pope will not go quietly unto that good night. Whatever misguided notions Fitz had about the ease with which he could remove Liv's dad from his post -- from his power -- well, they've left the President with one more terrifying enemy.

Picking up right where the show left us last December, Fitz and his team are reacting to Sally Langston's egregious announcement that she'll be running for president as a third-party independent candidate. Oh, and she has no plans to step down as veep as she does so. That shouldn't be awkward or anything.

Sally's lack of loyalty is the final straw for Fitz, who's seen his trust betrayed and taken for granted repeatedly throughout the series, so he begins to close rank to only those he truly believes will remain loyal. In the case of finding a new running mate, this means bringing in Andrew Nichols, the governor of California, former lieutenant governor under Fitz, despite Liv's insistence on need for a more diverse choice to combat Sally.

The irony here? We learn in the episode's final moments that Nichols had some kind of something with Mellie 12 years ago, of course. Oh, Fitz. Poor, dumb Fitz.

Before that, though, the Olitiz of it all is back on everyone's mind after that snake Leo Bergen reminds the world that Olivia was once rumored to be Fitz's mistress and suggests that the President could have had more than one side chick. (Remember, Fitz admitted to having a mistress in the fall -- just not the right one.)

In a shrewd move to keep Liv on as campaign manager and get the press off their backs, Mellie invites her husband's girlfriend to lunch to "make a respectable woman" out of her, as you do. But it doesn't stop there: She hands Liv a menu of eligible bachelors to choose from and date publicly. "Smile, Olivia. The world is watching."

After trying to just quit Fitz's campaign -- an offer he vociferously refuses -- Liv lands on Jake as her beard. Fitz did say he is one of the only men he trusts, after all. So, no complaining, President Grant -- you asked for this.

So, how does Eli play into all of this? After delivering the granddaddy of all threats to Liv after she dares to comfort her father upon learning of his B613 ousting -- "Run, Olivia, run. Because mark my words: Fitzgerald Grant is not going to make it to the end of his term." (CHILLS.) -- Papa Pope is seen aligning himself with Leo at the episode's end. Uh oh.

"I don't know whether to be excited or scared," Leo tells Eli upon meeting him.

"Both. You should be both," Eli warns.

So should we all.

And just like that, "Scandal" is back, baby.

Spare Parts:

- What are the odds on James surviving the season? Cyrus has already tried to have him killed once. When he finds out that James is the Publius as leaking info about the Daniel Douglas Langston murder coverup to the press, and has bugged his office to feed info to David Rosen? Well, it certainly won't be pretty.

- That said, this quote from James is pretty hardcore:  "My husband's a monster, David ... And he thinks he doesn't have a weakness. But he does: Me." Maybe it's Cyrus who should really be worried here.

- Quinn isn't above kidnapping kids now, so that's great. Jake doesn't want her in B613, wants her protected and back with Olivia, but Charlie has no plans to tell her that. None of this is going to end well.

- "I did not murder my husband, Leo. The devil murdered my husband when he snuck up inside me." Sally has truly gone insane. She's likely to be her own undoing by season's end.

- Adnan Salif has finally arrived. And she's a woman. And after pulling a gun on her, Harrison instantly sleeps with her. And that's all we see of that this week. (Also, not to toot my own horn, but I totally predicted this when Nazanin Boniadi's casting was announced.)

- "Got a night off from ruling the Underworld?"

- Jake: "I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States!"
Liv: "Don't we all."

- "Every day for the last 12 years, I've dreamed of this...Being near you again." Whatever moral high ground had regarding Fitz and Olivia seems to be eroding with the arrival of Andrew.

- Where you at, Mama Pope? 
Photo/Video credit: ABC