Scandal Season 6 Episode 3 Recap: "Fates Worth Than Death"

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
The use of flashbacks in last week's Scandal episode was a little jarring and made the episode feel disjointed. Not so with this week's "Fates Worse Than Death, which employed flashbacks to great effect to reveal to viewers exactly what happened to Frankie Vargas (Ricardo Chavira) -- and it is a lot of information, so here we go.

It turns out that the shooter was none other than perpetual Scandal bad guy ex-Secret Service Agent Tom Larsen (Brian Letscher), former lover of Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) and current total psychopath.

It seems that after Cyrus was added to Vargas' ticket and started to suspect that Vargas was having an affair with Jennifer Fields (Chelsea Kurtz), he asked Tom to intimidate Fields in order to get her off the campaign trail.

Tom, being the nutjob and horrible human being that he is, didn't just threaten Fields, he beat the crap out of her. Vargas and Cyrus are both horrified to see her wrecked face, which causes Cyrus to all but confesses to Vargas that he was behind it, but insists that he didn't intend for it to go that far.

That's the scene from the videotape Huck (Guillermo Diaz) found last week -- Vargas yelling at Cyrus that he's going to put him in prison for what he did (having Fields beaten up).

Cyrus then realizes what an actual psycho he has on his hands with Tom, so he wants to make it perfectly clear that Tom should not harm Vargas in any way, which is something Tom had previously alluded to doing. He doesn't think "weak, normal" Vargas is the man to run the country, but "strong, extraordinary" Cyrus is.

But even after Cyrus tells Tom not to hurt Vargas and ends their relationship -- which seems like terrible timing, why would you not wait just so as not to poke a psycho bear? -- Tom apparently shot Vargas anyway.

So that's the flashback information. In present day, Tom is threatening Cyrus because he feels like Cyrus used him and abandoned him. There's a real Fatal Attraction thing going on here -- "I will not be IGNORED, CYRUS."

Cyrus tries to be tough with Tom, but that's a lot like Santa Claus trying to be tough with the Terminator. The tables are easily turned -- seriously Cyrus, this guy is ex-Secret Service. What did you think was going to happen? -- and Tom, sporting some wicked crazy eyes, puts the gun to Cyrus’ head and then in Cyrus’ mouth.

But instead of killing Cyrus, Tom has something better in mind. He confesses to the murder of Francisco Vargas, but says he was just following Cyrus' orders and Cyrus has now landed in federal prison.

It means the electoral college will most likely vote Mellie (Bellamy Young) into the presidency... but obviously, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), after all her hard work to prove Cyrus did it, is going to smell a rat now, because that's how Olivia rolls. So we're not quite out of the woods yet with this storyline, but at least we got some major answers this week.

It was an incredibly compelling episode, for a few different reasons. First off, Olivia, Fitz, Mellie and basically the whole gang took a backseat to Cyrus. Is that something you want every week? No, but it's always enjoyable to watch the action so thoroughly shift for an episode here and there, especially if it shifts away from Olivia's tired love life.

Secondly, Jeff Perry is a gem. He is supremely talented, maybe the best actor on the show, and he knocked his material out of the park in this episode.

Additionally, we're pleasantly surprised to see the Vargas mystery wrapped up so quickly. We thought for sure it was going to drag out forever and while it still may be a few episodes before anyone actually takes the oath of office, it's pretty solid pacing to have the mystery solved in three episodes. We're jonesing to move on to the other, presumably just as crazy things this season has in store.


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