The revelation felt cheap, since Scandal built up the resolution of the murder mystery to be much more dramatic and unexpected than what we got. Once Eli straight-up denied assassinating the president in the premiere “Survival of the Fittest,” our minds immediately starting dreaming up bigger plots that could explain Frankie’s death. Now we know all of our sleuthing was for nothing, since we had simply been lied to.
Although the big reveal in "Extinction" feels like a major let-down, it at least proves we didn’t know the entire story behind Eli’s very obvious assassination scheme. While Liv believed her dad committed the highest act of treason possible just so she could win the White House once again, there were far bigger stakes at play than Olivia’s ego.
Flashbacks show that the shadowy organization first introduced in last week’s “They All Bow Down” manipulated Eli into ensuring Mellie Grant got into the Oval via any means necessary. First they brought the B613 commander’s former flame Sandra (Tonya Pinkins) back into the mix and then threatened her life to force Eli’s hand.
Eli tried to accomplish his goal by fixing voting machines in California, but Olivia and Huck (Guillermo Diaz) foiled that plan. So once Mellie officially lost the election — that damn San Bernardino County! — Eli needed to take a more extreme approach.
In a highly complex plan, he knocked out a Secret Service agent, broke into the space below the stage where Frankie was giving his acceptance speech, unscrewed a tiny section of flooring, and shot the president-elect three times himself. At the same time, Eli had a B613 agent stationed on top of a building firing off fake gun shots to give off the appearance of a sniper.
That real agent and fake sniper turned out “Nelson McClintock” from earlier this season, the original suspect in Frankie’s murder. That man’s entire racist history was crafted by Eli as a way to seem like a credible suspect until Tom Larsen (Brian Letscher) confesses in “Fates Worse Than Death.” Plus, it also means Eli probably orchestrated back-in-the-B613-fold Jake’s beating of “Nelson” to get a confession.
Despite all of Eli’s efforts to save Sandra, he still put a bullet in the head of the apparent love of his life to prove he didn’t have any “streaks of weakness.” Unfortunately for Command, his new puppet masters can still keep him in check by threatening Olivia's life — and that's what makes Eli the second greatest predator in all of D.C.