Shonda Rhimes has such a talent for revealing something while simultaneously revealing nothing at all and such is the case with Thursday's (March 9) episode of Scandal, appropriately titled "They All Bow Down." We all bow down to you, Queen Shonda.
Once again, the show employed a generous use of flashbacks to fill in some gaps. The subject this week was Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) and how he went from being seemingly head over heels for wife Vanessa (Jessalyn Gilsig) to being back thick as thieves with Olivia (Kerry Washington) and shutting Vanessa out.
But all that was window dressing for the ongoing Gladiator investigation into who shot Frankie Vargas (Ricardo Chavira). Olivia & Co. know it wasn't Cyrus (Jeff Perry) and they know it wasn't Tom Larson (Brian Letscher) acting on behalf of Cyrus, but they don't have any idea who else it could be...until Jake's weird behavior causes them to look into his whereabouts on election night and they discover he was the one who blew up Jennifer Fields (Chelsea Kurtz) at her cabin.
Or so they thought.
In the waning moments of the episode, Jake reveals to Olivia that he was ordered to kill Jennifer Fields by none other than Papa Pope (Joe Morton). Color nobody shocked by that revelation.
But in a little bit of a surprise, Jake didn't kill her. He kidnapped her and is keeping her safe in an off-the-grid cabin. Why is he keeping her safe? Because someone with whom Papa Pope is conspiring is the real culprit behind the assassination.
We aren't told who that someone is except for the appearance of a mysterious woman no one has ever seen before who drops by to threaten Eli, telling him he'd do well to remember who is in charge and that his daughter is on borrowed time.
It turns out this mystery woman and her accomplices are responsible for making it look as though Olivia paid Tom Larsen to frame Cyrus, which is their insurance policy should Olivia get any bright ideas about proving Cyrus innocent. This group of unknown puppet masters wanted Olivia to deliver Mellie Grant and now that she has, Olivia is completely expendable.
Olivia, however, believes her father is the one trying to frame her, but it's clear from his reaction to Olivia's visit (and subsequent conversation with the mystery woman) that he is way more in the dark than he's comfortable with.
So, who do you think is behind the assassination attempt? Because the mystery woman has to be connected to someone we already know from the Scandal-verse. It would be way too random and anticlimactic if she's not.
The trouble is...who could it be? We're having trouble naming anyone who would do such a thing, even Mellie (Bellamy Young), who would do pretty much anything to get elected president. But orchestrating her opponent's assassination? That's a bridge too far for Mellie, plus there's no way she got that pulled together so quickly on election night, and it's not something she would have been planning for because Mellie was so sure she was going to win.
Could it possibly have been Fitz (Tony Goldwyn)? That also seems unlikely, especially because Olivia would never forgive him for something like that. But if he and Olivia were no longer together, would he have done it to assure Mellie gets her White House? Hmm.
It looks like next week the identity of the shooter will be revealed, though that probably won't tell us much about the larger conspiracy. The identity of the actual shooter is kind of a moot point compared to who's behind the assassination plot. But guess we’ll find out in a week.
Fun fact: The mystery woman is played by Zoe Perry, daughter of Jeff Perry and Laurie Metcalf. First of all, I had no idea Perry and Metcalf were married for nearly a decade. Second, once I realized who Zoe's mother is, if you re-watch her scene and close your eyes, it almost sounds like Laurie Metcalf is playing the part. She sounds just like her mother.