'Scandal' Season 3 Premiere Recap: Are We Gladiators, Or Are We Bitches?

Welcome back, gladiators! The summer hiatus is finally behind us, and Scanda l is back with more melodrama than ever before. (No, seriously.) For the TL;DR version of this recap, skip to the bottom for the harshest things said in "It's Handled." For everyone else, we're warning you, Shonda Rhimes took no prisoners with the season premiere. So how'd we leave Olivia Pope and friends back in May? Well, Liv was exposed as President Fitz's mistress and she got into a car with that evil CIA boss guy who Jake had been taking orders from. Oh, right, and she called him Dad.

It seems no time has passed since then, and we're back with Liv and Daddy Bad Guy. He admits that he didn't actually try to have his daughter killed, but wanted Jake dead instead for disobeying orders or something. Oh good, so Daddy didn't wanna kill his daughter. Great.

The two arrive at an airplane hanger and there's a private jet waiting for Olivia. Daddy says her only option is to take the jet to an island for eight months and then go to Brussels or Johannesburg. Daddy launches into some bullsh*t speech about how she's nothing but a two-cent whore who's been taken advantage of by the rich and powerful. "Do you have to be so mediocre?" he asks (more of those money quotes are at the bottom).

Olivia gets on the plane and asks to borrow the stewardess' phone. She calls Cyrus, who begs her not to run and says they will weather the storm together. "I am a Monster, but honey, I'm your Monster," he says, which is both simultaneously fu*ked up and sweet. Awwww. Feeling inspired, Liv marches off the plane, tells Dad to go F himself, and asks the driver to take her to her office.

Speaking of offices, Fitz and Cyrus are in the Oval Office trying to convince Vice President Sally Bitchington to be the face of the administration during the scandal (yep, I just did that). Disgusted by his cheating ungodly behavior, Sally refuses. But Fitz asks to speak to her alone and profusely apologizes. "I'd offer you a Scotch if you were a man," he says. Oh, really? Because, women can't drink dark liquor? Because they are too busy drinking Vodka sodas? Yo, Fitzy, I <3 you, but that's kind of sexist, no? "I would like a Scotch. Neat," Sally replies. Way to show him, girl.

On the other side of town, Olivia is outside her office in the car letting her hair down. (Because you know, we all know we look better with our hair down.) Finally, all those camera clicks are focused on her. Click click click. Huck takes her hand and drags her inside. Harrison tells Olivia all their clients have been calling to fire them. Liv tries to save the day by making some calls herself, but to no avail. No one wants to work with the President's mistress, after all.

Oh, David is back! Not much to say, but I can't be the only one that is totally sold on him right? Last season was SO rough for him.

Anyway, Cyrus asks James how Olivia's name was leaked, and he thinks it was probably at a bar where the secret service are known for their loose lips. Cyrus, AKA Monster, asks his assistant Janine to make a kill folder on Olivia Pope and we learn a little more about her. She went to Princeton, then Georgetown Law. Her mother Maya died in a plane crash and father Eli (OHHH that's his name, whatever, we're still going with Daddy) works in antiquities at the Smithsonian (right, because everyone at the CIA's cover story is working at the Smithsonian… I'm looking at you Covert Affairs). After graduating, Liv got a bit of a reputation as a party girl (turns out the girl does let loose) and hung out with "a nice lineup of silver foxes." (We're all guilty, aren't we?) "The ambitious slut card could work," Monster Cyrus says. Ugh, gag me.

Back in Livland, she asks Daddy for info about Jake, and he refuses to give her any information. (It's not like he's going to admit he stuck Jake in that underground cage that Huck was in one time.) So she goes into her office safe and pulls out a folder labeled "Providence." Liv makes a call and heads out wearing her signature white trench coat.

Turns out "Providence" was just secret code for meeting President Fitz in a secret underground bunker. Fitz gave her the code way back just in case there was a nuclear attack and he wanted to save her or something. But that was a one-time deal so, oh well, if there's an actual nuclear attack. "We are under attack," she screams. But the meeting isn't just a quickie for Liv and Fitz; Mellie was invited too.

After only thinking for a minute or so, Olivia already knows what the three of them should do. Fitz and Mellie should stage a statement in the Rose Garden (Mellie should wear lavender), the kids should be pulled in from boarding school, and James should conduct an interview the next day with the couple (because the public will like seeing a familiar face). Wow, that is some Sorkin-level quick thinking. The truth works, she says.

But Mellie isn't cool with it because the truth is that Fitz loves Liv (swoon). "If you try to tell that disgusting fairy tale to the press, I will make such a scene," she says. So the trio decide that Liv and Fitz only slept together twice, one time "that meant nothing" after the Inauguration and a second time after the assassination attempt.

Mellie leaves and Liv and Fitz are left alone in the secret bunker together. OMG what is going to happen? No, of course not, stop thinking dirty things, you guys. He does take off his jacket though and she says "don't." No matter, though. He takes her in his arms and there is so.much.passion and IDK about you, but Tony Goldwyn has never been hotter. The things I would do...

I digress. Fitz is back in the Oval Office with Sally and asks her to rise above the moment and "be the moral center of the party." It looks like he's about to give it all up for ultimate happiness with Liv.

But the gladiators back in Liv's office have a different plan (because of course they do). "Are we gladiators or are we bitches?" Harrison asks. GLADIATORS DUH.

The gladiators, Mellie, and Cyrus all decide someone else has to take the blame. And that someone else is communications assistant Janine Locke (the chick who put together the kill folder on Olivia) since she once called Fitz "super awesome," "super cool," and "super doable." To be fair, he is. Anyway, the reporters (including one Perd Hapley) take the bait and are thoroughly convinced Janine's the mistress and Olivia's off the hook.

"What did you do?" Olivia angrily says as she arrives back at her office.

That would have been a good ending, but no — Scandal always has to throw us for a loop. It seems Mellie knew all along who leaked Olivia's name and it was PRESIDENT FITZ. OMG. Because he wanted to help her? "It's because as long as you had her name in your arsenal, she was at your mercy, now she is free," he tells Mellie. Okay, Fitz, that's kind of nice, but kinda f*cked up, no?

Again, that would have been a great ending. But Shonda always gives us more. Cyrus arrives home to find a drugged/passed out James alongside Charlie who has a gun. Charlie takes Cyrus to meet with Daddy Eli, who has much bigger fish to fry than Olivia. Apparently, Jake and President Fitz were in something called Operation Remington together, and it's a doozy (we're taking bets now of what actually happened). Cyrus looks in the folder and only has one thing to say:

Oh, my god.

The Top 5 Harshest Things Said In "It's Handled"

  1. Mellie to Fitz: "I woudn't need to smile at Oprah if you didn't screw your whore at every chance you got.
  2. Daddy Eli to Liv: "I do my job so that they can watch reality TV, eat fast food, stare at the internet, and screw their husbands or their battery operated products. They never use their teeny, tiny brains to think about the freedoms that I make possible."
  3. Daddy Eli: "The White House will destroy you."Liv: "That's what mom used to tell me about you."
  4. Sally to Cyrus: "I have never once mentioned how I feel about your godless homosexual lifestyle and that poor sweet brown baby that you have dragged into it."
  5. Daddy Eli to Liv: "You raised your skirt and opened your knees and gave it away to a man with too much power. You're not rare. You're not special. Your story is not different from a thousand stories in this town."

SHUT IT DOWN, YO.

Next week: Olivia takes Janine's case, because, of course.

Image: ABC