Jessica Derschowitz
February 12, 2016 12:45 PM

brightcove.createExperiences(); “Lovers of liberty, we are back.” Sally Langston’s salutation to Scandal viewers was the perfect start to the midseason premiere – all the more fitting because it’s now a real-life election year with political campaigning in full swing.

Six months have past since the events of the winter finale, and Olivia is back to work at OPA and incorporating a lot more red into her wardrobe. She’s also still a local celebrity of sorts (case in point, the lady who tried to covertly take a cell phone photo of her at a restaurant and then mouthed “We love you!” when she got caught), but her dinner partner, Papa Pope, thinks she should be reaching for more.

“You had the Oval. My baby had the Oval,” he beams. “You were running the place, and he was clueless.” (“Tell me I’m wrong,” he deadpans.)

Olivia assures him it’s better this way. “He tried to make me into a first lady. It felt like I was some kind of prisoner,” she tells him, before launching into a pitch-perfect impression of a Joe-Morton-as-Rowan monologue about how no one can cage her unless she lets them, and that she was in control the whole time. He laughs and says he wishes she came by the house more, but Olivia says that’s not an option.

“Jake has come home,” he tells her. “So should you.”

Read the rest of the recap at EW.com

Scandal airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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