By Isabella Biedenharn
Updated October 16, 2015 11:00 AM
ABC/Nicole Wilder

Scandal was firing on all cylinders tonight: We had some really sweet Liv-Fitz moments, some angry and compassionate sides of Mellie, some slick OPA problem-solving, two new faces, a scary Papa Pope speech, and drama galore! After a couple slow moving weeks of set-up and simmering blood, this week gave us plenty of action and a couple new plotlines to be excited – and terrified – about.

A televised Olivia Pope exposé frames the episode, as scenes from this special report play throughout the hour: The press is digging up its dirt on Liv, talking to her grade school teachers, surfacing old footage of Liv as a Georgetown Law student expressing about her White House, and displaying photos upon photos of the older, powerful men she used to date. We’re watching what the people in Scandal’s universe are ostensibly watching, and while it’s scary watching the press try to rip her apart, it’s fun being in on everything they don’t know: That Maya Pope is alive, that Rowan is the furthest thing from a Smithsonian employee, that Olivia doesn’t just date men for power moves, etc., etc.

We’re still in jail with Papa Pope and Jake at first, but fortunately this is our only scene with Rowan this week. Really not looking forward to his return, because he haunts my nightmares. Through their conversation, we learn that “Lazarus One,” last week’s Louvre fire, was Rowan’s plan. Jake is determined to find out who Rowan’s working with on the outside, but Rowan’s not showing any of his cards. “True power is never lost,” he says. “And freedom? Boy, I am always free.”

Quinn is taking OPA into her own hands while Liv just tries to keep her head above water amid the deluge of vulturish media and anonymous internet threats. Just like she was recruited to OPA, Quinn calls our old pal Marcus Walker, who you might remember from his two-episode arc last season, in which he played a sharp, honest activist-turned-mayoral candidate who wasn’t a fan of Liv’s dirty politics. Quinn gives the classic (and cringe-inducing) “Do you want to be a gladiator in a suit?” speech, looking pretty self-satisfied until Marcus is like, “No you’re shady.” He’s not into the lying, and he knows OPA is broke, so bye!

Fitz, like the rest of America, can’t stop watching the media tear Liv apart, so he decides to fire Abby – since she’s the one who threw Liv to the wolves in the first place (with Liv’s implicit consent, of course). Liz convinces him it’s not worth another scandal (although a scandal within a scandal would really make the show feel true to its title!), so Abby stays, but Fitz isn’t happy about it. He whines to Liv, but she’s standing firm in her choice to bring their affair out into the open, and she tells him she can handle being the media’s “punching bag” for now.

Meanwhile in the B613 camp, Jake has teamed up with our old lollipop-loving pal Charlie (who dodges death better than anyone else on this show, I swear) to try to track the paintings stolen from the Louvre, and in doing that, figure out the identity of Rowan’s co-conspirator. But when the woman Charlie’s hired to track them, who has apparently killed more people than the two of them combined (NOT POSSIBLE!), it turns out Jake knows her well. And she’s mad at him.

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