Mellie’s still working on her autobiography, but finds it difficult and distasteful to grapple with what Olivia tells her is the crucial question: why did she, Mellie, stay with Fitz after she found out about his affair with Olivia? They work together; they fight; they reconcile over a couple of bottles of Mellie’s White House hooch; they leak key passages of the memoirs to the media, to kickstart Mellie’s White House run. Job, for the moment, done.
Meantime VP Susan Ross – the only likeable character in the whole damn thing at the moment – is refusing to run for President, although Elizabeth is desperate for her to. So Elizabeth persuades David Rosen to get Susan to change her mind, by leveraging Susan’s feelings for him. Flag on the play, folks. There is no way David Rosen would do that, no way at all. Although perhaps I’m biased because Elizabeth and David remain repellent as a couple, while Susan and David are great. I really, really hope that when Susan was being self-deprecating and David kissed her he was sincere; it certainly looked like it in the moment. But Susan, too, decides to test the White House water and forms an exploratory committee.
POTUS himself has apparently decided to run the clock down on his Presidency. As part of his legacy-building he’s being profiled – over Cyrus’s objections – by journalist Lillian Forrester (Annabeth Gish), and from the very moment they set eyes on each other it’s clear that they’re going to do it at some point. So with Cyrus once again sidelined, and finally realising that he no longer has the ear of POTUS, he pretends that he’s attending a relative’s funeral, and in a very West Wingy scene sneaks into a stump speech being given to a small audience by another prospective candidate. I’m not sure if we’re meant to infer that the candidate is a Democrat, but either way the good news is that he’s played by Ricardo Antonio Chavira, of whom I was a huge fan when he was Carlos Solis in Desperate Housewives.
It was only towards the end of ‘The Candidate’ that I realised what it was up to: the show’s three most prominent powerbrokers, all involved in some way with the Fitz presidency, have now identified their new candidates for the Oval. Olivia – for now – has Mellie, Elizabeth has Susan, and Cyrus has Carlos. It’s a promising base for the rest of the season, even if the episode was once again missing a Case of the Week. No B-613 either, mind you, although Joe Morton has now been upgraded to series regular, in a slightly worrying development. And more hate-sex between Olivia and Jake, which I could also live without. All in all, though, I was entertained.