David Rosen has announced that everyone – i.e. Cyrus – is now under investigation for the shooting of Frankie Vargas, news which Cyrus shares with his husband. Presumably that’s on again, then? Anyway, it’s another flashback episode, this time explaining why Frankie Vargas was so determined to rid himself of Cyrus post-election, and answering the question of the extent of Cyrus’s involvement in Frankie’s assassination.
It turns out that, during the campaign, Cyrus was convinced that Frankie was having an affair with Jenny, the young staffer who phoned the police to accuse Cyrus of being behind the shooting. From what we see it looks as if Cyrus has a point, but when confronted Frankie denies it vehemently, and since both the protagonists are now dead I suppose we may never know the truth. Anyway, Cyrus has seen this particular scenario unfolding before, and is determined to ensure that Jenny won’t become a problem. Fortunately – unless you’re Jenny, of course – the deranged Tom has re-entered Cyrus’s life, and takes very little encouragement to warn Jenny off, using his fists. Frankie finds out and immediately warns Cyrus that he’s going to be cut loose after the election.
However, Cyrus had also made the mistake of admitting to Tom that he would like to be POTUS, and Tom – unhealthily fixated on Cyrus, as well as psychotic – hears “who will rid me of this troublesome President-Elect?”, and takes it as a hint to bump Frankie off, which wasn’t actually what Cyrus had in mind. And so, when Cyrus is arrested for Frankie’s murder, he and we can at least savour the irony of him being put in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, as opposed to for something from the lengthy list of appalling things he has actually done.
And, with that taken care of, Olivia announces to Mellie that, with no available alternative, the electoral college will definitely be voting for her and she’s going to be President. (Once again I’m going to question how accurate this is: it doesn’t seem impossible to me that the electoral college would decline to vote for someone who was rejected by the voters; although of course that’s exactly what it did, admittedly in radically different circumstances, in 2016.)
There isn’t much happening elsewhere: Abby snarking at POTUS as if he were an errant employee, rather than the leader of the free world, is about it. So ‘Fates Worse Than Death’ relies very heavily on the Cyrus plot, and while I thought the episode started reasonably well, it fizzled out a bit as it went on. Part of the problem might be that Jeff Perry is a fine actor, but – unless I’m imagining it? – his acting style has become more and more mannered during Scandal’s run. So it’s an episode which goes down as, at best, a partial success.