Another pre-election flashback, this time following Rowan, Papa Pope, Mr B-613 himself. We start with Rowan meeting up with Sandra, an old flame and fellow-paleontologist. (To start with I’d always assumed that Rowan’s post at the Smithsonian was no more than a cover, but as time has gone on it’s become clear that he has indeed been working there as an expert at the same time as running America’s leading semi-official clandestine off-the-books black ops group. That’s… quite the two jobs to be holding down.) Sandra has a big new project supported by an unnamed “private collector” – clanging alarm bells – and brings Rowan on board.
Well, it doesn’t take too long before the “private collector” reveals him, her, and themselves to be a shadowy collective who want Rowan to steal the election for Mellie, for reasons not yet disclosed. And if Rowan doesn’t do what they ask, Sandra will be killed. He tries and fails to fix things before the vote, leaving him with little choice but to take Vargas out afterwards, having been directed by Shadowy Collective to do so and put the blame on Cyrus. Having found a patsy – Nelson McClintock, the dude with the sniper rifle in the office block – Rowan, refreshingly, isn’t too high and might to do his own wetwork, and he wriggles under the stage where Vargas is delivering his victory speech and puts three bullets in him. Sandra, uh, doesn’t entirely walk away unharmed – although I didn’t anticipate the source of her fate – and nor does Rowan, who having proved himself useful is left in no doubt that he’ll continue to be Shadowy’s bitch unless he wants Olivia dead as well.
As with last week’s episode, it’s something of a problem that so much of this episode’s emotional weight rests on a character (Sandra this time) we don’t know at all. I couldn’t help but wonder whether even the most rudimentary investigation of Vargas’s death would reveal that the bullets which killed him clearly didn’t come from the office block. And I really don’t need yet another Shadowy Collective in this show running the world. Despite all that, though – and, I suspect, against my better judgment – I was rather entertained by this pile of nonsense. That might be, in part, because for all his bluster and monologuing, old Papa Pope has much more about him than the terminally uninteresting Jake; the moment, for example, when he started to make out with Sandra, then pulled her into a closet, stuck a gun in her face, and demanded to know what the hell was going on, was tremendous fun.