Oh, y'all. I just watched this episode and then started trying to mentally reconstruct it in my head in order to write this recaplet, and Lord… it's so complicated. But I will do my best.
Via flashbacks, we learn that Liv's relationship with her father was always contentious, even when she still thought he worked at the Smithsonian. But around the time she used to give Huck change in the Metro station -- and around the time she lived with Edison -- she used to have Sunday dinners with her dad in exchange for him paying off her law school loans. Despite herself, Liv started growing closer to her father and she confided in him about Huck, and how he saved her life after she was attacked one night, and then claimed he was part of a secret spy organization called B613. Liv asks her dad to check into Huck's story.
Then Huck disappears and Liv tries to find him. She manages to put together the information Huck gave her with the clues left by her dad and figures out that her dad is in charge of B613. She confronts him, he goes into scary dad mode and she walks out. Later, Liv brings Edison -- now her fiancé -- to meet her dad, making sure to drop the fact that Edison is on the Senate Intel Committee, and she uses that fact to insist that her dad give her Huck. He does, but he also orchestrates an accident for Edison and tells Liv that she needs to break up with him, the threat being that he'll kill Edison otherwise. Liv tells him that they're done, and Rowan says that they're family and they're never done. So apparently all that happened right before she went to work on Fitz's campaign.
In the present day, Liv is working with Jeannine, trying to help her fend off the smear campaign by the White House (with Fitz's blessing). Rowan/Eli also wants Jeannine to take the fall for the affair, and he wants the President to confirm it himself. Cyrus and Mellie are working overtime to make sure Jeannine's name is mud, and their tactics include leaking Jeannine's work logs and Mellie's travel logs to show that Jeannine was alone in the Oval with Fitz plenty of times. (Even though her friend Evan was there too, but he's Cyrus's minion, so he won't back Jeannine up).
Rowan visits Liv at OPA and Huck doesn't show any signs of recognition. Privately, Rowan tells Liv that she needs to make sure Jeannine confesses to having an affair with the President if she wants Jake Ballard to live. Liv gets Huck to tell her about the hole -- since she's sure that's where Jake is -- and then asks Fitz to get Jake out of there. Fitz learns that he has no say over what B613 does.
Liv books Jeannine on a live morning show interview to set the record straight, thanks to the IM records that Abby bullies Evan into handing over. But before Jeannine can do the interview, Mellie gets to her and offers a cool two million in an offshore account if Jeannine claims the affair, which she decides to do. Before Jeannine can go on the air, Liv calls Fitz and learns that he can't save Jake, so she yells at him to be Presidential. Then she calls Rowan and asks him to save Jake, offering up Sunday dinners again. Then she tells Jeannine that admitting to the affair is a terrible idea.
But before the cameras can roll, Fitz decides to be Presidential by funding education and pardoning innocent people. HA! As if. Actually, he calls a press conference. As he walks to the briefing room, he tells Cyrus he will either tell the press the truth like he wanted to all along or he will claim that Jeannine was the mistress if Cyrus gets Jake released. Cyrus doesn't answer, and Fitz tells the press that Jeannine was his mistress. Sally (remember her?) confronts him because she knows he's lying, and Fitz sort of sexually harasses her and remember last week when they were friends? That was weird.
Quinn digs through Liv's email to find out more about Liv's mysterious dad, and the information she finds sparks some memories for Huck. He confronts Liv in the parking garage, asking her what deal she made with her dad so Huck could be free, and then he SLAMS her against a car and CHOKES her, demanding to know if her father is the head of B613. Liv admits that he is. Then Liv's at home drinking wine in her PJs and her father calls and tells her to open the door, where she finds a badly beaten Jake.
Whew! This show burns through plot at a madcap pace.
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We open with Liv With Bangs (aka Flashback Liv) getting off the Metro at Huck's station. You know, the station where Huck sits behind a pillar and, I guess, begs for money? I'm not sure exactly what he's doing there other than rocking a giant beard and Afro and being homeless. Anyway, a chyron informs viewers that this took place five years ago. As Liv walks by, Huck asks if she's having dinner with her dad. Liv smiles and reminds him that she does so every Sunday, and promises to bring him a doggie bag. As Liv walks away, she looks anxious about the upcoming dinner, as viewers wonder what happened between five years ago and now to estrange Liv from her father. Well, we're about to find out.
Cut to Liv in a restaurant with her dad. He tries to make conversation but she sits there silently. Through his questions, we find out that five years ago, Liv was working for Cyrus in a "shop" (a PR firm? A lobbying firm? A political consulting firm?), and that Cyrus turned down "running Harvard" to open his business. I'm never sure if I should call Liv's dad Eli or Rowan. I guess I'll go with Eli in the flashbacks and Rowan in the present day. Eli throws down his napkin in frustration with her silence, which has gone on now for five weeks worth of dinners, and Liv asks what he wants. She agreed to have dinner with him in exchange for him paying off her law school loans, but I guess her perception of dinner didn't include, you know, syllables. Given the clothes she's wearing, it seems like Liv has a lot of disposable income, so I'm not sure why she needs so much financial help. Maybe that's why she can afford fancy clothes and a nice apartment: no loan payment.
Anyway, Eli gives a big speech about how he's trying, and he's sorry that he sent Liv away to school after her mother died, but he was grieving and he made mistakes. He seems pretty sincere. If I didn't know what a terrible person he is, I would probably believe him. Anyway, he begs Liv to give him just an inch, because he's really trying to make amends. Liv considers for a long pause and then says haltingly, that she's good and she has a boyfriend. Eli wants to know more about that, but Liv has given all she's going to give at the moment, and turns the conversation to how he's doing at the Smithsonian. He conjures up a work dilemma about adding a new species of mastodon to their exhibit, one that is "solitary" with "sharper teeth" who is "more dangerous." Hmm, is he talking about a mastodon or himself? Liv smiles for the first time that evening and asks him to explain more.