Welp, my theory from last week was totally wrong. Turns out that Jake did kill the two women and also James, and then convinced David to help him cover it up. Liv, being the smartest person in Washington, figures out that it was a hit. Liv calls Jake and asks him to look into James's death, but Jake is a little busy, you know, digging a grave for the two women he killed. Come on, show. I look past a lot of ridiculousness but that was over the top.
Through the episode, we see various flashbacks of how Cyrus and James got together, and how James convinced Cyrus to step out of the closet. As someone who was pretty annoyed by their relationship, it was nice to see the sweeter moments, although I would have liked seeing them before James was, you know, dead.
Liv tries to coddle Cyrus but he's concerned that, while Fitz is taking time off from the campaign to mourn James, Sally is going to steal the gun lobby from them, and he's right. At least she's trying to. Nichols and Mellie meet with the NRA instead and extract a promise of support if Fitz makes a speech supporting the 2nd Amendment. At Cyrus's urging, Fitz instead decides to cede the gun lobby to Sally and try to steal some of Reston's support by coming out in favor of gun control in light of James's death. But Nichols and Mellie's trip wasn't a total waste: they totally do it.
Meanwhile, Quinn and Charlie are finding a patsy to go to prison for carjacking and killing James, but David has cold feet about charging a man he knows is innocent. Abby realizes that David's hiding something and he finally breaks and tells her his role in covering up James's murder.
Adnan has put Liv's mother on retainer for…something. They're meeting with terrorists and whatnot, and Liv's mom is just killing dudes as a negotiating point. Adnan visits Harrison and says that she might want a quick escape.
Huck pulls video footage from inside Liv's safe and finds out Quinn looked at the file. Liv confronts Jake and claims he's becoming her father. Jake thinks he's different because he does the terrible things himself instead of making a soldier do it. Liv meets with her father, looking for some sort of comfort and explanation for how the world makes sense. He assures her that being Command means suffering, and that maybe it's Liv's role to save the monsters and the demons and pull them into the light.
Speaking of demons, Huck visits Quinn to kill her for breaking into OPA, but explains that he realized she would know to avoid the video camera so she must have wanted them to know what B613 knew. Then they make out? And then Huck doesn't kill her. Boo and BOOOOOOOO!
Liv visits David and convinces him to arrest the patsy so that they can work together to take down B613, since that's the problem and not Jake or whomever is Command. When Cyrus decides to act as Press Secretary to announce the patsy's arrest, he breaks down at the podium and Fitz has to rescue him while Liv takes over.
The episode ends as we find out how James died, which was slow and awful, but Jake explained to the dying James that it had to happen that way so that it would look like an amateur did it. And Jake stays with him so that he won't die alone. Y'all, rooting for Jake is getting really hard. I appreciate the lengths the show is going to so that we know Jake isn't all evil, and that it's the job that's evil, but I still don't know how they can rehabilitate him unless he sacrifices his life for the greater good. And I don't really want that either.
We open right where we left off last week, or actually a little before, with Jake exiting his car and sneaking up on the meeting between James, David, Vanessa, and Shelby. He raises his gun and shoots the two women in the head, and then pulls out a different gun (that's what threw me although now I know why) and shoots James, who has decided to make a break for it. He turns the gun on David, who begs for his life. Jake says he's always liked David, because he seemed smart, so now he wants David to work with him. Of COURSE, David is going to say yes. Who wouldn't? I'm glad the show showed us what really happened immediately, but I'm still mad that my prediction of a different person shooting the women and then Jake shooting the first shooter didn't come true. I thought that would have been an interesting storyline.
The next morning, David is touring the crime scene with the cop on duty. The working assumption is that James was killed in a carjacking. David looks at James's corpse and looks ill, but he asks the cop to expedite the ballistics and contact him first with any findings.
Cyrus has apparently just been informed; Liv leads him into his office and vows that they'll find whoever did this and send him to jail. For some unnecessary comic relief, Ethan stumbles in sobbing. Liv tells him to pull it together because Cyrus needs them. She starts rattling off orders for Ethan while Cyrus sits, stunned.
And has the first of many flashbacks in this episode. A scruffily bearded Cyrus sits in a hotel bar where James approaches him and asks for some information on Grant's stance on immigration. Cyrus shakes his hand and sniffs at James's employer, the Boston Dispatch. James leaves but Cyrus calls him back and lets James know that he read the hit piece James wrote about Holland Doyle and his influence on Grant, then tells James he should dress better. I think James looks nice; he's wearing a leather jacket and jeans. James asks, "You really think I'm going to take fashion advice from a guy with a neck beard?" They smile at each other as James leaves. There's a definite spark.
Back in the present, Fitz, Mellie, Nichols, and Liv are meeting in the Oval. Liv says they'll have to suspend campaign activities for a few days. Mellie points out that Fitz will miss an important NRA event, but Fitz thinks it would be bad form to talk to gun lobbyists when his friend was just shot down in the street. He does have a point. Mellie is clearly a strong Second Amendment supporter, and Nichols backs her up (because he lurrrrrves her). Fitz doesn't care and tells Liv to reschedule it.