(LOS ANGELES) — On Thursday night’s Scandal episode, “Extinction,” a flashback explains Eli Pope’s involvement in the election.
After Eli attends a lecture by former colleague and ex-girlfriend, Sandra, he is invited to her private lab where he agrees to assist with her fossil research. During that time the two begin to rekindle their former relationship.
Meanwhile, Olivia asks her father for advice about Millie, who is now dating Marcus. Eli tells Liv she already “knows what to do,” but when Olivia asks her father if he ever gets lonely, Eli suddenly hugs Olivia, showing his tender side. Eli’s new relationship appears to be making him more empathetic — and also more vulnerable.
Back at the research space, Eli gets closer to his ex, but soon learns he’s being spied upon after discovering hidden cameras in the wall. After doing his own background check with no real results, Eli confronts Sandra. She reveals she’s being threatened by a secret group who wants Eli to work for them.
After he learns he’s been set up, Eli, brandishing a gun, calls out to the group watching him telling them that he’s “ready to talk.”
The group tells Eli that they want him to make sure that Mellie wins the election. If he fails, the group promises to harm Sandra and Olivia.
After the ordeal, Eli tries to explain to Sandra that she is safe and that things will work out. After sleeping with her, he seems satisfied that he can pull things off and meets with his own agent to devise a plan so Mellie can win.
Unfortunately, his plan to rig the voting machines goes awry when Olivia finds out he’s been trying to interfere with the election. She confronts Eli, telling him she plans to win the election without cheating.
When Eli realizes he’s not going to be able to rig the election in Mellie’s favor, he asks Sandra to leave the country. She refuses and he admits that he’s in a dangerous secret organization, but that he loves her and should have chosen her over Olivia’s mother. Sandra tells Eli that she’s not leaving and that he can protect her.
Later when Eli comes home, he finds one of the group’s agents on his couch waiting for him. The agent warns him that he needs to kill Frankie Vargas and frame Cyrus Beene or Sandra will be killed. Eli, who looks upset, agrees to do it.
In the last few minutes of the episode, Eli’s plan is revealed.
Eli poses as secret service and makes his way underneath the stage where Frankie Vargas is delivering his acceptance speech. After hesitating, Eli shoots Frankie three times. After his last shot, a sniper from far away shoots at Frankie to make it look like it was an assassin the entire time.
Eli then manages to escape and returns to the research lab to save Sandra.
Although Eli completed his mission, the secret group decides making Mellie president is not enough and tells Eli they want him to continue working for them. After he refuses, they threaten to kill Sandra.
When he realizes they are trying to trap him once again, he decides to kill Sandra himself. Instead of letting him go, the group threatens to take Olivia’s life as well. Eli finally agrees to work with them in an effort to save his daughter.
Soon after, the flashback brings us to Olivia confronting her father about his involvement in the death of Frankie Vargas. Once again, Eli denies killing Vargas so Mellie could win the presidency.
Scandal returns next Thursday night at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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