Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

I’m going to make a bold, pro-Mellie statement here and say that Scandal Season 3, Episode 7: “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie” was, by far, the best episode of the season. Scandal has suffered under the weight of too many political plot lines lately, so a very humanizing episode centered around an often-unlikable character’s personal history was a very welcome change from all of this fear and loathing on the campaign trail.

The main plots were still forwarded, of course. Via flashbacks and present-day Gladiator action we learned a good deal more about the plane crash the claimed Olivia’s mother’s life*, and Mellie’s PR push greatly helped Fitz’s upcoming reelection campaign. But present drama was by far overshadowed by what happened in the past — namely, that Mellie was raped by Fitz’ father.

Now, I’ve never been shy about admitting the fact that I think that “Olitz” is a terrible, destructive pairing. Fitz is a very possibly irreparably damaged man, and many Scandal fans have always vilified Mellie, who is far from perfect, to justify the doomed love affair they so passionately ship. She’s often deserved it, but hopefully tonight the rabid masses will go easy on the poor girl.

Because as much as Fitz has given up to become President (which is a lot), Mellie has arguably given up more to take on the role of First Lady. Did she need to? Absolutely not. Mellie made her bed, and she’s most definitely currently lying in it. But that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t deserve any of our sympathy. Power is undeniably alluring, and the muppety Cyrus of 15 years ago dangled that carrot with the expert skill that has carried him all the way to the top. Plus, again, Fitz’s father freaking raped her.

Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

These tumultuous events from the past influenced the similarly tumultuous events of the present. Mellie was filming an image-rehab documentary since her disastrous on-air affair interview backfired, and Fitz’ complete lack of emotional support finally started to wear on the poor woman:

“If you knew the sacrifices that I have made, the things that I have given up, the pieces of myself that I have given away for you… and you treat me this way? You declare war on me, and you share me, and you make me beg for scraps when I have done nothing but fight for you. You don’t have to love me, but we are in this hell together and the flames are burning both of us with equal intensity, baby, so the least you could do is be my friend. Just a little bit. The least you could do is show up.”

And show up Fitz did — finally. “I should be the sole carrier of the blame and outrage,” Fitz told a meddling White House reporter. It’s a good thing he finally shaped up, because as of right now, Mellie arguably cares more about Fitz’s reelection campaign than he does. When Mellie wasn’t working on her own image rehab, she was working on tarnishing Sally Langston’s “handsy husband.” We didn’t get too far with the campaign tonight — Lisa Kudrow’s Josephine Marcus was entirely absent — but we did learn that Sally’s husband was gay, which will surely come back to bite her vindictive religious ass. HandsyHeroes Husband hit on James after he was fired for losing his crucial White House access, and Cyrus really should have been more upset.

Meanwhile, Olivia finally told the Gladiators about her father, since her “deceased” mother was their latest client. (Man, this firm must be dying from all of these pro-bono cases. What is this, The Good Wife?) What they learned was this: Mrs. Pope’s flight was over-booked but not full — one passenger had been removed from the flight before takeoff. As if this all wasn’t shady enough, they then saw that Fitz’s dad signed off on the crash investigation papers.

Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

Because in case we weren’t already convinced, we were given even more evidence that Fitz’s rapist, murderous father was also complicit in the plane crash that was ordered by Liv’s non-rapist but also murderous father. (This is all giving me a massive headache.) “Should have been some poor kid from some backwoods town who shot down that plane, not you,” he snarled in yet another crucial flashback scene with Fitz. “Not my boy.” 

There is a sort of silvery lining in all this — Rowan Pope didn’t order the mass-murder just for the sake of being a d—k. He ordered the mass-murder because there was a dirty bomb on the plane, and if it landed it would have taken down “half of London.” But he’s still a d—k now, and this fact was confirmed when he murdered the only living witness who was there the night of the flight right before the Gladiators got to him.

So that was that with the plane crash, if we’re not counting the decently predictable cliffhanger of Olivia’s mother being alive. (And in prison? What the hell is going on here?) Fitz also finally put two and two together in regards to Rowan being Olivia’s dad, so I’m sure there will be an epic Olitz confrontation about that next week.

Last but not least, Charlie freaking “recruited” Quinn to B6-13 by wooing her, kissing her, then convincing her to kill an innocent man without her knowledge. “You belong to B6-13 right now,” he said. “Welcome to Wonderland.”

(*Not actually dead.)

That was a lot to handle, Gladiators. And I didn’t even mention the fact that one of Fitz and Mellie’s three unnamed children might belong to Fitz’s father. What did you think of the episode? Are you softening up to Mellie? Sound off below.

Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.