rating: 4.5Welcome back, gladiators, and we're at the mid-season winter finale! Boo! Fortunately we've got plenty of cliffhangers to resolve and a hell of an episode ahead of us. Let's dive into the world of Olivia, Fitz, Huck and co., shall we? Coming off the back of last week's back-to-back cliffhangers, we slam straight back into the action as Sally and Daniel have it out about Daniel's extramarital tryst with James, the former absolutely furious and the latter breaking down their sham marriage. Sally finally snaps after he threatens to ruin everything she's built up, and stabs hm to death with scissors before calmly ringing Cyrus and confessing all. Cyrus heads to Sally's residence and begins to deal with the situation (a shocked Sally saying that the Devil took over and Cyrus going over his role in the entire affair in his mind). After a brief puking session, Cyrus enlists the help of Quinn and Charlie to help cover the murder up and tells her to keep it together. The pair manage to hide the death from the official White House coroner and soon the news spreads. Mellie soon rushes to tell Cyrus the news - albeit quite joyously - but finds him a drunken mess who tells her all about it. Mellie and Cyrus debate their guilt with Mellie getting Cyrus to pull it together and she telling Fitz about the sad death. A shocked Sally is still being coached by her advisor Leo before Mellie pays a visit (telling Leo to skedaddle) and subtly tells her to give up her Presidential dreams at this time. Cyrus hurries to James and the pair have it out about the tryst and the state of their relationship. It's not looking good which is a shame, particularly when James goes to former colleague David only to get fully rebuffed angrily. Later that evening, James and Cyrus talk, the latter unnervingly vulnerable (major props to Jeff Perry again), in an honest and frank bedroom conversation. Meanwhile in the world of Pope & Associates, Liv sends the team scurrying to find her mother while Huck deals with the fallout from setting up Quinn. Quinn, meanwhile, is about to assassinate Rowan when Maya is spotted leaving and her chance disappears. Quinn desperately tries to find a way out of B613 and in a grizzly bathroom moment removes her dental tracker (courtesy of Huck). Liv is horrified by Huck's actions and tells he and Jake to track down Quinn. Soon after Quinn and Charlie cover up Daniel's death, Quinn is desperate to get home and to her normal-esque life, but soon Charlie boosts her up, telling her that she's special, even though her body language says different. Soon she escapes from Charlie and heads to the offices where she has it out with Huck. He tears her a new one, tells her she's no longer a gladiator, and sends her from the offices back into Charlie's arms. Rowan is soon captured by men in suits - courtesy of Fitz who begins to interrogate him until Maya is safe! Damn, go Fitz! The pair share a hell of a conversation, the main topic being Olivia and what the two biggest men in her life have to do with her. Fitz tries to goad Rowan into anger by telling him about his and Liv's sexual exploits but Rowan shuts Fitz down about his privilege, entitlement and emotional immaturity in a brilliant scene that digs deep into Fitz's flaws and troubled background. Rowan's proud of his daughter and it shows. (This scene is amazing because it proves that both Rowan and Fitz have designs of ownership over Olivia - one is through parental creation, the other is through sexual and romantic connection - and yet both of them are terrible, toxic influences on her life. While I won't suggest that maybe Liv's bad relationship with Fitz is due to daddy issues, it's certainly worth considering and I hope she becomes more active and removes them both from her life.) After briefly interrupting a cute girl, Abby and Harrison try to get David to track down Maya and see her professional file. Liv also gets a dressing down from Jake about her dad - she shouldn't be so hard on Huck as her father isn't a good guy just because her mother isn't either. Abby soon grabs the info on Liv's mom - real name Marie Wallace - a British-born terrorist and dealer, and suggests to Liv maybe Marie/Maya served her time. Soon the Pope & Associates team latch onto the idea of the plane crash, while Huck and Jake try to track down Rowan's captors and arrive at the Pentagon. Deep under the Pentagon, Liv asks Fitz to speak to Rowan, and soon father and daughter are having it out. Olivia soon realises that Maya/Marie lied to Rowan about a bomb being on the plane, forcing Rowan's hand to blow up a plane full of innocent children for no cause. Rowan faked her death so that Marie/Maya could serve her time for her horrific crime. Liv commands that Fitz arrests Marie/Maya as soon as possible, as she leaves. Arriving at her apartment, Liv learns that Marie slaughtered the plane's crew after it touched down in Mongolia, and has escaped. Comforting her, Jake and Olivia share a kiss, right before he announces that he's departing for pastures unknown. He wants to make sure she knows he loves her. Awww. David is soon approached by the cute girl Abby was rude to - Shelby - in his offices, and she soon brings a tape of Sally's call to Cyrus. Oooh, hello new mysterious girl, I hope you stick around for a while. Anyway, it looks like David and James just might be reuniting to tackle a conspiracy once more.. Meanwhile Liv asks for the truth about the night her mother died when she rings Rowan. The pair end the conversation harshly, all ties between at an all-time-low, although Rowan is soon shocked when Jake takes his place as leader of B613, forcing him out. Damn, Jake! Go and be a badass then. He's working with Fitz, so well done on that front. The pair do make a good team when they're not busy fighting over Ms Olivia. Daniel's funeral takes place, with the eyes of the world on Sally, and soon Sally and Leo discuss her future aspirations and Fitz turning Daniel's death into aiding his campaign. Sally freaks out, Leo realising that Sally killed him. He's angry that Sally called Cyrus and not himself. Um, okay? Meanwhile, James asks for the job of White House Press Secretary to stay in his marriage to Cyrus, but says he might not love Cyrus. They're back together, albeit very tentatively. That same evening, Marie/Maya contacts Olivia, telling her that she'll be seeing her soon - only for Mama Pope to reveal herself as standing outside the White House. She's in DC! A truly fantastic episode that finally combined the White House storylines with the other ones and resolved Operation: Remmington in a way that felt both satisfying and sinister. The Pope family's biggest secret was explored and to my joy, Fitz got the dressing down of his life by Rowan. Everyone got something to do - apart from poor Harrison (Columbus Short) who needs some serious screentime ASAP. MVP of the week has to go to Kate Burton who made a right-wing VP an unlikely and sympathetic heroine. Sally was broken and brilliant and achingly human. Jeff Perry also got to reveal Cyrus' more human side and his interactions with James were poignant. So, that's it for a couple of months, gladiators - we've got plenty to chew over with some big storylines resolved but even bigger ones set up. Jake's the head of B613, Quinn's a fully fledged member, David's got a new ally in Shelby (played by Julia Cho from 'The Lizzie Bennet Diaries' to my everlasting delight), the murder of Daniel might just get revealed after all, and Marie/Maya/Mama Pope is back to cause havoc in Washington DC. Til next time, Scandalites!