"Happy Birthday, Mr. President"
~ Flashback Episode ~
Season Two
Season 02, Episode 08
Episode Information
Air Date: December 6, 2012
Viewers: 7.39 million
Written by: Shonda Rhimes
Directed by: Oliver Bokelberg
Character Information
Character Backstories:
Episode Chronology
Previous Episode: "Defiance"
Next Episode: "Blown Away"

Happy Birthday, Mr. President is the eighth episode of the second season of Scandal, and is the fifteenth overall.


A national tragedy forces Olivia Pope to return to work at the White House. The president fights for his life, leaving religious self-righteous Vice President Sally Langston to "take-over" in his absence, while he's have a bullet taken out of his brain. Things between Cyrus and Sally get heated.

Meanwhile, in flashback scenes we learn more about the first 100 days of Fitz’s presidency, which also tells more of the story about Olivia & Fitz's relationship, why she left the White House and more about the Defiance conspiracy. But... who tried to assassinate the president, shot Hal and killed Britta Kagen?


The White House:
  • Olivia returns to the White House to step in for fallen Press Secretary Britta Kagen
  • President Fitzgerald Grant III, along with a few others, had just been shot outside his own birthday gala.
  • Vice President Sally Langston is preparing to become acting President in light of Fitz's critical condition.
  • Fitz and Olivia work to prepare his first State of Union speech... but get their sexual attraction gets the better of them


News reports go back and forth about what happened to the president as he made his way into his 50th birthday gala. Gunshots rang out. President Fitzgerald Grant was hit. Chaos overtakes the plaza as Secret Service agents toss Fitz into the back of a car that speeds off to the hospital. Olivia meets Cyrus there. It's bedlam inside. Mellie is freaking out. A doctor orders his president to stay alive. Olivia watches in horror as they wheel Fitz away to surgery.

Olivia hears from Edison via phone that he's headed for the bunker along with the entire Cabinet. She hangs up on him suddenly when she sees a small, bloodied U.S. flag pin on the floor. There are only 48 stars on it. The pin belonged to Eisenhower. Olivia bought it at an auction. We flashback to see her give it to Fitz the day of his inauguration. They said they would stop their affair when he became president. This is easier said than done. The president skips out of the inaugural ball to meet Olivia inside the Oval Office where they give in to their passion once more.

In present day, we learn that the White House Press Secretary, Britta Kagen, was also shot during the attack. Vice President Sally Langston orders her chopper pilot to land on the south lawn of the White House where she declares that she is in charge of the situation, basically saying she is the President now! Cyrus flips out on her. We jump back to the first days of the Grant presidency where Verna Thornton learns that Sally gets first dibs on nominating a new Supreme Court Justice. This does not make her happy, especially considering that her part of the deal to get Fitz into office was that she'd be the first nominee during his presidency. She wants this problem fixed. Also in flashbacks, we see how Secret Service Agent Tom clues in his president about the hidden cameras that are in his new office space.

In present day, Olivia takes control of all PR at the White House as her former staff watches on TV wondering why she ever left that job in the first place. Flashbacks show Fitz and Olivia continuing to be together during those early days of his administration. They are the perfect team in the White House and in the bedroom. Olivia is shocked when Mellie shows up at her cabin with her husband at her side. Later, she lets Fitz know that he controls her. The president believes it's the other way around. Olivia controls him. He passionately lets her know that she’s the love of his life. He exists only for her.

Olivia meets Fitz at the Hall of Records to literally touch the Constitution. She lets him know that she's in love with him, too. They are in this together. In the present day, the White House press secretary succumbs to her injuries. The sad news is quickly eclipsed by the troubling reality that Sally Langston is lobbying cabinet members to sign over executive power to her. Olivia convinces Mellie to make a statement assuring the American people that her husband is still their president.

Those first days in the White House show the beginnings of the relationship between Cyrus and his current husband. He uses James to write a story that sabotages any change of Sally Langston's choice for the Supreme Court from ever being confirmed. The VP knows Cyrus is behind this. She will be looking out only for herself from this point forward. In other news, Olivia contacts a dirty, big-bearded Huck to find info on a Jesse Tyler who has been looking into things with Hollis Doyle, who says he'll handle the problem. A short time later, Jesse and six of his fellow employees at Cytron are killed in an explosion.

Cyrus tells Olivia there’s nothing they can do about what happened to the Cytron people. He believes they sacrificed their lives for their country. The person being blamed for the blast, the young woman they are dubbing the "Molotov Mistress," is sacrificing her freedom for her country. The hits just keep on coming for Olivia when Mellie makes it clear that she knows about her relationship with Fitz. It was the flag pin that gave her away. Olivia is again told that they are all just doing their patriotic duty in different ways. A short time later, Olivia resigns from her position in the White House.

In present day, the doctors tell Mellie that her husband is out of surgery, but they don't know how much damage has been done. Olivia hands the flag pin to Mellie, who places it on Fitz’s hospital bed as they wait for him to wake up. In other news, Sally gets the votes she needs to become the Acting President of the United States. We jump back to the night of the shooting. We see inside the room where the sniper fired his shots. Someone in a red hoodie is breaking down the high-powered rifle and collecting the bullet shells off the floor. The man's face is hidden at first. Then it becomes clear that the person we've been watching is Huck.

~ Special Thanks to for providing the recap for Happy Birthday, Mr. President [1] ~


Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast


For a full list of cast/character credits in order as they appeared click here: Happy Birthday, Mr. President Credits


Long Speeches & Rants

Long Speeches

  • Fitz: You own me. You control me. I belong to you. You think I don't want to be a better man? You think that I don't want to dedicate myself to my marriage? You don't think I want to be honorable, to be the man that you voted for? I love you. I'm in love with you. You're the love of my life. My every feeling is controlled by the look on your face. I can't breath without you. I can't sleep without you. I wait for you. I watch for you. I exist for you! If I could escape all of this and run away with you...


Appearance Notes

  • Olivia, Mellie, Cyrus, James, Sally, Hal, and Huck all appear both in present day and in the flashback sequences to Fitz's first 100 days in office.
  • Hollis, Tom, Morris and the Secretary of State all appear only in the flashback sequences to Fitz's first 100 days in office.
  • Harrison, Abby, Quinn and Edison all appear only in present day.
  • Britta Kagen appears mostly in the flashback sequences but she is seen being shot by the remote control sniper, in the present.
  • Fitz appears in the flashback sequences and in the present lying comatose in a hospital bed.
  • David Rosen does not appear at all in this episode, past or present.

Continuity Error

  • We learn in this episode that as part of the Defiance conspiracy deal Verna Thornton was to receive a seat on the Supreme Court; the first supreme court justice to be nominated by the Grant Administration. But in season one, episode two - Dirty Little Secrets - a news anchor reports that Patrick Keating is to be the President Grant's first supreme court nominee during his term as President.


Promotional Photos

→ See and enjoy 22 pictures from Happy Birthday, Mr. President at Images from Happy Birthday, Mr. President.


Promotional Video

Scandal 2x08 Promo "Happy Birthday, Mr

Scandal 2x08 Promo "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" (HD)