And that's exactly what happened to Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope – or as she'd rather be known on the lam, Julia Baker – in Thursday's season premiere of Scandal.
As fans will recall, Pope accepted her daddy's offer in the season 3 finale to get lost for good after realizing her mother was responsible for killing the son of President Grant (Tony Goldwyn). So she and Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) hopped a plane and ended up 100 miles off the coast of Zanzibar, where the water is azure blue and supplies like high-priced wine must be delivered by boat.
But it was Pope's taste for expensive reds that made it easy for Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) to find her. A letter arrived announcing the death of her old employee Harrison Wright, so the time had come for Olivia to return to Washington so she could bury her friend. She'd be back on the island in no time to resume her canoodling – at least, that was Jake's hope upon leaving their gorgeous getaway.
It's not like everyone was happy to have Olivia back, anyway. Huck (Guillermo Diaz) now goes by Randy, works for a computer geek squad and has no interest in resuming his role as a gladiator unless Olivia's back for good. Abby (Darby Stanchfield) is now a press secretary for Fitz and still resents the way her boss skipped town. Even Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) is angered to learn that Olivia is back inside the Beltway, because no good can come from such an unwelcome homecoming.
"At a certain point in time, you are going to find each other in the same room," Cyrus tells Fitz. "We all know what happens next. We've seen this movie 100 times."
Olivia's nothing if not predictable: It doesn't take long before she's right back in the saddle, helping a female senator who was allegedly assaulted by a male counterpart from the other side of the aisle. It turns out the whole thing was staged to move along an equal-pay bill supported by Fitz. Olivia can not only help this woman, but indirectly aid her old love, too.
Jake's no dummy; he can see where this is going.
"The whole 'You don't work here' thing is going right out the window, and the beach is getting very far away," Jake says to Olivia. "We both know it's not my turn anywhere. We both know you are standing in the shade of 1600 Pennsylvania, and it's his turn. I'm the one you like to ride. I'm the one who can reach places that he can't begin to touch. Isn't that right?"
Maybe, but for now, Fitz has no plans to see his old flame – at least, that's what he's telling his mourning wife Mellie (Bellamy Young), who's now spending her days with a drink in hand while clad in a robe and sweats. She's not buying her husband's newfound chastity, though.
"The point is, when you see her, you'll tell me," says Mellie, pointedly.
And he sees her, all right – right there on Capitol Hill, and just a few blown kisses away, too. He and Olivia don't speak; they don't even touch. But oh-so-tiny smiles on their faces as they quietly pass one another speak volumes – their lack of contact won't last for long.
Neither will that so-called bad blood between Olivia and her former gladiators. By episode's end, the gang was all there at Harrison's funeral, and back to work (save Abby) in the OPA offices.
Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.