Scandal: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

We need to talk about your bangs.
They don't look very presidential mistress-y.
Take it from me, I know.
“I’m going to attack the White House and I’m going to go for blood.”
“Go for the jugular.”

This wasn’t one of those mind blowing awesome revelation after revelation episodes. And I liked it better for it.

Scandal shines in its big episodes. It’s filler is...less than perfect. I like that this episode breached the two. It was fillery but it didn’t resort to some of the less than stellar filler tactics we’ve seen from the show in the past. Weirdly, the mediocrity of this episode has helped assure me of the series’ staying power. If filler episodes in the future can be more like this and less like those of seasons one or two, I’ll be one happy gladiator.

By “filler” I certainly don’t mean “standalone.” This episode was definitely significant for the show’s arc. But when compared to episodes like “The Trail,” “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” and “A Woman Scorned,” it was definitely more subdued in tone. Again, this is good. Shonda is discovering she doesn’t have to give her audience coronaries to make a decent episode. That said, it did have problems.

First and foremost was Olivia’s sudden discovery of her father’s true identity. Within the space of what, five minutes, she manages to put together a pen with a street sign and realizes that her father is the head of a highly illegal, top secret government agency. Olivia is smart. This we know. But we’re supposed to believe a) she’s never noticed one single thing that’s given her pause before and b) quite suddenly, with very, very little to go, on she puts together the word ‘Acme’ with the word ‘Wonderland.’

Side note: Both Acme and Wonderland are words with decidedly cartoonish connotations. Alice disappeared into Wonderland (in a movie made by Disney, which now owns ABC...) and Acme was the name of the company that produced all those products the Wile E. Coyote was always trying to capture the Road Runner with. Coincidence or is Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s Judge Doom behind the whole thing?

If Olivia didn’t know about her dad’s job/background, why was their relationship so strained? Obviously, he’s a complete monster, but he seemed to have his ‘concerned father’ face on when he was with her (up until she confronted him about B6-13). All he copped to was sending her away to boarding school. While that’s not the most awesome thing a parent could do (if the child does not want to go), it really doesn’t justify Liv’s coldness. There has to have been something more. Last week she said that her mother warned her that her father would destroy her. There has to be abuse here, right?

Huck didn’t know Liv’s dead was Command. He horrified me when he attacked her in the parking garage. I can understand his actions at the time (he was surprised and probably terrified), but he better not hold this against Olivia. She moved mountains to get him out of B6-13 when he was still a relatively random homeless man.

There were some really cute flashback moments in the episode. Olivia meeting David for the first time. Olivia saying she never really had the taste for wine (I laughed out loud). Olivia walking by a poster that asks “Could Governor Grant Be The Next President?” I also loved Huck rescuing Olivia from the muggers. It was totally predictable, but completely in character and really sweet of Huck to snap out of his demi-fugue state long enough to save the woman who brings him doggy bags.

The moment where Tom jogged alongside Olivia to hand her the phone was so slick. Very Scandal. I like how Secret Service Agents Tom and Hal have been set up on different sides of the love triangle. Hal obviously has a little crush on Mellie and judges the president for cheating on her, while Tom backs up his boss no matter what.

It’s obvious that Fitz loves Olivia and has been since the pilot. Here he really, really proved himself by lying and doing something clearly immoral in order to get her former lover out of custody, despite the bad blood between them. I like to view this as a sign of trust. He’s trusting that she won’t go back to Jake the minute he shows up on her doorstep. I really hope she doesn’t. I don’t dislike Jake, but Olivia belongs with Fitz.

Let’s examine the standoff here: Jeannine wants to lie (she gets $2,000,000 if she does so), Fitz wants to lie (Jake is released from custody if he does so), Mellie wants the lie to be told (it makes her look less the psycho-jealous-stalker wife), and Cyrus wants someone to lie (to save Fitz’s presidency, and, by extension, his job). Olivia doesn’t want Jeannine to lie (it would be wrong and could damage Jeannine’s career and life). I’m sorry to have to side against Liv, but the solution here seems pretty obvious. As long as Mellie pays Jeannine (and why wouldn’t she?), everything seems like it will turn out okay. Of course, it won’t turn out okay, but I only know that because this is Scandal and nothing ever turns out okay.

Bits and Pieces:

The picture for this review is kinda lame, I know. I couldn’t find a better one, sorry.

I really like the way they use Olivia’s bangs to mark time. I never had to wonder if we were in a flashback.

Eli Pope really puts some effort into his cover. How much stuff must he have had to learn over the years to convince others he worked at the Smithsonian?

Fitz was great telling Olivia to go after him. I love how he was smiling as she was lambasting him. He had this sort of ‘That’s my girl’ look on his face.

How much does the Smithsonian pay? (When it’s not shut down by the government as it currently is...) Is it feasible that Liv would ask her dad to take care of her law school debts and that he could seem to afford it?

Olivia pronounced “cum laude” correctly. No one does that.

Did Olivia break up with Edison just because her father threatened him? Would they still be together if he hadn’t intervened, or would she have dropped him the moment Fitz came into her life?


Olivia: “So tell me more about the mammoth.”
Eli: “Ah-ah. Mastodon. A solitary creature, with sharper teeth than its cousin. The mammoth gets all the glory, but the mastodon was the far more dangerous beast.”
No double meaning here. Nope. Why on earth would you think that?

Fitz: “Somewhere, in another life, in another reality, we are married and we have four kids and we live in Vermont and I’m the mayor and...”
Olivia: “And I make jam.”
Fitz: “And you make jam.”
Mini-feminist rant: why does Fitz still get a career in alternate jam reality and Liv doesn’t?

Huck: “I can kill a man with very little effort and a lot of joy but I try not to.”

Cyrus: “You’re evil.”
Mellie: “You’re welcome.”
Oh, how I love these two.

Fitz: “How presidential are my balls now, Cy?”

three out of four obvious plot device pens


ChrisB said...

I love the flashback episodes and this one really worked for me. I got so caught up in what was happening that a lot of the plot "stretches" went right past me. Now, that's losing yourself in a story.

The final two scenes had me gasping. Huck attacking Olivia and Jake turning up on her doorstep were two stellar moments. Only this show would show them back to back.

Great review, as always, sunbunny. And, the picture is not lame at all.

Carmen Milenkovic said...

I can't stand Abbey's new make-up and curly hair. Given that Season 2 started the same day as Season 1 ended, it drives me nuts.

sunbunny said...

Carmen - I like it the look, but there certainly was a continuity issue. :)