What the hell. I don’t know where my beloved Scandal went this week, because this was not it. This was something much, much better.
There were Scandal-y bits at the very beginning and at the end, but for the majority of the episode, the show transformed into something unrecognizable. It was no longer my soapy guilty pleasure, but a well-written, well-acted thriller with an ending that made me weep. Was the ending a little emotionally manipulative? Maybe, but by the time that particular shoe dropped, I didn’t care. I was totally swept away by the emotion of the moment.
Not shockingly, this episode reminded me of the Grey’s Anatomy with the bomb. Our plucky heroine acted rashly and put herself in danger in order to protect her patient and probably herself and her friends from being blown up. Sound familiar? That episode was, frankly, a bit of a groaner. Talk about emotional manipulation. What made Scandal different was the caliber of its cast (the plot was certainly less ridiculous as well...). I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the episode that gets submitted for Emmy consideration. Especially for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress (Kerry Washington and Bellamy Young).
Speaking of bravura performances, hats off to Cynthia Stevenson who portrayed our oh so tragic client of the week. She did an absolutely amazing job. The excruciating pain on her face as Liv told her the lie? The mournful resignation as she pushed Olivia away so she could kill herself with a free conscience? Completely and utterly heartbreaking.
The romance between Fitz and Olivia was deeply underplayed this week. Weirdly, I did not miss it. I was completely expecting an emotional “Hi/I love you/Don’t leave me” blah blah blah call between the lovers, but the show was better for not having it. The focus this week was not that relationship. I also kept expecting him to say something loving in their phone call where he confessed the true contents of the file (he was surrounded by people who already knew about the affair), but I’m glad the writers restrained themselves. It made Mary’s pain the focus, as it should’ve been.
Is there a parallel between Mary’s predicament and Huck’s? Huck was figuratively tortured for years trying to figure out who had literally tortured him for years. Yet when he knew, the truth was more horrible than anything he could’ve imagined. He was better off not knowing. Can the same be said about Operation Remington? I suppose we’ll find out later in the season.
The last ten minutes of the episode returned to Scandal’s usual hijinks. Still, the hijinks were very well done. Bellamy Young as drunk Mellie was both hilarious, profound, and terrifying. Until now, Young hasn’t had too much to do on the series besides glower and threaten (both of which she does very, very well). It was nice to get to see her stretch her legs. We don’t know much about Mellie’s past. We know she was well (read: expensively) educated and that she is “quite wealthy in her own right.” Here, it is suggested that she comes from the South (I adored the way her accent slipped in as she drank) and that Fitz thought her father was a “hillbilly.” Hopefully we learn more about her this season. Bellamy Young is quite possibly the single least well utilized treasure of a brilliant cast. Could we get Fitz/Mellie-centric flashbacks? Pretty, pretty please?
Also remarkable was Huck’s confessing to Olivia that he fell off the wagon and killed again, simply because her father told him to. It was a powerful scene (Guillermo Díaz was phenomenal), made even more powerful by Liv’s later confession (realization?) that her father still has power over her just like he has over Huck and Jake.
Bits and Pieces:
The title of the episode is a reference to one of Jimmy Stewart’s most beloved movies, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, about a young senator, falsely accused of ethics violations who halts regular business in the Senate and literally stands up for his innocence until he is physically incapable of continuing. (see: filibuster) Could the title of the episode possibly be more perfect?
Once again, Harrison, Abby, and Quinn were sidelined. Once again, I didn’t miss them.
Mellie: “Do you want to have sex? Here? With me, I mean?”
Mellie: “If your whore had died today, brave and strong, protecting a congressman inside the Capitol, with a nation watching...Honey, the nails, the wood, the cross you would build and hammer her on, the worship you would feel for the rest of your days down on your knees praying to Saint Olivia Pope, that would be...I’d lose. Our little war. I’d lose. I am spectacular, but I can’t compete with religious fervor, so no, I was not hoping that she would be blown up today. I am not miserable that she survived. I am celebratin’ because Olivia Pope still walks this earth. She’s still alive. And as long as she’s still alive, well, she’s your flaw. your Achilles’ heel, which makes her my weapon. She’s the strings that, if need be, I will pull to make my puppet husband dance. So cheers, baby. Drink up! I live to fight another day!”
And the Emmy goes to...
four out of four Fitz phones