Scandal: More Cattle, Less Bull

Candi and Liv were evenly matched in the
competition for most serious serious face.
“We got Poped, sir.”

This episode was exceptionally uneven. The Josie Kafka Marcus story was typical Scandal, but among this episode’s smaller, character-driven moments was some of the best work Scandal’s ever done.

Everything, everyone just felt so real this week. The interactions were just so...human. My favorite was probably the phone call between a wine-soaked Olivia and Fitz, who was literally hiding from his wife in the bathroom (very presidential, sir). Good Fitz and Liv moments have been scarce for the past few episodes, but this more than made up for that shortcoming. Fitz and Liv get a lot of dramatic romance scenes or dramatic conflict scenes. It was a very nice change of pace to see them here, living their everyday lives and acting like a relatively normal sort of couple. The way Fitz slipped “I love you” into their conversation just made me melt. It wasn’t a big moment or a new revelation. It was just a gentle reminder.

Another standout scene was the basketball court alpha male-off between Jake and Fitz. Again, they felt like real friends with a long past and a current romantic rivalry. I knew at some point Fitz would fall and the Secret Service would rush over, breaking the spell of normalcy, but it was well done. The agents didn’t tackle Jake to the ground or something, which I was a little afraid of. The scene also facilitated a very sweaty and completely necessary shirtless Scott Foley scene, which I liked very much. Because of or something. Was there dialogue?

There was also a sweet scene between Abby and David. I guessed her reluctance at attending the WHCD would be related to her ex-husband somehow. If you’ve forgotten, he’s the son of some governor and used to abuse her. I hope we do more with him at a later date. Maybe he’ll get murdered! Fingers crossed. Of course she should’ve told David the real reason she didn’t want to go, but I liked that he was understanding. It’s not the same as wanting to avoid an awkward encounter with your ex when abuse is involved and, to his credit, David gets that.

This week’s big revelation is that Fitz killed Olivia’s mother years before they even met. Is it absolutely ridiculous? Yes, of course, but it’s Scandal, what on earth were you expecting? Honestly, the only thing that keeps this show from being a soapy train wreck sometimes is the caliber of its cast. Obviously, the death of Olivia’s mother was never going to be an accident. At the moment, it certainly looks like her (ex?) husband had her targeted and killed (at the expense of 328 other lives, it should be noted). Will there be extenuating circumstances and/or an attempt to humanize Daddy Pope? Maybe there was also a terrorist on the plane and he had to choose between the life of his beloved wife and the deaths of thousands of people? Yeah, I doubt it, too.

Mellie’s pitch to Olivia would’ve been sweet if it was genuine, but this is Mellie we’re talking about. What is she playing at? I would totally believe season one or even season two Mellie wanted Olivia to come back because it was best for Fitz, but she and her husband have literally declared war on each other. Yes, she wants to remain in power, but is she willing to let Fitz be happy in order to let that happen? Wait and see, gladiators.

I don’t have much at all to say about our weekly client, who unfortunately seems to be sticking around. (I just don’t like Lisa Kudrow when she’s not Phoebe; I have no reason for this.) I’d love to accuse Scandal of grossly stereotyping the so-called ‘flyover states,’ but I’ve never been to one. I have flown over them, though.

Bits and Pieces:

Once again, Scandal time bears no relation to real world time. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is always held on the last Saturday in April.

What do you think of the implication that B6-13 killed JFK? It’s interesting, but it also seemed a little disrespectful to me, especially since we’re coming up on the fiftieth anniversary. Thoughts? Leo also made a mention of JFK Jr., which seemed a little weird.

What in the world was Olivia wearing at the WHCD? She looked like a cartoon of a pretty woman from the future. The hair, the dress, the gloves, none of it worked. And don’t get me started on Mellie’s poodle hair.

Sally is thinking of running as a third party candidate and wants Leo to tell her what will happen. I can tell her what would happen in the real world: she’d fracture Fitz’s vote, taking some women and the more conservative voters, resulting in the Democratic candidate winning in a landslide. Of course, this is Scandal-verse, so real world political rules do not necessarily apply.


Leo: “It smells like Nixon in ’74 in here.”

Josie: “I was young and stupid and he was a boy with a nice smile and a shiny yellow pickup truck and I thought I was in love.”

Olivia: “You can’t vet your jokes you’re not funny.”
Fitz: “I know that. Wait, I’m funny.”

Mellie: “I like your new boyfriend. Is he married?”
What a great moment. You could tell she was trying to be nice and diplomatic, but just couldn’t help herself.

Mellie: “He is tired and broken and it isn’t doing the job, it’s doing the job without you. He’s not alive when you’re not here. He can’t breathe when you’re not here. He doesn’t have the will to run much less win when you’re not here, because you’re everything to him.”

Jake: “I don’t play second fiddle to anyone, not even the president. Good night, Olivia.”
A rare moment of self-respect for Scandal-verse characters. It made me like Jake so much more.

three out of four Josie Kafka Marcuses


Billie Doux said...

I’d love to accuse Scandal of grossly stereotyping the so-called ‘flyover states,’ but I’ve never been to one. I have flown over them, though. LOL. :)

And What in the world was Olivia wearing at the WHCD? She looked like a cartoon of a pretty woman from the future. LOL, again. I think the dress was cut in a way that it made Kerry Washington walk strangely, too. That, or she really dug the dress and was over-strutting.

It was a great episode, with a lot of great moments. But that bit about Fitz possibly killing Olivia's mother made me go "Please tell me they're not going to do this". There was a plot twist several seasons ago in Grey's Anatomy that was just too much for me; it made me stop watching because it was just too tragically ridiculous. I'm hoping they either pull back with this one or make it work in a magical way that I can't quite imagine just yet.

Loved your review, sunbunny.

Heather1 said...

I know we're talking about Scandal... and its own universe... but I can't get past Olivia having Harrison use Abby's mistrust of men because of her past experience with abuse (from last season)... when they implied that David was an abuser. Olivia told Harrison to use this because it was a weak spot for Abby. It was a truly wicked thing for Olivia to do... and it crossed a line for me.

sunbunny said...

Heather - I know, I completely agree. It was a truly, truly terrible thing for Liv to do. She took what she knew about her best friend, her deepest, darkest fear, and turned it against her. I try not to think about it, actually.

Enid said...

As much as I love this show, I'm not so sure what to make of the season so far. I was thinking a lot about Shonda Rhimes female leads: Meredith Grey, Addison Montgomery, and Olivia Pope. They are capable women with great careers but have specific downfalls with men. Meredith seems on a better path and Addison finally got herself together and married happily. So I look at Olivia and wonder what will happen to her. On the one hand, I like she's struggling so much. It could give her some good obstacles and push her to figuring out who she is.

When she dug into the trash for the phone, it reminded me of Miranda in "Sex in the City" digging cake out of the garbage. It made me realize she doesn't love Fitz. That's not love rooting around in a garbage pail. That's not to say I don't think Fitz loves her either. I don't root for their storyline for a number of reasons. And now that I see the shine on their relationship is wearing off I keep wondering what is the future for Olivia Pope. I'll keep watching because I want to see the end game. But, I just wish this season wasn't somewhat of a dud with some promising yet twisty good moments.

ChrisB said...

In a recent article, Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly, talked about "The Perils of Speed Plotting." Using Scandal as one example, she says, "Now partway through the third season of these shows, we're starting to crash. The pace can't be sustained. When every possible thing has already happened, what on earth can happen next?"

I thought a lot about this article as I watched this episode, but especially the final bombshell. This just may be a step too far, a fault that we have seen before from Rhimes's shows.

My final straw in Grey's was George being hit by a bus. Yes, Knight was leaving, but he could have gone off to war and quietly faded into the sunset. His dying by saving some random girl, after he had already saved so many others, was ridiculous and his funeral was the last episode I watched.

This episode felt similar to me. This new twist just feels wrong and I'm not sure how a character we are meant to love and root for, like Fitz, recovers from the fact that he shot down a plane with 329 innocent people in it.

Having said all that, there were parts of this episode that I really liked. I loved Millie catching Fitz on the phone and the subsequent conversation with Olivia. I like the Kudrow character and I like the way she stands up to Olivia. I cheered when Jake called Olivia out -- finally!

You're absolutely right about Olivia's look at the WHCD. She is usually so beautiful, but this dress and her hair didn't work for me. On the other hand, I thought Abby looked absolutely stunning.