Scandal: Ride, Sally, Ride

She's fabulous, but she's evil.
“She’s running!”

Why am I not joining the growing legion of people fed up with the show? Episodes like this one. I couldn’t sit still for any part of the hour. I was pacing around the room, flapping my arms frenetically and half hyperventilating. There’s something about this show.

The twists are just twisty enough and even the ones we see coming (Mellie and Andrew sitting in a tree...) are shocking in their own way. Plus, I know I’m a broken record on the subject, but Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn’s chemistry is off the damn charts. I make up my mind that the Fitz/Olivia relationship is too dysfunctional and screwed up to root for. And then they kiss and I can’t help it; I don’t want them to stop.

Way too much happened this week for me to organize this review in any cohesive way so I’m afraid it’s down to bullet points.

Sally. This episode was definitely not short on the gut-punching surprises. Rowan working with Leo. Rowan telling Olivia he was going to assassinate the president. Olivia romancing Jake yet again. Adnan Salif being a woman. The biggest one for me is that Sally is still intending to run for president. That seems like a crazy risk, particularly after murdering her husband only a few weeks prior. Fittingly, the West Wing went insane over the news and even insanier over the idea that Sally wouldn’t be resigning (which, to be fair to them, is completely insane). Sally is a great character and Kate Burton plays her to perfection. She’s not an anti-hero. She’s a character I love to hate and I continually find myself hoping she falls flat on her face (these hopes are generally disappointed). I’m less fond of Leo who seems less complex and more just plain sleazy. His homophobic digs at Cyrus and rudeness to Abby did not endear him to me any further.

James. I’m ambivalent about the direction James is taking. I totally support his ‘destroy things from the inside out’ approach but, given his history, I fully expect him to be back at his malevolent husband’s side by season’s end. The James/David pairing intrigues me. Both have similar reasons to revenge themselves upon the Grant administration and the Popeheads and Dan Bucatinsky and Joshua Malina play off each other very well. I also like that David has someone besides Abby to interact with on a regular basis.

Rowan. Waiting to see how things shake out with Rowan before I comment any further on him. His threats against Fitz were terrifying (all credit to Joe Morton) but his teaming up with Leo seemed to diminish his villainousness. Leo is not threatening. Sally is not threatening, at least in this way. Characters like Rowan work best when they’re operating in the shadows, when we can’t see what they’re doing so they could be doing anything. Like:

Maya. Mentioned this week by Rowan and Fitz, she remains at large, probably setting up a luxurious lair underground someplace. I’m seeing jewel tones. And booby traps.

Charlie. Charlie continues to mentor his (ick!) girlfriend in the ways of criminal for hire/super secret spy. I think he has real affection for her, which is almost sweet but still really creepy. At least he and Jake seem to have an agreement about Quinn not getting hurt. Although how long Charlie can keep her from danger if he keeps dragging her into his work is yet to be seen.

Quinn. Quinn forays into kidnapping this week. Olivia has said she wants her back. If she did return to Pope and Associates, would things go back to the way they were? (cue Streisand)

Andrew. Andrew Nichols: the guy who will be VP if Fitz wins a second term. I’d say Fitz winning reelection is a foregone conclusion, but I’m not going to put anything beyond Scandal at this point. As soon as he said he had a girl that got away, I knew it was going to be Mellie. Not sure how I feel about this. Any jealousy Fitz expresses towards the former romance between Mellie and Andrew is going to seem extremely hypocritical. If Mellie sleeps with Andrew, she will seem highly hypocritical. We’ll see how things shake out. Also, I need to point out that, in the real world, Andrew would not be polling half so well as in the Scandal-verse. He’s basically a mini-Fitz and the American people seem fed up with Fitz. Plus, the fact that he’s seen as a playboy shouldn’t help Fitz and his (to quote Cyrus) “slutty president problem.”

Cyrus. Cyrus didn’t have much to do this week but freak out about various plot developments. Which is sort of all he ever does, as long as you loosely interpret the phrase “freak out.”

Olivia. Much like Cyrus, our main character took a back seat to the plot this week. She did have that very well crafted scene with her dad in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial, but most of her job there was to react to the horrific stuff coming out of her father’s mouth. I will say that I don’t like the way she approached him, thanking him for attempting to protect her from the knowledge of her mother. That may have been a good thing for him to do (feel free to debate in the comments) but that one good act does not absolve him of the other horrible things he’s done. She should still be disgusted with her father, just slightly less so than before. I also don’t understand her storming out of the Oval Office when Fitz declared that he needed her to win. She has to know she means more to him than just that. Fitz was saying ‘you’re the best at doing what you do and I need you.’ How is that a storm out worthy offense?

Mellie. Getting the standout scene of the episode, Bellamy Young shone in her “friendly” lunch with Olivia. There’s something just delicious about the way Mellie can be. She can call a woman a whore with a smile on her face. I love the way they combine the First Lady’s traditional role with Mellie’s political intrigues. It looks like she’s having a ladies’ lunch with a gal pal when really she’s manipulating the press and intentionally making Olivia extremely uncomfortable. Even Liv had to concede that it was a well played move.

Fitz. Pick a lane, buddy. Are you a spoiled, alcoholic asshole or are you a romantic lead? Please stop being both; it’s hurting my head. This week, there were lots of smoochies with Olivia, a pledge of his eternal love for her (“I am not losing you again!”), a childish bemoaning that she has to stay because he wants to be president some more, morning drinking, and a savvy political decision. Fitz is just all over the place and I really don’t know what to do with him anymore.

Harrison. So, Adnan Salif is a lady and she and Harrison clearly have...a history. We’ll see what develops there.

Abby. Abby gave an interview. Leo was mean to her. Nothing to say about that really.

Jake. Lest we think that Jake’s shiny new job meant we get to see less of Scott Foley’s pretty face, he resurfaces this week as Olivia’s new fake (?) boyfriend. Is she just dating him for appearance sake? Is she actually dating him? If the latter, which is doubtful, she’s cheating on Fitz with a sort of ex-boyfriend. If the former, she’s manipulating someone who she knows has serious feelings for her into being her camouflage for her affair with the president. Either way, poorly done Liv.

*I’ve made an executive decision. I will no longer continue to talk about the sexism in Scandal unless absolutely necessary. I’ve accepted that Scandal has permanently moved to my ‘Guilty Pleasure’ list, and, let’s face it, we hold our guilty pleasures to lower standards than shows we hold in genuine esteem. So Douxers, know that I see it and I’m upset by it and I will not judge you in the slightest if you choose to give up on the show at any point.*


Mellie: “Sexist but effective.”

Charlie: “Killed two birds...and some people.”

Rowan: “You’re skipping around in a field full of bombs and mistaking them for daisies. This, dear, sweet child is what happened. The married man you can’t seem to stay away from had me abducted and locked me up in chains and spoke to me about the way you taste while he allowed the terrorist who snaked her way into my marriage bed to clear US air space. What happened was the man you screwed betrayed me by freeing the woman who gave birth to you as a bargaining chip. What happened was the man who defiled you also defiled the organization that I gave my soul to build. That is what happened. What is currently happening is that President Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III has made an enemy. The worst kind of enemy, because I know all his secrets. I know where every body is buried and the greatest weapon I can use against him calls me ‘dad.’ Uncommon valor was a common virtue. The thing about that quote, Olivia, is that it is from the good old days. It no longer applies. Today everyone is afraid. Everyone should be afraid. The president should be very afraid. And if I were you, Olivia, I would be terrified. I would pick up whatever chips you have left and run as far away as possible from that burning building known as the White House. Run, Olivia, run. Because, mark my words, Fitzgerald Grant is not going to make it to the end of his term [...] Start grieving now, Olivia. Rend your garments, curse the heavens. It will save you time down the road. But first, run.”

Leo: “Abortion? Really? Because when I stop and rank the things you’ve done sin-wise...”

Charlie: “Maybe something in a blow torch?”
Terry: “For a bookshelf?”
Charlie: “We’re big readers.”

David: “Harrison Wright, this is your butler calling.”

Abby: “If we need to borrow a gun, we ask.”

Jake: “I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States!”
Olivia: “Don’t we all!?”

three out of four love…pentagons?


Luce said...

Firstly, props to you for the good review.

Secondly, I totally approached this episode with severely low expectations. This season has been a disappointment for me so I had hoped that TPTB would tighten/smooth out the plot when the show came back from hiatus. Based on what I saw, they might have started to fix what was wonky and/or broken (though not completely).

The negatives for me were the David + James vs. Cyrus arc (been there, done that); Quinn (she can get killed or move very far away. The show wants us to care about "her fall from grace" and yet give us more scenes of her new life. Show, you can't have it both ways. Either she's a villain or not. I predict that Quinn will be welcomed back to Pope & Associates by the end of the season.); Fitz (I get that the show wanted to make him a more complex character. IMHO, though, he's gone so far into the dark side that I find it nearly impossible to root for him and Olivia. Yes, they have mad amounts of chemistry but, at this point in the series, I don't feel that he deserves to be Olivia's true love).

The positives were Mellie (her maneuvering of Olivia and the (potential) cheating storyline with Andrew); Roman Pope (that monologue was electrifying); Harrison (I loved the Adnan twist).

So I'm still tuning in (for now). Here's hoping the show bring its A game in the last 7 eps.

ChrisB said...

I was of two minds about coming back to this show after its hiatus. Something, however, drew me back in and I am not sorry. This was one of the best episodes I have seen in a while. Papa Rowan's speech (thanks for transcribing it!) was a tour de force of both writing and acting.

I respect your point about the sexism and agree with it. Before I hit the play button on this episode, I actually had a think about whether or not I would continue to watch this show as the sexism can really, really, irk me. I decided to let it go (as much as I can) and just enjoy the ride.

Billie Doux said...

Loved the episode. Loved your review, sunbunny. I'm okay with the guilty pleasure aspect, too. I was getting a bit tired of the show, but actually said "wow" out loud a couple of times during the episode so I think they're winning me back.

Heather said...

I love this review for multiple reasons. For one, the format is pretty much the best. I frequently fantasize about different styles of recapping/reviewing but am too lazy/freaked out(?) to commit so KUDOS.
Here's how I watched this episode--smerkling around, listening to the dialogue and yelling at my computer (HULU) from other rooms of my apartment like, "No, girl." etc. That sentence hopefully says everything it needs to to explain the state of things in my neck of the woods re: Scandal.
I love that you liked it better than where it was when we left off before the break though and I watched this week's while actually in the same room as the screen so that's something. I want to stay with it because I like your reviews so much.