So darn brilliant.
I keep waiting for Scandal to suck, but this show’s been on one heck of a roller-coaster since season two, and it’s displaying absolutely no signs of slowing down. The last time we got Huck flashbacks, it felt like the weakest episode of Scandal in quite some time. So imagine my surprise when this flashback-filled hour turned out to be such a masterfully constructed episode.
Shonda Rhimes promised we’d be delving into Olivia’s backstory in season three, I just wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. Every one of Olivia and Rowan’s scenes (in the past and the present) were spectacular. Kerry Washington and Jo Morton continue to share the most fantastic chemistry, and it’s been an utter joy to watch their relationship unfold. The flashbacks were especially insightful – revealing Olivia and Rowan’s strained dynamic, and a somewhat positive time in their lives where they would meet for Sunday dinners (and Olivia’s taste for good wine first appeared). However, Olivia soon began snooping around about B613 and ultimately struck a deal with her dad to keep Huck out of the agency’s sights. This was expertly contrasted with the present-day status quo as Olivia tried to secure Jack’s safe return from the notorious “hole”. If you found yourself confused, Olivia’s bangs were thankfully on-hand to help you determine if you were watching the past or the present.
If all the above isn’t complicated enough, we also have the Jeanine debacle, with Olivia salvaging her reputation by shifting the media attention onto the poor White House employee. It was beyond compelling to watch the various chess pieces (particularly Cyrus and Mellie) scatter as they tried to gain control of the situation. In the end, Fitz took control of the situation and admitted to the affair – which brings me to…
The final five minutes; absolutely mindblowing. First, we have Huck cornering Olivia and choking the truth out of her in one of the most intense sequences this show’s ever produced. I’m not Guillermo Diaz’s biggest fan but he was horrifyingly effective here. I can’t wait to see how Olivia and Huck’s dynamic will evolve after this incident, and now that he knows who her dad really is.
Now the aforementioned scene would have been enough to cement this episode as a stunner, but the writers went on ahead and gave us a marvelous ending: Olivia getting a call from her dad who tells her to open the front door. I think we all knew a beaten-down Jake Ballard would be standing there, but it was so wonderfully executed that I genuinely got chills watching it. And Rowan capping it off by setting yet another Sunday night dinner date? Wow. Simply outstanding.
– I practically cheered when Huck saved Liv from the subway robbery.
– Fitz’ bodyguard handing Liv the cellphone mid-jog? Too cool.
– Can anybody out there really picture Liv making jam?
– When Olivia first tells her dad about B6-13, Joe Morton plays the moment perfectly. His eyes flicker just a bit, to signal to the audience that he knows exactly what his daughter is talking about.
– I love how the Olivia-Rowan conversation is filmed from the outside as we see them mouthing off words with fake-smiles. It’s hilarious, and oh so deliciously dark as Olivia’s dad threatens her with Jake’s life.
– Although our gladiators haven’t gotten much screen-time yet this year, I loved Huck telling Quin she should be more like Liv and not like him after he catches her hacking into their’ boss’s email.
– It’s pretty insane to watch Cyrus tell the President of the freakin’ United States that he has no power over B6-13.
– It’s funny that Olivia was able to crack the B6-13 scandal through the most unexpected detail: a branded pen.
– How harrowing was it to witness Rowan speak to Olivia in such a forceful manner at the restaurant? I love that she ignored his orders and simply stood up and left.
– There’s a fascinating little moment with Jeanine telling Olivia that everyone at The White Office knew Fitz was having an affair; they just didn’t know with who.
– If we need any more proof of Rowan being evil incarnate, her put Edison in a tragic car crash after Olivia accepted the marriage proposal. He then made sure that engagement would not continue any further.
– I don’t know why I got confused, but I assumed Olivia was incessantly checking the morgue for Huck’s dead body (in the past). But we were actually in the present and she was looking for Jake.
– My favorite scene of the hour: Olivia lashing out on Fitz and screaming at him to use the “power” they gave him to save Jake. It’s a staggering moment for Kerry Washington.
– I felt bad for Sally at the end. I really did.
– Awesome continuity: Charlie and “the deal”.
Olivia: I won’t hold back. I’m going to attack The White House and I’m going to go for blood.
Fitz: Go for the jugular.
Mellie: You don’t know where she is? You were supposed to control this girl Cyrus, now we’ve got a bimbo on the loose.
Cyrus: You’re evil.
Mellie: You’re welcome.
Rowan: (to Olivia) You are on my dime — pick up your menu, order your meal, and tell me about your day.
Abbie: I’m impressed by your wide range of taste by the way. From French new wave to America’s sluttiest moms?
Quinn: (to the sales lady) She’s not Amish.
Olivia: There’s a reason that this is not Vermont, that we don’ have kids, and that you are not the mayor. There’s a reason we are not happy. It’s so you could be President, it’s so NOTHING is beyond your control – that’s the point – YOU BRING HIM BACK!
Olivia: You don’t do this – you don’t lie. Because every time you do, you sell a little bit of your soul, and then you have to live with those lies eating away at you month after month, year after year until one day you’re gonna look in the mirror and you won’t even recognize yourself. And then you’ll hate what you see Jeanine. Believe me.
Fitz: How Presidential are my balls now Cy?
Olivia: This is over, we are DONE!
Rowan: We are family sweety; we’re never done.
Fitz: I’m not lying Sally, I had Jeanine Locke six ways to Sunday all over this White House. And after some soul searching on all of our parts, I think my constituents are going to forgive me for it.
An incredibly enlightening and engrossing episode of Scandal.