I don’t think I’ve ever hated a plot twist more. *If you have yet to watch this episode of Scandal, leave now.
Something very controversial happened this week on Scandal: a flashback revealed Mellie’s heinous rape at the hands of her father-in-law. Was it creatively effective? Most certainly yes. It humanized a character that’s frequently been painted as a monster, and effectively turned her into a highly-sympathetic survivor. I genuinely hate that it happened to a character I’ve grown to love for almost two years (and that is a perfect example of the profound power of television). But was the rape necessary? I don’t think so. It feels like the easy way out. Couldn’t Mellie just be a strong-willed ambitious woman? Why does her power have to be the consequence of being preyed on so viciously? Regardless of the fact that the rape scene itself was tremendously disturbing (I genuinely felt like I wanted to quit Scandal in that moment), making Mellie a sexual assault is simply not a writing decision I can support.
However, Bellamy Young’s spectacular work in the episode can not be overlooked. Young is the show’s MVP in my eyes, and she owned every moment on screen. Two scenes in particular unsettled me to no end with their eerie effectiveness: the first was when Mellie walked into her bedroom and let Fitz hug her without even taking a shower (seriously, that was harsh). The second was the breakfast scene in which Mellie shrugged the rape aside and forced Senior Grant to apologize to his son. Simply put, if Bellamy doesn’t win an Emmy this year, I will personally raise hell on earth.
As if Shonda Rhimes’ love for Alias wasn’t apparent enough, the show went on ahead and confirmed what we’ve all suspected for a while: Mama Pope is alive, and is being held by Rowan in a top-secret facility. I’m pleased they didn’t drag this out reveal any longer, and that it didn’t bookend the hour (because this was Mellie’s episode after all). Here’s hoping the dynamic between Olivia and her mom will be as exceptional as our heroine’s complex relationship with Rowan. There’s just no room for disappointment here as far as I’m concerned. This turn has to take the show to another level.
And finally, I wholeheartedly believe that the twist with Mellie being pregnant so soon after the rape is a bit much, even for a show as bonkers as Scandal. Sure it’s bound to create some chilling drama with the issue of Jerry’s paternity, but it’s not something I want to see going forward. Good God Shonda, why do you have to make things so icky?
– Hilariously awkward teaser with Mellie filming the White House walkthrough, followed by the jarring transition to a very much in-love Mellie and Fitz in bed 15 years ago. And then they meet Cyrus for the first time and he has an uncanny resemblance to a werewolf.
– I’m glad Liv told the team everything concerning her mom, Fitz and Rowan. I don’t like it when Pope & Associates are left in the dark.
– Abby’s “I’m going to hug you now” to Liv was beautiful. I love these two.
– Charlie passionately kissing a stalking Quinn was majorly weird.
– Fascinating flashback with Cyrus telling Mellie she has to give up herself and make Fitz her “charity.”
-The rape overshadowed the fact that Father Grant told Mellie about the plane. Thus, present-Mellie definitely knows that Fitz shot the aircraft down.
– It pisses me off to no end how much Mellie has suffered to get Fitz to where he his, and he still treats her so horribly. But to be fair, he doesn’t know about the rape… yet.
– Highlight of the hour: Fitz defending Mellie during the TV interview. It’s a fantastic moment for the couple, and it’s heartwarming to watch Mellie finally look at Fitz with awe and pride. It feels like a moment she’s been waiting for her entire life.
– I know I should talk about Quinn, but she’s such a miniscule aspect compared to the jaw-droppers that permeated the rest of the episode. Basically Charlie set her up to unintentionally kill a guard who was somehow linked to the plane crash, and now B613 “owns” Huck-Junior.
– Comedic highlight of the hour: Mellie and Cyrus picking out whores for Douglas, only to come to the realization at the end that VP’s spouse prefers men (in this case, James). Will Cyrus pimp out his husband? I wouldn’t put it past him.
– Fitz now knows who Rowan really is. Took him long enough.
Olivia: I’m standing in a graveyard made my people I thought I loved.
Mellie: I’ve grown up with Southern boys like Daniel Douglas my whole life. They want someone who’s sweet and innocent, who only turns into a whore once the bedroom door closes.
Cyrus: You’re way better at picking out hookers than China patterns.
James: You control everything which is precisely why I wanna kill you and have sex with you at the same time.
Sally: He’s getting so big isn’t he?
Mellie: (disgusted) He’s huge.
Mellie: (To Fitz) You declare war on me and you shame me and you make me beg for scraps when I have done nothing but fight for you. You don’t have to love me, but we are in this hell together, and the flames are burning both of us with equal intensity, baby, so the least you could do is be my friend. Just a little bit. The least you could do is show up … Show up for me.
While I hate the direction this episode took (I honestly never want to watch it again), this was an undeniably powerful and gut-wrenching hour of television.