Back in season two, Scandal used to produce A+ episodes on a regular basis. This was especially frequent around the time Fitz got shot and the whole Defiance arc was in full throttle. Unfortunately, season three saw the show hit quite a few lows with its whacky plots and unlikeable characters. Thankfully, I’m pleased to report that this was the show’s first perfect episode since A Door Marked Exit, last December.
The main reason this episode was so effective is because it finally allowed Olivia to do something. She’s spent far too long reacting to Fitz, Jake, and Rowan, that I sort of lost the will to root for her. But Baby Made A Mess totally blew my mind with the final reveal of Liv orchestrating Tom’s stabbing. We all know these characters have grey areas, but this was a vicious, brutal move on Liv’s part, and I adored every bit of it. Now that our heroine finally knows that her father is responsible for the death of Fitz’s son, we can start enjoying an all-out war between the Popes with Fitz and Jake in the middle. This will hopefully bring the Papa Pope chapter of the show to a close, while reinvigorating the character of Olivia Pope who became a neutered badass for far too long.
Amidst all the chaos, the writers still managed to craft a highly compelling and moving story for Abby. We always knew that Liv saved Abby from an abusive marriage before the show began, but to have that very creep show up as Fitz’s pick for the Senate was pure genius. Darby Stanchfield delivered her most powerful performance yet, capably conveying a spectrum of emotions throughout the hour. Whether she was terrified and hiding behind her desk, or confidently fighting off her ex with a gun to his head, she sold the character’s entire arc marvelously. And hey, I actually liked her and Leo kissing at the end; perhaps I’ve finally started to get bored of Abby and David?
Also, I still can’t seem to care about Huck’s son. But I surely won’t let that ruin what was an otherwise perfect hour.
– Mr. Winslow shooting himself in front of Quinn was an effectively harrowing moment.
– The sex tape with the Senator and his “number two” fetish was enormously disgusting.
– One of the coolest moments of the hour: Olivia’s “watch me” to a broken Abby.
– Hilarious comedy touches with Olivia taking over Susan’s campaign. From the makeover and the incessant blinking to Susan’s daughter brilliantly pulling off the commercial, I enjoyed every bit of it.
– I honestly can’t see Cyrus in his underpants any longer. Nevertheless, his subplot was well executed this week as he gave Michael the name of the wrong ship, and then witnessed Mellie relaying the false info on TV (thanks to Elizabeth). Things are going to get nasty people.
– Tom admiring Liv during their one-on-one? Terrifically creepy.
– Very insightful moment with Abby telling Liv she doesn’t want to share her story because of the women involved in various Presidential scandals over the years.
– I don’t know how I feel about Liv telling Fitz about his suicide, and his reciprocating with phone sex. And did Liv take off her coat and start touching herself? That was pretty racy for broadcast television (not to mention the “so you can taste yourself” line). Yeah, yuck.
– So Leo was responsible for the leak? Well that’s one way to win the girl of your dreams.
– Mellie answering Olivia’s call and giving the phone to her husband? Priceless
– Loved Liv getting the flashes to the three men in her life and all the anguish they caused her.
– How great was that ending with Olivia, Fitz and Jake in that iconic bunker from It’s Handled?
Olivia: If Fitz knew-
Abby: Not Fitz. Fitz is a man to you. The rest of us, we only know the president. The president is not a man. He’s an idea. He’s gun control and equal pay and education bills, and maybe the first proof ever of Republicans and democrats actually being able to work together. His needs supersede mine.
Abby: You can’t handle this.
Olivia: Watch me.
Olivia: Susan, this isn’t a campaign rally for the next United States senator from Virginia. This isn’t even a campaign rally for a middle-school student-council treasurer. What this is, is sad, which is a shame because I think you have promise. Do you know why that matters, Susan? That I think that you have promise? Because I’m Olivia Pope. And I’d like to run your campaign free of charge. Not only can I make you the next United States senator from Virginia, I will make you the next united states senator from Virginia. All you have to do is say yes. Say yes, Susan.
Olivia: Thank you, Susan.
Mellie: Poor thing probably didn’t give a rat’s ass about China any more than I do. I’ll tell you something – when a woman is president, they’ll suddenly make first lady an official paid position. They will hire someone to do it. The minute a man has to do it, it’ll become a real job.
David: That place holds people who eat people. And you want to what, just waltz in there wearing all your white stuff, have a seat in one of the cells, and drink tea with Jake? This isn’t jailhousemingle.com. You can’t just visit Jake. Hell no. There are clearances, protocols, rules. You already have a plan, don’t you? I’ve been Poped and I don’t know it.
Tom: (to Olivia) I’m sorry. I don’t – I don’t mean to stare. It’s just… I don’t get to look at you very often. Just… look. I’m usually working, scanning the perimeter, protecting my president the way I do. I’m in the room, but I’m never in the room. You’re usually in the corner of my eye. I’ve never seen you. And you… are… beautiful. The face that launched a thousand ships.
Quinn: Is it too late to make this a radio ad?
Mellie: I’m back. That’s what you wanted, right? That’s what you screamed at me about? How you hated drunk Mellie and crybaby Mellie and smelly Mellie? And there was one about food. I don’t know what you called it. I like to think of it as chicken-fried Mellie. You wanted those mellies gone, right? So… they’re gone. And here I am. I’m back, baby.
Remarkably exhilarating, this is Scandal’s best episode of the year.