Woah. That was mindblowing.
Much like Revenge, I’ve been harsh on Scandal over the course of the past year thanks to some ill-advised storylines. But if I had to sit through all of those missteps again to get to this? Well I most certainly would, because these past two episodes are some of the best hours of television the show’s ever produced. Much like how she rejuvenated Grey’s Anatomy this season, Shonda Rhimes has proven that she knows how to run a TV show.
The great thing about Where’s The Black Lady? is that every single scene is perfectly thought-out and executed. Every conversation had a purpose, and I was literally in awe watching everything unfold in such a harmonious manner. I think the key here is the fact that every character on the show is currently orbiting around Olivia’s disappearance. There are no useless subplots and unnecessary story beats – just masterful television that’s gripping and absorbing on every level. Astounding.
To start off, I loved watching Team Pope work together as they tried to track down their Olivia. Although they were too late by hour’s end and our heroine had already saved herself (nicely done), their methods were wonderfully effective. First, Huck’s brutal torture of Elizabeth? It’s a shocking yet perfectly predictable move that further proves just how much of a savage beast the character has become. And the fascinating element here is that we’re supposed to be rooting for him aren’t we? His actions then dovetailed with Mellie who intervened and we got the thrilling reveal of her sleeping with Andrew (and obtaining his phones). I think we’re all sick of the redundant fights between Mellie and Fitz, so it was a real treat to see them working together towards a common goal (saving his mistress). Yes it’s all so very preposterous, but it’s also ridiculously confident and engaging.
And Kerry, oh Miss Washington you continued to deliver series-best work this week. All of Olivia’s scenes with Ian were bonafide gems. First, the haunting hostage taping session (where Olivia cleverly used a glass of water to tip off her crew), and then the chilling bathroom scene in which Ian threatened our heroine with sexual violence. But the real crown jewel was Olivia convincing Ian to sell her to the highest bidder (in one heck of a monologue found below). It’s moments like these where our protagonist showcases how resourceful she is, that I find myself completely invested in the show’s narrative.
And of course there’s that outstanding ending with Fitz getting from a prim and proper Olivia on the plane with Ian. The coolest moment here? Liv giving us a slight smile, visibly proud of her temporary freedom and the manner in which she got herself out of her horrifying predicament. I honestly have no idea what direction the show is going to go next, and that’s a beautiful thing to witness.
– The teaser with the Secret Service surrounding Fitz in the Oval Office and letting him know he has absolutely no power is one of the most amazing scenes this show’s ever done. And the threat to “beheading” Olivia? Very relevant today.
– Gem of a scene: Mellie telling Fitz that she’s sleeping with Andrew and his paranoid response (“stop talking”). Even more paranoia: his slow-mo walk through the White House as he suspiciously eyes everyone in his path.
– Superb touch: the flashes to iconic Olitz moments intercut with her hostage speech.
– Satisfying moment: Tom apologizing to Fitz for killing his son and then hinting at the “only place” he can talk privately – Olivia’s home (where Fitz meets Jake).
– How awesome was the whole “Where’s the black lady?” shtick. I knew Liv’s neighbor would pay-off eventually, and the shot of Liv dropping her ring was not forgotten.
– Yet another remarkable Olivia-Ian scene our heroine demanding another menu and her captor telling her that she’s staying for another three years. Notice Kerry Washington’s very unsettling body language on the floor.
– Fitz cleverly telling Mellie the truth on the White House balcony. Her response? Olivia is not a “cheap screw” and he must go to war for her (which he does). This powerful scene is punctuated by that gorgeous time lapse and the zoom-out of Fitz all alone on the balcony.
– If I were President and I walked into the Oval Office only to see the VP in my seat, I might just go berserk right then and there.
– Did Fitz leave a message for Cyrus in the report? Oh YES HE DID.
– If only Abby had something worthwhile to do this week. Oh well, I guess you can’t have it all.
– Jake going to David Rosen who made the rescue mission look like a drug raid was pretty darn genius.
– Much like last week, the episode’s ending with Liv on the plane was so very Alias. Also, Ian making fun of Fitz and Liv’s “Hi” was hysterical.
Cyrus: Who do you put on your guest list for your arranged marriage to an opportunistic sex worker?
Tom: But he was a boy. And you are a man, a great man, and I had to choose between a nice boy and a great man, and I chose the great man, and I am not sorry about that. I am proud of that.
Olivia: You could wait outside the door.
Ian: And have you find a way to make a weapon from the toilet seat?
Ian: But for argument’s sake, let’s wager. $1… I bet you that he will go to war for you. $1 says he does it. Because president or not, he’s just a man… a sad, terrified man who’s lost his Olivia doll and wants her back. Call me a romantic, but I wager a dollar that he loves you, and that’s what makes the world go ’round… emotion, sex, jealousy, insecurities. Bush invaded Iraq to avenge his daddy. Clinton bombed Serbia so we’d forget about Monica. Napoleon… well… [laughs] Napoleon… [laughs] [Sighs] The president will go to war, Olivia, and he will meet our demands. History says so. Love says so. I say so. I’ll wager you that. Is it a bet?
Fitz: You’re talking about hypothetical risks.
Andrew: Tell that to the shrapnel in my ass.
Ian: (to Olivia) You shouldn’t have killed Otto. He was the chef, but I will see what I can do about that creamsicle.
Olivia: You’re sitting on one of the most valuable assets in the world and not using it. Imagine the price I’d fetch on the open market. “Own Olivia Pope, you own the president.” Make that known, you’re the most powerful man in the world. Nations, dictators, drug cartels… they’d all come running. You’d be rich beyond your wildest dreams, but, no, you’d rather honor your contract, spend the next three years bringing me food and water. Yes, you’d be the highest-paid babysitter on the planet, but that’s all you’d be… a babysitter. You’re saying I should sell you. I’m saying we should sell me. I know the market, how it operates, who the players are, how to pull their strings. This is my wheelhouse. If anyone can make this work for you, it’s me.
Ian: So I get rich, and you get what?
Olivia: I get to not spend the next three years counting down the days till the president leaves office and you put a bullet in my head. We both know I’m resourceful. You get rich. I get to take my chances on the open market. Plus, you’d have to make me look presentable to get top dollar. And right now, I could really use a shower and a change of clothes. Think about it, Ian. It’s win-win. But again, the question isn’t what I want. It’s what you want. Do you want to be a babysitter, or do you want to be a boss? It’s up to you.
Quin: Then it’s the three of us? Bust in there and take on God knows how many armed mercenaries ourselves? All right. I’m down.
David: I’m saving Olivia Pope. I want you to acknowledge that. Yes. I just did. Do you see this hat?
Jake: I don’t see a hat.
David: Use your imagination. I’m wearing a 10-gallon white hat. Just for the record.
Ian: I’m selling Ms. Pope to the highest bidder. You’re welcome to join. But if I had to guess, it’s gonna cost you. The woman who controls the President of the United States? She’s gonna be worth quite a bit to your enemies, your allies well, everyone really.
Utterly and completely riveting from start to finish, Where’s The Black Lady is one of Scandal’s finest hours ever.