Scandal 5×04 – Dog-Whistle Politics

"Will Olivia Pope become our next first lady or the first lady to take down a sitting president?"


This was much better than the season’s first three outings. It felt like classic Scandal, and the characters weren’t nearly as irritating.

It helps that we were reminded that Fitz is an actual person, not a tantrum-throwing child (which is what he’s been relegated to in recent times). One simple scene of him bonding with Mellie and his son (if you hadn’t forgotten he existed) was all the show needed to give him some dimension again. Naturally he was up to his old ways by episode’s end, but this still allowed the show to produce one heck of a powerful sequence as his motorcade arrived at Olivia’s apartment under the world’s harsh gaze.

In fact, the entire episode’s structure with our “mistress” Olivia being the subject of an in-depth expose was a brilliant meta tactic that was effective in every way. Not only did it deliver a ton of exposition and backstory, but it further enhanced the microscopic eye that our heroine now has to deal with. This is the kind of development that I’ve wanted the show to tackle since its inception, and I couldn’t be happier that the affair is now out in the open.

Mellie’s storyline continues to go from strength to strength. I love that she asked Fitz that they not hurt each other anymore, only to witness his betrayal on live television and commit to joining the Senate women in impeaching him. Now can Mellie become President before the season is over? Time jump perhaps?

I guess it’s about time a new member joined OPA. I honestly wasn’t Marcus’ biggest fan when he showed up last season, but he was a breath of fresh air this week. Since I can’t stand Huck anymore, I would be more than happy to see Marcus take his place and “gladiate’ alongside Quinn (who has slowly become a character I actually enjoy watching). The whole reversal with Quinn delivering the exact same speech she received from Harrison in the pilot was a bit too heavy-handed, but I applaud the show for trying to go full-circle with regards to her character’s evolution.

As Jake’s ex-wife (and spy) Elise, it was a pleasant surprise to see Mia Maestro on television again. I first discovered Maestro on Alias years ago (which Shonda Rhimes is famously a fan of and where Maestro also played a spy). Here’s hoping she gets a meaty role that plays an integral part in the season. It would be a shame to waste her on one measly episode where she mostly received a beating instead of proving what a badass she is.

Scandalous Bits

– A Papa Pope monologue. Groan.

– Loved the university video of Liv sayings she wants to work in The White House.

– I don’t think ANYONE is interested in a porn version of Fitz and Liv. The real one is nasty enough.

– Words can’t express how incredible Liv’s speech about the rape threats was. Kerry Washington knocked it out of the freakin’ park!

– I’m not sure how I feel about Cyrus’ speech with Fitz being his child. It was well-acted for sure, but it went on far too long.

– The whole dog-whistle-politics shtick was genius. Especially with Huck just saying the word over and over.


Olivia: I do not need to be rescued. I find it offensive.

Cyrus: They want to impeach a man for having an affair?
Mellie: They want to impeach a man for having an affair that everyone just shrugs about because a man having an affair is a daily occurrence. They want to impeach a man because all we ever hear is how women are controlled by their hormones, but what is more hormonal than man who can’t keep it in his damn pants? They want to impeach a man because he broke his vows and disturbed the office of the presidency and distracted the country with his libido, and the only person that gets raked over the coals is the woman he screwed.

Cyrus: If Fitz gets impeached, Susan Ross becomes president, and we all know how that turns out. The woman’s gonna eat her own head and set herself on fire at the same time, after which the country will desperately want someone who’s the polar opposite of Susan. Someone stately. Someone with gravitas. Someone who’s a true leader. You, Senator. This is it. Your chance. Either you go after your husband now and claim the White House for your own, or you do nothing and end up being that sad little well-meaning freshman senator, sitting on that do-nothing subcommittee, publicly grinning at the world, privately wanting to hang yourself.

Olivia: Did you know that there’s a porn version of us? Actually three, I think. And a lot of people, a lot of anonymous Internet people, cowards who won’t use their names, apparently want to have me killed. Also raped. How come whenever a woman does something that people don’t like the only way these men on the Internet know how to express themselves is by threatening rape? Seriously. I have… At least 1,000 threats of rape here, just on this one site, from guys who are mad that I had the audacity to be born female and black. Do you think if I told them I own a gun and that I’ve shot someone, they’d threaten to rape me? Do you think if I told them I’ve survived being kidnapped and tortured, they would get that their weak little misspellings barely make me blink? That I would welcome the chance to take out a little bit of PTSD on the next man who put his hands on me? You think they’d still want to… I’m fine. I’m just… I’m losing it, but only a little bit. I’m fine.

Mellie: I guess that’s the difference between me and you, Cy. When my heart is broken, I can get up and dust myself off and walk away with some dignity. Dignity’s a good visual.

Marcus: Who’s gonna tell Olivia I work here now?
Huck: I will. I’m damaged. She doesn’t like to yell at me.

The strongest episode thus far. Here’s hoping the show finds its groove again and keeps improving.

Nad Rating

1 comment

  1. I'm loving the continued fallout of Olivia's exposure as Fitz's mistress. It shows how much the show isn't backing down from this direction which I feel should have been seen through in Season 3.

    I think Marcus is going to make a good addition to the team. He's smart, capable, and not afraid to speak his mind. He got my respect when he turned the offer down initially and listed to Quinn the reasons why which were solid points. And it's about time OPA becomes more just than Olivia, her two muscle/investigators, and the occasional appearance of Jake. Not so long ago, I watched most of Scandal Season 1 and I found myself enjoying that version of the show more than its current one. I love how much of a team OPA was back then, composed of different personalities united by one purpose: crisis management. I also liked Quinn back then. Yes, she was a bit green, being new to the firm, but she was likeable and had a functional sense of morality. The Quinn now is just a damaged shell of the Quinn before. She may be slowly regaining some of her sense of right and wrong but I wonder if it's too little, too late. I blame some of the damage of her character on her becoming Huck's apprentice and lover.

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