I don’t know if it’s because Scandal has been gone for oh so long (the excellent season five finale aired last May) but I genuinely loved this episode.
A while ago, I stopped expecting Scandal to be prestige television (although season two was spectacular) and started enjoying it for what it was: an often-ridiculous but always entertaining thrill ride with amusing monologues and twisty bombshells. And that’s exactly what Survival of the Fittest provided. Why ask for more?
This is an hour that briskly zips from place to place without taking a single breath, and the narrative momentum is all the better for it. I’ve been wanting Mellie to become President for a long time now, so it was especially disappointing to see Vargas win the election, and even more frustrating to see Cyrus assume the Oval Office (after having his superior assassinated). But well, isn’t that final scene with Liv savagely whispering into Cyrus’ ear that she’ll be taking him down worth it? The stage has been set for an explosive season, and we can finally see our team band together to take down the greatest enemy of them all. Hell, even Rowan doesn’t look too bad in comparison.
Bellamy Young was particularly incredible this week. I loved everything about Mellie and Liv drinking champagne in the bathtub. The two have been sworn enemies for so long, that it’s extremely satisfying to see them become so close (they even held hands!). But Young did an even better job in the balcony scene with Fitz (read the kickass monologue below). The heart-to-heart did a splendid job of advancing both of their character’s journeys; Mellie finally apologized for always belittling her husband, and Fitz admitted just how spoiled he really was. That’s the beauty of serialized television: not all episodes might work, but the payoff can really be worth it.
– I’ve made it quite clear in the past that I hate in media res openings, but this one works. When we return to the scene of the explosion, Quinn’s affair statistics take on a whole other meaning (since she’s considering marriage), and we’re genuinely invested in Jennifer surviving the explosion. Not bad at all!
– Very creative scene with Liv writing down everything for Mellie to say during the call. I especially liked the “G’bye”.
– Abby’s security speech was badass. Her stealing the phone from Vargas’ wife (and not letting her call her kids) however was brutal. I love Darby Stanchfield.
– Great revelation with Huck saying he voted for Vargas.
– Kerry Washington’s voice as she growled at Mellie that the elections were not over gave me chills.
– Was anyone else severely distracted by Olivia’s red gloves?
– Maybe it’s the long wait, but I so missed Shonda Rhimes’ witty dialogue.
– Liv telling the gang to check 832 voicemails AGAIN; I would sure hate it if my boss made me do that.
– I knew Cyrus was acting when he stood there all shocked in the hospital. How did Liv fall for it?
– I guess the show will continue to develop Marcus and Mellie’s subtle romance. I wouldn’t mind at all!
– Charlie and Quinn are getting married! I kind of love these two now (it was a slow burn).
– The CGI with the cabin explosion was sadly atrocious. Have you ever seen faker smoke in your life?
Olivia: (to Mellie) You wait too long, the press out there is gonna say you’re ungracious. They’re gonna label you a sore loser. And because you’re a woman, half of them are gonna call you a bitch, and half of them are gonna report that you cried. You don’t go down like that. We don’t go down like that.
Mellie: Vice President Beeeeene. It’s like having a vampire a heartbeat away from the Oval. Blood-sucker.
Olivia: Be nice.
Mellie: I will be gracious… out there. In here, I am spiteful and petty.
Abby: No communications in or out. We are an island until I say otherwise. Is that clear?
Agent: Ma’am, I’m sure you have some security clearance. But I need you to know this is a high-level operation. This is my team, and I’m in charge here so with all due-
Agent: Excuse me? No? “No” to what?
Abby: No. I don’t have some security clearance. I have all of it. No, this isn’t a high-level operation. It’s the high-level operation. No, this isn’t your team, it’s mine. No, you are not in charge. You were in charge. I am in charge now. If you have questions or concerns, I suggest you take those up with your boss, who can take them up with his boss, who can take them up with my boss. Guess who my boss is. I will give you a hint. His office is a big Oval.
Charlie: At least now we can pull the trigger on that trip to the Caribbean, right?
Charlie: What? Oh, yeah, it’s sad. Very sad.
Olivia: I’m your friend.
Marcus: No. You’re Olivia Pope.
Rowan: How could you let that happen? You know better. You are better. You are faster, stronger, and smarter than him. How could you be so weak? How would you let that man outplay you? That’s what happened, Olivia. He outplayed you in the generals, and he outplayed you tonight when he paid an assassin to shoot Frankie Vargas!
Olivia: What did you just say?
Rowan: And there it is. That streak of weakness, that crack that allows anyone through.
Rowan: Who has the heart of a conqueror and the arrogance of a king? Who would, quite literally, kill for this job?
Olivia: Cyrus Beene loves Frankie.
Rowan: Cyrus Beene loves Cyrus Beene.
Mellie: I don’t want it. This big white house, four more years… I don’t want it. I lost my son here. Fitz got shot here. My marriage died here. I don’t want it!
Olivia: Mellie, listen to me-
Mellie: I am done running for president!
Olivia: Well, I’m not!
Abby: Sir, he’s dead!
Fitz: He isn’t dead until I say he’s dead!
Fitz: (to Olivia) And now you’re here to “advise me” on my choice. Let me guess… Team Mellie.
Mellie: I’m sorry.
Fitz: For what?
Mellie: I used to lie in bed next to you and listen to you breathe in and out, and I would loathe the sound. I would resent your right to air. You were sucking up all the presidential oxygen, the rare air, the air I would’ve done anything to breathe. And you didn’t even appreciate it. You didn’t even want it. I thought… “How weak. How spoiled.” The view from here… The view from here. Thing about the view from here is, there is no view. Here, we are the view. All eyes on us. You aren’t weak. You just aren’t power-hungry. I never realized that. I’m sorry.
Fitz: Let’s not pretend I’m a good person. I’m Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III. I was born with power. Me wanting power is like a drowning man wanting a bath. I’m supposed to choose… between you and Cyrus. My last big act as president. This will be my legacy. Can you believe that? After all the stolen elections, now here we are again.
Mellie: What are you gonna do?
Fitz: I don’t know. Mellie… if you don’t want it… now’s the time to say so. No one will know but me. You can just walk away.
Mellie: That’s nice. (He walks away) Fitz… I want it. The crown, the rare air… I do want it.
Huck: Which one is it, Charlie? Do you want to murder her or you want to marry her?
Charlie: I want to marry you, if you want to marry me! …. You look like you’re gonna vomit.
Equal parts enjoyable and clever, Scandal’s back and crazier than ever!