By Contributing Writer, Phil Andros
Oh SHONDA, just when I was getting ready to leave you, you reeled me back in with this brilliant episode of Scandal? Before I get to the recap of the show that was last night’s episode, I need a second to address what’s gone horribly wrong with Scandal since season 1. Remember when the show was built around the Scandal of the Week (and the finger-banging discussed in a previous post)? Good times, right? Even just last week Olivia, in her holier-than-thou way, was giving Abby the standard “white hat” “gladiators in suits” blah blah blah bullshit that she has spewed less and less convincingly since the show started. That she does it with no trace of irony would actually be kind of funny if the show didn’t take itself so damn seriously.
This show was supposed to be about a DC fixer, not about murderous intrigue and shadow governments right out of a Tom Clancy novel. The problem is that the characters on Scandal are so completely morally bankrupt that you really need outside problems and clients for OPA to make it even remotely watchable. Otherwise, it’s just this group of crappy human beings just trying to fuck each other over. I get enough of that at work and at Thanksgiving. I don’t need it on the teevee. SHONDA, if you’re reading, hun, bring it back to its roots before you lose us all. If I had the Twitter Machine I’d tell her myself.
Let’s look briefly at each of the main characters so you can see what I mean, although I’m pretty sure based on your comments on last week’s recap that you do. This is all off the top of my head, so feel free to chime in in the comments section to remind me of all the horribleness I’ve forgotten or blocked from memory.
- Fitzgerald Grant, president of the United States. I mean, apart from personally shooting down a civilian airliner (operation Remington) and putting American troops in harm’s way to save his mistress, what’s not to like, right? He’s a truly swell, stand up guy! When his kid gets killed (because of him) and his wife is a grieving mess, he basically makes it all Mellie’s fault. Husband of the year material for sure. And, maybe worst of all, he actually believes he’s smart (LOL) and that he’s earned his Presidency. Poor delusional fuckwit. It’s really sort of sad when the most charming part about him is his adulterous affair with Olivia.
Mellie Grant. I have a soft spot for Mellie because basically I think I would have taken an axe to Fitz by the second season if I were her. Plus she is the best actor on the show. But c’mon. What a role model for women! Getting raped by your husband’s father and not reporting it because of of your naked ambition is probably not something that all young women should aspire to. :eyeroll. Plus of course she helped rig the election for Fitz and was directly responsible for the slaughter of 12 jury members by Huck/Poppa Pope. Still, she remains among the most likable characters on the show…mostly.
Cyrus Beene. I can’t even. Has hired Charlie to kill multiple times over the years (I think Amanda Tanner, the supposedly pregnant girlfriend of Fitz was the first back in Season 1). Cyrus even hired Charlie to kill his own husband, James at one point although that plan was aborted. Why? Because Cyrus bought James a baby to shut him up. Oh, and let’s not forget Cyrus basically pushing James into an affair with Sally Langston’s husband just to win a couple of political points – that revenge fuck of James who knew he was being photographed was one of my favorite things that season. Just a few episodes ago Cyrus arranged to have Tom (the secret service dude who killed the President’s son) shoot two security guards and orchestrate the fake assassination attempt on the hottie governor of PA. Why?…ready for it…the hottie governor’s one weakness was that he had no national profile. The only item in the plus column is that he bought himself (and us) Cyrus’ whore, who needs to spend more time without clothes on in future episodes. Thank you in advance, SHONDA.
Jake, Huck, Quinn, Charlie. Stone cold assassins who get off on torturing people. I mean, truly get off on it. Nothing seems to make Quinn and Charlie hornier than using a drill on someone to extract information. I get why Tamara and others have a soft spot for Huck – he’s been so supremely fucked up that it is hard not to root for him to become sane. But let’s not forget what insane looks like with Huck – mutilation, torture, a bus full of dead jurors, pulling out Quinn’s teeth among many other scenes of torture and cruelty that make waterboarding seem like a quaint trip to the aquarium. Every one of B-16 agents is a true psychopath, although Jake can still call me even though he framed the NSA nice general lady and killed her boyfriend so he could be head of the NSA. On second thought, I’ll just pay cash for Cyrus’ whore; it’s safer. And they all do this at the behest of either Olivia or Poppa Pope. I’m not doing an entry for him…space constraints.
- Abby Whelan. Probably the least gross of the main characters. It looked early on like they were going to make her sort of a badass but then, Quinn. The only really crappy thing I can remember her doing was sleeping with David Rosen to steal the evidence of the voting machine tampering way back when. With her new power-hungry self the moral fibers are being chipped away – she is my odds on favorite to murder someone next season – but it’ll probably be accidental and she’ll at least feel bad, which will be refreshing. Help me out in the comments if she’s killed someone I’ve overlooked.
I’m not doing the three women in the lesbian love triangle – David Rosen, Liz whatever and Susan Ross, because honestly they bore me to tears.
Olivia Pope. Or as I like to call her, “the lady with the magic vagina.” I can’t remember Olivia actually killing anyone which is a nice rarity for the show. I mean even Sally Langston offed her dead gay husband (bonus points if you get the Heathers reference). Of course she’s turned Huck loose a few times here and there so her hands aren’t exactly clean, and she did rig the election for Fitz. And when Fitz was incapacitated she committed treason with Mellie by faking his signature. Oh, and she also got Poppa Pope out of jail so he could blackmail the Senators looking to take down Mellie.
But my biggest problem with Olivia isn’t really with Olivia – it’s that SHONDA HATES WOMEN. She creates these strong characters who talk smart and act smart, but when push comes to shove Olivia turns into a compliant pile of mush every time some guy sticks a finger in her. Role modeling. Sigh. The show is built around this strong black woman (trademark Oprah Winfrey) but in the end, who has the power? Fitz, Jake, Poppa Pope and Cyrus. End of story. SHONDALAND is a man’s world and the men always win.
Basically the only moral character left is the new black guy and I can’t even remember his name. Come in, SHONDA, you have a problem.
Now on to this week’s show!
Ok, this promises to be good, Lovers of Liberty. Sally Langston gives Hollis a shout out and then says that she’s going to host the first Republican Debate, to which I say YEE HAW. Ok, she said it, but don’t hate. I said it in my head too.
Then we cut to a scene of Olivia, Liz and Hollis discussing the terms of the debate. Um, seriously, do you think Donald Trump shows up for his shit, Shonda? But I have to give you props. Finally, we have Olivia being a MOTHERFUCKING fixer and a badass. Nice change.
Cut to Susan practicing her debate, Abby on the phone with Olivia and then Edison is running for President! I am actually starting to like this show again. This is what I signed up for. I’m having such a good time that David Rosen talking about his lesbian love triangle with Liz and Susan isn’t even bothering me! And he even answered my burning question: Liz uses the bigger strap-on. That scene where she railroaded David into going up on stage after the debate and publicly outing him/herself as Susan’s lesbian lover was genius.
Switch to the Dems! Cyrus is giving a strategy talk and gets interrupted by some totally hot Latino. I mean, you thought governor hottie was a hottie. He is at best a 6 to this guy’s 10. Turns out it’s Alex Vargas, hottie governor’s brother. And there was a smallish suggestion that he may be a homo mary.
This episode is everything so far. We switch to Mellie’s focus group where everyone is describing her in Hillary Clinton terms – smug, unlikable, too smart, etc. How did we miss this, gang? Mellie = Hillary is so fucking perfect. “I am fighting their fight, Liv, I’m just fighting it as a Rhodes Scholar. They are benefiting from how smart I am.” And I am still shaking my damn head wondering why this woman doesn’t have an Emmy. Seriously.
Oh fucking no, Quinn is here and we are back to talking about Jake and Poppa Pope. She and Olivia decide to go with Plan B. Sounds so ominous! Might be good! It’s not!! Quinn become “Jaqueline Horton” who went to Smith with Jake’s fiancee. And somehow in 5 minutes they are besties. Of course they didn’t talk about people in common they knew at Smith, courses or anything. Sigh. You’re starting to lose me again SHONDA, but at least Quinn is kind of cute and, really, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG WHEN JAKE FINDS OUT QUINN IS COSYING UP TO HIS FIANCEE?
And it gets good again…Susan goes into Abby’s office to thank her for clearing the President’s schedule. Yes, it’s a little far-fetched, but as Scandal goes, it’s absolutely believable. Abby tells Susan that David was just in there complaining about “his women.” Rut roh. Susan proceeds to completely fall apart at the debate prep.
And SHONDA is kind of overdoing the Hollis thing. They cut to him shooting an AK-47 at a driving range (is that even a thing? I’m from the liberal Northeast, help me out gun state people) and he says that “Debate prep is for ninnies [the Donald would have said pussies. Actually, the Donald did call Cruz a pussy.] All I need is 8 hour sleep and a good breakfast.” At which point he wraps up some bacon in tin foil and attaches it to his gun?!?!? Hmmmm. Cuts to Mellie who Olivia tells “less bitch face” [LOL] and even less hands. Cracking up. The Hillary sendup is priceless. Then back to Hollis who is firing off his assault rifle and at the end it cooks the bacon he’s wrapped around the gun barrel in tinfoil. Jigga what? So I google ‘cooking bacon with a machine gun barrel’ and sure enough there are Ted Cruz references and instructional videos. Sigh. This whole Hollis thing may prove to be really tiresome, but I’m willing to stick with it for a while because he’s so damn good at being unctuous.
Sally Langston interlude where she is delightfully menacing and gives us the origin of the ‘pencils down’ title of this epi. She’s administering the test of their lives and it’s gonna be tough, Lover’s of Liberty!
Alex Vargas (hottie Governor’s brother) shows up at OPA and offers to swap dirt on Susan Ross for dirt that Olivia might have on Edison. Which of course she does, but she isn’t playing. Kind of makes you wonder what dirt they have on Susan. Did she once use a curse word? Did she forget to say thank you? Unless they know about the lesbian love triangle. Then we find out that Alex is another detestable human being. Quelle surprise, SHONDA! Ruined my day, but I like a little rough trade so we’ll see….
You don’t believe me that SHONDA hates women? That scene with Mellie at Gettysburger was going so well. Damn, SHONDA, can Mellie ever get a break from you? I know they promo-ed a major gaffe, but that was stone cold mean. Plus, it was totally unbelievable again. The woman who spent the time to memorize the locations of Gettysburgers isn’t going to stumble across the fact that they aren’t open on Sunday? But ok, I’m sort of still enjoying this epi, but the lengths SHONDA will go to to torture Mellie are starting to get stupid frankly. Although the scene where Mellie unloads on Olivia is yet again an example of the amazing range this actor has. Wow.
Some scene with Susan and David. Or an episode of the L Word. Not sure. I left to pee.
Weird scene with Olivia and Poppa Pope. She is basically testing him and he tells her to be true to herself. We’ll see – probably not this episode – but I think Olivia did the whole “Daddy I need you” thing on purpose to reel in Poppa Pope a little. Of course, I also think he knew exactly what she was doing and didn’t fall for the bait. Thoughts? [edited to add: nevermind, it was totally obvious that he was protecting Edison. A little ham-fisted for SHONDA but whatever.]
Vanessa and Quinn – girl talk. Vanessa had to submit all of her bank records “And your laptop?” Quinn chimes in happily. Cue portentous music.
God, when this show is good, it is really good. The Olivia/Poppa Pope and the Vanessa/Quinn scenes were totally a yawn. Now we’re back with Cyrus yelling at Tom the Body Guard (and stone cold kid killer) to find dirt on Alex Vargas! Oh, and the dig on Florida was a nice touch. Lol
David tries to dump Liz and says he’s in love with Susan. Liz: “She’s a muppet. And not even one of the main ones. She’d be way in the back playing tambourine in one of the muppet bands.” Liz definitely has the bigger strap-on and I thought that was going to be the best line of the night, until….
Quinn’s back. Turns out Jake is using Vanessa’s bank accounts to funnel money to a Super PAC. I mean seriously, SHONDA. They need Vanessa to do this? Answer, no, they don’t, but I guess Olivia had to find out about the Super PAC somehow. Ugh. I hate that even when the show is good it is still ridiculously far fetched. But of course it’s Edison so I was right about Poppa Pope’s ulterior motives above. Every MAN as usual is ahead of Olivia. She confronts Edison, but he’s already in the bag for Poppa Pope. She says “You’re getting into bed with a MONSTER” – lip tremble. Edison’s reply and the best line of the night: “No, I’m getting into bed with a MONSTER’S FATHER.” LOL. It’s nice to know though, that SHONDA’s streak is alive and the one guy who seemed truly decent is going to end up a pile of shit just like all of her other crappy characters.
Boring scene with Susan and Fitz.
Jake is out on a date with Vanessa and Olivia interrupts to basically drag Jake into the Woman’s room and rape him. Or start to rape him. It was nice to see a cock squeeze instead of a finger-bang for a change. Who says SHONDA doesn’t have range. lol And, yeah, I’m a little jealous. DON’T JUDGE. Olivia delivers a little speech about how Jake is supposed to go tell Poppa Pope that whatever he’s up to, Olivia is going to win. But she’s not. We know that. She hasn’t won in 5 seasons.
It’s DEBATE NIGHT. CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT!!!? Sally running around in curlers was awesome and I actually enjoyed Susan Ross smoking a cigarette and dumping David. It was so ONJ at the end of Grease.
And now the debate! But first, Olivia swaps dirt on Edison (his rehab) for dirt on Susan (we don’t know yet).
And the debate will be next week.
Ok, I have to admit it, SHONDA you delivered and you got me interested again. This was probably the best episode of the season so far and I’m actually looking forward to next week for a change!
As usual, I’m dying to know what you think in the comments.