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New Show Recap: Scandal, 3×02, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

The Best Flashbacks in the Biz

It’s flashback time, and as always, Shonda does it right. We start five years ago, with Olivia greeting Huck, who, although still living in the subway, has become a friend of Olivia’s. She’s going to have dinner with her father, and boy, does he seem different. He is mild-mannered and vulnerable even, and he is pleading for his daughter to give him a chance. He apologizes for sending her away when her mother died. She makes it clear she is only dining with him because it was a condition of him paying for her law school. Her father (formerly Rowan, now Eli) gushes about geeky museum stuff. She reports back to her live-in boyfriend Edison (Remember him? Senator Extremely Suitable Goodcatch?) that it appears her father is trying.

Later, Olivia is mugged in the subway, which bears no resemblance whatsoever to the DC Metro system, BTW, and is rescued by Huck, who dispatches the muggers with ruthless efficiency. When pressed by Olivia about his mad skills, Huck babbles on and on about Acme Ltd., and someone named Command who runs B613, Wonderland, and probably something about black helicopters. Olivia asks Eli to look into it. He agrees, although he isn’t very connected (ha!). He later tells her that Huck is simply a mentally ill person who, by the way, has been arrested. When she tries to track him down with the help of David Rosen, she learns that Huck hasn’t been arrested. During this process, she notices a pen her father gave her. It says Acme Ltd. Everything falls into place. She confronts her dad, who transforms from mild-mannered professorial type to icy egomaniac in less than a blink of an eye.

Olivia reveals she isn’t giving up without a fight when she shows up at Eli’s door with her new fiance, Edison, and menaces him about Edison’s future status as head of the intelligence committee. BIG MISTAKE, Liv. Eli releases Huck, but arranges for Edison to have a devastating car accident. He tells a terrified Liv to break off the engagement, gently. As we know, she does.

Olivia Fights the Power

Back in the future, Fitz tells Liv he supports her efforts to clear Jeannine, no matter how hard-hitting. Well, at least he has some sort of conscience. But wait — it is at this point that they have the conversation that, for me, illustrates what exactly is wrong with Grope (our portmanteau for the Grant/Pope pairing): Fitz starts talking about how the two of them would live in an alternate universe. They would live in small-town New England with their four children, Fitz would be mayor, and Olivia would MAKE JAM. Fitz smiles fondly at the idea, proving he doesn’t really know Olivia at all. (Olivia Pope would never be happy just making jam, Fitz. Those of us who do know Olivia recognize that the jam thing is just a escapist fantasy she has on the toughest days, not an actual dream.)

Is THIS Olivia's future? (Photo credit: Georges Seguin via Wikimedia Commons)
Is THIS Olivia’s future? (Photo credit: Georges Seguin via Wikimedia Commons)

Olivia and team are relentless in their attempts to vindicate Jeannine. As always during the scenes where OPA spring into action, catchy ’70s music plays — this time the classic “Disco Inferno.” It’s not the most inspired musical choice, but eventually they are going to run out of appropriate ’70s songs for these montages, and if a long run for Scandal means I eventually end up listening to classics like “Disco Duck” or “(We Got a Great Big) Convoy,” so be it.

However, Liv is horrified when she comes back to the office at one point and finds her dad making affable small talk with her employees. (Television rule: The more affable the small talk, the more evil the person. Wait, that rule is true IN REAL LIFE, too.) The two of them return to her office, where they have a vicious fight, all the while smiling at each other, conscious that her team is watching the discussion through the glass walls that seem like a really bad idea for a firm that deals with the things OPA deals with. He tells her to fall in line about Jeannine or she’ll never see Jake Ballard again. She asks if Jake is dead, and Eli smiles menacingly and tells her to ask Huck. Later, Huck tells her how they operate; terrified, she calls Fitz and asks him to find out where Jake is and get him out of there. Fitz orders Cy to take care of it. After playing dumb, Cy finally admits that he can’t do what Fitz says because Fitz has no authority over B613. Fitz makes an unholy deal: he confesses to the affair with Jeannine; in exchange, B613 will release Jake Ballard. And what of Jeannine? Although she carefully considers a $2 million bribe (an offer tendered by Mellie herself), she doesn’t sign on the dotted line (i.e., make her confession) in time, and is left out in the cold when Fitz gets on TV and admits the affair. Hearing this, Olivia stalks off. Fortunately, Abbie reassures Jeannine by telling her they’ll get her a book deal and all the accouterments, which will make her rich.

Olivia doubts herself. This makes me sad. (Photo courtesy of ABC)
Olivia doubts herself. This makes me sad. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

Quinnus Ex Machina

When Quinn meets Eli, she becomes suspicious. Excessively suspicious. Plot-devicingly suspicious. So suspicious that she ends up hacking Olivia’s emails (Drills one hole in a man’s thigh and suddenly she has delusions of grandeur. Also, that’s really not a bright move, in the long run. ~SMI)  and figures out that Olivia stopped talking to her father around the time Huck joined the firm. Yadda yadda yadda, Huck realizes that Olivia’s father is Command. He confronts Olivia and for a second it appears that he might choke her to death, but he stops himself. She admits that her dad is Command, and a dazed Huck walks away.

“Hi.”

Olivia gets a call from her father, telling her to open her door, and that Sunday dinners are back on. She does, only to find a battered and barely standing Jake, who collapses into her arms. He seems to have weathered The Box better than Huck (perhaps because he wasn’t in there for as long): he is able to greet Olivia casually, and his lips still retain the rosebud pinkness of a young maiden’s. (#Can’tBreakJake ~SMI)

So Many Other Things

  • So Olivia’s dad can be credited with her love of wine. That was startling, in a way, considering that a woman who went to the finest schools would probably have had a lot of exposure to good wine before that. Maybe Liv only drank champagne before that.
  • Cyrus has a new position of power: liaison between Fitz and B613. I wonder if he’ll be able to leverage it.
  • Quinn is really getting on my nerves. (Reading Olivia’s email, Quinn? REALLY?) She remains the weak link for me, and I kind of got a vibe from the other staffers (OK, just Harrison), that they weren’t feeling it, either.
  • Can there be anything more galling for Mellie than hearing herself described as a delusional “woman of a certain age?” Why yes. It’s hearing herself described as a woman who used to have a promising political future. Mellie gets to hear both of this in a devastating one-two punch.

And Finally, A Theory About Clothes

Boy, were Olivia’s clothes drab/boring this week. I think I’m starting to notice a pattern, color-wise. I’ve made it into a rhyme.

When Olivia wears white, everything will be all right.

When Olivia wears grey, things might be OK.

When Olivia wears navy, things have gone cravy.

This means I have to give the fashion win to Abby, whose deceptively simple patterned black tank is actually a thing of subtle beauty.

Look at this top. It would be equally at home at work or on a date. (Photo courtesy of ABC)
Look at this top. It would be equally at home at work or on a date. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

By Moretta

Moretta will take that applause. Her Twitter is https://twitter.com/GobezMoretta.

2 replies on “New Show Recap: Scandal, 3×02, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner””

While I do have some minor quibbles with the trope of Woman Dates Shitty Men Because Her Dad Is Shitty, Scandal bends enough tropes on their ears to make it easy to overlook. This gets bendy because Fitz is her outlier. Wait! Let me explain that.

So pre-Fitz, Olivia dated a string of high-powered fellas – those I DO think were part of a Freudian Father Issues deal for her – but I think the reason she clicks with Fitz is because they shared the experience of growing up under terrifying fathers who could turn them, powerful, take-no-shit people, into toddlers. She loves Fitz not because he’s powerful, but because he’s weak in the same way she is weak.

I still think they’re terrible for each other. But they make more sense.

Key points, so this doesn’t turn into a commenovel:
1. I love PastRosen’s YouthBeard.
2. Abby has obviously always been a knockout, but wow, she’s a STUNNING woman. I feel like a bad feminist for saying that.
3. Huck’s origin story was a lot more interesting than Quinn’s is turning out to be.
4. “You’re evil” “You’re welcome.” I love Mellie. I don’t care who knows it. A multi-faceted MALE villain is rare enough in TV, Mellie is platinum evil.
5. Take-no-shit Fitz is much more attractive/fun to watch than Scotch-swilling-sadface Fitz. Presidential balls, indeed.

I agree about Abby. I think her hairstyle is shorthand for her sexuality. When she was recovering from her abusive marriage and tentatively entering into a romantic relationship with David, it was straight and controlled. Now that she’s more confident, things are getting wilder.

I think Mellie hasn’t even begun to pull strings. She’s been warning people not to underestimate her, but I think they still do.

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