The second half of season three, after taking a two and half month break, puts us right in the middle of Fitz’ re-election campaign. But Fitz is not the only character with his eyes on the Oval House.
“I’ve committed a sin.”
Last week’s episode ended with Sally calling Cyrus and uttering those words – “I’ve committed a sin.” This week’s episode takes us back prior to that call to show us what exactly happened. Sally is fighting with her husband, Daniel. Cyrus has pictures of Daniel having sex with his husband James. Sally tells Daniel, “You have released a snake into our garden,” talking about Cyrus, who she knows will not be able to let this go. Daniel tells her that she knew what she was getting into when she married him – aka, “Sally, you knew I was gay.” Then, Daniel tells her that he is done, and that she cannot win without him. Sally can’t handle it. So, she takes a letter opener to his back. And with blood scattered across her face, she calls Cyrus.
“I’ve Committed a Sin”
This episode was not for the those with a weak stomach. Huck has laid out the tools of his old trade: torture. Huck has Quinn duck taped on the floor, and begins to talk her through his torture process. He wants to know what Quinn has been up to. Quinn begs to be released: “I’ll be good.” Huck begins to pull one of Quinn’s teeth, when his phone rings.
It is Olivia.
An Ethical Roller Coaster
Last week’s episode concluded with Rowan walking into Omar’s cell, revealing to us that Omar is really Olivia’s mom, Maya. This week’s episode picks up right there. Rowan walks into the cell and declares, “Our daughter has been asking about you.”
This week’s episode turns its focus onto Mellie. It starts off with a reporter and camera crew following Mellie around the White House for a tour and interview. Blended through this episode are more flashbacks, but this time of Mellie and when Fitz was beginning his campaign for Governor. The flashbacks take place at Fitz’ father’s house. Larry has gotten Cyrus Beane to come in to run the campaign. “It’s our first step,” Mellie tells Fitz, “to the White House.”
Failure is not final.
Scandal has bought the Monopoly block of townhouses when it comes to effective flashbacks. In the opening flashback scene, we meet Maya, Olivia’s mother. It is a sweet scene where the teenage Olivia, complete with headphones in her ear, tells her mother goodbye before she gets on the plane that will eventually crash. It sets the tone for the rest of the episode.
The client-of-the-week in this episode is the Democratic congresswoman Josephine Marcus, played by the always brilliant Lisa Kudrow. Last week, we saw her as the President’s biggest critic who got a huge boost in the polls after Mellie was caught on tape saying not-so-great things about the Congresswoman under her breath. Now, she is running for president.
Do you believe in second chances?
That seems to be the theme of this week’s episode. At one point or another, almost every character tells someone that mistakes happen and that there are second chances.
One of these characters is the wife of the client-of-the-week, Senator Richard Meyers. Meyers, in an Anthony Weiner kind of way, sent explicit text messages of himself to a young woman named Desiree. The only difference here, is that Meyers is on trial for murdering Desiree. Pope and Associates takes the case to defend the senator because they need clients. While the family of the victim would be a better fit for Olivia, they need the cash.
Mary Nesbitt is a grieving mother. She believes with everything in her body and soul that the FBI unjustly killed her son in a raid. She has struggled to have anyone listen to her. So, she goes to Washington and hires Pope and Associates. In a quick background check on her, Quinn learns that the payment Mary Nesbitt made was everything she had left in her bank account. To Olivia, this does not add up.
Shonda Rhimes’ drama took a bit of a breather from the action of the last episode. The show slows down to develop the characters in this hot mess they have found themselves in. And Rhimes does so in a style that has been used in all of her shows, including Scandal. The balancing act of flashbacks and present time story lines. The storyline of the flashback compliments the present storyline. It is not always done well, but in Scandal, it is.
Season three gets started right where season two ended. As we plunge back into the world of Olivia Pope and the scandal that is arising around her, we hope to uncover answers to questions from last season. Like, who leaked Olivia’s name to the press? Mostly, what is going to happen to Olivia now that she’s been outed as the President’s mistress? And, whose going to fix this?
Rowan, who is Olivia’s father, plans to handle the situation by sending Olivia on a private plan to a secure island. Rowan fires off about as much power with his words as Olivia does. Enough to make Olivia stand down and even cry a little. But, after Olivia makes a phone call to Cyrus to tell him that she is leaving town, she gets her Pope mojo back.
With the knowledge that Billy Chambers, the Vice President’s former chief of staff, is the mole, Huck admits that he “hired out” the killing of Chambers to Charlie.
Huck: If you want someone killed right, you have to do it yourself
In flashbacks, we learn that Chambers made a deal with Charlie, and Charlie has been Chambers’ guy too.
Olivia, Mellie, Cyrus, and Hollis get together in the kitchen of the White House to discuss Defiance and Billy Chambers. Chambers is the new problem. Olivia puts the focus on Defiance as the problem, not Chambers. If they get the Cytron card back, they neuter Billy, case closed. The twist in this scene is that Fitz shows up, taking Verna’s place at the table. Mellie can’t handle being in the same room as Fitz and Olivia. She storms off with Cyrus who attempts to convince her that Fitz will come back. At the same time Fitz is working on convincing Olivia to use her skills as a “fixer” to fix the American public into hating Mellie and loving her. Fixing, after all, is her superpower.
Mystery Man, whom we now know is in charge of B613, meets with Ballard and wants a meeting with Olivia. Ballard asks questions, which apparently is frowned upon, and Mystery Man basically tells him that if Ballard doesn’t produce, he knows where they stand – which I’m guessing isn’t a good place. As Mystery Man leaves, a woman leaves behind him, she was part of the “Take Down Charlie” operation that failed. She is also the person who tries to break into Olivia’s apartment before breaking it down, gun drawn. But, Ballard happens to be in the apartment and kills the woman. After getting Olivia to her office, telling her she should stay there for a while, he tells her about B613. It takes a few moments for Olivia to process that. She knows about B613, mostly from Huck. The next time we see Ballard is at the end of the episode, when he is being shoved into the same dark hole in the ground that Huck was in. And we know what well that turned out for Huck.
James is mad at Cyrus for keeping him in the dark about Mellie and Fitz. Cyrus finally leaks to him that the President is seeing a pastor for counseling and prayer. James goes on television and reports that. Mellie is watching, and hears James report that the President’s approval ratings are up, but the First Lady’s are not.
The Gladiators in Suits figure out that Chambers is going to need someone credible to unleash Defiance on the American public. They soon realize that it is going to be Governor Reston, who lost the election because of Defiance. They have a lot in common, as they both are murderers. Reston goes to the President to demand to be put on his re-election ticket as the “Unity Ticket” or he will reveal Defiance. The President acts like he doesn’t know what Reston is talking about. Olivia, later, in Cyrus’ hospital room (oh yeah, Cyrus has a heart attack) tells Fitz to play along with Reston to see if Reston really has the Cytron card. She meets with Reston and plants the bug. Huck traces Reston’s phone in order to track down Chambers.
So, when Olivia calls to tell Cyrus about Reston being involved, Cyrus finally has the heart attack we all saw coming. After Mellie watches the news report about her approval ratings, she makes a visit to Cyrus’ hospital room. She hopes to leave hand-in-hand with Fitz, making the 6pm news cycle. Fitz, however, rattles off in Olivia style Olivia’s plan for getting America to love her and hate Mellie. Mellie still cannot believe that Fitz is going through with this. Cyrus, on the other hand, is impressed, but with his visions of Mystery Man he knows he has to do something.
Cyrus and Mystery Man keep meeting (Cyrus has a dream of Mystery Man in his room while at the hospital, or was Mystery Man really there?). Mystery Man wants Cyrus to release the Olivia/Ballard sex tape, but Cyrus doesn’t want to hurt his friend – Olivia.
David Rosen is the one with the Cytron card. During a meeting Chambers tries to convince David to hand it over. David tells him it stays with him until it is needed – maybe he picked up a few things while he was hanging out with Olivia Pope and Associates. Chambers, trying to convince David, tells David that Olivia is not his friend and that he murdered the CIA director Osbourne, Wendy (framing David) and Molly. David goes ahead and slides the card across the table.
Huck and Quinn go to Chambers’ residence. They don’t find the card anywhere. When Chambers comes home, he sees them and runs. Huck catches him, ties him up in duct tape and is preparing to torture to get answers. But he can’t do it. He freezes up. Quinn lives into her nickname of Baby Huck when she takes his drill and uses it on Chambers. She gets the location, calls Abby, Abby gets it and they go to use it only to find out it’s not the card. It’s blank.
It is then that they realize that David is in control of this game. David played them. He used his time in their office to try out every possible combination to Olivia’s safe, until he found the right one. Abby goes through David’s stuff in the office looking for the real deal and finds a box marked, “For Olivia.” When Huck and Quinn return, she is super excited about what happened. Huck, on the other hand, goes to his space, into the corner, and sits as he has done before.
Cyrus gets himself out of the hospital to take care of the Olivia-Fitz problem. He got worried when Olivia didn’t answer her phone, and sent Secret Service to check on her, who found the door broken in and blood on the ground. He is not happy that someone tried to kill Olivia, but knows that B613 won’t stop until they get what they want. He gets more angry when she won’t see that. She still thinks that she and Fitz getting back together is the best thing. In a fit of anger (calm down, Cy, you JUST had a heart attack) he tells her that Fitz killed Verna Thornton. Olivia is in shock.
Cyrus goes to the White House and does the same thing. He does what Mystery Man wanted, kind of, he shows the President the sex tape of Olivia and Jake Ballard. Fitz is in shock.
Now that they know that David Rosen has been pulling all the strings, Hollis, Olivia, Mellie, Cyrus, and now the President meet again in the White House kitchen. David Rosen is now the problem (sound familiar?) Cyrus gets a text that David is in his office. David hands over the real Cytron card in exchange for something else. The something else is fulfilled when the President makes a public announcement thanking David for his work of justice and names him the US Attorney for District of Columbia. Cyrus destroys the card with his little Abe Lincoln bust.
Olivia goes to the White House, tells the President she knows about Verna, and he tells her he knows about Jake. She tells him that he is the one who can start fresh. The rest of them are too damaged. They’ve gone to a dark place, and she’s not sure if they can go back. But Fitz can. And he should start his new beginning with Mellie at his side. She can’t leave her team. “They need me. I’m their Gladiator.” Fitz goes back to Mellie, like a dog with his tail between his legs.
And just when you think you can take a sigh of relief in this season finale, there’s more! Olivia wakes up the next morning, gets ready to go for a jog listening to Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” Everything about this is slow – slow for Scandal – which means they really, really want us to catch what is about to happen. Olivia gets into the elevator. She walks through her lobby, smiling at people. She opens the door to go outside, and there is a mob of reporters and cameras asking if it is true that she is having an affair with the president! Shocked, she tries to get back inside the building, but some guys guide her to a limo where Mystery Man is sitting. And Olivia says, “Dad!?!?”
Mystery Man who runs B613 is Daddy Pope?? So many questions, not enough words.