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.
We come out of the flashback scene to Liv’s office where she is visibly distressed by the memory. This will continue to happen throughout the episode. Huck is standing guard at Olivia’s office door. Harrison and Abby want to get in because they feel like Olivia needs to make a decision about which client they will take on – Josie Marcus or the President.
Olivia emerges from the office, much to the excitement of the others. But to their dismay, Olivia walks right past them. There are only two people in the world who know what happened to the plane her mother was on: her father and the President. She storms to the White House.
Mellie, Cryus, and Fitz get excited when they hear that Olivia is on her way to the Oval. They think that she is coming to accept the job to run the reelection campaign. Fitz is hopeful to hit refresh on his relationship with Olivia. But, Olivia wants to know about Remington. The President tells her that it is highly classified and as far as she and he are considered, it does not exist. And Liv simply says, “I can’t work for you.” And she leaves, returning to her office noticing that they will be working on the Josie Marcus campaign. “White hat, people!”
To say the least, Cyrus is not okay with Olivia running Marcus’ campaign. While Olivia is working with Josie on her image and getting major donors, Cyrus places a call to Harrison, which provides Columbus Short to shine in a way he has not had a chance to do before. Cyrus wants Harrison to change Liv’s mind regarding working for Marcus. If Harrison is unsuccessful an old enemy, Adnan Salif (who???), will be allowed back into the country. At this news Harrison is frightened. We haven’t seen Harrison quite like this, which is refreshing. Whoever this guy is, it is enough for Harrison to go to Huck to ask for a favor. He wants Huck’s help to keep Salif from coming back into the country, because if he does, “I’m a dead man,” Harrison says.
Meanwhile, Vice President Sally Langston meets with campaign guru Leo. She admits to him that her husband, Daniel, can be a benefit as well as a challenge for the campaign. Leo recommends that Sally makes a couple of trips for the President’s behalf to smooth over the affair situation, but to her benefit. Eventually, the plan is put into action when Cyrus asks Sally to go out and win back the religious right. So, when Sally meets with the Reverend, she makes it clear that she is meeting to talk about her campaign. After the meeting, however, the Reverend calls Cyrus and tells him that Cyrus was right, Sally is making plans.
Quinn, who has been attracted to Huck’s mysteriousness more than to Huck, is at a shooting range, but is not very good. When she finally makes it to the office after her standard morning coffee run, Huck notices that she is late. Quinn will return to the shooting range more, trying to get good. On one of these occasions, Charlie happens to be there and gives her some pointers. This interaction with Charlie leads Quinn to ask Huck questions about B6-13, including asking if it is every possible for someone to come out and be normal. Huck, in his mysterious Huck way, just answers, “Now is not a good time.” What Quinn does not know is that Charlie is still working for Rowan and is baiting Quinn.
Cyrus goes a step further and makes arrangements for Sally and Daniel to have dinner with Fitz and Mellie. During the dinner, Daniel seems to be flirting with Mellie.
Olivia sets up an interview for Josie with Cyrus’ husband James. As they prep for the interview, Olivia and Abby show Josie a negative campaign ad from the Reston people. It is enough for Josie to stand strong and firm about the sexism in American politics – and she’s good! Major donors start paying attention. Of course, the ad was made by Abby and the Gladiators.
Liv asks Jake Ballard to find our more about Remington. “I need more,” she tells him. Cyrus warns Rowan that Olivia knows and is digging around. “She thinks she knows,” Rowan says, “She knows because Jake Ballard thinks he knows.” Ballard meets with a woman named Kate about getting the black box recording from the plane flight that crashed. There is a mysterious person in the cafe ease dropping on Ballard. The mysterious guy follows Jake when he goes to meet up with Kate to get the information she has retrieved. Turns out Kate was going to kill Jake, but the mysterious guy kills her first, saving Jake’s life. It turns out that the mysterious guy is working for the President, who tells Jake Ballard to leave Remington alone.
As Olivia watches old news footage on the internet of the plane crash, she has another flashback. She remembers coming home that day and finding her father crying on the couch while watching the same news coverage. Slightly drunk from the large glasses of wine she’s been drinking, she calls her father:
Olivia: “What was the last thing you said to her?”
Rowan: “I said, ‘I love you.’ She was leaving and I kissed her on the cheek and said, ‘I love you.'”
Olivia: “There are so many questions I want to ask you. But I’m afraid you’ll kill my friends if I do.”
Rowan tells his daughter that he will only answer one of her questions. So Olivia asks, “Did you give the order to have my mother killed?” Rowan answers, “No.”
Olivia: I can’t form attachments because my mother’s gone and my father is the thing that goes bump in the night
The episode ends with the President coming to Olivia’s place to ask her to run his reelection campaign. Olivia, however, cannot and will not let go of Remington. When asked why it is so important to her, Liv tells him that one of the 329 bodies that fell into the ocean was her mothers. It is clear from Fitz’ facial reaction that he never knew that Maya was on the flight or that there was a connection to Olivia. Even though he is caught off guard, he still gives her the presidential answer, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I was twelve when she died,” Olivia says as we walks over to the door, opens it, and waits for Fitz to leave. The scene and episode end with her closing the door.
Icarus is the son of master craftsman Daedalus in Greek mythology. They create wings out of feathers and wax. Daedalus gives Icarus advice not to fly too low or too high. Icarus gets too close to the sun, and the wax melts and his wings are no longer. It is the tragic theme of failed ambition. This seems to be the message of Operation Remington. They either got too low or too high. Either way, it was filled with failed ambition. And everyone involved with Remington seems to function this way. It was a failure and they must cover it up and never speak of it again.
Yet, the message the Gospel sounds slightly different. Failure is not final. Failures are going to happen, that we can agree on. And yes, there will be times when we too high or too low, too ambitious or not enough ambition, but always there is the love of God expressed through grace. J. Philip Wogaman writes, “The transforming, redeeming love of God permeates New Testament writings, such as the parables of Jesus and the letters of Paul. Often, this love is portrayed as utterly undeserved – a love given prior to considerations of merit.”
This love is called grace. And this grace is extended from God to humanity and from humanity to humanity. Failure is not final. Grace is.