Who these people are
Scandal Season 3 Episode 6 recap
How’d you feel about that episode of Scandal? I mean, it wasn’t the most incendiary by any means. No senators with their pants down, no bombshells of information, no drunken Melly, and only one homicide. It seems like a quiet few days for Pope and Associates, actually. But that whole thing about how people are who they are in the moments when they’re just living their lives? That’s this. This is who these people are. It’s also why I love them.
For example, this was my favourite Abby episode ever. Sure, she wasn’t galumphing about with David Rosen nor was she criticizing Olivia – but she was doing something we rarely see, which is to say, she was being delighted with doing her job. She was so delighted that Josie Marcus was doing what she was supposed to – owning the message. She didn’t flinch when Candy (Candy!) pointed out that she made the fake attack video. And in every shot, she’s right by Olivia. Mirroring Olivia. This is who Abby is, and could be. Never on Olivia’s level, of course – she won’t be called to run the president’s re-election campaign – but this is what you realize. They’re made of the same stuff. It’s a question of scale, but the base material is very similar.
Then, by contrast, there’s Quinn. This episode showed us what she’s made of, too. Dogged and determined and putting in her time at the shooting range, but she’s not naturally gifted. Possibly because she’s being a total poser at this “aspiring professional assassin” thing. She needs help to make her aim straight and true – but she’ll put in the practice to get it there. She also doesn’t have the gut instincts God gave a four-year-old: she trusts anyone who comes by to give her marksman’s advice, even if they are former members of B613. See also the part where she completely and totally bugs Huck at the wrong time, when she knows better than to do something like that, just so that she can be isolated by him and go off on her own – well, that’s maybe what she’s made of, too. You know? She’s maybe not made of the smartest gut instincts we’ve come to expect from the rest of our white hats.
Harrison. Good old we-know-nothing-about-him Harrison. This is who he is. He’s quaking in fear at the idea that the admission of this guy Adnan back into the country is a signature on his death warrant, and he’s not above going to Huck to have it fixed, if he can– but he still has the balls to go and face Cyrus and tell him to his face that Cyrus would, effectively, be assassinating him. Cyrus knows and delights in this, of course, because Cyrus is deliciously evil – but see? Right there, it tells you who people are.
It’s what I really like about this show. The action is, of course, way over the top. But the character work is right there. The fact that Josie Marcus really isn’t a ballbuster like Sally, but that she nonetheless has a hair-trigger? Only Olivia knows how to twist that to her advantage (and THANK you, Scandal writers, for not writing it like it’s a woman who’s a loose cannon and all hell will necessarily break loose). The fact that even though Cyrus likes being married, he cannot and will not help himself from manipulating James whenever he can? Real people. Flawed and also not that willing to escape the flaws.
We saw one of my favourite examples of this in this episode when Olivia talks to her father on the phone. She knows better. She knows better than to talk to him and be vulnerable, but hey, who among us has not succumbed to a glass of red wine before? She is so hurt and so angry but she’s also looking for her Daddy to make it better. Isn’t that brilliant? The only person who can comfort you is the person who hurts you so badly. And she knows it, and she should cut herself off and just stop digging, like everyone tells her …but she just can’t.
The only problem with an episode like this is that while it’s so great at showing us the characters who are well developed, it exposes the ones who aren’t. I am sorry, but I don’t know or get who Fitz is. He’s so important to so many of the developments on this show but he’s just not a fully formed person. Melly and Cyrus are so big and developed that they dance around him and make him look like he might be a person, but the fact is …he’s kind of not. He’s a shell, and it’s the biggest flaw on the show, and I can’t decide whether it’s supposed to be intentional.
As for the plot, as for Olivia’s mother? I’m content to let it play out the way it’s going to (for the record, my wild-ass prediction is that the mother is going to show up not-dead in May) but it’s almost a non-issue. Past is past, as her father would say. The people we become as a result? That’s what makes the show so delicious.
Also – can we talk about the scene where Olivia just goes to talk to Jake because he’s on her couch as though that’s where he gets recharged? Like he’s just there, on her couch, like a fixture? Hilarious. Also – I kind of miss Amanda Tanner. Everyone these days is so jaded it would be great to have someone new who doesn’t yet know how the world works. Candy’s indignance isn’t going to cut it…