Scandal Season 3 Episode 11 recap

So as it turns out, we should all be having a little more sex in front of bright naked lightbulbs. Right?

It feels like Scandal has been gone forever and in the time it’s been gone, there’s been a seismic shift where the people taking the biggest risks in the action are the tertiary characters, of which there are legions. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to see Adnan show up and be a real person, and to spend more time with the person all the cast are referring to as Smug Leo as he advises Sally Langston, and good old Charlie got a lot of facetime, and James is scheming, and now we’re thinking about this new VP?

That’s a lot of people, Scandal. Oh, and I forgot that Noel is now the head of B6-13.

For the most part, I didn’t mind it. I like when the show gets sticky-messy quickly, and this was that – lots of things flying everywhere. I had officially lost my patience with Harrison sighing and moaning in his chair in a room alone so finally we got to see some action there. And yes, okay, maybe it’s a cliché that the Adnan you’re so terrified of (nice trick, show, since I never heard of a male Adnan before) is the same one you fall into the arms of, but at least it’s going somewhere.

I feel a little bit like that with Quinn and Charlie, too. I had to laugh at Olivia’s tired, bored voice when she was like “Oh and you should probably give me Quinn back.”  Here she is, this rebel, this assassin – and nobody even cares. They’re like yeah yeah, suuuuure you’re going to hurt people. Of course you are. Nobody even worries about her, which is why she’s doing ever-more despicable things, like kidnapping kids (oh and sidebar – that is the very, very last kid who can ever be kidnapped that way on TV, okay everyone? Nobody, but nobody, would admit to leaving a kid so vulnerable they’re basically brain-dead) in an effort to seem like some kind of badass.

But I hope she doesn’t get returned to Olivia any time soon, because Pope & Associates is completely fractured right now, and I like it like that. 

I wish I could say that I bought the whole interaction with Eli. Clearly, Olivia’s father was trying to close out his chapter on the show and will shock us by coming back in a few weeks with some sort of crippling revelation or other but I didn’t love the sequence of him telling her exactly why he’ll bring down the president. After all these years of secrecy, it didn’t seem like his style to warn Olivia that she should run before the destruction of the White House…

…But she should run.

Goddamn but there’s nothing more annoying than a man storming around and bossing a woman into doing what he wants and calling it love. Don’t give me that rigmarole about the door and tell me Olivia is in charge. Fitz’s whims are in charge, and it’s exhausting trying to see what he’s going to have a tantrum about next. He didn’t want Olivia spending time with Noel (sorry, I know, but you know he’s Noel) so he gave him the King of the Underworld job. He doesn’t want Cyrus or Mellie to have more power than he does, so he proceeds to throw tantrums and, potentially, throw the presidency, so that he can have a Vice President who’s liable to cause him serious problems in about five minutes. It’s kind of willfully destructive, and if they go that route that’s fine, I’ll take it, because it would make Fitz more interesting – but I don’t want them to pretend that he’s a love interest, something to swoon over.   He’s a manipulative, alcoholic jerk, and the fact that he and Olivia can’t quit each other is exhausting above all.

Milder, but still there on the exhausting scale, is James. Okay, so he knows he’s married to a monster – that’s good. He knows he wants to screw him over – that’s good too. But James has been a soft, agreeable little moppet since the show began.   He’s not suddenly going to get the balls of steel necessary to take Cyrus down. In fact, he and David Rosen seem like the B-type duo – the quieter, more accepting cohorts to the show’s loose cannons, and I can’t quite see either of them taking the kind of delight in screwing over Cyrus that truly evil people need to keep going with their ventures. So we’ll see.

But the thing is I want to see inside the monster. I want to see what makes Cyrus really go. We get to see Mellie’s insides, and I love this because she is not all bad, but she also doesn’t really apologize for the parts of her that are. Mellie is, in spite of herself, kind of admiring of a woman like Olivia Pope who can, just as easily as Mellie herself, manage and massage her ambitions while still appearing to be the woman behind the man. Mellie is content to be a ball of contradictions. Mellie doesn’t spend every episode fretting that she’s not a good person – she’s too busy getting on with it.   

I suspect Cyrus is very much the same, and I would love to see more of the inside of him. But I suspect that if we see more of Cyrus in power, if we see more of the inner workings of his office (this show very smartly stays away from actual politics 90% of the time) it might be too scary. You might not be able to sleep after.

Not much Huck this week and notably, not much Olivia. I mean she was there, but not really in full Olivia Pope form. She’s obviously saving her energy for something big, you know?

On a shallow note, it seems as though the parade of larger wraps and coats has begun. If Olivia starts carrying large boxes, Seinfeld-style, I will drink something in celebration/protest. Cool?