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Shock Ranking 'Scandal': 'Are We Gladiators, Or Are We B*tches?' Edition

By Sarah Carlson | TV Reviews | October 4, 2013 | Comments ()


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Welcome, Gladiators! This season, we’ll be shock ranking the insanity of “Scandal,” ABC’s delightfully guilty pleasure starring Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn. There will be gifs. And fawning over Scott Foley. Deal with it.

Season Three began strong with “It’s Handled,” although there’s something anti-climactic about the affair possibly getting out. Sure, it’s dramatic from the public’s standpoint within the show, but from where we the viewers are sitting? Cheating is the least of these people’s sins. Remember: In Scandal, a Supreme Court justice tried to have the U.S. president assassinated to help cover up the part she played in rigging the election to get him elected. And when she confessed as much to him, he killed her before she could confess to the law. Never forget the raisin-cakes nature of this show. It’s the anti-West Wing, no matter how many homages to Aaron Sorkin’s creation Shonda Rhymes wants to make. (I saw what you did in Season Two, Shonda, with the assassination attempt episodes featuring flashbacks of origin stories of the characters and the administration. Nice try.)

The affair cover-up is just the tip of the iceberg for Olivia and her crew, of whom we saw little, however. Scandal is sure to be far crazier than ever this year. The premiere last night brought in record ratings for the show, and cast members were on hand to live-tweet the episode:

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Adorable.

The Shock Rankings:

5. That’s Olivia’s dad?!

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OK, this revelation came at the end of Season Two, but the news is still hard to digest. At least we learned Rowan Pope (the excellent Joe Morton) wasn’t trying to kill Olivia when he sent an operative to her apartment. He was after Jake for disobeying orders. (Weren’t Jake’s orders to kill Olivia, though? Or did I get that wrong?) His chiding of Olivia for aiming too low for wanting to be First Lady was upsetting and revealed a lot of Olivia.

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No wonder she and Fitz get along so well — both have severe daddy issues.

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Also important were Rowan’s references to race and his and Olivia’s need to work twice as hard to be considered equal. Olivia’s race isn’t touched on much in the series, so it’s good her role as a powerful black woman in a very white world is being addressed. I doubt the subject will be dropped anytime soon; next week’s episode is titled “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

4. That Cyrus didn’t turn on Liv … yet.

He had his team dig up dirt on his old friend just in case, another sequence that illuminated much about Olivia (and her dad’s cover story):

Olivia Carolyn Pope. Princeton Undergrad, Georgetown Law. Only child. Mother Maya was in a plane crash, died when Olivia was 12. Father, Eli, curates antiquities at the Smithsonian. Has, ever since graduating Princeton in ‘67… Her dad must’ve spent most of his income on boarding schools for his daughter because she has been to nothing but the best … but she never lived in the family home again after her mother’s death. Pope has a well documented preference for powerful older men. In fact, after college, she had quite the reputation as a party girl. Did time on the D.C. circuit, ambassadors, lobbyists, cabinet secretaries, a nice line up of silver foxes.

She should watch her back, though. Cyrus almost had his own husband killed last season to protect his own hide.

3. The three’s-a-crowd bunker showdown.

Olivia’s plan to come out with an abbreviated version of the truth wasn’t near as painful as watching her, Fitz and Mellie come to an agreement of terms on what story they’ll stick to.

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Mellie has a right to be upset — no argument there — but she seems a bit clueless about their relationship, namely, that they love each other. They should really stay away from each other, but they just aren’t good at it.

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2. Jeanine Locke is thrown under the bus.

They needed someone to pin the affair on other than Olivia, and thanks to some school-girl crushing via email (he’s totally “doable,” Jeanine, you’re right), this poor girl’s life was just ruined. Thank goodness Olivia reached for her white hat and brought her on as a client, setting up yet another battle between her and the White House.

1. Fitz was the leak.

He did it to protect Liv, and now the war with Mellie is even worse.

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Best Lines:

  • Rowan to Olivia: “I am the hell and the high water!”
  • Cyrus to Liv: “I am a monster, but honey, I’m your monster!”
  • Mellie to Fitz: “I am a rose dying on the vine here! Give me a war to run, or the CIA or something.”

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New Scandals:

Rowan clues Cyrus in to Operation Remington, a classified mission Fitz and Jake took part in back in Iran. Whatever Cyrus saw in the file about the mission, it isn’t good. What were these Navy guys a part of, exactly?

Quinn Psycho Watch:

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Gettin’ there.

Jake Ballard Reappearance Watch:

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No sightings, not even in flashback. Olivia demanded to know his whereabouts, though. Let’s hope Rowan lets him out of the hole sometime soon. Please?


Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • That episode was I WILL CHEW ALL OF THE SCENERY.

  • Obsidiandog

    I had no idea anyone actually watched this show.

  • Shazza

    You've obviously never been on twitter on Thursday nights.

  • Did anyone else notice that they tried to Tami Taylor-ize Abby's hair? And that both she and Quinn had much more dramatic make up? I found it little jarring since I just did a re-watch of last season, especially since chronologically no time has passed.

    Those quibbles aside, I hugely enjoyed the return of Scandal. :)

  • Leelee

    I noticed it too - there was lashings of eyeliner abound on Team Olivia! I'm all for it though, since the actress who plays Abby (whose name escapes me and I can't be bothered to IMDB right now) is very beautiful on red carpets and deserves to look as glorious as Kerry Washington gets to do in each episode.

  • cynzano

    I got the giggles again this morning at Charlie in bed with James. James looked so adorably clueless/potentially dead.

  • e jerry powell

    I did like the fact that both Olivia Pope and Kerry Washington graduated from Georgetown. The production team could save money on all the graduation pictures from not having to shoot fake ones.

    Eek. I just realized that Olivia's dad is only a year older than mine, though I'm much older than Olivia.

  • JuB

    Such a great comeback on Scandal.
    Enjoyed the recap.
    I almost felt sorry for Mellie in the bunk, the Olivia the whore bit was quite funny.

  • e jerry powell

    That "twice as good" cut me to the BONE. Always has, always will.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    Twice for being black, another twice for being female, so she has to be four times as good. Her dad's bad at maths. I've come to terms with it.

  • e jerry powell

    I guess it's lucky she's not Asian, then, because Tiger Mom would drill all the correct math directly into her skull.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    Joe Morton must have done Balki's Dance of Joy when he saw the first pages of this script. That's got to be the most fun he's had in years.

  • foolsage

    Henry Deacon of "Eureka" was a good role for him, as well.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't even watch this show, but I love it being called out that First Lady is not a position worthy of ambition in and of itself. It's a great thing to be, certainly, but it shouldn't be an ambition, because it depends entirely on your spouse's power.

  • Ruthie O

    Hell, even Mellie, the actual first lady, said the same thing to Fitz last night.

  • e jerry powell

    Between iterations of calling Olivia a whore, anyway.

  • Ruthie O

    I was thinking of a different scene, in the Oval Office. But yeah. "Whore" was Mellie's word of the episode.

  • LaineyBobainey

    I'm fascinated by how much free time the POTUS has to focus on his personal relationships.

    That Twitter picture is freakin' ADORABLE!

  • e jerry powell

    I was about to suggest Bill Clinton (or JFK), but then I remembered that Monica Lewinsky wasn't so much a relationship as a series of freebies, which is a different thing altogether.

  • MomDoc

    He does have a lot of time to deal with his love life!

    I love this show and thought the premiere was wonderful. I can;t wait to see what Papa Pope and everyone else will do next.

  • Lux

    Awesome recap. I've gone from being perpetually annoyed by Mellie to absolutely loving her. The more she yells at Olivia, the more my black heart embraces Mellie. Olivia is probably the worst person on this show, as she somehow believes, after all of this, she can wear her ridiculous proverbial "white hat."

    At least everyone else has a semblance of self-awareness that they are, in fact, awful people.

    Still...love this show.

  • sassyx

    Mellie is a Boss! I just luv this character

  • e jerry powell

    But... but... all the 'shipping!

    I'm kind of ready for Olitz to not be the driving force of this show, because, as has been suggested both within and outside of the show, Fitz and Olivia, who otherwise seem to be relatively competent human beings (to different degrees, clearly) behave like children when it comes to each other, in ways that would be almost laughable if I didn't watch so much Murder Porn on ID; I've seen the entire panoply of stupid shit people are capable of doing once their genitals are engaged (and it's even broader than what they'll do for money).

  • Lux

    I am very much okay with Olitz (Fitzlivia?) fading into the background ASAP. I'd like more Cyrus, Huck and Papa Pope (Papa Huyrus?...doesn't roll off the tongue very well).

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