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:
The Shock Rankings:
5. That’s Olivia’s dad?!
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.
No wonder she and Fitz get along so well — both have severe daddy issues.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Jake Ballard Reappearance Watch:
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.