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.
Shock Ranking Scandal S3E3, “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington”
5. Mommie dearest.
This was a nice ripped-from-the-headlines bit for you, although Scandal put a twist on the FBI-kills-innocent-person story. Mary Nesbitt (Cynthia Stevenson - nice to see you! Man, I miss Dead Like Me) strapped on a bomb, miraculously made it past Capitol Police and threatened her congressman (Mark Moses) in a quest to find answers. She believed her son, Chris, not only wasn’t a terrorist but didn’t deserve to be killed in a FBI raid. She was right - he was CIA and undercover. The FBI screwed up by killing him, but to reveal the mistake would blow Lawrence’s cover and risk the 57 lives of Al-Qaeda operatives he recruited while undercover. (The FBI is no stranger to killing civilians, not providing a reason why, and not finding anything wrong with it: “From 1993 to early 2011, F.B.I. agents fatally shot about 70 ‘subjects’ and wounded about 80 others — and every one of those episodes was deemed justified” in internal investigations, according to The New York Times.)
4. Damn, girl.
Olivia putting herself in the line of fire to save Mary and buy them more time was impressive. Mary was clearly losing it, but everyone could see why she was so distraught. Liv finally lying to her, telling her Chris was a terrorist, was sad to watch, and here is an example of how Kerry Washington often saves the show from being completely soapy. She brings such pathos to Olivia that she manages to elevate even the most outlandish of plotlines to something relatable, if not entirely believable.
3. Oh look, we’re in post-Civil War Atlanta now.
All is not well with Mellie and Fitz, and poor Teddy, looking like an extra from The Little Rascals, just wants his breakfast, you guys.
The acrimony is reaching a fever pitch, but Liv’s involvement in the hostage crisis actually brought clarity to Mellie. As she sat in the dining room drinking hooch, she perfectly recreated a classic scene from Gone With the Wind, although with the roles reversed. She was Rhett Butler, the hurt, drunk spouse wishing they could erase a lover from their significant other’s mind. But her talk with Fitz (playing Scarlett, naturally) didn’t end in a love scene, just a promise. Fitz thought he found a way to “release” Olivia from Mellie’s clutches, to take her off the table as a pawn. But Mellie outmaneuvered him: “As long as she’s still alive, well she’s your flaw, your Achilles’ heel. Which makes her my weapon. She’s the strings that if, need be, I will pull to make my puppet husband dance.” Well played.
2. Honey, I’m home.
As welcome of a sight as it is to see Jake hanging out in Casa Olivia, willing to order in Gettysburger and greeting her with a kiss on the cheek, Liv is rightfully concerned that Jake’s very presence - not just by still being in her life but by being alive in the first place - means Papa Pope is still pulling the strings.
1. Eli the Puppet Master.
Yes, this was the theme of the night - who is really in charge around here? Huck thought he was free of Command, but Eli played him perfectly. He knew Huck was tailing him, and he led him straight to the trailer of a man with information on Operation Remington who was starting to crack and tried to confront Fitz about it. (Not only is it easy to bring a bomb to a congressman’s office, but rushing the Oval Office is a cake walk.) Eli handcuffed the man to his table, but he left the ultimate dirty work to Huck. He knew Huck would take the bait - he knew he still pulled the strings. “I left some unfinished business inside, a gift wrapped up all ready for you. Go ahead, open it.” Papa Pope is turning out to be an excellent and unpredictable villain.
Abby: “We get personal days? What? We get vacation now, too?”
Fitz to Jake: “So I’m sorry, you’ll have to tell her you couldn’t save the day.”
Jake: “Your face saved me. I’m here because you saved me.”
Abby: “Did you try sending a virus worm to the viral I.P. thingy?”
What we need more of:
Abby and David, obviously. But this season, I’d really like some Harrison background. And more shots of him rocking suspenders while phone acting.
Your eye candy for the week:
So, did Olivia undress him? This staging is pretty hilarious, and I’m not complaining.
Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter.