Bad Habits: Scandal ‘Vermont Is For Lovers, Too” Review
By Chelsea Hensley
With the increased attention on the spy game in this season of Scandal, one fan recently compared it to ABC’s former spy drama Alias.
When Scandal began this comparison would have no legs, as the spy game was a barely existing plot point only to be referenced in regards to Huck’s tortuous past, but as season three progresses the show delves further into the land of espionage and distances itself from the politically charged scandals with which it began. Former episodes have done a better job at juggling the spy drama with the political and romantic, but “Vermont Is For Lovers, Too” failed in this regard and left Josie Marcus and her campaign drama hanging.
If this was Lisa Kudrow’s last episode, Scandal should have done more with her. We saw more of Candace (Sally Pressman) than we did of Josie, though the big climax came with Josie taking the fall for Candace’s election fraud and dropping out of the race. Kudrow’s done such a good job as Josie, and she was such an interesting character that it was disappointing to see her story come to an anticlimactic end.
In more typical Scandal territory, Cyrus and Mellie continued in their mission to bait Daniel Douglas into cheating. James was instrumental to this plan so Cyrus orchestrated a series of interviews between the two, hoping Daniel would make a pass at James to be used as leverage against Sally later. In a surprisingly satisfying turn, this blew up in Cyrus’ face as James realized he was being used and retaliated by sleeping with Daniel.
Mellie warned Cyrus about infidelity changing marriage, and Cyrus got so wrapped up in his desire to beat Sally Langston that he ignored the potential harm he was doing to his relationship. This isn’t a first for Cyrus. This is the same man who once came very close to having James killed to keep him from testifying about Defiance. His relationship with James, however genuine his feelings may be, is far less important to Cyrus than political warfare. When Cyrus shows affection to James it’s from a place of deceit, not love. James believed Cyrus genuinely wanted to help him so the truth motivated him to punish his husband instead. For the first time, Cyrus is paying a real, personal consequence for his actions that has nothing to do with Fitz’s presidency, and it’s a consequence he brought on himself.
No matter how far Scandal may distance itself at times from what it originally was, it always returns to Fitz and Olivia, and “Vermont Is For Lovers, Too” was no different. Olivia and Fitz easily fell into old habits in a house in Vermont. It was Scandal showing its Grey’s Anatomy roots with a not-so-McDreamy house built by Fitz for him and Olivia. The romantic effect (and it was surely supposed to be romantic as the Fitz/Olivia theme “The Light” made a reappearance) was lessened by the huge shadow hanging overhead that was the downed plane and Maya’s “death.”
Yet Fitz and Olivia spent more time arguing about Olivia keeping her father’s identity a secret than Fitz shooting down a plane and killing over three-hundred people and Olivia’s mom, which was mentioned as an afterthought. Scandal has the unfortunate habit of being unable to allow Fitz to suffer any consequences for his actions, particularly when it includes Olivia’s affection for him. For a moment it looked as though Scandal may break that habit tonight as Olivia refused Fitz’s first demand to meet (a meeting he felt he was “owed”) and destroyed the Fitz Phone. But old habits are hard to break, for both Scandal and its characters.
So Olivia fell back into Fitz’s arms. At this point, Maya’s survival wasn’t known by anyone but Rowan, and after Olivia’s distress in previous episodes, watching Olivia and Fitz reconcile and fall into bed (or onto the floor) felt false. This was only made worse by Fitz and Olivia barely talking about what had distanced them so much to begin with. Olivia’s attempts to discuss about the issue were derailed by Fitz’s showcasing of the house, and even her annoyance at his changing of the subject was forgotten as soon as Fitz told her the house was meant for them.
It’s frustrating that there are no lasting consequences for anything that happen with Fitz and Olivia. The rigging of the election, Verna’s murder and now the shooting down of the plane, don’t matter. They happened and now they’re over, but nothing about Olivia and Fitz has changed. Their relationship always stays the same, and their feelings do little in the way of evolving but simply ignore their respective mistakes. Perhaps this is true love for Olivia and Fitz, but it feels more like character development being sacrificed to keep up with Scandal’s quick pace. It looks like the show got tired of Olivia’s anguish over Maya’s “murder” and instead of taking the time to show her coming to terms with Fitz’s action and realizing she loved him anyway, it decided it could all be fixed with a house in Vermont, all the better to ally Fitz and Olivia against Rowan.
Speaking of Olivia’s sketchy father, he spent the episode with Maya (Khandi Alexander). After Maya ate her wrists to stall her transfer to another facility further away from Olivia Rowan allowed her some newspaper clippings of their daughter. Though their relationship was distinctly antagonistic in the episode’s beginning, Rowan and Maya eased into laughter which quickly went bad when Maya realized Rowan hadn’t taken care of Olivia like he’d promised he would. Their conversation implied a willful separation from Olivia on Maya’s part. Though Rowan is hardly the most reliable source of information, he said Maya was at fault for not being able to be with Olivia. So now the question is what did Maya do? Was she involved with the bomb on the plane? And what’s going to happen now that she’s found Olivia and revealed herself?
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