Blinded By the Light: Scandal ‘It’s Handled’ Review
By Chelsea Hensley
Scandal is back! With last season’s finale acting as a “reset” of sorts, this premiere showed how possible – or rather, impossible – it is for Olivia Pope to reclaim her white hat in the morally grey world of D.C. politics. Twenty-two minutes after the conclusion of last season’s finale, Scandal jumped right back in. After Olivia’s outed as Fitz’s mistress, OPA is shut down (phones are unplugged, elevators are turned off, doors are locked) and her estranged father, Rowan, attempts to put Olivia on a jet to make her disappear. What followed was a fast-paced premiere as Olivia and the White House tried to do damage control.
Though a fairly small amount of time was spent with Rowan and Olivia, their scenes revealed a lot of information about Olivia and laid the groundwork for an exploration into their very interesting history. Within minutes of speaking to him, Olivia instantly becomes a child wilting under the pressure of a disappointed father who lays out all the ways she’s disappointed him by being “mediocre”, becoming blinded by love and forgetting every lesson he taught her. The points Rowan laid out to Olivia set the stage for the rest of the episode. His insistence that the White House would destroy her to preserve Fitz’s presidency was echoed by everyone else – and rightfully so. As soon as things got tough, Cyrus was ready to write Olivia off as an “ambitious slut” just as everyone said he would.
And Olivia knew he’d do it, too, despite her assertions of the opposite. She knows Cyrus and the White House better than anyone. More importantly, she knows what she’d do (she almost did it herself with Amanda Tanner), but she’s still so wrapped up in Fitz and her still-present romantic feelings that she can’t imagine him allowing things to go that way for her. And Cyrus, by far the worst friend Olivia has, spoke a few words of encouragement and got her on board.
Though Olivia knows what happens when there’s a crisis, she was still taken aback by it all. With clients jumping ship and her office surrounded by paparazzi, Olivia still thinks Cyrus will handle it. However frustrating it was to watch Olivia be essentially paralyzed, it’s greatly in keeping with her character who loses all rationality when it comes to her personal life, especially when it comes to Fitz. Intellectually, she knows the facts, but she can’t allow herself to believe them until they’re right in front of her face.
When she finally started being proactive, Olivia got Fitz and Mellie together to figure out a solution. Bellamy Young did a fantastic job in these scenes in which all three of them openly discussed the affair, speaking about the humiliation that would come with telling the truth about Fitz being in love with Olivia. Mellie’s resolve forces Olivia and Fitz to condense what they see as their epic and tragic love story into a couple of illicit romps, making Olivia into a mistake that Fitz truly regrets. It was an interesting dilemma Scandal put in front of us as we figure out who to sympathize with. Olivia, our heroine, was in distress, but Mellie, despite her faults, is still Fitz’s wife and has endured his and Olivia’s affair for over a year so she’s more than entitled to her anger. If she can’t have Fitz’s love and respect why shouldn’t she have her dignity?
If Olivia hadn’t been so high-up on the political ladder, perhaps it would have been acceptable to tell the truth. However, there was certainly going to be an ethical investigation, and as usual Olivia and Fitz were drowning in idealism instead of facing the reality. While the two of them think the truth will set them free, everyone else knows it’ll only trap them further which condemns enthusiastic staffer Jeannine. Led by Harrison (fully, and enjoyably, embracing his Gladiator title and going to bat for Olivia) and assisted by Cyrus and Mellie, the staff of OPA names Jeannine as Fitz’s mistress to clear Olivia’s name.
And the person who set this mess into motion to begin with? Fitz. As far as possible suspects go, he seemed unlikely if only because of the headache he caused himself as well, a headache he was only going to make worse if Cyrus, Mellie and OPA hadn’t kept him and Olivia from going forward. No matter how many times Fitz attempts to take charge, he always ends up looking incompetent in the process. His actions put Olivia through the emotional ringer though he claims it was to set her free, but the only thing that “freed” Olivia was the interference of her staff, Cyrus and Mellie. Olivia was in the midst of losing her career and reputation because Fitz thought the truth would suffice, and despite denying it to Mellie, it’s more than likely that Fitz was still holding onto the hope of he and Olivia being together in the White House.
With Jeannine replacing Olivia as the focus of the press, Olivia’s free to get back to her life, but does she still wear the white hat? Harrison says “there is nothing wrong with a little self-preservation”, but after Olivia’s resolve last season to wear that hat again coming off the mess with Defiance, this is a step backward, and she quickly snatches up Jeannine’s case.
Remember that reset the finale promised?
This is Amanda Tanner all over again except Jeannine really didn’t sleep with the president, but once again Olivia’s trying to make amends for the sacrifice of an innocent woman at the altar of the White House. And this time the sacrifice directly benefits Olivia.
Though it was disappointing not to see Jake (new series regular Scott Foley), the episode was so packed it’s hard to see where he would have fit in, but his reappearance is imminent with the allusion to something major having gone down during his and Fitz’s days in the air force on Operation: Remington.
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