Too Close to the Sun: Scandal “Icarus” Review
By Chelsea Hensley
After last week’s revelation that Fitz may or may not have shot down the plane carrying Olivia’s mother, “Icarus” kicked off with a flashback to the last time Olivia saw Maya (Khandi Alexander) and immediately put Fitz and Olivia in the same room together. Within minutes Olivia confronted Fitz, kicking off a great episode that skillfully juggled the question of Maya’s death and Fitz’s fault with the political intrigue of the upcoming election.
Fitz’s behavior is usually frustrating, but in this episode in particular he really missed every point being made to him. Because the audience knew Olivia’s true intentions in questioning him about Remington, Fitz’s lies and defensiveness took on a malicious bent with his ignorance. When Olivia tried to ask about Remington, Fitz shut her down because it wasn’t on the “Things to Talk About With Olivia” list (which includes Jake, Fitz and Olivia’s stalled relationship, the election, and last but not least, the weather). His shutdown of the conversation sounded very similar to Rowan’s own refusals to tell Olivia the truth about B613 which only further hammered how out-of-touch Fitz was with the current state of Olivia’s life.
More enjoyable was Olivia’s drunken call to Rowan during which he allowed her one question and one (presumably) honest answer that he wasn’t the one to orchestrate the crash. Rowan’s grief appeared genuine, but since he was the one to introduce the Remington plot, he must know more. Including who ordered the plane to be shot down. If Rowan wasn’t responsible then this adds more complexity to Rowan and Olivia’s already complex relationship. If they have nothing in common, they at least have their shared love for Maya. It was a good move to have the two share an emotional scene with one another without setting aside Rowan’s horrific treatment of Olivia and those close to her.
The episode’s final scene between Olivia and Fitz at her apartment, where Fitz went in the hopes of reconciling with her and convincing her to drop her inquires into Remington, was what pulled the episode together. Fitz spent the episode operating under the assumption that Olivia’s interest was due to some pesky moral values, thinking that Olivia could be swayed by his romantic notions of being back on the campaign trail together. Meanwhile Olivia’s struggle was on another level, beyond her and Fitz and the presidential race.
Kerry Washington conveyed Olivia’s anger, sadness and disbelief that Fitz would not only do something as horrific as shoot down a plane but lie to her about it, and her hardened “Do you still not know what I’m talking about?” after telling Fitz about Maya had me expecting a flustered and repentant response from Fitz. Instead, after a moment of horrified realization played perfectly by Tony Goldwyn, Fitz reasserted that he didn’t know what she was talking about. Olivia’s silent expulsion of Fitz from her apartment, intercut with Maya’s hazy departure from her house and Olivia’s life, closed out the episode, and left the audience with the distinct feeling that Fitz and Olivia may be just as dead as Maya.
All signs point to Fitz having been responsible for the crash, but his role wasn’t explicitly stated so there’s room for another guilty party to be named. However Scandal could do well by sticking with Fitz being the cause which could finally free the show from the tiresome wheel of the Fitz and Olivia relationship. “Icarus” was only a hint of the good that can come from Olivia sticking to her guns and remaining distant from Fitz as she took on the job of Josie’s campaign manager.
Lisa Kudrow does fine work as Josie, who’s such a far cry from Olivia’s other clients that Scandal may be bettered by making her a more permanent fixture. Particularly when compared to Fitz, Josie is a much more electrifying character (and presidential candidate). While Fitz’ candidacy was marked by his willingness to do whatever anyone, but especially Oliva, told him to do, Josie’s going the opposite direction. It was refreshing to see Josie fight against Olivia even if she did fall prey to her manipulation in the end. While Fitz’s personality seems to begin and end with “Leader of the Free World” speeches, Olivia, and questionable political strategy, Josie is self-assured, opinionated and unwilling to fall silent because she’s being told to. We’re a long way off from Scandal‘s presidential election but already the show is painting an exhilarating picture of a Josie Marcus presidency.
On the other side of presidential election intrigue was Sally, covertly planning on her own run for president. Jack Coleman reappeared as her shifty husband Daniel, and though Coleman hasn’t been given much to do just yet, his attraction to Mellie is surely going to turn up again as Mellie and Cyrus use it against Sally. Despite the ickiness of Daniel’s shameless flirting in front of his wife and Mellie’s husband, it was nice to see Mellie on the end of some positive male attention. Since we’ve known Mellie she’s been the obstacle to the Fitz/Olivia love story which often sets her on a less likable platform of political ambition and shrewish hatred, but that’s just one side of Mellie. She’s also very desirable. She’s smart, beautiful and oozes charm, but her relationship with Fitz has deteriorated to spewing vitriol and barely disguising their disdain for one another so Daniel flirting with her was enjoyable to watch.
Meanwhile Harrison’s finally getting a storyline! It took two seasons, but Harrison’s past was dredged up by Cyrus’ promise to allow someone named Adnan Salif back into the States, a connection which threatens Harrison’s safety. There wasn’t a lot to go off of, but after all this time of Harrison spouting his “Gladiator” speeches and turning on the charm for the cases of the week, it’s good to see something’s on the horizon that will allow Columbus Short to flex his acting muscles a little more.
Less exciting is Quinn who’s always struggled with being interesting. Her plot of transforming herself into a homemade B613 agent picked up slightly with Charlie’s emergence as a mentor but still leaves a lot to be desired. Quinn’s plot to become a torture-happy killer has isolated her from the main story, but injecting Rowan into it may be just what Scandal needs to give it some energy. But after two seasons of trying and failing to imbue Quinn with any hint of intrigue, it’s looking like a lost cause.
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