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TV REVIEW: It’s a Family Reunion on Scandal’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”

By on March 28, 2014
ABC/Eric McCandless)
TONY GOLDWYN

ABC/Eric McCandless) TONY GOLDWYN

By Chelsea Hensley

What are the chances of Fitz actually being reelected?

I’m guessing pretty slim. Remember: He wasn’t elected to begin with. Since everyone’s decided not to repeat Defiance, Fitz’s hopes rest on the American people finding something presidential about him, but that’s doubtful considering they didn’t like him before and his tenure in office probably hasn’t changed anything. Considering the levels of cynicism that went into rigging the election, it’s surprising how optimistic everyone is about Fitz’s chances this time around when not even his own children can stand him.

If the Grant kids were onscreen consistently they’d undoubtedly prove annoying with their obvious disdain for Fitz, but in this small dose, they work. The last we heard of Jerry and Karen, they’d begged Mellie to get them out of a visit with a drunken Fitz. That was before Fitz’s extramarital activities were made public, and months later Karen (Madeleine Carroll) wondered why her parents were still together in the face of Fitz’s cheating and Jerry (Dylan Minnette) ran an anti-Grant Twitter and bought a Reston t-shirt. Basically they’re pretty cool kids.

Jerry and Karen haven’t existed as anything more than names to be dropped occasionally, but they also exist as pretty good symbols of who Fitz and Mellie used to be. Their relationship was loving once, they have a huge amount of history between the two of them, and Fitz and Mellie are only on the same page about being nice to their children. And naturally this connection cuts Olivia off, even in a time when the Grant family is imploding.

Rarely does Olivia look worse than when trying to lecture Mellie about infidelity, her relationship with Fitz or her kids. Most of Olivia’s time this episode revolved around one of these things, and not only is Olivia shut out by not being part of the Grant family but also because she’s Fitz’s mistress. This made Olivia’s scenes with Mellie especially painful because Olivia was so out of line, but when Mellie lost her temper and demanded Olivia push the interview, she certainly tried.

(ABC/Eric McCandless) KATIE LOWES, GEORGE NEWBERN

(ABC/Eric McCandless)
KATIE LOWES, GEORGE NEWBERN

After a phone call with Maya, Olivia started considering whether or not she’s “the help”, and when she asked Cyrus, we were in agreement about the easiest answer to that question being a giant YES.  Olivia’s a formidable ally in the political sphere, but she’s a fixer, and her role as Fitz’s campaign manager is to get him elected. So yeah, she’s the help. This is a role Olivia’s never minded before, but this episode shut Olivia out of the proceedings so much, with everyone making it clear that her presence and input weren’t desired, that her attempts to rally the Grants only made her look particularly misplaced.

For example, when Olivia saw Mellie and Andrew sneaking out of the same room after a rendezvous, she told Andrew to stay away from Mellie because the campaign couldn’t survive another sex scandal.  Andrew’s response: “Glass houses, Olivia.”

Olivia’s used to having her opinion valued, especially by the White House. Usually it is just not when it comes to the personal matters of the people inside it. Whatever sway Olivia could have had with Mellie and Andrew has been tainted by her relationship with Fitz and rightfully so, since how can anyone take seriously a person in the midst of an affair telling two other people in the midst of an affair, to stop? Olivia’s personal indiscretions have been bleeding over into her professional world since season one, but now that Fitz is both her professional and personal priority, the conflict is even more direct. Now Olivia can’t do her work properly because no one cares to take her personal advice.

(ABC/Eric McCandless) JON TENNEY, TONY GOLDWYN

(ABC/Eric McCandless)
JON TENNEY, TONY GOLDWYN

So of course Mellie and Andrew’s affair got out after Karen saw them getting busy. This sent Fitz into a very Fitz (read: ridiculous and hypocritical) tantrum where he punched Andrew and told Mellie the failure of their marriage was all because she stopped wanting to have sex with him. It was both predictable and surprising. Predictable because it’s Fitz, and there’s little to expect from him that isn’t awful these days, but surprising because him turning everything into Mellie’s fault is so predictable that I figured it wouldn’t actually happen.

Adnan and Maya’s storyline picked up speed when their alliance was revealed to Olivia. This story has been poking along at a strangely slow pace for Scandal which has taken burning through plot points very seriously in the past. What Maya’s doing is still a mystery though it could be shaping up to be an assassination plot, and with only three episodes left in the season it’s going to have to shape up pretty fast.  It’s good to see some forward motion and all the seemingly divergent storylines now coming together. How well they’ll all fit together remains to be seen, but I will take back every mean thing I said about this season if it ends with Fitz dying.

Stray Observations

  • Aggressively not talking about Huck/Quinn/Charlie.
  • I love Olivia, but people should call her out more often.
  • Surprisingly Jerry and Karen agreed to do the interview. I’d love to know what Fitz and Mellie said to them to make them do that.
  • Cyrus was on the backburner this episode, and he didn’t do much aside from attacking Jake in the Oval Office, which is a nice change. Ella’s a super cute kid, and he should hang out with her more.
  • Jake’s on Rowan’s level with the “I’m not your bitch” speeches, but as soon as he and Rowan came face to face, Rowan reclaimed his spot as top Scandal speech giver.
  • Rowan and Olivia are working together now. Sort of?
  • Adnan to Harrison: “We could be good for each other. Wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?” For you and every other couple on this show.