TV REVIEW: The Greater Good Explored in Scandal’s “Ride, Sally, Ride”
By Chelsea Hensley
There’s one thing all of Scandal‘s characters have in common, and that’s the difficulty in deciding whether they’re admirable or pathetic, and this often switches depending on where they are in their current stories. Some of the lesser seen characters (like James and David) go back and forth, but the ones we see all the time are easier to categorize as being mostly pitiful. Maybe Olivia, Jake, Mellie and Cyrus bending over backwards to support Fitz would look better on them if Fitz wasn’t so intolerable. Every episode has a new spin on how far these people can go to secure the political future of a man who, when faced with a political hardship, reverts to his preferred persona (drunken and angry) and refuses to listen to any of their advice.
If I had to pick between Sally Langston and Fitz, I’d pick Fitz (because Sally doesn’t think she killed her husband, but that the devil did it through her body), but Fitz has lost whatever political capital he had and most of his likability with it. Seeing Olivia and Jake remain wearily optimistic about doing whatever it takes to get Fitz re-elected, including picking up their romance on a pretend basis to squash rumors of an Olitz affair; watching Mellie subject herself to routine humiliation at the hands of her husband and his mistress; and observing Cyrus resorting to murder has become a staple of the show. At this point, it’s hard not to feel like they’re all just asking for it. It’s disappointing to see them all stuck in the same cycle of doing whatever Fitz requires, and no matter how many times they cite their love of country and greater goods and bigger pictures, it’s clear those terms are all synonymous with Fitz even in an episode like “Ride, Sally, Ride” where Fitz didn’t have much screen time.
After Sally made her run for president public it unleashed a media storm that Olivia tried to put to rest only to have it blow up in everyone’s faces with the resurgence of rumors about her and Fitz. In the hopes of quieting them, Mellie invited Olivia to lunch where the two proved what powerhouses they could be if they simply detached themselves from Fitz and attached themselves to each other instead. Bellamy Young and Kerry Washington have enough chemistry to make even their adversarial scenes fun, and it’s been proven already that Mellie and Olivia are politically savvy in a way that Fitz isn’t. Mellie running for public office and Olivia managing her campaign could be great, but since that will never happen we have to content ourselves with their stilted smiles as they exchange barbs and ruminate on what could be if these ladies just came to their senses.
Mellie on her own remains one of Scandal‘s most compelling characters which is what makes the arrival of Andrew Nichols (Jon Tenney) so much fun. Fitz’s former lieutenant governor and running mate also has the hots for Mellie, and he’s been so into for twelve years that he’s been married to the job and dating strings of eligible bachelorettes. Mellie’s in dire need of some positive attention from anyone, after going through the show’s three seasons without many to call her allies so Andrew being a romantic option is a fun way for Scandal to go even though it’ll all come back around to Fitz eventually as all things do. But before it gets there, fingers crossed that Fitz walks in on Mellie and Andrew making out as Mellie did with Fitz and Olivia.
Because of the tiring revolution of the wheel that is Fitz’s existence, it was refreshing to see some things happening outside of it. Quinn’s riding on Charlie’s coattails and hoping to eventually be welcomed into B613. That’s still not very interesting, but Harrison’s anticipation of Adnan Salif came to fruition though not in the way anyone was expecting. Adnan Salif is not the dangerous man Harrison borrowed Abby’s gun to shoot but a very pretty woman Harrison considered shooting but then decided to have sex with on top of a desk instead. Meanwhile James teamed up with David to begin a secret attack on Cyrus, sending out obscure texts to reporters about Daniel Douglas’ death.
James’ mission in particular is interesting since we’ve seen it go this way before with his realizations of who Cyrus is, but he’s always been lulled into complacency by some kind of deal brokered between him and Cyrus. The same looked to be true this time around with his appointment as press secretary, but James going forward anyway indicates a greater will behind him this time.
In many ways “Ride, Sally, Ride” was a calm episode without the shiny mania of the show pre-hiatus, functioning more as a set up for the rest of the shortened season. This episode still had all the makings of a typical Scandal installment from Fitz and Olivia’s arguing giving way to kissing, a heated speech courtesy of a vengeful Rowan, the eyeroll-inducing adventures of Charlie and Quinn, and Olivia drinking wine and pondering the meaning of her life. But “Ride, Sally, Ride” was also delightfully understated which is saying something for a show that usually falls over itself to stack up surprises, and it was nice to have a bit of a break from all the big shocks.
- Rowan swore to kill Fitz. If only.
- Considering how Olivia asked Jake about Quinn, and Quinn’s longing look at a departing Huck and Abby, it’s unlikely Quinn’s going to be kidnapping children with Charlie for much longer. I fear what the next move will be to try to keep her interesting.
- Considering how soap-operatic Scandal can get sometimes, I still didn’t anticipate the Fitz/Olivia/Jake triangle being prolonged with a semi-fake relationship between Olivia and Jake to hide the real relationship between Fitz and Olivia. Snaps to whoever came up with that one.
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