Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Scandal, is slick. During last night’s episode, you probably found yourself thinking about your stance on abortion and the role of government, gay rights and the politics of coming out, the boundaries of friendship and—of course—your relationship with your mother. Yet, because she’s so slick, you most likely had little time to sit with those thoughts, probably didn’t even know you were having them, because in the midst of Olivia Pope’s family drama, Shonda Rhimes was sneaking in all these gems about politics and power and the women who dabble in both. It was another phenomenal episode, to say the least.
An unforgettable scene served as the opening, with Huck and Quinn (formerly known as “Baby Huck”) lying on the floor together … though on completely opposing sides. Quinn was bound and gagged, and Huck, having discovered in the last episode that she was secretly working with B6-13, had his actual instruments of torture in hand. Guillermo Diaz was at his best, seething mad but eerily controlled. You could practically smell his violent fervor through the screen. And when he licked the side of Quinn’s duct-taped face as a gross, almost erotic prelude to tearing her tooth out, audiences already knew “YOLO” was going to be epic.
And the next scene was just as explosive. Vice President Sally Langston’s storyline is beefing up in exciting ways. It’s slowly been unfolding since the series premiered, and now we’re getting to some very meaty stuff. With Congresswoman Marcus out of the picture and Fitz’s campaign suffering greatly as a result of his affairs, she has a chance at becoming the first female president of the United States. That is, of course, if she can keep God out of it. To get the backing she desperately needs, her campaign manager tells her, “You cannot win unless you abandon your beliefs.“ She concedes, but watching her make the decision made for a powerful moment; viewers looked on as she practically shook the Jesus off of her and decided to leave her Pro-Life platform behind her so as to have a chance at the woman vote.
James spent the episode hilariously taking advantage of the fact that he knew Cyrus tried to use him as bait for the VP’s husband. Although Cyrus has pretty damning photos, one could argue that it’s not 100% clear whether or not James did the deed. All that matters is Cyrus believes it happened, which is certainly what James wants. The photos were supposed to be used to blackmail VP Sally Langston, but they had quite a different effect. When Cyrus threatened to release them, she was almost nonchalant in her response. She reminded him that the pictures posed a threat to his own life, to his marriage, and to the Grant administration. She knew he would not actually release them; she remained firm in her plans to run against Fitz. We realize in the final scene of the episode that her husband’s infidelity had far more of an effect than she let on. Covered in blood, dead body on the floor off to the side, it appears that she bludgeoned her husband to death, though we’ll have to wait for the winter finale to confirm.
The rest of the episode centered around Olivia who, upon finding out that her mother had been alive all this time, tried to find a way to get her out of the country and away from the long reach of Papa Pope—an impossible feat. She managed to make it happen with the help of the Gladiators (although it was ultimately President Fitz’s involvement that made it possible for Mama Pope to escape). Slightly less explosive than the other storylines in this episode, the scenes between Liv and her mother were appropriately awkward. Liv tried to come to terms with her shock and her mother was—in many ways—a typical mom. Caring, loving, and slightly disappointed in the way her daughter had turned out. She commented that Olivia was visibly successful, but was missing a key ingredient that she’d always hoped she would have in her life—laughter. As the episode came to a close and Liv’s mother boarded the plane, the two shared their first actual mother/daughter moment, with Olivia (at Abby’s insistence) running after her to hug her goodbye. However, one more flashback to her childhood triggered a memory, and Olivia suddenly realized that she’d been trying to protect the wrong person. Panic-stricken, she placed a call to Fitz and said that her mother (whose actual name may be Marie, and not Maya) had lied to them, and that her father was actually right. We don’t know what any of this means yet, but after an episode like this we’ll all be tuning in next week to find out.
Other cliffhangers from this episode include Quinn (finally free from Huck and with her boyfriend-ish by her side) going after Papa Pope, syringe firmly in hand; Sally Langston committing crimes against the God she already promised to forsake, and Harrison’s backstory with this Adnan Salif character.
Favorite Quote of the Episode: “You people think we’re all gay.” (Daniel Douglass, Sally Langston’s gay husband) “No, we think gay people are gay.” (James)