From the second viewers spotted Olivia Pope in bangs, it was clear that last night’s episode of Scandal, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," would be swimming in flashbacks. As my friend and co-obsessive Scandal-watcher pointed out, in Shondaland bangs signify the past.
The flashbacks begin with an awkward and passive-aggressive dinner between Olivia Pope and Rowan Pope. Olivia’s hostility toward Daddy Pope is rooted in her being shipped away to boarding school following the death of her mother. They’ve since made an agreement that places them on the path to something close enough to amends: He pays her law school loans back and in return she breaks bread with him every Sunday.
Sounds like heaven to me. I’ve had way more awkward conversations for less.
This arrangement leaves Liv subjected to boring stories about Daddy Pope’s faux role at the Smithsonian and Liv discreetly mentioning a boyfriend—Sen. Edison Davis—whom we all know Liv never really wanted. Edison is the perfect on-paper candidate, kind of like the actor Joe Morgan (Rowan Pope), who many of us still know as Senator Byron Douglas, the guy Whitley Gilbert dumped at the last minute on A Different World. You’d think Daddy Pope would dig Edison more since they have so much in common, but nah, he apparently had him beat up in a “horrible accident.” Oh well.
The other key character in the back-and-forth flashbacks is Huck, who has noticeably morphed into a Marvel hero to save Liv from muggers. After turning into the ultimate warrior, he mumbles something about being a trained assassin. In a follow up Sunday dinner, Liv asks her pappy to look into the story—specifically that whole B613 thing—only Rowan shrugs the story off and lies to her that Huck was arrested.
Thanks to David Rosen and a borrowed pen, Liv makes her way to Wonderland (not of the Janelle Monáe variety) and discovers the truth about her father. He’s less than thrilled with his daughter’s detective skills, and goes on to son his child based on the theme “Mind your damn business!” There were also elements of “I ain’t a killer, but don’t push me” there, too. Although, you know, this dude actually has no problem killing folks.
As for the present day struggles, Mellie lays into Cy for allowing the made-up Monica Lewinsky, Jeanine Lock, get from under his grips. Or more pointedly, there is a “bimbo on the loose.” Olivia Pope takes her case pro bono and lets her boo thang, President Fitz, know that she is going to give it the White House straight, no chaser. This man loves Olivia so much that even when she threatens to drop a trailer on the White House, he’s still too smitten to say, “Maybe you shouldn’t ruin my life?”
Fitz has no problem, though, telling Mellie and Cy to not lie on Jeanine any more than they already have. Seconds later, Mellie tells Cy that one of her staff members will pass along a folder that will help piece together a timeline that lays out when Jeanine had all of the opportunity to sleep with the president. Cy says, “You’re evil.” Mellie quips back, “You’re welcome.”
Can we please get a spinoff based on Mellie launching her political career? She is the smartest and shrewdest person around and it’s a shame she’s only just the First Lady. Word to Hillary.
Even though Mellie’s plan is perfectly evil and effective, the Gladiators are quick to respond. Enter Abby punking the hell out of another White House staffer to turn over the IM records that would provide Jeanine with an alibi. Unfortunately, Mellie Mel, the evil genius, takes matters into her own hands once more, offering Jeanine $2 million in a Cayman Islands account. She catches Jeanine, the one time Olivia, out at the morgue, checking out dead bodies on the hunt for another old boo, Jake Ballard.
Once the team discovers that Jeanine’s colleague deleted all of the IM conversations at her request, Olivia gives one of those morality-rooted speeches with her trademark Speedy Gonzalez styled delivery, right before Jeanine is to go live on air. We’ll never know what she was going to say because President Fitz decides to hold a last minute address—preempting Jeanine’s interview and making her the Farrah Franklin to his Beyoncé.
Olivia had been pressuring Fitz to get involved and free Jake Ballard. Initially, when Fitz turned to Cy to flex his executive branch muscle, he was informed that they don’t have to answer to him. Olivia didn’t want to hear that and lit another fire under him. As a result, Fitz schedules that last minute address, informing Cy that if he doesn’t tell B613 “who run it,” he’s going to tell the truth and shame every devil in a three-mile radius.
Congratulations to Fitz, for line of the night honors. Unfortunately, he’s also King Jackass for saying that he slept with Jeanine. Damn, now Jeanine’s got to do a reality show to survive. VP Sallie doesn’t buy his story, and I’d watch for her. She’s a Jesus freak, but she’s no simpleton.
Nonetheless, Daddy Pope gets what he wanted, and so does Olivia, ‘cause Jake has been freed. I imagine he’s not invited to those Sunday dinners Olivia has to start going back to.
While all of this is going on, Quinn’s nosy ass has hacked into Olivia’s email account, gone through all of her dull correspondence with her estranged dad (damn that daddy for showing up to Olivia’s place of business), and it suddenly hits Huck: LIV MADE A DEAL WITH HER DAD TO GET ME OUT, WHICH MEANS DADDY POPE RUNS B613. OH, AND OLIVIA LIED TO ME. I AM MAD.
And then he chokes Olivia Pope. If he doesn’t apologize within the first few minutes of episode three, Huck has to die, y’all. Those are the rules.
Written by Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick)