Scandal "Ride, Sally, Ride" Review: Too Busy Being a Patriot

By Cory Barker

Feb 28, 2014

Scandal S03E11: "Ride, Sally, Ride"


What with the holidays, the hustle and bustle of the new year, and the Olympics, it doesn't totally feel like it's been two and a half months since we've seen a new episode of Scandal. But you guys, it's been two and a half months. That's such a long time, especially for a show that really thrives once the stories start to hum and twists start to pile on top of other twists. I actually intended to kick off this review with a quick refresher of everything that happened in the last half of 2013, but the good news is that Scandal's spring premiere, "Ride, Sally, Ride" tried to do quite a bit of that refreshing in its own right. Of course, that was also sort of the bad news, because the episode, while it contained some intriguing moments, mostly hustled to remind us of dangling plot threads while setting up future stories that are sure to break our minds and our spirits by the end of this third season.

Reminding the audience of what happened before a long break upon return from that break is never easy. It's always going to come off a little turgid and forced, and that's especially true for a show like this one, where there's simply so much to (re-)explain. However, the one benefit Scandal does have is that many members of its cast—primarily Joe Morton, Jeff Perry, and Bellamy Young—know how to just absolutely destroy their scenes with their special kind of acting. And so, while I didn't really need an extended scene between Morton's Rowan and Kerry Washington's Olivia describing the first 10 episodes of the season, covering everything from his role at B613 and Olivia's treacherous mother to his newfound crusade to destroy President Fitz for being ousted from said role at B613. But did I enjoy it, particularly when Morton seemingly tried to push Washington off that park bench by sheer force of vocal will? Yeah bro, I did. I know that I can't stop praising Morton's work, but he's reached this point where every scene he chews through only makes him stronger, giving him the power to hit the next monologue even harder. If Season 3 ends with Rowan sucking all of D.C., and perhaps the Eastern Seaboard, into a black hole, I wouldn't really be surprised. Morton is so on-point.


By default, Perry and Young couldn't quite compete this week, but they did a similarly nice job of summarizing everything that happened with Vice President Sally Langston and her husband (short version: The spirit of God came into her so she could kill her husband, Cyrus and the first lady helped cover it up). Sally's murderous actions were very silly in and of themselves, and the fact that she's now decided to run for president as a third party candidate, even after Cyrus and Mellie protected her, is the kind of juicy ridiculousness that only Scandal can pull off. Cyrus and Mellie's exasperated expressions as they realized they couldn't use the biggest piece of dirt they have on Langston were something special. 

Nevertheless, where "Ride, Sally Ride" went a little off-base with the repetition was in its reintroduction of stories that Scandal has done before, and recently. Between you and me, I'm a little tired of James' back-and-forth crisis of confidence regarding his husband. I absolutely understand that everyone on this show is fundamentally awful and self-interested, but James' inability to decide whether he truly hates his husband or actually just wants to keep the marriage going is frustrating. It continued this week as David called him out on this behavior, only to get sucked right back into James' current decision to take Cyrus down by any means necessary. Really, why should we believe that James will see it through this time? And why should David go along with it anyway?

Similarly, the sudden MEDIA EXPLOSION over whether or not Olivia is indeed Fitz's mistress (or, I guess as far as the public is concerned, one of many) was... weird. It made more sense by the end of the episode, after Olivia took Mellie's advice and brought Jake on as her fake-but-kinda-not-fake-boyfriend for publicity's sake, but reintroducing that arc only to shove it away again simply served to remind me of how quickly Scandal wanted to move away from that story to begin with. Combined with some of the uncomfortable scenes between Olivia and Fitz in the Oval Office, I realized—or perhaps remembered—during this episode that I just will never care about these two as an immortal one true pairing. They are HORRIBLE for one another. And whether that's intentional or not, I think Scandal gets a real sense of satisfaction out of these hushed, deep breathing moments in the corner of the Oval, even if they're creepy as F. To keep those scenes going, those who are interested in the couple need to 1.) See a looming threat, however temporary, and 2.) Need the relationship to stay private. So Scandal will probably continue to make little moves like this to keep the relationship pretty stable while suggesting that it's evolving. 


But speaking of evolving, the best part of this episode was the introduction of Jon Tenney's Andrew, the Governor of California, Fitz's former lieutenant governor, and now his new VP candidate. Last I saw Tenney, he was slumming it on TNT's King & Maxwell, but he brought some new energy to Scandal with his debut, even before it was revealed that his character has long-simmering feelings for Mellie. I can't wait until Fitz gets mega-jealous over Mellie's possible infidelity! That will be totally fair. And finally, Harrison has his own side story! How I Met Your Mother and Homeland's Nazanin Boniadi made her entrance as the mysterious woman (whose name I simply cannot spell and won't try) from Harrison's past. In true Scandal fashion, he considered shooting her dead, only to strip her naked and have sex with her on his desk. Priorities. 

Although it was pretty repetitive, "Ride, Sally, Ride" was, above all else, a necessary episode. Everyone should be on the same page as to what in the heck is going on after this one, and the new wrinkles it added are compelling enough to begin Scandal's revving-up process. My hope is that some of the newer characters and fresh storylines will take precedence over the more familiar stuff that tends to drag the show down (even if a lot of viewers like those parts the most).



NOTES

– Leo's big plan for Sally's campaign? To work with the very, very angry Rowan, who vowed to Olivia that Fitz won't make it through the term. Probably not good for Fitz. 

– If Olivia did quit as the just-hired campaign manager, that would have been what, the 15th PR nightmare for this administration in a short time? How in the blue hell does Fitz get re-elected?

– Not much about Olivia's mom in this episode, other than Jake promising to find her. You'd have to think that story will play a bigger role in the coming episodes, and that the show will try to further complicate the Pope family dynamics. There's more to the story.


What'd you think of Scandal's first episode back? And how about these new characters?


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  • nathaliecastro319 Mar 03, 2014

    Sally sneaky conniving ole lady lol i can't wait for the.next episode what the heck Olivia dad up to and if she going to change it or just let it go

  • othsmallsuplost Mar 03, 2014

    Wow great episode! "The greatest weapon I could use against him calls me Dad"?! Another great Eli monologue, another great tangled and complex cover up story and a love square in sight?! Mellie and Andrew, Olivia and Fitz that should be fun! Do you guys remember on season 1 when Olivia and Fitz used to make out in the Oval office and make sure they wouldn't be caught on surveillance cameras?! I love how they just don't care anymore, I love how the passion in their relationship escalated so they just don't really give a damn anymore about being so careful. I just hope that Vermont doesn't slip away throught their fingers! Great show, I'm glad it's finally back!!

  • sibowittz Mar 03, 2014

    I enjoyed the episode quite a bit, even if the Olitz relationship continues to be extremely problematic (although that is one of the aspects about the show that I like, because of how fucked up and complicated it is.) All of the other plots are more interesting anyway. I wonder if Olivia will even want Fitz by time the series is over as a whole. I'm starting to think they aren't end-game after all.

  • Gia_P Mar 02, 2014

    I am so, so, so tired of Doormat Olivia. Why do people think that a woman madly in love must also be brain-dead and spineless?

    On the other hand, I love Mellie. I would even watch a spin-off with just her. I might not agree with her actions, but they are believable. I think the actress is great, too.

  • marcusj1973 Mar 02, 2014

    If there's a female character currently on TV that's weaker, more easily manipulated, insecure and unprincipled than Olivia Pope...I'm at a loss to think of who that is. The only person that even comes close to Olivia's doormat'esque levels is ironically James. Not being part of the primary cast and being wishy washy by character design, I can accept that from James. But each and every time Liv gets treated like garbage, in public and private, and then willingly offers herself up for more of the same...ugh...it's been driving me crazy since mid way through season 1. For a character that supposed to be the biggest, baddest, strongest, most feared woman in DC, she sure is easy to lead around by dangling the tiniest carrot of affection in front of her nose.

    "Olivia and Fitz in the Oval Office, I realized—or perhaps remembered—during this episode that I just will never care about these two as an immortal one true pairing. They are HORRIBLE for one another. And whether that's intentional or not, I think Scandal gets a real sense of satisfaction out of these hushed, deep breathing moments in the corner of the Oval, even if they're creepy as F. "

    I can only pray that it's intentional. If it is, kudos. But this has been going on so long without a payoff that I can't believe that's the case. They truly see this as some sort of twisted Romeo and Juliette. After fighting for the entirety of the episodes leading up to it, Fitz banging Olivia in the supply closet, putting his pants on and walking out without a word was "creepy as F". His near (multiple) sexual assaults in the Oval Office, at this point, are just plain disgusting. But despite faux/meaningless protests, Olivia digs it. These two deserve each other.

    "I can't wait until Fitz gets mega-jealous over Mellie's possible infidelity! That will be totally fair."

    There aren't many characters I wish more ill upon that Fitz. Watching Rowan rip him up one side and down the other brought me a near uncomfortable level of joy. Watching Fitz behave like the petulant child he is as he is forced to accept that both his wife and his mistress are spending time with and the objects of other men's affections will be AWESOME!

  • sibowittz Mar 03, 2014

    Yeah, but that's what I like about the show though (even though it does usually frustrate me too). I love that they show the ugliest aspects and the weaknesses of these characters that are usually perceived as strong D.C. power players. And I love that Olivia even admits near the end of the episode that it is weighing down on her...

  • Samantha_101 Mar 02, 2014

    I found Olivia and Fitz making out in the oval office, like their entire relationship, distasteful.

    Be a man, Fitz! Quit your job, divorce Mellie and be with Olivia.

  • flintslady Mar 02, 2014

    "deep breathing moments in the corner of the Oval, even if they're creepy as F. "
    #this

    Are there people out there still rooting for this tired ass relationship?
    And dragging Jake into this mess again under the guise of being a patriot? Please. Ridiculous with a side of GTFOH.

    At least Mellie continues to delight. Her calling out Olivia at the restaurant was inspired, giving her a list of unmarried men to choose from was the best thing I've seen all season.

  • mishagirl Mar 02, 2014

    The vice prez was extra cray cray this episode. "The devil murdered my husband when he snuck inside me" yea ok....

    Excited for Mellie! Shes been all about Fitz, putting his sick needs before anything. Looking forward to this new storyline.

    Agreed Fitz and Liv are horrible for each other. Initially loved them because they have great chemistry but their scenes are becoming awkward. Cringe worthy awkward.

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 01, 2014

    Have all the scandal fans ran away from TV.com because there were not reviews in the past. How come only 13 comments?

  • mishagirl Mar 02, 2014

    I didnt expext to see a review (but am glad there is one :) )The last review I saw for this here was the writer basically saying the show sucked, which no fan wants to read...

  • Knightshade03 Mar 01, 2014

    Nice to see Scandal has not skipped a beat during the break! It feels like going through a great roller coaster ride, then while catching your breath, the roller coaster starts up again. Also, looks like Fitz isn't the only one cheating in that marriage, hehe! I say go Mellie! After all she put up with to put Fitz in office, I can actually appreciate her having an affair.

    Also, James' "My husband is a monster and I'm his weakness" comments were fun and refreshing. Looks like he's finally growing a spine. I

    I made a comment in the break post about showing Harrison some "love"; didn't realize it was going to be so literal! I am curious about his subplot.

    Still, Shondra is sitting in the room with her writers laughing and saying, "Let's crank it to 12, 11 just isn't going to cut it anymore!"

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