Scandal S03E07 "Everything's Coming Up Mellie" Review: Collateral Damages.
Mellie. Oh, Mellie...
Excuse me while I push my jaw back into place and unplug myself off the saline I.V. This week was all about collateral damages, embodied in three main characters: Olivia, Mellie and Quinn. The episode was packed to the brim with drama, some predictable, some absolutely freaking less so.
On the predictable front we had the Remington plot and Quinn being used by B613. Olivia recruits OPA to find out what happened to her mother. It is a logical step, if a dangerous one which is why Olivia initially warns the rest of her team and offer them an out. Speaking of Olivia, the woman is at her lowest ebb, hollowed out by what she knows, or think she knows about the Remington operation: her father and Fitz are responsible for her mother's death.
The love of her life is suddenly a stranger and she tells him so. Olivia thought she knew Fitz inside and out, flaws and all, and even in the worst of times, when they kept hurting each other and hating each other, there was an unshakeable trust, a *knowledge* of what the other was made of. Then Remington came like a big bowling bowl and did a devastating strike on all that. “I thought I knew you” this simple line says it all. Love does not matter when the inner core of a relationship, this intimate bedrock of certainty - has been shattered.
Olivia still can't resist the pull of of her Fitzphone – the Force is strong in this one - but she's letting it ring longer now, the chasm growing wider.
Liv needs more than a hug. Right now I want to send her on a tropical island, put a colourful drink with a little paper umbrella in her hand, shove her in a hammock and surround her with uncomplicated young hunks with fans and massage oils.
The woman deserves a break.
Back to Remington, this is where we're at:
Big Jerry helped cover up the operation to protect his son. “Should have been some poor kid from some backwoods town who shot that plane down, not you, not my boy.” He was part of the Congressional committee that looked into the plane crash and agreed on “mechanical failure”.
Jerry told Mellie Fitz shot the plane down because there was a dirty bomb aboard, which is likely to be a lie Rowan made up for the committee.
Talking about lies, Liv did not believe the answer her father gave to her question last week. She tells her staff he gave Fitz the order to take the plane down.
Fitz signed up for Black Ops missions because even though he aced flight school he had been assigned to a desk job “raising flags and shaking hands” because he was a senator's son. Fitz joined the navy partly because he wanted to fly planes and partly to rebel against his dad.
Mama Pope is not dead, she's in prison under the name “Omar Dresden”. A federal marshall escorted “Omar” off the plane before it took off and Quinn killed the only witness.
On the less predictable front we have Mellie - the main focus of this week's episode. In the present day she is first seen in the East Wing being followed by a camera crew, in an attempt to boost her battered public image. The First Lady is incredibly uncomfortable with the whole thing, and her fake laughter at Cyrus' feeble joke is cringeworthy.
“It's bad enough that I actually have to spend my days choosing drapes and digging holes in the rose garden, but to pretend that I actually enjoy it on camera?”
Mellie is collateral damage for her husband's philandering ways (and as we shockingly find out later on, for his entire political career). The American people blame the both of them equally - Fitz for cheating and Mellie for talking about it - which as Cyrus points out, is not fair but American. Then he gives her some whore picking to do to cheer her up, because that's what true friends do.
I did a bit of a double take at the start of the flashback scene, when I realised the woman Fitz was in bed with, was his own wife, which was weird because the two people in that bed were laughing and joking, talking about making babies and snogging like crazy.
How about that? 15 years ago, Fitz and Mellie were newly weds in love. I had always assumed that there hadn't been much of a spark in their arranged marriage right from the start. Guess I was wrong.
So, Fitz and Mellie are in Santa Barbara and they get summoned down from their love nest by Big Jerry who introduces them to Walker, Texas Ranger, sorry, I meant: Cyrus Beene King Maker. Cyrus, sporting an improbable beard, has come to inspect the goods at Big Jerry's request to see if he can make a governor out of Fitz. “The wife is perfect.” My, what a misogynistic statement that was! Present day Mellie would have slapped his teeth out. But this Mrs. Grant is all fresh faced and young and grateful for this man who came to propel her husband towards the White House.
What a vile, vile man. Look, I haven't been kindly disposed towards POTUS in quite a while but after seeing the way his father treated him - like an object he owns and control - I feel like cutting him some slack. Yes, Fitz is messed up and it's no wonder if he was brought up by this monster. If you ask me, he's doing pretty well, all things considered.
“Do you feel like you lost a piece of yourself,when you got married? That you made sacrifices to join the Grant political dynasty? ” the reporter asks Mellie during their White House tour. I doubt this board has a font big enough for the “DUH!” I wanted to type.
Since the show began, Mellie has been the character viewers love to hate. She's shamelessly manipulative, is a ruthless political animal, can craft the best insults and has a fondness for calling Olivia a whore. She's often been the occasional comic relief, what with the drunken speeches and the dramatic threats delivered in zipper busting low tones.
If anything, Season 3 will be remembered as the season who turned an interesting, fairly amusing character into a complex, multilayered and deeply moving one.
I dare anyone tell me they hate Mellie after tonight. You can't. Unless you own a poodle called Precious and you're busy buying hoses and skin lotion. In which case....well, do carry on by all means.
Using sexual assault as a dramatic device in a show is tricky because many viewers will always see this as a cheap, awful, manipulative exploitation of a sensitive issue. I suspect the TwitterSphere must have burst into flames on Thursday night, amirite? I perfectly understand this point of view and to be honest, I didn't know what to think when I first watched this harrowing scene take place. Was the show crossing a line it shouldn't have?
All I can say is that Scandal is a show about power. About women and power. The power they wield, the power they lose, the power they can't have access to, the power that is taken from them, the power they reclaim. And rape is the ultimate loss of power; so in this light, it is not that surprising that such a subject matter would make an appearance on the show. Plus people, you may want to remember the name of the show you are watching. It's called “Scandal”. Just saying.
So anyway, Mellie - looking so young and innocent without her First Lady make up - goes through this traumatic, horrific experience, with her own step father no less, and yet, manages to use what happens to her as an instrument of power. She uses the event as leverage to force Jerry to give Fitz what he needs to win: praise and support. In that moment she becomes what Cyrus was talking about, she becomes “The Wife” and Fitz becomes her full time job. But at what price?
That is one Hell of a twist. The strength of character of this woman is unbelievable. Do you remember back in S2 when we were wondering why Mellie was fighting so hard for a man she didn't love. Well, now we know why: she paid such a high price for her husband, she's not about to let him go.
The scene where she limps back to her bedroom and has to lie down with Fitz was heartbreaking. Bellamy Young made her character's voice sound so small and fragile, it was damn impressive. LET HER TAKE A DAMN SHOWER FITZ, YOU SELF CENTERED IDIOT!
When present day Mellie, standing barefeet in the Oval Office rants about all the sacrifices, the pieces of herself she had to lose to get Fitz in that place, her words are all the more potent.
This oval office scene was outstanding. Fitz is not only a stranger to Olivia but to Mellie as well. He's the guy who doesn't show up. I believe his wife's speech was quite a wake up call. Mellie is on your side Fitz, get this into that thick head of yours.
And in the end Fitz did show up. And defended his wife. Mellie looked shocked. Oh honey, you weren't the only one, I thought I was going to choke on my 2010 Fitou. Good for you Fitz. You don't have to love the woman, but she is your wife (and you probably have no clue what this title means to her) so freaking act like she is. My urge to smack you round the ears with a cricket bat is not so strong now.
Look at them...awww. Olitz? What's that?
As you can see I learnt to use Gimp, hence all the pretties. Yay me. I'm a fusspot when it comes to screencaps and could not find the ones I wanted, so I made my own.
Why is Mama Pope kept in jail? Was she working with Sydney Bristow's mother?
Fangirl moment: Olivia joins the infamous Scully “I'm Fine.” Club. Denial goddesses the both of them.
Fitz is surprised Liv knows about Rowan. Then he finds out why when he asks his secret services to: A) protect Olivia. B) start digging.
Which brings me to: Papa Pope's clearance card says “Rowan Pope”? And his real name is “Eli Pope.” UH? This is Spy 101 Epic Fail if you ask me. I mean nobody in that jail saw this card and went: “Pope? Hey, are you related to...” *PHUMP PHUMP*. Come on prop people!!!
Abby, tiptoeing around Olivia when it came to hugging was a lovely friendship moment. I bet our Liv, all steel jawed that she is needed this.
Bearded Cyrus had a wife. They fought a lot. Figures.
“You're way better at picking out hookers than china patterns.” She sure is. Amber was lovely.
“Oh, you control everything,which is precisely why I wanna kill you and have sex with you at the same time.” Ahahah! Good one James.
Poor James, not only was he fired, but it looks like Cyrus is going to use him as gay bait for Daniel Douglas.
The paternity thing was wayyy OTT guys. Writers: know when to stop. You could have kept this for later. We didn't need such a scene in an episode that was already chok-a-block with drama.
That screechy sound you're hearing is my carving Bellamy Young a freaking marble pedestal because SERIOUSLY.
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