Scandal "Beltway Unbuckled" Review: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Scandal S02E04: "Beltway Unbuckled"

Old-timey popping camera bulb sound effects.

Swingy Motown hits played under images of bodies found in the woods.

Dramatic close-ups shot through a spinning bottle of lavender perfume.

It must be time for SCANDAL!

Olivia Pope has really gone and done it now. There will be no more impromptu limo rides out to Hyannisport to make out with the president or fancy restaurant dinner dates with the whole dining area rented out or sizzling eye contact that is somehow even hotter than sex for at least two weeks. Mmmmmmmmaybe a whole episode. Because she's gone and pushed the president until he told her he was letting go of her and moving on, as he's a "married man" (which didn't stop him from impregnating an intern in the pilot, but whatevs). And now, just as her Lady Mr. Burns mentor warned, she can barely handle it. Is it worth breathing if you can't breathe in sync?!

Thank goodness for ex-boyfriends who drive out to wherever you are and remind you there are other men, men with eyebrows, men who may not be the president of the United States but who ache for you almost as terribly as the commander in chief.

Not only did last night's episode have the audacity to suggest Liv and Fitz will not be the crux of the rest of the season, it also put Olivia in a room with what I can only assume is the Illuminati, a powerful roundtable including Vaguely Evil Southern Accent Guy, Supreme Court Lady Burns, FLOTUS Millie, and Cyrus. Are they a conspiracy? Do they call themselves the "White Hat Comitttee"? They have a VERY SCARY LAMP!

These are questions we have to ask because Olivia's staff certainly isn't. Quinn and the weirdly under-used Harrison clinked beer bottles in agreement that they will do anything for Olivia because she saved their butts, not because they are necessarily convinced she's morally infallible/not a member of the Illuminati. They just owe her, kind of like the higher-ups in the mafia. They are basically indentured servants. Cheers!

Olivia regularly looks the other way for their on-staff Dexter as he sates his bloodlustzzzzzzzzz.... Like, throw Huck in the ocean already. I get that he's a convenient clean-up man for keeping the B-stories to one episode by killing off all the loose ends, but dude is a psycho killer, and a boring psycho killer at that. Pope really has no choice at this point but to take him by his ankles, spin in a circle on the edge of a pier, and throw that shit straight into the waiting arms of a killer octopus. Get him gone.

Also, let's go back a few steps: FLOTUS Millie is in the same Secret Friends club as Olivia and the Supreme Court Justice? I loved Millie and Olivia working together to bring attention to a murdered blogger. (In fact Millie's whole speech about how if they had been born in rural Kurdistan they would have been married at 12 and growing opium in the fields by this point in their lives basically made me want to slow clap my way into a standing ovation. Shonda PLEASE start making this show a mouthpiece for worldwide women's rights!! No pressure. But we can start by cleaning up our own backyard with maybe an FLDS episode?!)

For real, this was her second best speech after the one where she snappily reminded the president she was tired of his Olivia Pope boners in bed. Oh dear gracious.

For serious though I did love the president's mistress and wife teaming up to do the right thing, although Fritz's hysterical, scream-hiss laughter always chills me to the bone. Fritz: dreamy when he's emo, terrifying when he's happy. Just look at that bone structure! He was MADE to gaze longingly. And let's face it, Kerry Washington was made to be gazed at longingly, and their chemistry is the engine keeping this boat on course. So threatening us with him letting her go is just, you know, it's like if a cooking show host threw their bowl of carefully made roux over their shoulder and was all, "Let's just chat today. I don't feel like cooking." We know seconds later they're going to smile coyly and go, "I feel like... BAKING!" and pull out some crispety-crunchety croissants.

Abby's thankless role is getting a little more interesting: She's seen the DA's horror wall (including soooo many differently angled pictures of Olivia... he knows what she looks like! Why does he need a crazy collage of 27 pictures of her face?!) and now she's cozying up to him about Olivia. Not for a second do I believe she's actually trying to get the real scoop on Olivia. She drank the Gladiator Kool-Aid a looong time ago, so no amount of her creepy-crawling into the DA's shower like an obsessive girlfriend in a horror movie is going to convince me she's on his side. She's clearly going to double-cross him, feed him bad info all in the name of Pope, white hats and so forth.

Since the show barely addressed the B-story—an apparent good girl with a racy blog gets murdered Rosie Larsen style—I don't feel the need to dissect it other than to say, in what world do people FAX PHOTOGRAPHS?! Hello, even pay-as-you go phones have cameras now, no need to stand over a fax machine biting your nails in 2012.

Stuff happened in between scenes with Olivia and Fitz and damned if I care about it, except it showed sometimes the FLOTUS's idea of right and wrong is a little more fixed than everyone else's, including the Supreme Court judge who was doling out dating advice from her in-office pedicure chair.

"As if right and wrong are fixed." Maybe it's the Shakespearean use of the word "fixed" in this sentence, but I'm not sure how I feel about this statement. Moral relativism is kind of a sticky wicket. Generally I do believe there are universal truths; one of which that could apply to Liv and Fitz is, if you have to keep your relationship a secret, something is wrong and needs to be fixed. (Different sense of fixed.)

Altogether, a racy premise for an episode that had to get sorted in the worst way—by Huck—and another annoying, kind-of-unbelievable delay in Fitz and Liv making out in elevators and fantasy-decorating their retirement cabin in the woods.

But what did you think?


– Y'all, what is the nature of right and wrong?

– Huck: poor man's Dexter or strongly disagree with that statement?

– how long 'til the president is whisking Olivia away for a smoochfest again?

– Has TV taught us that people with Southern accents are usually evil/schemin' and is that unfair because a lot of my very awesome grandmas have Southern accents? (Both of them, actually.)

– Abby: working with or against the DA?

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