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?


QUESTIONS:

– 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?

Comments (19)
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"Shonda PLEASE start making this show a mouthpiece for worldwide women's rights!!"

I can't tell if this is a sarcastic statement or not since it's followed up by

"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."

Though I suppose if a part of women's rights is the right ton continually have a mud hole stomped into you by powerful men who want their cake and eat it too...then I guess women's rights it is
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Shonda needs better continuity checkers. In the trail Mellie says she graduated tops at Harvard law. In this ep, it's Yale law.
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I am pretty sure that the guy who worked for the Vice President is the one who impregnated Amanda Tanner, not the President. I'm pretty sure she just had to seduce the President into sleeping with her once so that they could actually blackmail him with her pregnancy.
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Huck is the best part of this show
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- I'm a grey area kinda gal.

- Strongly disagree! Huck is the shizz! Seriously, Huck is easily my favorite character of the show. I love his performance, it's nuanced and understated. I love his relationship with Olivia....especially now that Stephen is gone, because he's the one that sort of gets her better than anyone else does. I love the loyalty they have to each other, it runs deep...deeper than what's average or even normal. I always dig silent characters who hide their emotions well and only speak when they have something relevant or wicked funny to say. Gee...I wonder why. I find his journey compelling.

- I'm hoping not too long because Olivia and Fitz not spending time together is criminal...but I'm thinking it may be a while.

- TV is known for it's stereotypes and cliches.

- A little of both. I think what makes this so interesting is David genuinely likes Olivia so in investigating her it isn't really malicious on his end. I think Abby knows that David isn't malicious so she doesn't feel too threatened by him or what he has in store. Also, she's notorious for being the "problem child" of the bunch. There is always one who will challenge authority and ask all the questions no one else bothers to ask, and for that reason I can't dislike Abby or find her as annoying as most people tend to. She challenges and questions Olivia but she's loyal and she'll continue to be so. I assumed that was evidenced by the Roundtable meeting at the end. I assumed she told Olivia something about what David had going on...in addition to what the Southern dude was saying. She's running with David for the few lays and to assuage her own curiousity over what Olivia has been up to, but she'd never betray Olivia.

-Yes. Harrison is soooo underused. I hear he has something coming up soon and I cannot wait. I love Harrison though. I love when Mellie and Olivia join forces...those two are wicked awesome! That is NOT how the roundtable was looking like back in the day.
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Abby is definitely working with the DA, it's an absolute great story arc for them. Now they just need to give Shaw and Columbus, the other lawyer, something to do! I honestly cannot wait to learn what the big mystery is! I am absolutely intrigued, it literally could be anything. The show has done a great job setting up this mystery but giving absolutely no clues as to what it could be! (Terrorist attack, assassination, money laundering??!) Hopefully all the above.



Side note: If a hospital were going to send a picture of a patient, it would still be done by fax and not by email. I believe the way HIPAA is set up and the nature of email begin backed up on multiple servers and such, fax is still the best means securing of patient confidentiality.
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I'm going to start calling her Olluminati Pope from now on. I think her white hat just turned gray.
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Moral absolutism is the thing that strikes me as evil.
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He he, that's good, 'cause with moral relativism, nothing's truly evil.
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Nothing is absolutely evil. For example, more evil than moral absolutism would be denying someone their civil rights. You know what taught me that moral absolutism is evil? The New Testament. Jesus was a moral relativist.
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Olivia's response to Fitz's invitation to "hitch a ride on Air Force One" - that all she would get was membership in the mile high club - was great. She knew what would happen if they were "alone" (save the security detail).

No blasphemy here but Mellie is the antiChrist (caps intended). Although it would be hard (sorry) to sleep next to your husband whose dreaming of nocturnal couplings with a woman who ain't you.

Huck rules. No boredom there.
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Abby's seen the DA's wall, but instead of going straight to Olivia, she went to DA's shower? Guess he did do something yummy during #7. Also, Abby's miffed because she wants to be Olivia's #1 BFF, but Olivia won't share all the juicy tidbits, so Abby's gonna betray Olivia to #7DA.

DA is yet another non-Southerner that believes people with drawls are dull-witted -- I laughed out loud as he realized he'd been played and further questioning was futile.

Looking forward to finding out how involved Olivia was in framing Quinn. Was it her plan, or maybe she was brought into the Round Table Illuminati after Quinn was already doomed.
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Huck is a cool character, there is a lot to him that we still dont know and they are really starting to flesh him out a bit. Should be interesting to watch. Plus Guillermo Diaz was wicked on weeds.
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Can we a worst characters in television feature on TV.com please?

Abby should be on the top of that list. She's awful.

Bill Compton from True Blood

Henry from OUaT

Declan from Revenge

Serena Van Der Woodsen from Gossip Girl.

Without actually going through all the shows I watch, there's my top 5.
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How did you know we were already working on one!?!? Are you in my house!? Your entries are noted, and who knows, they may end up on the list DECLAN FOR SURE HATE THAT GUY
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Happy to contribute. It's so hard to just pick 5.
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One of the things about this episode that scares me is that a Supreme considers right and wrong to be so malleable. As for the Big Oil CEO, Hollywood and Washington D.C. are always going to push the rich, unedumacated, greedy redneck stereotype. Right and wrong are relative, but rich people are universally evil, right?

This is a terrific show. It's well written and well paced, and there are very few characters that we fail to either love or hate. But Shonda Rhimes' value system is as murky and confused as Olivia Pope's emotions. We're not gonna get absolutes here, because Rhimes has none.
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