Scandal "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" Review: Father Knows Best

Scandal S03E02: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"


When heavily serialized, twisty shows have entered the crazy zone, seemingly disparate story threads can come together so quickly and so easily that we barely see them coming. Scandal is in that zone. Of course Olivia's father is the evil, powerful man behind the organization that ruined Huck's life. Of course Jake Ballard is also involved with—and thus a victim of—that organization. Of course the president of the United States has a deep history with Jake that likely involves some questionable decisions that only Olivia's father and high-level members of his organization know about. And of course this whole situation is really somehow still about Fitz's infidelity, and who he does and does not admit sleeping with. Like, there's no way all of that should make sense, and it's pretty nutty that "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" ended with a bunch of wheeling and dealing that simultaneously moved all of those stories forward, but here we are. This was a much quieter episode of Scandal, and it was still pretty wild. The stakes are so high, so personal, and so ridiculous—and no other show is this enjoyable at the moment.

But seriously, after last week's barn-burner of a Season 3 premiere, this episode dialed it back a few notches, admittedly with a purpose. It was time to fill in the blanks of Olivia and Rowan's relationship, and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" did a relatively solid job of accomplishing that task. Scandal put in a lot of legwork last season to establish Rowan's reach and power, so it wasn't much of a surprise to learn that Olivia found out about B613 through her relationship with Homeless Huck—or that she did, in fact, make a deal with her father to keep Huck out of the organization's sights, despite plain-as-day working in D.C. Still, Joe Morton and Kerry Washington were what made those flashback sequences so strong, by making sure to project the shifts in the characters' relationship despite the economical storytelling. The characters went from disliking each other to finding a comfort zone to engaging in full-on war in a small number of scenes, but the actors made it work. Morton was especially awesome; he clearly enjoys chewing up the scenery around him. His diatribe at the restaurant after Olivia discovered the truth wasn't quite as good as last week's directive at the airstrip, but it was close. Although I'm still curious as to Rowan's possible involvement in his wife's death, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" still underscored why Olivia doesn't trust her father, or very many people to begin with. 


Obviously, those flashback sequences smartly dovetailed with the present-day story involving Olivia and the team* defending Jeannine while the press tried to assassinate her character in the aftermath of the adultery news. Although I was bummed last week when the show moved on from Olivia being Fitz's newly revealed secret dance partner, this episode provided clear goals and motivations for the seemingly countless parties involved. Olivia needed to defend Jeannine to help get the public off her scent a little, but also because these are the jobs she takes. She knows how the government and the media can chew someone up and spit them out. Fitz, still delusional, wanted Oliva to come after the White House and his administration as much as possible, because he still thinks there's a happy ending at the end of all this pain (spoiler alert: he's wrong). Mellie wanted the 'truth' about Jeannine to come out so that Fitz couldn't move forward with his Campaign for Honesty, and Cyrus wanted that too (and needed Rowan off his back). However, if there was one thing we already knew about Rowan before this episode, and something that the flashbacks really reinforced, it's that no one can mess with him. His resources are undefined, and thus terrifying. His reach seems endless. Once he started making moves in the present, the results were basically like what happened in the past: He got exactly what he wanted. Fitz couldn't put pressure on him because of the Executive Branch's relationship with B613. Olivia couldn't do much because her father could axe Jake at any moment. 

It's only been two episodes, but there hasn't been much for the Gladiators to do thus far. They've served a narrative purpose, with Harrison making the big call last week and Quinn digging around to discover Olivia's deal-making and to keep Huck safe, but those stories are almost entirely plot-related. Although that's not new for the show, I do hope that the writers find something for the rest of the team to do in the coming weeks. I was certainly looking for more tension between Olivia and Harrison this week, but it was basically non-existent. She has bigger problems; I get that. But come on.


The level of high-stakes dealing going on this week was silly, and in the most Scandalous way possible. By episode's end, everyone had ended up with a little something, and a lost a little something too. Rowan, Mellie, and Cyrus all got what they wanted: Jeannine was railroaded when Fitz stopped her soon-to-air admission with his own admission. Olivia kept her name out of the adultery conversation, and Jake was released. Similarly, Fitz helped save his friend (and likely criminal cohort). But now, Fitz and Cyrus are probably due for a strong-arming by Rowan in the future, which isn't good. Fitz didn't get to naively profess his love for Olivia. Rowan had to give up Jake. And perhaps worst of all, Olivia was forced to both experience the kind of awful power her father holds and agree to spend even more time with him in the future. Hell, even though she's been labeled a bimbo, Jeannine's going to do the talk-show circuit, write a book, and cash out. Everybody wins, everybody loses. 

Weirdly, I think Scandal could still stand to pump the brakes a little on some of these stories. Just like I wanted to see more of Olivia on the defensive, protecting her own name, I kinda would've enjoyed watching the team really try to break down the White House and keep Jeannine's rep intact over the long haul. That certainly would've created more tension between Olivia and Fitz than Fitz seemed to expect in that opening call, and probably would have raised some interesting moral quandaries for Olivia, something the show has done well in the past. However, Shonda Rhimes and company clearly have a big plan for Rowan, B613, and Jake, and if those stories are going to take precedence over the others, I understand the desire to just keep plowing forward. Rowan and B613 are something of a common enemy for everyone else on the show, but his hooks are so deep into everyone's lives and livelihoods that it won't be easy to overcome him—as this episode proved.


[REDACTED]

– It's funny, the things that become important in a flashback. The fact that we had to see a mini-origin story for Olivia's wine-drinking was both outrageous and satisfying. 

– Though I understand why the show used him tonight in the flashbacks, I'm kind of ready for Edison to go away. I don't need Olivia to be with any man in particular, he's just a bore. (A.K.A. he seems like a cool, well-meaning dude, and everyone else on this show is basically a sociopath convincing themselves they're Good People.) 

– Huck choking Olivia into admitting her father's true occupation was sufficiently intense, though I think both Guillermo Diaz and Kerry Washington can overdo it sometimes. This was one of those times. BUT: The "I have a couple of questions for you, literally two questions" line? Amazing.

– Like in last week's intense bunker convo, the show stripped away the score in the scene where Olivia confronted Rowan about his work, and it was darn effective yet again. Even the sound of her heels hitting the floor as she stomped off worked. 

– David Rosen's flashback goatee? Not great, Bob. 

– "How presidential are my balls now?" INDEED. But Fitz probably shouldn't tell Cyrus about his GREAT dream of a future involving Olivia popping out four kids (you already disregard the ones you have, bro), living in Vermont, and making jam at home. Domesticate that super intelligent, independent woman, white dude. 


What'd you guys think of the episode?


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Oct 15, 2013
I think I'll go as Flashback!David for Halloween.
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Oct 14, 2013
  • Joe Morton should already be considered for an Emmy nomination. The man is golden. GOLDEN! He's terrifying, menancing, and so deliciously evil that I'm in awe every time he appears onscreen.
  • I loved the flashbacks. I like Scandal flashbacks because the are very rarely if ever pointless. Anytime they show Hobo Huck I know I'm in for a treat. We got some insight into the Rowan/Eli and Olivia relationship. I loved that we seen the origin of her wine drinking. I love how quickly she was able to piece together who and what her father was, and how quickly he went from being a doting father to being "the hell and highwater" beast that he is. I love that Olivia's daddy issues correlate so well with not just her romatnic entanglements but her relationship with Cyrus, who has been her mentor and faux father figure since the show began. It makes sense now. Cyrus is watered down version of her father. I love that.
  • Olivia and Huck's relationship has always been and will always be one of the many highlights of this show for me. I love them and I love it. I personally adore Guillermo Diaz and his portrayal and it never feels over the top for me. Not connsidering what type of show this is. His performance is always one of the standouts. I loved seeing it blossom in the flashbacks. From him saving her, because that is what he awlways does. To her inquiring as to what and who he is. I loved that moent when he finally confessed, rushed it all out in such a way that he did sound like he could be that crazy guy rambling. He was honest with her, and it was fitting that their relationship started off with honesty and that has been the foundation of their relationship ever since. They can be evasive with each other. They can ignore each other's queries, but they never lie to each other. Ever. That was the one thing that Huck couldn't take, and that was the one thing she did that broke their bond. For someone like Huck that is unacceptable, unforgivveable, and the ultimate betrayal. That scene in the parking garage was intense. That's usually the spot where he pops up to look out for her, but to have that type of confrontation, and him to regress in such a way that he turned on her a bit like a dog with his owner... very intense. It made sense though, becuase Huck has been pretty raw ever since the waterboarding and being locked in the box. He's been barely hanging on, and his concern or Quinn hasn't helped matters, and Olivia has known this and even acknowledged as much in the finale. It's going to be hard watching them go through this rough patch.
  • Quinn. I've never been a big Quinn fan. She became tolerable in time, but the frustration I had with her this episode reached new heights. Quinn is going dark. Right down the rabbit hole. I loathed how much she was prying into Olivia's business. I mean, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Huck kept warning her off of it, but she went and did whatever the hell she felt like doing anyway...it wasn't even useful snooping, it was just disrespectful, unprofessional, untrustworthy type of snooping. Then she blabbed about what she found. One can be curious and downright nosy, but the moment you're telling whomever all the dirt you dug up on somebody for recreation...it's wrong. Just wrong. So I blame Ms. "I'm Quinn, Bitch" for screwing up my favorite bond. She's out of control. Somebody needs to tell her to sit the hell down.
  • Why is Harrison so quiet? I don't like it. I feel that the gladiators are being underused so far, and Harrison especially has fallen into this. I'm still waiting for his backstory and for him to play bigger parts in the things going on, because he hasn't. Not really, which is odd considering he is the senior associate. I know we're supposed to be getting more on him (like maybe he's related to Olivia! maybe! That would be awesome), but I'm impatient.
  • I love it when Mellie and Cyrus work together because they have this ridiculous way of treating Fitz like a child, and no matter how often he proclaims that he has presidential balls it doesn't change the fact that poor Fitzy isn't running much of anything.
  • Umm, that awkward moment when you call your married bf and ask that he help release your stalker/voyeur bf. Sorry Fitz, but I'm thinking Olivia has the presidential sized balls.
  • David's goatee was the worst!
  • I don't care how I happened, I'm so glad to see Jake back!!!! JAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!! My tv screen is just so much better when Scott Foley is on it! I missed Jake. I know that Jake fans are few and far in between. But I'm a Jake fan, and I'm even down with the Olake ship.
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Oct 19, 2013
You seem having great skills for writing, please write ep3 recap
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Oct 14, 2013
- Finally watched this episode and I love the points you make about Olivia and Huck's relationship. I Huck's pain at Olivia's betrayal was so palpable. Their bond is definitely the best (next to Olivia and Harrison) Can't wait to see how she makes it up to him.

- I find it really interesting that Olivia might have actually wound up married to Edison if it wasn't for her father (Would have been a COMPLETELY different show) That really blew my mind that he had a senator roughed up like that. Just proves how high up and diabolical Rowan really is.

- I also want more of Harrison. I'm really curious about their relationship and I keep thinking he's a half brother or something. Hopefully they get to that soon.
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Oct 13, 2013
What I find incredible is that no one questions that some thing like B613 can actually exist in today's America, even if this is a fictional agency.
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Oct 14, 2013
At this point, nothing would surprise me.
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Oct 13, 2013
hey! hey! am i the only one who's missing that weird blurry effect that scandal was famous for? somebody call their editor to tell him he forgot about those :D
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Oct 13, 2013
Ever since I started watching this crazy show..The Huck character has been most interesting of the group. I will continue to watch with my mouth wide open and expecting the unexpected! The Scandals writers throw everything at you and as the viewer you have to sift through the rubble quickly. Although i will admit Olivia's dad being the head of b613 is a HELL OF COINCIDENCE..maybe TOO MUCH. Grade for this episode B.
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Oct 13, 2013
Is it a coincidence though? Or is it just logical? She has a powerful father, was sent to the best schools, was raised with the idea that no matter what she'll be mediocre, and after becoming a lawyer and finding out what he father truly did for a living, she chose a career in which she leaves the law behind and fixes the careers of powerful people by any means necessary. Who her father is, played a hand in who she became. Seems logical to me.

Now what does seem like a coincidence is the fact that she bounds with a homeless, ex-B613 agent when her father is the Head of B613. I mean of all homeless people in DC she bonds with him?
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Oct 14, 2013
I'm not saying her father couldn't be a power player in DC politics.( shaping her attitudes and feelings).but it had to be B613??(The "this time its personal" storyline is already in play with the dude being her dad and all) They could have put a number of scenarios in play. Oh well.. That's why its TV..
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Oct 13, 2013
I enjoyed this episode so much. When Huck found out Olivia lied to him - heart wrenching, she was the one person he trusted. Stop lying to your family Olivia.
I laughed so much when I saw it was Olivia's dad who got her hooked on wine.
Highlight for me - return of Jake. #GoodJake !!!
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Oct 12, 2013
Jake's back !!!!!! yeaaaa. I hate fitz. anyhoo. does Liv have any neighbours? what must they think of the comings and going s to that woman's home. and does Liv only have one bedroom in her home? Just curious. Her place looks to fancy to be a one- bedroom.
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Oct 12, 2013
I don't approve of the overuse of eyeliner that the female characters are displaying this season, specially Abby.

So far, this season seems less compelling than season 2.

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Oct 13, 2013
Hmm. I actually think it makes her look sexy, but what do I know lol
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Oct 13, 2013
I think they tried to make her look sexy, but for me it looks fake on her.
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Oct 12, 2013
Great review and a scandalicious episode as usual (but more real stuff for the Gladiators to do would be nice).
Just wondering, thought it was weird that in present time Olivia asked Huck what B613 would do to somebody who disobeyed an order, but in the flashback she knew what her father's role would be as command and said "do you throw them in a hole until they go insane?". Hmm?
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Oct 13, 2013
They're rewriting continuity. Expect a lot more of that for the sake of convenience
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Oct 12, 2013
Jack Coleman joined twitter just yesterday. YAYYYYY! :D He once said social media wasn't for him and he'd never join Twitter. I wonder if this means he'll have a juicy role on Scandal...
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Oct 12, 2013
Loving this season so far. Agree that we need to see more of the 'Gladiators'. And more David Rosen please! I enjoy the dynamic between him and Liv, he keeps her honest in a weird way. Hope the writers work him into the story more going forward.
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Oct 12, 2013
glad i caught up with this show. a lot of fun. the show to watch right now.
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Oct 12, 2013
NOTES:

-"there's a bimbo on the loose". Gotta put that on a t shirt.

-Jake is back. Yea!!!

-Quin needs to slow her roll. Hacking people's emails "because I can."

-So that makes two out of three love interests of Olivia that her father has had horrible things done to. Smh. Hate that guy


Side note: does liv have neighbours? What must they think of the comings and goings to her place? AND how does she not have a guest bedroom for jeanine to sleep in?
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Oct 11, 2013
{Also redacted}
Are we really assuming that Olivia's mother is actually dead. I mean...this IS Shonda Rimes. With Eli Pope as a husband, couldn't she have faked her death or HE faked her death?

When the head of B613 was revealed to Olivia's dad at the end of last season, I made a few assumptions in regard to Huck's and Olivia's relationship. I assumed Huck knew Eli was Olivia's dad and that Huck's "freedom" was allowed to continue as long as he worked for Olivia...aaaaand that Huck knew the situation. This only made sense after it was revealed that Charlie let Huck live after being ordered to kill him because clearly "they" had to know that he was still in alive and in D.C. It makes me sad that "they" screwed with his head so bad that he doesn't even remember Eli's face.
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Oct 13, 2013
I'm guessing since he is the 'Commander', he worked from behind the scenes and the normal agents wouldn't have known his identity only the higher-ups.
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Oct 13, 2013
I would have sworn that they met before.
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Oct 13, 2013
They could have, but nothing is coming to me right now. Now I'm racking my brain trying to remember all Huck & B613 related scenes. If I remember them together, I'll let you know!!
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Oct 11, 2013
Oh yea, and Eli may be untouchable, but Olivia has some sway over him. She's the only person that isn't afraid of him.
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Oct 11, 2013
I loved the flashbacks with Huck and Daddy pope great episode but im all for next week episode though its going to be exciting. Btw shonda times need another show because all her shows are great
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Oct 11, 2013
*Shonda Rhimes my bad
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Oct 11, 2013
How is this show still getting better and better?! Shonda Rhimes for the win!!!
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Oct 11, 2013
Is it just me or do you guys want Olivia to be with Jake and ditch Fitz. I mean... I was super excited to see him at the end of the episode that I was hoping she'd kiss him or something.
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Oct 14, 2013
I like both ships, personally. Why should I have to choose? Is my motto. I think Olitz clearly aren't going to be together, together anytime soon. They can't be. So if Olivia finds herself in love with (which she does have genuine care and affection for Jake) in the meantime, than so be it. I like Jake as a character, even in his more controversioal days when he was creepy and stalkery. He was doing his job and he sort of fell for the girl in the process. He got thrown in the hole for her. He's no sketchier than the other characters but so far he seems honorable and I respect that. I love that he can get Olivia to loosen up a bit and relax...not stress and worry all the time. I like that he finds a way to worm himself in, which is something that she hasn't allowed for anyone outside of Fitz and maybe Huck. Plus, I love Scott Foleyl
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Oct 13, 2013
Explain me why you want Jake in Olivia's life. You only see the man during few episodes and you adore him. Is that because you love Scott Foley? What makes you think he is a better man for Olivia? What information you can share with us? Did you check his background? I know he kisses, makes love and what else? Do you think by sending Fitz away, the show will still attractive with Jake, Olivia and the Gladiators? Why not advocate for Olivia previous boyfriend, the senator? Isn't he good enough for her?
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Oct 11, 2013
ME!!! I LOVE JAKE! Fitz is a douche!
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Oct 11, 2013
Scandal is a Wolf in Soap's clothing indeed.

This was an excellent episode.

I loved how the various plot points came together in this ep. I really enjoyed watching Huck and Liv's backstory. And it explains why Liv is such an emotional wreck. I mean you would be if your father were...wait, is he Rowan or Eli? Mellie doesn't seem so evil compared to this guy now, does she?

"We're family, we're never done". This line creeped me out so much! With hindsight it may not be a bad thing that Liv was educated away from her father.

We didn't see much of the rest of Gladiators, but that's OK, as I really don't care for them that much. I'd be happy if it were just Liv and Huck against the White House. Mind you Quinn is becoming interesting, what with the psycopathic tendencies et all.

Well done this week show. *nods*


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Oct 11, 2013
Still as fun, still as crazy and still as exciting !
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Oct 11, 2013
Well, it's official...I've finally found someone on the show who bugs me more than Fitz.

Quinn, seriously...what is the matter with you?!?!? I get that you're still a little ticked over the circumstances that brought you to DC, but damn, either get over it or quit. Hacking the woman who kept you off death row for nothing other than curiosity and tossing a hand grenade at the only other person who's showed interest in you (Huck)...not cool, dude.

I can't wait until Kerry eventually finds/figures out how everything came to pass and rips Quinn a new one...hopefully firing her in the process and making sure she's blackballed for good measure.

Fitz...oh Fits. STFU! Nobody cares about your 12 year old fantasies about marrying the girl of your dreams and living out life in some God forsaken Norman Rockwell painting. Take your newly found presidential balls and use them to show a little self restraint and discipline and leave Kerry alone.

Everybody else...YOU'RE AWESOME!!! Carry on and keep up the good work!


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Oct 11, 2013
Oh, this show.. It's crazy. Olivia and Rowan's chemistry is great and I'm not one for flashbacks but those really showed their strange connection. I don't like the fact that Olivia always gets off the hook, though. It happend in the first episode and now it happened again. Something always comes up that relieves her of taking responsibility and I'm dying to see her actually handle her own problems.
Other than that, the episode was really good. Especially Olivia and David Rosen meeting five years ago was a fun scene to watch.
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Oct 11, 2013
I loved this episode. Finally Scandal is back! (I didn't enjoy the season premiere, much to my own confusion.)

However I still hope there will be more focus on the Pope Associates, they've been relegated to extras so far this season, but I assume/hope that is temporary...

Love the Olivia back story. Her father is sufficiently creepy and fits in perfectly in the Scandal-verse. I also agree with Cory that Edison seems too normal, especially when contrasted with Papa Pope, for this show.

Still don't understand the appeal of President Fitz. The less there is of him both story and screen time, the better. I know the entire show is the suspension of disbelief, but for some reason I can't buy him as anything, not as a politician, not as a husband, not as an affair haver, certainly not as GOPer, not as a leader and just bleh. And I like the actor and I think he's doing a good job in the role! It's just the material he's given, no no no. Glad Jake is back, mostly for this reason.

My other gripe with the writing is Olivia's "pattern of communication". It's always the same thing, once per episode:

Some person: Olivia, blah blah blah.
Olivia: Sit down!
Some person: No (or what ever).
Olivia: SIT. DOWN. (pause) SIT.... DOWN.

And the other person never does what she TELLS. THEM. anyway, so it's getting ridiculous (circa second season).
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Oct 11, 2013
I'm just a bit worried on the issue of maintaining a "nottoo over the top" intrigue for the whole season. I hope they can still innovate and focus on character development... Grey's anatomy sank into darkness/dumbness/badness and private practice was just fake and boring with lots of drama.... i don't want that for the show.

It's amazing how hot Scott Foley look! I'm not shipping Olivia and Fitz therefore I'm looking to seeing Jake rekindle its relationship with Olivia.
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Oct 11, 2013
Considering someone did a fashion piece on Sleepy Hollow last week, I am hoping we get something similar for Scandal.

Olivia Pope is easily the best-dressed woman on television!
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Oct 11, 2013
They did it for Revenge as well. But I agree, Olivia Pope is so well dressed, it's almost worth watching the show for that alone.
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Oct 14, 2013
I feel like I saw one for Olivia Pope too and they were talking about her choice of the color white, but I could be thinking of another site.
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Oct 11, 2013
Heart stopper of an episode. I'm amazed at how much past and present they managed to fit into 40-odd minutes!!

Excellent review. I just want to add that despite Everything he is and does, Rowan sacrificed Jake and the principles he holds sacred to win back his Sunday dinners with Olivia. Filial love can make you so weak... or so strong. How well Shonda Rhines understands that.
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Oct 11, 2013
I think he did it because Fitz agreed to admitting his affair with the Jeannine girl. If Fitz did not do that, nothing Olivia said would have matter.

Actually he used it as a tool and manipulate it so that he can have Sundays dinners back when he was actually going to release Jake anyway because of Fitz.
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