Scandal: Hot Mess in a Clean-Cut Suit

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Scandal S01E04: "Enemy of the State"

Olivia Pope is going off the deep end. Granted she's doing it while shivering delicately in a silk robe, looking absolutely radiant, but still: She's losin' it, and how interesting is it for the writers to take a world largely informed by how infallible Olivia Pope is, and then introduce the viewer the day that Olivia starts cracking. Because a grounded woman does not need to see seven positive pregnancy tests to know someone is pregnant. You get to three, you've got the idea, and once you're done you CERTAINLY don't put those used pregnancy tests on your kitchen counter.

Nevertheless, it's not like there wass time to reflect on this because an army had charged into Olivia's office and it NEEDED HER HELP. Well, the dictator who was leading it needed help, and he looked like a young Tony Shalhoub. (If that WAS Tony Shalhoub, your chemical peels are paying off, mister!)

You knew Olivia Pope speaks Spanish, right? It's one of the 18 languages she speaks fluently, when she's not making a suicidal intern guzzle water and pee on well-packaged litmus strips. Aren't you glad you hired Olivia, Amanda?

You didn't have to be versed in recent South American politics to understand the dictator storyline because, as usual, it quickly turned into an emotional problem, not a logistical/tactical one. The dictator's wife and children had disappeared, he assumed they had been kidnapped, but the wife had actually left him and fled to a women's shelter. Meanwhile at this point in the episode we were learning that Bargain Bin Julianne Moore (Julianne Less?) had been mercilessly beaten by her ex-husband. We actually learned a little bit about all the Pope-ettes, as Cyrus hired an investigator to vet Olivia's team after a nasty confrontation in his own garden.

Guys, I goofed: Cyrus has a husband, so it is LESS likely that he is dying of love for Olivia Pope as I speculated last week. In fact, not only is he not crushing on her, he made a rather nasty comment about how she should know if the president wore condoms or not. (And he didn't mean because of her infallible gut--the gut went radio silent this week! I didn't miss it!) Olivia did the classy thing and marched her pristine cream hems right out of there; I would have trampled his rose bushes.

So the after this catty exchange, Cyrus started literally digging up dirt, and the two most interesting revelations an investigator revealed to him about the team are: 1.) that Quinn "did not exist" before 2008 (OOOH!!! I hope she's a sleeper Russian spy a la Salt) and 2.) that Olivia is known to have had an affair during the president's last campaign...but it's unknown with whom!

Um, how does that work? How do you get the idea someone is having an affair without explicitly knowing who the partner is/whether the person is married? Would she throw her own hotel keys over her shoulder on the campaign trail and shout, "Won't be needing these! I got BEEEDDDS !!!"

Meanwhile, Olivia was screaming her head off at damp-eyed Amanda for wanting five minutes alone with the president, telling Amanda she is NEVER going to see the father of her child again and if she doesn't like it, TOO BAD. Olivia please, you could sext the president to meet up at your usual spot and he'd be there in thirty seconds. Goaded by Olivia, Amanda creepily revealed that what she wants is to see the president/his administration BURN!!! Yikes!

Wasn't this the point where Olivia should've been like, "Okay, you know what? I'm going to make some calls, I'm going to see about that five minutes, BRB." and then come back with a giant butterfly net, and round Amanda up for a quick trip to the loony bin? Like, that was not a plan coming from or going to a healthy place.

But it WAS leverage to get back at Cyrus for his barb about the condoms. Olivia told Cyrus she was taking her Amanda freak show on the road to 20/20, and Cyrus scared the sh-t out of the president with a monologue forecasting the downfall of his presidency, the nation, etc. That monologue was so rambling and dis-associative and indulgent and actor-ly. This show is the monologue-iest! I love it!!

It was actually my second-favorite monologue , after "No Frills Brand" Julianne Moore's revelation that in better, more morally upright days, Olivia Pope had broken her ex-husband's knees with a tire iron. WHAAAAT!?! With a tire iron!?! How come that didn't come up on the background check? I'm sorry, but Kerry Washington hitting anyone with a tire iron just makes no sense, my brain can't even imagine it. It's like trying to picture a fine tea service beating someone with a baseball bat.

However, after being reminded that she used to have the kind of moral conviction it takes to righteously break a man's knees, Olivia talked the dictator into letting his wife leave with their kids. Her argument? If you don't, there will be a tell-all. OH THERE WILL BE A TELL-ALL!!! It's true, 9 out of 10 regimes fall because of racy memoirs.

Then Cyrus showed up for the announcement we all saw in the promos for this week's episode, there is to be WAR between Pope and President. I hate promo-cutters. This scene should have happened in the first five minutes, but whatever. So Olivia then rounded up her gladiators in suits (this show believes repeating a phrase gives it power and so do I!) and let them know first things first: Were they WILLING TO GO TO WAR?

Of course, while she was fishing for compliments back in the office, client Amanda was casually kidnapped and injected with what I think might be baby-killing serum between her toes. WHAAT!!! Way to leave us with a cliffhanger, Scandal.

I'm really feeling this show, it is so luxuriously melodramatic and ridiculously juicy and the crazy, well-crafted monologues show there are some capital-"W" Writers laboring over these scripts and capital-"A" Actors delivering them. My only two qualms are 1) I wish the show was on every day, like a classic soap opera. 2) Scandal for-serious needs to stop filming through crystal paperweights. But otherwise, yes, let's do this, war it up Olivia Pope! You make crazy look so good.


Questions:

– What do you think was injected between Amanda's toes?

– What is up with Quinn's missing past?

– What's the bigger moral obligation here: for Olivia to help Amanda come clean about the president or for Olivia to protect her friends at the White House?

– Were you disappointed by the lack of steamy eye contact between Olivia and the president or is he officially an unlikable weasel?

– Breaking someone's knees with a TIRE IRON?!

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