Scandal "Snake the Garden" Review: Mole Uncovered, Ear Removed

Scandal S02E17: "Snake in the Garden"

“I like how you answer the phone with ‘What?', that you always seem to be wearing white, and that for you, wine seems to be a food group.”

Can somebody tell me why psychos always have the best lines? Maybe if a guy is masquerading as your fantasy on full-time basis in order to better monitor your life via secret cameras and fake relationships for the benefit of some shadowy government-overturning force, he puts more effort into observing the little things about you and saying the things that will twist your psyche like a puppet on a string. In my case, that would be Jack saying, “I like how you’ve not been able to find your phone for almost a week, that you always seem to be wearing clothes from the kids' section of Target, and that the floor of your car is two feet deep with little Arrowhead water bottles.”

Last night’s Scandal really filled its plate with some heaping helpings of crazy: The murder of the head of the CIA and the president being borderline alcoholic in and of themselves might have been a finale-sized feast for a lesser show. But this is Scandal, and there is filler to be sown amongst the rapid reveals, lest the total anarchy this administration is headed for hit Fake Washington before Season 3. In this case, that filler took the form of a fake kidnapping and a Van Gogh reference.

Generally the one-off stories are throwaways, but Scandal did something commendable last night, bringing in an established character from the Defiance arc so that there were relationships with Olivia and the Gladiators already in place. Hollis, my favorite Angry Southern Stereotype on TV right now, did a great job not giving an eff about his daughter’s kidnapping until an ear showed up, and then giving her her birthright while falling to emotional pieces in the fourth act. The weakness with the storyline was that it was obvious from the beginning that the girl had kidnapped herself. For starters, she frequently looked off-camera and then quoted something the kidnapper had allegedly said to her during periods of complete silence. I appreciate the dedication it takes to saw your ear off to buy shoes and poppers, but couldn’t she have recorded some threats on a vocoder and cut that into the ransom video? Addicts get so lazy with post-production details.

I also loved Olivia’s no-patience speech about how she wasn’t just a spoiled little rich girl, she was straight-up stupid not to take her parents up on a second chance after what they’d put her through. I myself constantly fight the urge to shake the shit out of people like that, and this was intertwined well enough with Jake’s promise of a “do-over” to give it tons of emotional resonance.

The Fitz-is-a-lush plotline was less successful. I appreciated that it gave us twenty minutes of Mellie running around scheming and traumatizing Fitz’s secretary, and that it was ultimately another tribute to the deep connection between Olivia and Fitz, but for all of that to pay off in a reveal that Fitz is emotionally abusive to his children? Yikes.

And a half-hour speech from Mellie about “Big Jerry” and everyone tip-toeing around the White House trying not to get on Fitz’s bad side? (What else should they be doing, if you don’t mind me asking? He is in charge. I’ve had to ‘tip-toe’ around Trader Joe’s managers during a work day, I would hope that people tip-toe around the, uh, leader of the free world.)

Between that and Cyrus’s monologue earlier about how History will decide whether he is evil or not, but we are all mere players on this great stage and tomorrow and tomorrow and  tomorrow hath but lighted our way to dusty death etc., the Oval Office is starting to feel more like a Julliard audition room than a place of important international business. If I were Fitz I’d interrupt these people about two paragraphs in, tap “The Buck Stops Here,” and say, “Our Town auditions are Wednesday. Get back to work.” But that’s just the nature of Scandal: big awesome speeches for big awesome actors. Cyrus and Mellie gave great performances delivering their speeches! I’m just starting to question the president’s conversational acumen if he finds himself on the receiving end of a tearful, hate-filled lecture three times a day.

Still, aside from these content potatoes in our juicy Liv & Fitz/government takeover burrito, there were enough revelations and insanity (brains splattered on a window, Jake creeping in Liz's apartment and turning all her secrets over to Fitz) to keep me happy. But what about you, viewers?! 


… Jake: Is his relaish with Olivia something that's developing in spite of, or because of, his double agent role?

… Fitz: a common drunkard or is Mellie playing with his mind and "gaslighting" him?

… What drama series would you say packs the biggest emotional punch? Scandal or…?

… Do you know any truly spoiled rotten rich kids?

... Did you get a bad vibe from Jake all along or did last night take you completely by surprise?

... Do crazy guys always have the best pick up lines?

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