Last night, Shondra Rhimes demonstrated for an entire national television audience that she is not resting on her laurels. She kicked off the third season of Scandal with heart-pounding, thrilling episode that featured plenty of well-written dialogue and loads of plot twists.
Opening the show was an amazing exchange between Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her recently-revealed father, Rowan Pope (Joe Morton). Trying to protect his daughter, he tells her to board a plane to escape the madness swirling around regarding her affair with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn).
After reading her the riot act, Rowan delivers one of the best lines of the night. “You are getting on that plane come hell or high water,” he tells Olivia, trying to convince her that her only option as America’s Most Hated Woman is to erase her identity and flee. “And to be clear, I am the hell. And the high water.”
Meanwhile, Meille (Bellamy Young) also has plans and in a very revealing conversation in the Oval, she gives Fitz his own come-to-Jesus moment, when she tells him that she knows it was HIM that leaked Olivia’s name to the press. Content that she has Fitz in check-mate, it is sad to discover that while she is correct, Fitz reveals his true intentions which result in freeing Olivia from Mellie’s hold and giving her the feeling that she clearly played herself.
Cyrus (Jeff Perry) also smells blood in the water and orders a “kill” file drawn up for Olivia, which would give the White House the ammunition to take her down. He is also summoned to a secret meeting with Rowan, who raises his clearance and then gives hims sobering news, that will surely be revealed later this season.
If the opening scene was sobering and intense, the secret meeting between Fitz, Olivia and Mellie is among the best written piece of dialogue in the entire series. All three people in the bunker are in agony and there is no clear answer in sight. Liv advises them to put on a brave face for the public and with a little spin, this incident could be swept under the rug.
That suggestion is totally unacceptable for Fitz who has clearly fallen out of love with Mellie and is committed to Liv. Not quite ready to let go, Mellie literally negotiates the amount of times that her husband and mistress have been together for her official story. While the scene arguably paints the First Lady in a pathetic and desperate light, it demonstrates the massive web of deception and lies that the foundation of Scandal is constructed upon.
While Olivia ponders her options, her Gladiators, led by Harrison Wright (Columbus Short) put their own plans into motion to extricate their boss from her very public predicament. They cast the suspicion on someone else, obviously freeing Olivia from suspicion . . . or so they thought.
The episode, aptly titled, “It’s Handled” is an amazing springboard to what should be a return to the outstanding and sometimes frustrating storytelling that Rhimes specializes in. “Are we Gladiators or are we Bitches,” Harrison asks his colleagues during a tense scene. Clearly, Rhimes’ legion of fans are the former and are committed to her and aren’t going anywhere. Why would you? Scandal is currently one of the hottest shows on Primetime!!!