It’s mid-season finale time on Scandal…which basically means the sh*t is about to hit the fan.
Let’s bitch it out…I’m filling in for your regular reviewer couchpotato this week and I’ll admit right off the top that this was not the easiest episode of Scandal to jump back into after taking the entire season off! Despite having read couchpotato’s reviews, I can honestly say that I’d forgotten what a visceral, rollercoaster ride Scandal is…as well as how crazy pants it is.
Initially I had the reveal about Lizzie Bear (Portia de Rossi) and the Vice President’s (Jon Tenney) plot in the ‘Other Observations’ section because it lacked substance. There were simply too many big things happening in other parts of the episode to merit bringing these two into the equation early on (I mean, really, these two are simply the latest contenders to try and take down the Presidency, here trying to force Tony Goldwyn’s President Grant to go to war with West Angola for a staged attack on US soil). But then we come to the cliffhanger ending and Liv (Kerry Washington) has disappeared. With nothing more than a single toppled wine glass (clearly a sign of foul play since Liv would never spill a drop!), it’s obvious that Liv has been abducted. The editing wants us to believe that the perpetrator is the VP, but considering the preceding 40 minutes, it could just as easily be Joe Morton’s Rowan.
Everything in ‘Where The Sun Don’t Shine’ seems designed to get the White Hats back on top after a fitful fourth season. Liv starts the episode off in a silent rage, blinded with anger about her father’s disappearance and defiantly telling off her mother (Khandi Alexander). Things reach an apex when she discovers Rowan in her dining room with a gun and father/daughter have an epic verbal showdown. Rowan point blank tells her that he is responsible for all of her accomplishments, stroking his ego to the sounds of his rapturous voice until Liv turns the tables by grabbing the gun. With that Liv essentially regains her mojo; by “shooting” her father, she regains control, as evidenced by the way she pile drives any residual conflicts in her path.
While her verbal sparring match with Rowan is the episode’s best scene (nobody does histrionics like Joe Morton! Give that man another Guest Emmy!), her final scene with Jake (Scott Foley) is Liv’s most empowered scene. When Jake arrives, she brushes aside his attempts to discuss her father, flirting and making witty small talk about music and take-out before soliciting him to dance. This isn’t the buttoned up, dead inside Liv that we saw Jake teaches how to shoot earlier. This is a woman who has banished her demons – clearly she’s recognized the truth in her mother’s words about embodying her father’s characteristics. Finally able to let go of her parents’ destructive influence, Liv is free to be fun and flirty and boozy.
It’s such a shame, then, that the moment she lets her guard down is the same moment she’s taken hostage. But this is Scandal, so we can’t really expect anything less, can we?
- Scott Foley cannot dance. Kerry Washington is only slightly better. #awkwarddanceparty
- I’ll freely admit that Liv’s line to Jake threw me for a loop: “I’m choosing me. I’m choosing Olivia.” Is this Grey’s Anatomy?! I mean, it’s kinda super progressive that Liv is basically saying she wants that damn Vermont jam and her sun, too. I guess I just wish that the writers had used some other line because it is so evocative of Grey’s.
- As anticipated Cyrus’ (Jeff Perry) dirty pictures with his hooker (Matthew Del Negro) go public. Liv’s solution = marry them off because “everyone loves a love story.” Initially Cyrus balks (his reference to James is almost sweet), electing to pressure the President to let him resign instead. He then almost flees to Europe until Liv launches into her epic “bitch baby” rallying speech (Side Note: how bizarre to hear the same term used an hour later on How To Get Away With Murder). I suppose we’re meant to cheer the fact that Cyrus “grows a pair” and works the lie, but this sure feels like a terrible concession. Again, this is Scandal, so it’s not exactly surprising, but Cy’s reminder to Liv that she’s asking him to get married to only the second man he’s slept with does feel a bit like (gay) sex shaming.
- After a year off, I didn’t miss Huck (Guillermo Diaz) or Quinn/Robyn (Katie Lowes). Admittedly Quinn has become more interesting now that she’s become some kind of secret agent – and the Mr. & Mrs. Smith room destruction scene she shares with Charlie (George Newbern) is mildly amusing. Overall, though…these two are still kind of the worst.
- Abby (Darby Stanchfield) doesn’t get to do much as Press Secretary, but it’s probably a better fit for her than at Pope & Associates. Unfortunately her ongoing drama with David Rosen (Josh Malina) feels just as stale as it did last year.
- Finally, Mellie (Bellamy Young) remains completely awesome, even if she doesn’t do much in this episode. And yet her takedown of Lizzie is satisfying enough to cement a place in my heart.
- Mama Pope: “Tell them, Olivia. Handle it.” It sounds so bitchy when she says it.
- Abby (when a reporter questions whether it is Cyrus in the pictures): “Really, Ashley? Really?” This and a Mean Girls reference puts this episode high on the teen girl barometer.
- Cyrus (to Michael): “You are now the most famous gay hooker in gay hooker town.”
- Liv (when Quinn quips that they have Kubiak’s finger): “You have a finger?” Is she pleased or disgusted?
- Liv (confronting her mother): “You have a PhD in his crazy”
- Mellie (when Liz infers they’re on the same team): “Because we’re both screwing Andrew? That doesn’t make us on the same team, that just puts us at risk for the same STDs”
Your turn: is Liv’s disappearance enough of a cliffhanger to hold you over until 2015? Are you happy to see Liv finally regain some control? Is her showdown with Rowan the best scene of the ep? Do you care that she wants both jam and sun (nudge nudge, wink wink)? Are Huck and Quinn the worst? And did the finale suffer from a lack of Mellie? Sound off below.
Scandal has finished airing new episodes for the year. The White Hats return Thursday, Jan 29 at 9pm EST on ABC. Thanks for reading and see you in the new year.