TV Recaps

‘Scandal’ Review: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Photo Credit: ABC/Danny Feld

Scandal’s second episode of the new season, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” picked up right where the premiere left off. Now that Olivia’s been cleared of any (public) wrongdoing, her focus has shifted to defending new client Jeannine Lock (guest star Samantha Sloyan) — the woman now accused of having an illicit affair with President Fitz. It’s only week two and Shonda Rhimes is already causing emotional downfalls.

Pope and Associates had their work cut out for them, and they didn’t have an easy time at it. Mellie and Cyrus were more determined than ever to make Jeannine the fall girl, even as Fitz resisted admitting any culpability. The episode took an interesting twist when story threads were connected through a series of flashbacks that culminated in a very shocking scene in the present.

Through flashbacks we learn more about Olivia’s estranged relationship with her father, Joe (guest star Joe Morton), including the origins of said estrangement. It was intense to say the least.

Let’s discuss three things that caught my eye during “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

#3 Fitz & Olivia

The cute phone call between Olivia and Fitz in the beginning of the episode boosted my “Olitz” loving heart. When Fitz says to her, “Somewhere, in another life, in another reality – we are married. And we have four kids. And we live in Vermont. And I’m the mayor,” and Olivia responds, “And I make jam,” I sighed. It’s so hard not to love these idiots so much that it’s ridiculous. As with any fan of the pair, anytime there’s a positive conversation, it usually leads to the bottom falling out for them soon after – and this time was no different.

Later in the episode, Olivia snaps at Fitz as she’s desperately trying to rescue Jake from B-613. “There’s a reason we don’t have Vermont,” she said sharply. All I could think following that was what a low blow that was. She was panicking and when she panics, she uses her most powerful weapon – her words. It’s in that moment that Olivia proved she truly is her father’s daughter.

The thing is, Fitz loves her – he’s just not in the position to use his power to make them work as a couple right now – or ever for that matter. He’s tried, it just doesn’t work out the way he plans. Fitz loved her enough to encourage her to bring her “A” game when she went after the White House while defending her client. He loved her enough to attempt to track down the whereabouts of her ex-lover Jake (Scott Foley), even after knowing his buddy slept with her. He loved her enough to throw an innocent girl under the bus by confirming she was his mistress. Maybe that one was a bit of a stretch, but in theory he’s keeping B-613 happy and not murdering Jake. I guess that’s the point – to protect Jake. I’m torn because it’s extremely weird having Olivia ask her very married to rescue the guy with whom she cheated with from torture and death, but I understand Olivia’s perspective. Side note: Is it technically cheating for Olivia if Fitz is married? By definition he’s not available.

I think Olivia mostly feels responsible for Jake’s current predicament and wants to help Jake – partly to ease her guilty conscience. By taking in another wounded soul, maybe she can finally deal with some buried emotions she feels for him?

#2 Huck and Olivia

When Huck realized Olivia was keeping a very important secret from him, it led to an explosion of rage that I never I’d see Huck exhibit towards Olivia. I felt a gamut of emotions during the scene, but mostly I was heartbroken. This is one relationship on Scandal that I never thought I’d have to question.

The flashbacks set the foundation for just how strong their future relationship would be. Huck is her protector, her ride or die man – he’s her gladiator. Little did he knew that the basis of their friendship, and the freedom he would receive, would come as a result of a connection he least expected. Thanks to Quinn’s emboldened, inquisitive nature, she hacked into Olivia’s email to try and learn more information about why Olivia doesn’t talk about her father. Her search led her to a communication in which Olivia asks her dad to look into a homeless man who saved her (that’d be Huck) – shortly after the emails ceased.

As Huck put the pieces of the puzzle together, he remembers something Charlie said last season about a wanting the deal Olivia got for Huck. Olivia denied the existence of a deal. Huck feels as if Olivia betrayed him. Their relationship is possibly irreparably damaged, knowing that she lied to him over and over again. Given Huck’s rather…alternative coping skills, I was terrified for Olivia’s safety when he appeared behind Olivia in the parking garage. It’s akin to having your trusted family pet turn around and attack you. You might be able to move on, but you’ll never forget the incident.

Let it be stated that Quinn needs her ass kicked for hacking into her boss’ private email account. Her snooping got this ball rolling. Someone needs to remind her of boundaries and check her for not respecting them.

#1 The tangled familial web between Olivia and her father

Joe Morton’s delivery during the season premiere had be cowering on the coach as Eli verbally assaulted Olivia. In “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” he continued to put the fear of God into me as he transitioned from the loving, caring father who worked for a curator to the cold, heartless black-ops director making demands upon his daughter.

Kerry Washington and Morton are putting on an acting clinic each week; my love growing exponentially with every scene they tackle. Every awkward silence, subtle hardening of eyes and hesitant responses demonstrate their complicated and disturbing relationship.

There is a distinct moment when Olivia asks her father to “ask his FBI friend” to check out the story Huck told her about B-613. Rowan’s (whose real name is Eli) eyes go dead as the real monster within desperately tries to break out. What’s even more unnerving is watching Olivia learn to play his game and excel at it. She uses her then-boyfriend Edison (pre-Senator days) as a pawn to get Huck back after he goes missing and later uses the allure of Sunday dinners (once a weekly date with her father) to get Jake back from the hole. Olivia, at the very minimum, has it in her to play the games of psychological chess, and engage in psychological warfare if need be.

As Olivia checked every single John Doe body in the morgue, it was quite possibly one of the worst things her father has done to her (that we know of). Olivia not knowing if the first thing she’d see is a man she considered her friend, dead at the orders of her father was intense. At least we know where her love of wine originated – thanks Eli. Her father introduced her to what would become her drink of comfort years before – I feel like this is a milestone in adulthood. On the other hand, I now question everything about the show – including if Olivia’s name truly is Olivia and what her true feelings are towards Fitz. This is the power of Shonda Rhimes.

Other Topics of Note

  • There was a wonderfully directed running sequence with super stealthy secret service agent Tom handing off a cell phone to Olivia via a baton toss that was done like a boss.
  • Props to Mellie Grant for not bitch slapping the news anchor for the “women of a certain age” comment.
  • David Rosen deserves praise for expanding his horizons and trying a goatee.
  • Fitz won the evening with the “How presidential are my balls now, Cy” comment. He might not have any real power, or be married to the woman he really loves, and have to constantly be saved by the people around him, but he gets some really great one-liners.
  • Olivia’s wineglasses are just asking to be brought to their new home in my cabinet. I’m serious about this one too.

Final Thoughts

If you can’t see the inevitable triangle coming down the road between Fitz, Olivia and Jake, you need to immediately get your eyes checked.  Love triangles are a funny beast – it’s all about the beats played and forward movement for it to work well. It goes without saying, I’m a card carrying member of Team Olivia & Fitz (mainly because I know they’ll never ever be over), but I can get behind Jake making Fitz and Olivia step up and do something about their feelings. I’ve watched enough soaps (sorry Shonda, Scandal is pure soap opera) over the years to know that a third party can be just the catalyst needed to force people to come to terms with how they truly feel. What I can’t get behind is Jake’s first word to Olivia upon his release being “hi,” but maybe that’s my fan card showing.

[info]Angela Romack is a writer for TVSource Magazine. She’s someone who probably writes what you’re thinking about your shows. You can get more insight into her thoughts (and there are many) by following Angela on Twitter at @angelamromack. Be sure to follow TVSource on Twitter as well @TVSource[/info]

About the author

Angela Romack

Angela Romack is writes what you’re thinking about when it comes to your favorite TV shows. If you don’t agree, that's fine. She's okay with being right. Follow her on Twitter at @AngelaMRomack.