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‘Scandal’ Review: ‘Dog-Whistle Politics’

SCANDAL - "Dog-Whistle Politics" - Eager to get answers, Jake unexpectedly crosses paths with someone he thought he'd never see again. Meanwhile, Huck and Quinn recruit a familiar face to help smooth over the media storm surrounding Olivia, and Fitz quickly finds out the true cost of mercy when he discovers not everyone fully supports his actions, on "Scandal," THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) KERRY WASHINGTON

Despite a couple of moments where I wondered out loud, “WHY is this happening on my screen?” I genuinely think “Dog-Whistle Politics” was a pretty great episode. Yes, I absolutely loved the ending, I believe my exact response was, “No way!!” It was more than that. Marcus has finally joined the canvas at OPA (a position that’s been glaringly missing,) and he’s speaking out on Olivia’s behalf (something that’s also been glaringly missing.)  Honestly, the commentary from Mellie, Marcus, Quinn and Olivia herself on how society and the media attack women, and especially women of color, was phenomenal.  Cyrus lost his ever-loving mind and Mellie was Mellie. Of course, there was Papa Pope talking about B613 again. So there’s that. The yin and yang of this show.

With the fallout of Fitz and Olivia’s affair going public, Olivia is continuing to be pummeled by the media. There’s a Dateline-like news program that just has to delve into Olivia’s life from birth to boarding school to her sex life. Because, as the journalist asks, “Did Olivia Pope’s manufactured sense of privilege make her feel so entitled to that brass ring of power that she simply took it?” Three minutes into the show and I already want to punch society. Olivia has literally been reared in the same (or even higher) echelon as Fitz, but does anyone question his “sense of privilege?” Nope. He’s white, and male, and Republican. The trifecta of a perfect for D.C. Meanwhile, Olivia Pope can run circles around him and pretty much anyone else, but that doesn’t matter because she’s black, and a woman. How can she possibly wield this much professional power merely using her brain? (Y’all better hear that sentence dripping with sarcasm).

Anyhow, the press camped outside Olivia’s building to catch a flash of her, which is why I don’t understand why she made the rookie mistake of having the curtains open. Nevertheless, Huck takes care of the paparazzi sneaking pictures from the next building, and for once, I don’t mean he butchered someone. Olivia can’t turn away from what the press is saying because she’s human and while she doesn’t really want to know, she wants to know. She’s trying to be invincible in a situation where her Achilles heel of loving Fitz is threatening her entire existence of professional perfection. No one is that strong. No. One.  So when Olivia says, “I do not need to be rescued. I find that offensive.” I get it, but I also know there’s only so much she can take.

Meanwhile, Fitz is back to calling Abby “Gabby” because he’s still pissed that she (albeit with Olivia’s permission) threw Olivia under the bus to save him. I chuckle every time he drops “Gabby” because it’s petty and he does it just to get under Abby’s skin. Although he fires Abby, Liz tells her she’s safe because firing the Press Secretary in the middle of this scandal would be 1000 times worse than keeping her. That’s some kinda morale boosting speech right there.  Fitz realizes that he’s going to have to deal with his good ole boy party leaders, and tries to make a deal. Here’s where I almost went through the TV for the second time with the same person. The very same Senator Gibson who told Liz, “His whole administration he’s [Fitz] had these bitches lined up like planes on a jetway,” to describe the situation with Olivia later lectures Fitz, telling him, “Next time you decide to go outside of your marriage, choose yourself a girl who’s a little bit more palatable to the base. “  Oh. There it is.

I was waiting for this Republican to be a Republican. Olivia is the wrong hue to be the president’s mistress. You gotta give the old man credit for being so upfront about his racist, sexist, and misogynistic attitude. And then he can kindly hold my glass of wine while I beat the tar out of him with my sharpest pairs of stilettos.  Also, what it boils down to is this “family values” Senator Gibson leveraging impeachment against Fitz to get rid of The Brandon Bill. You know, the one law that Fitz has actually managed to get done as president. Oh and Senator Gibson will let Fitz keep equal pay on the table because so and so’s wife is nagging him about it (This episode reinforces why I don’t work in politics. I don’t have enough middle fingers).

Meanwhile, Jake is still visiting Papa Pope and they talk about The Louvre. Honestly, I use B613 moments to refill my drink. All I know is Jake and Charlie end up in France searching for stolen paintings because Rowan is working with someone on the outside and Jake runs into another spy, his wife. Yep. His wife, who now goes by the name, Elise. So, to all those people who said Jake is the better option for Olivia simply because he wasn’t married, how do like them adulterous apples? Welcome to supporting adultery. And before you come at me and say, “he thought she was dead.” Jake is a spy. You’re trying to tell me that he didn’t once go back and investigate when his spy wife didn’t show up for their rendezvous? Like ever?? He just walked away. Ok. All of this said, I’m all for the chemistry testing of these Alias-es, since we don’t know anyone’s real name in B613 anyway.


SCANDAL - "Dog-Whistle Politics" - Eager to get answers, Jake unexpectedly crosses paths with someone he thought he'd never see again. Meanwhile, Huck and Quinn recruit a familiar face to help smooth over the media storm surrounding Olivia, and Fitz quickly finds out the true cost of mercy when he discovers not everyone fully supports his actions, on "Scandal," THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) ROSE ABDOO, BELLAMY YOUNG

Photo Credit: (ABC/Eric McCandless)

With all this going on, Mellie starts her senate career with a meeting of the female caucus. They want Fitz impeached, but only with Mellie’s approval, and she doesn’t want to impeach him. I’m immediately suspicious of Mellie being a grown up over this situation. Because…Mellie. I do, however, have to give her credit, because her entire speech ending with “…They want to impeach a man because he broke his vows, and disturbed the office of the presidency, and distracted the country with his libido, and the ONLY person that gets raked over the coals is the woman he screwed!” Cyrus’ answer of “But, he’s a man” is everything you need to know about our country’s double standard when it comes to sex and adultery for men versus women. Granted, this is the same woman who thinks Olivia’s middle name is “Whore,” but yay for a moment of clarity? She even remains a grown up around Fitz and says that they should stop hurting each other and move on in a really cute scene with Teddy. Ok, but history is not on her side here.

One more thing about Cyrus and Mellie. When he lost he GD mind and basically said that his pain of losing Fitz (or being fired, whatevs) and not being able to help Fitz deal with his opponents trumped Mellie literally losing her child, I wanted to give Mellie those stilettos I woulda used on that senator. Mellie had more restraint than I think I could have ever shown. Cyrus needs to be welcomed to the Land of Perspective. He needs to have a seat in it, take a look around, and soak it all in. Also, he needs go home to his daughter, the one he didn’t mention. Bow down to Jeff Perry, though, because he plays that note of crazy perfectly.

Remember when I said no one can survive this tsunami of media coverage? When Liv says to Fitz  she’s losing it, but “only a little,” it breaks my heart because she’s trying so hard to keep her grip on sanity and it’s slipping. Even more important is her read of the Internet that is 100 percent true:

“A lot of anonymous internet people, cowards who won’t use their names, apparently want to have me killed. Also raped. How come whenever a woman does something people don’t like, the only way men on the internet know how to express themselves is by threatening rape….I have at least a thousand threats of rape here. Just on this one site, from guys who are mad that I had the audacity to born female, and black.”

All you have to do is look at any comments section of any article on the web to see this in action. It’s the dark alley of the Internet.

Photo Credit: (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Photo Credit: (ABC/Eric McCandless)

But back to the good stuff: Marcus. I thoroughly enjoyed the homage to Harrison, with Quinn trying to hire Marcus the same way Harrison hired her. I still miss Harrison by the way. Marcus comes around after initially turning Quinn’s job offer down flat. What I love about him already is that he reads a situation and takes action. Like changing the dialogue of Olivia’s name in the press, and it’s about time. He finally calls out the systematic racism Olivia faces in the media in their descriptions of her, her words, and every interaction she’s ever had with someone. It was glorious. Marcus can stick around.

Now about Fitz and the “smart move” versus the “right move.” As President Grant says to Abby, “I’m president of the United States. We work for the American people. The playbook is the Constitution. And my office is not about doing the smart thing, it’s about doing the right thing.” Meaning, Fitz isn’t going to let Senator Gibson kill The Brandon Bill AND he’s also not going to let Olivia continue to take the fall for their scandal.

This man rolls up to Olivia’s building, already surrounded by press I might add again, looking like the weight of the world has been lifted from his shoulders and he’s got not one solitary fuck left to give. As Olivia hears the motorcade and goes to meet him in the elevator, the 47 different emotions that cross her face are what killed me. She goes from irritated, to pissed, to incredulous, to annoyed, to “oh, you really gonna do this,” to “alright, bring it,” and then the elevator doors open to Fitz standing there and she’s stunned speechless for a moment. And Kerry Washington did all without saying a word.

Of course, that fool comes swaggering in off the elevator with that little smile and I start grinning like an idiot. He’s there not only to take Olivia out for a date, but also to make out with her in the elevator, and hold her hand in front of billions as they walk out of her building and get into the car.  Go big or go home, yo. That’s how you do a public gesture. So, this together in pubic is for reals now. Enjoy it while it lasts, people. The rug snatching is coming.

Mellie, of course, sees this and then calls the female caucus together to get the ball rolling on Fitz’s impeachment. Raise your hand if your surprised Mellie did a 180 on being an adult. *sees no hands* That’s what I thought.

What did you guys think?

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.

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  1. Your weekly reviews are the best! The always have a different perspective from the others..I look forward to reading them.

  2. OMG!! Where has this review been all the time I’ve been watching Scandal. This is spot on.

    I thought Fitz passed the Equal Pay bill, gun legislation (when that attorney General B613ed some guy to support it), and the Brandon ‘Police’ Bill all in S4. I could be wrong though. Also Education Bill in first term? But I gotta give you S3. That was a bunch of bullshit that we could never get back. However, the show hardly focuses on the legislation side of things so it’s hard to know what gets done tbh.

    I love your recap though and thank God someone is out here not bashing Olivia. I too chuckled at the Fitz ‘Gabby’ pettiness. Hilarious!

  3. Your reviews are a breath of fresh air for this Fitz, Liv & Olitz Stan, so thank you. I enjoyed this ep & even watched again. Loved Marcus & loved the ending. Not surprised at all at Mellie’s u turn, is anybody really??

  4. it is so obvious that people love joe morton as do i but please the b6-13 need to not be revised it takes away from the story so much. if re-introducing papa pope is to redeem him so that he can be the father olivia needs that’s a different story but that does not seem to be the case ugh. jake,clearly this story is to give him something to do on the canvas beside being olivia bff which i find extremely strange considering how he feels for her.
    why does shonda insist on trying to have jake stand on liv’s coat tail she has areal boy friend now and she should not be discussing any personal things with him. the new promo bothered me because she is discussing what she should do about being public with fitz and he tell her that if she does that she will forever be tied to the white house.
    did olivia not realize this when she said yes. scandal is at it’s best when there are things happening at the whitehouse and it’s in opposition of opa. the spy element could serve a purpose in moderation but i feel the writer’s are going to allow this spy thing to again become the focus and we as viewer will be turn off again. you can fool us viewer once but not twice if scandal wants to keep the viewer that have return so far this season and keep the buzz b6-13 needs to become a thing of the past and find a real reason for jake to exist because right now his made up story to try to keep him vivable is not working and nobody and i man nobody care about b-613.

  5. Yes, some people praise Bellamy for her acting which I find one-note with all of her rantings and ticks (teeth grinding, growling, eyes popping, etc.) but it is the subtle acting of Kerry, Tony, Artemis (VP Susan Ross), Darby and Katie which I appreciate the most. Kerry can convey so many emotions without words – she has what is called talking eyes.

    Cornelius as Marcus is already a great addition to the cast unlike the useless irrelevant Jake on whom they are still wasting screen time. Jake’s story line with his wife was boring and he was as usual too dumb to see he is being played by her. Cornelius came aboard swinging and made a real impact. Marcus got Huck and Quinn to finally get back to acting like the old OPA team instead of sitting around drinking and doing nothing like idiot Jake suggested.

    Whenever I hear B613, I tune out of the show. It is usually when I check my phone for messages.

  6. Great review, as always! I wish I found your reviews earlier, they could have given me better perspective on the show in the middle of S3 and S4 when nothing made sense and seemed to be tanking badly.
    Scandal continues to focus its attention on the things that don’t matter and don’t interest a lot of people (hello B613, Rowan and Jake). I also don’t understand why the strongest performants (thanks for the shout out to Kerry brilliantly delivering the pre-elevator scene, it was glorious to watch!) are given limited air time.
    I am also wary of the seeming stable Olitz, I suspect the show runner will change that before we go on the winter break?

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