Open Thread: Scandal S03E02: ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’

By Arturo R. García

Olivia (Kerry Washington) faces bad connections all around her in “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.”

Upon second viewing, the thing that stands out about “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” is how it emphasizes the loneliness that seems to be at the core of Olivia Pope’s life.

Not to say she’s alone — far from it. But after the events of this week’s episode, it’s hard to think of any relationship in her life one could call good. And wonder where Shonda Rhimes will take that theme.

Whereas the season opener hit the ground running with the aftermath of Olivia’s affair becoming public thanks to her father, Heather Mitchell’s script this week pulls back a bit and shows us more of how Rowan became “the hell and the high water” where his daughter’s life is concerned.

While Huck is seen as the fulcrum of the Popes’ family fracture, there’s an increasing clarity to the fact that Rowan’s relationship with Olivia goes beyond “dysfunctional” into abusive tendencies: When we see them at one of their old Sunday dinner scenes, he insists that he’s “trying” to mend their relationship before berating her over the cost of the food and the wine; when she tells him about Edison, his first question is, “Is he good enough for you?” but then he orchestrates an accident for Edison upon their engagement.

To be fair, Olivia herself seemingly acquiesced to Edison’s proposal for the sake of pursuing her own investigation into B613′s activities and saving Huck. And similarly, in the present-day we see her reach out to Fitz in an effort to save Jake. But it’s striking how she’s still ping-ponging between all of these men to try and square her personal and professional lives, without any women in her support network. When something happens in Fitz’s day, Olivia’s the one he wants to call. But who does Olivia call? And after her trigger-inducing confrontation with Huck (and credit to Guillermo Díaz for conveying Huck’s own horror at what he did), who can she call?

The case of the week (the resolution of Jeannine’s efforts to avoid getting Lewinski’d, which is headed off at the tracks by Fitz, no thanks to Mellie) does the B-plot well enough; heck, the choice of “Disco Inferno” for this week’s music felt most inspired than most. But it appears that, barring the potential for a showdown between Fitz’s administration and B613, the season — and Olivia’s growth as a character — will hinge on all of us finding out what happened to her mother. And what her father had to do with that.

What did you think, Racializens?

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  • gillianrosh

    I feel like we didn’t learn a ton about Olivia that we didn’t already know. Difficult relationship w/her father. Perfunctory relationship w/Edison. Huck as her emotional touchstone. The flashbacks reinforced stuff we already knew.

    I’m more craving insight into who Olivia was before she entered the DC milieu.

    And Arturo brings up a great point: why does Olivia have 0 girlfriends?

  • http://molecularshyness.wordpress.com jen*

    I was surprised to hear that some fans hated this episode. I suppose we’re all watching for different reasons. I hate Fitz (despite his hotness), and I want Olivia to quit that foolishness and work out her daddy issues so she can have a good relationship. But I would really love her to have ONE female friend that she can really trust. No judgement – no fear – just a great woman friend (outside the beltway) that she can relax around. Ok. Maybe a little judgement. Maybe a little tough love. Because Olivia needs someone to tell her about herself sometimes – someone who she can trust. Childhood friend? School friend? Auntie? SOMEbody.

    Maybe she doesn’t have good relationships with women because she was unable to grow up with her mom around? Rowan is beyond a piece of work…I wouldn’t put it past him to have had something to do with the reason Olivia’s mother is out of the picture. I sure hope we get some flashbacks to childhood, for more Olivia backstory.