Open Thread: Scandal S03E03: ‘Mrs. Smith Goes To Washington’

By Arturo R. García

Olivia (Kerry Washington) puts herself in the line of fire — literally.

Last week, Shonda Rhimes and company demonstrated the outlines of the box Olivia Pope is living in. This time around, we got to see how far that box extends, and who’s stuck in there with her.

To do that, writer Matt Byrne used another woman boxing herself in, only to sweep Olivia up alongside her.

In another effort to change the pace following the latest detente between Olivia, Fitz and Mellie, this time we see O follow her instincts right into the middle of a hostage situation by her latest client, Mary Nesbitt, who seeks vindication for her son, Chris, who she believes was collateral damage in the “War on Terror,” killed during a raid. But in what she thinks is her last act before becoming a suicide bomber, Mary enlists Olivia’s help defending her character, just after the fact.

Huck (Guillermo Díaz) returns to the dark side, despite his best intentions.

But in twigging to Mary’s plan, Olivia puts herself in the line of fire — reluctantly at first, but then very much intentionally, in the most striking image chosen by director Jeannot Swarc. And after the past few episodes, it’s good to see both her and the show get away from relying on her entanglements with President and Mrs. Grant to buoy a story; you’ll also note that we did not get the usual old-school cut to usher us into the case of the week. (Which doesn’t mean that we’re ignoring Fitz & Mellie’s involvement; more on that shortly.)

Instead, the major developments this week concern Olivia’s relationships with fellow B613 captives Huck and Jake. While her relationship with the former seems to be beginning to mend, the latter is starting to fray, and both because of the control her father continues to exert. Huck takes a “personal day” to follow up on the information he forced out of Olivia last week and free himself by killing Rowan. Or so he thinks. Instead, Rowan maneuvers him into tying up a loose end connected to the mysterious Project Remington. And Huck, despite himself, not only can’t pull the trigger, but succumbs to the manipulation like he never left “the job.”

Naturally, having Huck — the anchor of the Gladiators most days — weep, “He owns me” into her arms makes Olivia wonder if Jake’s under B613′s thrall, as well. After a night of rest, Jake is back to being cogent, but still unsure as to how he got out, which also makes him a loose end. Or potentially a weapon.

Mellie (Bellamy Young) is NOT here for Saint Olivia.

What Olivia doesn’t know is that she herself is a weapon; at least that’s how Mellie sees her, as she confesses to Fitz in a moment of drunken … not quite courage. It’s unlikely she was ever scared to tell her husband that, but the sight of him shaken up over having to tell Olivia to lie to Mary and help the government save operatives (as well as more than a little face) was probably too inviting a target for her. Even if she suggested she wanted to screw him on that dinner table, she gets more enjoyment out of screwing him over. And having Olivia around helps her do that. Which traps Fitz in his own box.

But with Cyrus also stuck answering to Rowan, it can’t be long before he’s forced to take on the B613 boogeyman head-on. And if Huck can’t pull that trigger to sanction him, somebody else might have to. But would even that end the threat? And what does everybody do if and when Mellie and Rowan join forces?

Readers, your thoughts?

  • Nazanin M

    What I found problematic in this episode was the the mom (Mary)’s
    choice of weapon. My first response in seeing a bomb vest (or whatever
    it’s called) is oh, there will be a relation to Islam, Afghanistan, or
    suicide bombing. And it only took 3 minutes for the connection to become
    evident. What I found problematic is the enforcement of this
    stereotype. That any connection with any radical group is related to Al
    Qaide, and an American will never wear a suicide vest, unless there is a
    muslim connection somewhere in the story. It did bother me, where they
    could have just put a gun in her hand (which they normally do in the
    series and movies of hostage takers)

    • Berdawn Hutchinson

      All true, but depending on how she made the device, it would be much easier to get through a metal detector than another type of weapon.

  • mnelise

    Gah, Mellie and Rowan as a team, I hadn’t thought of that!

    Question – Does Cyrus know Rowan is Olivia’s dad?

    • aboynamedart

      I’m not getting that reading thus far. And with O and Cyrus seemingly at odds at the moment (do these folks ever just sit for coffee and … talk?) she doesn’t have the chance to tell him.

      • mnelise

        That’s for sure.

        Also, Cyrus was asking to see family photos when they were making the kill file. I was hoping for a big reveal!