Open Thread: Scandal S03E05: ‘More Cattle, Less Bull’

By Arturo R. García

The Road to the White House now appears to literally go through Olivia (Kerry Washington) on “Scandal.”

Give writer Jenna Bans credit: “More Cattle, Less Bull” justified its’ rather fast clip by successfully showing why this show’s distaff circles have no choice but to stick around each other. It also delivers a major reversal of fortune for Olivia’s career, just in time for what will probably instigate the final battle with her father.

It turns out that the White House Correspondents Dinner ended with Olivia getting the last laugh. Not only did Rep. Carol Marcus go from firing Olivia to acknowledging that she was right on the money in calling on Marcus to reveal that the woman raised as her sister is, in fact, her daughter — a plot point that also allows the show to avoid making Marcus an outright clone of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis — and is now insisting that Olivia run her bid to win the presidency from Fitz.

Unfortunately for Marcus, she makes her pitch just a few hours after Mellie executes her own reversal of course. The same First Lady who gleefully slut-shamed Olivia to her face is now beseeching Olivia to “come back to us.” Mellie’s proposal seems to have been inspired by her catching Fitz and Olivia’s bathroom conversation. And Tony Goldwyn and Kerry Washington do manage to illustrate the chemistry between their eternally-put-upon pairing in that particular scene. They might both be antiheroes, but their connection is closer to Spike & Drusilla than Sid & Nancy.

Coming off of the heels of her hot-mic mistake, Mellie’s idea signals her admitting that whatever political aspirations she has are still tied to Fitz, and to his re-election. And she needs the woman he really loves to ensure that happens. And maybe even more importantly, to make sure he looks like he enjoys the process. Of course, nobody has accounted for Sally’s plan to run as an independent (Tea Party?) candidate, which stands to be livened up somewhat by the addition of NOAH F*CKING BENNET Jack Coleman. (Also, business is business and John Barrowman has the whole Arrow thing going, but too bad we can’t see Mellie’s Fixer go up against Sally’s.)

But just like last week, even without Olivia around, Fitz is made to feel “alive” by his conflict with B613 and the Project Remington cover-up. While Fitz is still pushing the issue head-on, though, Jake and Huck’s sleuthing seemingly pins him closer to culpability than he anticipated. Key word there being seemingly. Because it’s not hard to imagine that the “revelation” that Fitz was involved in shooting down a flight with Olivia’s mom inside will turn out to be a red herring, or that we’ll end up meeting the former Mrs. Pope, either in the present-day or in a flashback. (We’d also like to give a shout-out to Awesomely Luvie, who has already amassed a list of candidates for the role when the time comes.)

And if it turns out that Rowan was behind the death or disappearance of Olivia’s mother, then that might be the last thing to push her away from enduring those Sunday night dinners in silence and toward a more active opposition to him.

Quinn (Katie Lowes) finds a new object of affection.

A couple of random ideas:

  • If Fitz addressed the nation and said aloud that he had reason to believe that Rowan and the organization had “gone rogue,” would that not ensure he had to be kept alive instead of martyred, if only through the election?
  • The look Quinn gave her new gun — we think she picked it up from a Mr. Chekhov — can’t mean good news for anybody around her. Who do you think she’ll end up shooting first?

 

  • Blunders

    OK, so here’s how I see things playing out, even though I will definitely, definitely be wrong. Olivia’s dad cannot survive the season. He’s so evil and manipulative that he has to either die or be majorly incapacitated (coma from being shot in the head?) by the end of the season. So my question is: Who will shoot Olivia’s dad?

    The candidates are Olivia, Huck, Fitz, Jake Ballard, and, thanks to her shiny new gun, Quinn. These are the only characters for whom it would be dramatically satisfying to kill Evil Dad. Olivia, Huck and Jake all have personal reasons, and Fitz and Quinn could do it to either save or avenge someone they care about (Olivia and Huck, respectively). Come to think of it, Olivia also wouldn’t do it simply for personal reasons. She would probably do it if it involved saving Huck or Fitz. So here are my scenarios:

    Olivia shoots her dad as he is about to kill Huck after having caught him gathering incriminating evidence. This one actually seems unlikely to me.

    Huck kills Olivia’s dad just as he’s about to phone in a hit on Olivia, thereby saving Olivia’s life but also tragically indulging in his addiction.

    Jake kills Olivia’s dad, probably in a scene after the climax where Olivia’s dad, having been exposed and having lost all of his power due to some cunning strategy on the part of Olivia and Fitz, is leaving the country. He thinks that he’s gotten away and is on the phone telling someone “It’s time to start over” when we see that Jake is either waiting for him on the plane or piloting it or something.

    Fitz is boring and calls in the marines or something, at the prompting of Olivia. Then he goes on to be boring and whiny some more.

    Quinn kills Olivia’s dad after torturing him to find out where he’s hidden Huck, who was kidnapped in the previous episode. She thinks that she’s dong something good for Huck, but she’s actually indulging her inner psychopath, and this puts her beyond redemption.

  • ahimsa

    Thanks for the recap – love the Chekhov reference!

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

    I was talking about Mellie’s plea to Olivia with my sister, and we both felt weird about that scene. When Mellie said “Come back to us” it really took me to a place of revulsion. It felt to me like a 50s housewife asking her maid to come back to the house.

    I *really* don’t want her to work on the Grant campaign. I am tired of the back and forth with Fitz, and would love a break for half a season, at least. Maybe the reveal from Huck and Jake will push her away from him for a while. Maybe not. Who knows.

    • aboynamedart

      I still don’t quite buy Mellie’s pitch, actually; despite the “appropriate” score behind it, one has to think she’ll be all too happy to throw Olivia under Fitz’s campaign bus if the angle is right.