Open Thread: Scandal S03E06: ‘Icarus’

By Arturo R. García

Unbeknownst to her, Young Olivia (Yara Shahidi) bids her mother Maya (Khandi Alexander) her final goodbye.

The thing is, Cyrus is almost right: This season is shaping up to be Scandal‘s version of “a Greek tragedy in the making.” He just doesn’t realize how far that could spread. He also forgets to mention that in the story that gives this episode its’ title, Icarus didn’t meet his fate entirely on his own — he does so with the tools someone else provided for him.

Rep. Marcus (Lisa Kudrow) is not here for your sexism.

Rep. Marcus’ much-discussed rhetorical pipe-bomb on media and political sexism is the episode’s most visible example. While the things she addresses all need to be questioned and examined, Marcus is goaded into making the remarks by Olivia and Abby.

And even if the short-term benefits are tangible for Marcus — an immediate influx in donations that should lower her Obama-like reluctance for political theatrics — James’ humiliated face is a signal of the line of attack she just gave not only Gov. Reston, but the people on the political horse-race beat. It’s easy to see Marcus having to defend herself against a narrative painting her as an Angry Woman, or worse, an Angry Woman Who Was Trained To Kill People For A Living.

Speaking of killing people, it now appears that Quinn doesn’t just own a gun — she is a gun, with Rowan and Charlie deploying a Sith mind trick (always there are two, remember?) designed to point her in the right direction. Anger, isolation, hubris — Quinn’s well on the path to the Dark Side. Best of all for Rowan, it gives him plausible deniability; after all, he said he wouldn’t kill Jake or Huck. Quinn’s not a B613 employee. Yet.

We now see how the loss of her mother has affected Olivia’s (Kerry Washington) socialization abilities as an adult.

Speaking of killing people, it’s looking less and less likely like Fitz wasn’t specifically assigned to kill Olivia’s mother as part of Operation Remington. And, highly unlikely that Rowan wasn’t at least aware of the nature of the mission, even if it brought him to tears. While we wait to hear the reason why Maya Lewis had to die (and for Khandi Alexander to get more chances to inhabit the role), it’s still good storytelling for Olivia to be able to blame this, specifically, for her inability to connect with anyone, something which, as we’ve seen, continues to haunt her in part by limiting her to precarious, at best, relationships. But getting even the first pieces of this puzzle buoys her into breaking away from Fitz (for now) and pushing her father for answers (or at least beginning to).

It’s at this point that we should consider this portion of Shonda Rhimes’ recent NPR interview regarding the show’s end:

“I knew the end of ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ and then we kept going, so that I finally just had to write that and move past it,” Rhimes says. “Who knows, at this point, how long that show’s going to go? It’s going to go as long as I feel interested in what happens to those characters.”

Not so ‘Scandal’ — most likely. Currently in its third season, it’s a “different kind of show.”

“It is very political,” Rhimes says. “The political landscape on the outside, in the real world, will change — possibly before Scandal is over.”

“But I feel like there is a finite amount of Scandal to be told,” she continues. “So I know what the end of ‘Scandal’ will be, and I feel really good about that. And I can see where the end point is. And I don’t think I’m going to change that. … I know how long I think it will be. But we’ll see.”

That landscape is becoming increasingly turbulent, since Fitz’s presidency was already under attack from at least three directions: Marcus’ rising candidacy; Sally’s bid to usurp the Republican party from under his nose; and keeping B613 at bay, all before Huck and Jake delivered their news to Olivia. Last week, we remarked that the road to the White House went through her. Speaking of killing people, Olivia now has the capability to lay waste to the whole of Scandal‘s political world. And the thing about tragedies is, they’re not known for their high survival rates.

Other Scandalous Thoughts:

  • So by my count, this season’s specific Death Pool should now have Harrison slotted in alongside Huck, Jake, Quinn and Rowan. It’s never a good sign when a character’s backstory comes out of nowhere.
  • As a rule, TV renditions of television news are marked by a streak of self-hatred (why else would Aaron Sorkin be allowed to do a series about it?). But even by those standards, the opening graphics for James’ Top of the Hour show are laughably, public-access-at-3-in-the-morning bad. Actually, that’s not even true; Wayne’s World had better production standards.