Scandal Season 3 Premiere Review “It’s Handled”

Scandal Season 3 Episode 1 It's Handled (5)

Once again, the Scandal season premiere leaves me almost completely speechless and absolutely breathless. Right out the gate, this episode started with the kind of breakneck pace I’ve become accustomed to with this show. And it never slowed down until the closing credits. After waiting all summer to find out how the best-kept (and most open secret) in Washington got out, I’m left wondering, what could possibly happen next.

This episode put Olivia in a position that I don’t believe she’s ever truly faced before. She was the scandal. She’s the one who needed fixing. After it was revealed that she is the President’s mistress, the world descended upon Olivia and Co. in a way that it never has before. Olivia is quite comfortable being in front of the cameras when she’s handling someone else’s crisis. When it’s her own, not so much. She refused to let her team help her fix this because she’s so used to being the one in control. She’s so used to being the one calling the shots. She’s used to being the one that has the answers. However, this situation was much more personal than Olivia wanted to admit. She was scrambling to get her head on straight, and that process was made much harder by Park Bench Guy who we found out is named Rowan aka Olivia’s father.

There is something really off about this guy. Last season, even before we knew who he was, he kind of creeped me out. I couldn’t really put my finger on why, until he sent a hitman after his own daughter! Who does that?! He claimed he sent the hitman to kill Jake, but I don’t buy it. That was just a convenient excuse for him. Rowan seems to be the same kind of monster as Cyrus, only much worse. Rowan is worse because he lives in the shadows. No one knows who he is or what he’s doing, and that’s a dangerous thing. It’s truly dangerous for any entity to be able to act with impunity and without any meaningful oversight. That’s bow B613 operates, and that’s a dangerous thing for Olivia now that Rowan has decided she’s a threat to the presidency. That guy has some serious problems. On top of all of that, he doesn’t seem to give a rip about his daughter. He was exceptionally (and unnecessarily) cruel to Olivia when he was trying to force her to get on the plane and disappear. He wasn’t trying to shuffle Olivia off to save her. He wanted her gone so that he can continue to run things. I’m really afraid to find out what he’s done to Jake.

Something this episode highlighted is just how little we really know about Olivia Pope. When we met Olivia in the series premiere, she was already a fully realized individual. She was already known as “The Fixer.” She already had her Gladiators. Basically, we didn’t watch Olivia develop into the person that she is today. As such, we don’t know how or why she does what she does. How did she get involved in politics in the first place? How did Olivia and Cyrus become such good friends? Why doesn’t Olivia ever call or speak to her family? Some of those questions were answered tonight when Cyrus put together a kill file on Olivia after he decided to throw her under the bus. Her mother died when Olivia was twelve and her father sent her to all the best boarding schools money could buy. She graduated from Princeton, was a bit of a party girl, and likes older men. It’s also pretty clear that her preference for older men stems from the lack of a truly loving relationship with her father. That’s still only a small part of who Olivia Pope really is, but this episode fills in a few of the blanks about her.

Without Olivia at the helm, her team was pretty much at a loss as to what they should do. Harrison keeps trying to step up and take charge, but I’m not entirely convinced he knows what he’s doing. He’s a lot of big talk and hot air, but when push comes to shove, he’s just as lost as everyone else without Olivia. It didn’t help that Olivia kept pushing the team away and trying to figure out how to manage it herself. It’s rather interesting that in all of the chaos, the only people who were really concerned about Olivia were her team, David, and Fitz. It’s also quite sad that after all Olivia has done to help so many people, they would all just abandon her like that. Well, almost everyone. I have to say that David continues to be one of my favorite characters. Even after all Olivia put him through, he still considers her his friend. As her friend, he went to try and talk some sense into her because he could see that she was about to make one of the biggest mistakes of her life. It was a truly sweet moment for David and Olivia. David is a good guy and I hope we get to see the relationship between Olivia and David continue to grow.

Cyrus is truly a piece of work. I mean seriously. He begged Olivia not to leave, not because he was overly concerned about her. But because he was totally concerned about himself. He claimed he wanted to protect her, but he wanted to protect himself. But beyond all of that, he set up some poor innocent girl to take the fall and then had the audacity to feign concern and support for her. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Cyrus is a monster. There are no two ways about it. He is a monster of the worst sort, because his actions from time to time would seem to suggest that he is truly a friend. But make no mistake about it, Cyrus is a monster at ALL times.

Mellie is still, well, Mellie. She’s still lying and manipulating her way to…wherever it is she thinks she’s going. The Oval? The Cabinet? I don’t know. The point is, Mellie is not to be trusted any more than Cyrus is. Mellie just wraps the fact that she’s a monster in a sweet, innocent smile so people don’t see her for what she really is. Mellie has also made the mistake of thinking that Fitz is stupid and that might be her undoing. After Olivia, Fitz, and Mellie met in the bunker to discuss how to handle the situation at hand, Mellie decided to make a different move. She and Cyrus put their heads together and decided to frame that poor girl, and Mellie looked so smug when she revealed everything to Fitz. She looked and sounded so superior to him because she believed that, once again, she had bested him because she’s smarter. Well, she may be mistaken about that. Fitz was already way ahead of her and he let her know in no uncertain terms that she better hunker down for the fight of her life. This is a new ballgame for Mellie because this is a different Fitz. He’s changed the rules of the game, and she better be prepared for some curve balls. We should all hunker down because I have a feeling this is gonna get messy.

The person that probably surprised me the most in this whole evolution was Fitz. The whole world was spinning out of control around him, and he was the most calm that we’ve ever seen him. Now we know why. Fitz has declared war on Mellie, and he was making sure that Olivia is out of the line of fire. Fitz is the one who leaked Olivia’s name. Fitz orchestrated this entire frenzy so that Mellie wouldn’t have that particular card to use to manipulate Olivia. This was a surprising and completely unexpected turn for Fitz. It’s been pretty clear for a long time that Fitz doesn’t love Mellie, and to say that their relationship has been pretty hostile at times is an understatement. But until this moment, I don’t think Fitz has ever really tried to destroy Mellie the way he appears to be trying to do now. Mellie gave this big speech about how tired she is of Fitz being so openly in love with Olivia, but apparently she wasn’t the only one who is done. Fitz is done with Mellie’s lying, conniving, manipulative ways. He’s done with Mellie trying to handle him. He’s just done. He knows that Mellie has political aspirations of her own, and it appears that he’s ready and willing to destroy her future. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, I have zero love for Mellie. She’s cold, calculating, selfish and power-hungry. But on the other hand, in order for Fitz to win this war, he’s going to have to acquire many of the same attributes that I find so distasteful in Mellie. Essentially, Fitz would cease to be the very flawed but fundamentally good guy we’ve all come to know and love. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. I will say that it looks like Fitz’s love for Olivia hasn’t diminished in the least. He’s the only one who stopped to ask her whether she was ok. He’s the only one who (literally) provided a shoulder for her to cry on. Fitz may be going darker, but he still loves Olivia. I have to wonder how Olivia is going to react should she ever find out Fitz is the one who leaked her name. Maybe she’ll see why he did it, but I don’t think she’ll be pleased that he didn’t consult her before he did.

This was a seriously insane season opener. There are so many different directions the show could take. What happened to Jake? What was in that folder Rowan showed Cyrus? Are Mellie and Fitz actually going to destroy each other? Is Quinn turning into a sociopath? So many questions! But I absolutely refuse to try and figure out what’s gonna happen next. Just when you think you have it figured out, the show throws you for a loop. If this season premiere is any indication, everybody better buckle up because we are in for one heck of a ride. So what did y’all think of this week’s Scandal?

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