Do you want to be a go-getter like those ambitiously inspired types on Scandal? They all have hopes! And dreams! And will achieve them, no matter what kind of torture-laden machinations or relationship-killing secrets they have to endure. This week’s episode, “We Do Not Touch the First Ladies,” was chock-full of advice for the budding Scandal-ite:
Vent your grievances to your boss/boyfriend in a private manner: First off: It’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf night at the White House! We open with Fitz and Liv (post-coitally, it’s assumed) screaming at each other over her supposedly fake relationship with Jake. The battle is a pretty great knock-down, drag-out, even with the distracting camera angles to hide Kerry Washington’s late stages of pregnancy, and Fitz’s lame platitudes like, “There’s a fox in my hen house.” Especially with the security detail, including Jake, stone-facedly guarding the hallway outside the door.
As we strive to remember a time when these two seemed to like each other, it’s commendable how Tony Goldwyn now portrays the weary, beaten-down version of the golden-boy candidate Fitz was only a few seasons ago, which makes clean-cut Boy Scout Jake look all the better by comparison (now wonder Olivia admits she might have feelings for him). Fitz can’t even sit up straight on the couch during meetings, for God’s sake. He’s swamped by security briefings while he tries to do his President job while running for President; it’s pretty lucky no major national crises exist during the reelection campaign, huh? Sometimes, Scandal’s version of the White House seems like a child’s version of an Oval Office play set: “Here’s the President! He’s doing so much paperwork!”
Rise above your personal problems to reach your ultimate ambitions: The real resurgence of Scandal this season can be traced to the awesomeness that is Bellamy Young as Melanie and the flashbacks that point to the beginning of the deterioration of her marriage to Fitz. After being raped by her father-in-law, Mellie could not bear for her husband to touch her and also couldn’t tell him why. Also, her consequent pregnancy made it unclear whether she gave birth to Fitz’s son or his brother. Well, that could make anyone call a shady drug doctor.
It’s quite a sympathetic turn for the First Lady, who was introduced to us as a woman who would fake a miscarriage to gain the female vote. Sadly, neither of the Grants can be held accountable for their marriage starting to fray, but neither of them were able to stop the eventual permanent rift. Mellie, even more ambitious than Fitz, knew that anything that could knock him off his presidential path would be fatal. But the stress took its toll on her, resulting in an Oxy suicide attempt that only Andrew can save her from. He even tries to cover up for her years later, telling her, “Someone’s got to look out for you, be on your side. God knows it’s never going to be your husband, so why shouldn’t it be me?”
Why, indeed. In one of the episode’s best scenes, Fitz, in a moment of great oblivion, tells Mellie that Olivia is not her problem (surely, she is nothing but). As he fiercely commands his wife to stay away from his mistress, Mellie succinctly cuts the chase and just wants to know what it feels like to be so hot for somebody that you can no longer function. The now shell-like Fitz seems shocked that Mellie is so insightful (when, frankly, she could give Olivia Pope a run for her money), and can only grumble, “I don’t have time.”
So when Mellie and now-Vice-Presidential candidate Andrew find themselves alone in the First Lady portrait gallery, she at first resists his advances, then probably thinks, “Why the hell not? What does it feel like to be that hot for someone?” Unfortunately, they stop at one super-charged kiss, probably the most passion poor Mellie Grant has experienced in over a decade. I love that by kissing Andrew she is not only fulfilling her own needs; dissing her husband, who is running on a loyalty ticket; but also flat-out defying Olivia Pope, who commanded her to stay away from Andrew. Well done, Mellie!
Make sure any fake aliases you may need to create in your career do not sound idiotic:
Best comedic moment in a show that desperately needs more of them: David and James arguing about James’ “Publius” informant identity, with David stopping to protest: “Why did you pick that name?” James admits: “It has historical significance; also, I never said it out loud.” But as Cyrus the snake gets closer to discovering the informant’s real identity, Publius may prove to be James’ downfall. What a dumb way to go.
Protect your new promotion by eliminating other distractions:
Jake receives all the benefits of his new post as Command this week, including “the highest security clearance of any intelligence officer in the country,” information on all U.S. nuclear sites as well as B613 efforts all over the world, with no interference from the executive branch. Scott Foley does a nice job in the scene in which he explores all of this, running the gamut from elated to terrified as he considers the gravity of his new position. Olivia Pope offers plenty of interference, however, as she wants the nation’s highest security officer to take time from his day to keep tabs on her dear old dangerous dad, who has sworn vengeance on her entire romantic triangle. Fortunately, Jake points out that he doesn’t have time to run errands for all her family drama, thereby becoming more attractive by the second.
Be sure to utilize your existing network of contacts: Huckleberry Hound impersonator Hollis Doyle, former fixer of elections, is now gunning for Energy Secretary, playing both sides against Sally and Fitz. Sally is a bit off her game, as she unfortunately still has to work in the same office in which she murdered her husband. I can’t wait for her to self-destruct in some spectacular, nationally televised fashion. Fitz doesn’t even want Doyle at the donors’ dinner, but as Cyrus points out, his money’s as good as anybody’s.
And probably better than that new donation from the terrorists, as Harrison’s old frenemy with benefits Adnan Salif entices him to launder money through a Grant reelection fund. In a nice plot-twist ending, turns out she’s backed by Olivia Pope’s own evil terrorist mother. That’s Washington for you: everyone knows each other!
Identify your possible conflicts with coworkers: Huck! Loyal torturing monster now reduced to coffee delivery person, in an attempt to get back in Olivia’s good graces. Quinn! Pointless waste of space: Does she think a pro like Charlie would not notice her tailing him? Would she really shoot a pregnant person like Kerry Washington? Olivia the fixer tries to get Quinn to “come home” (Why, oh why? Guilt, probably), but Quinn can’t go back to a place of employment where one of her coworkers tortured her, since Huck licked her face “like I was a piece of meat.” That’s not an issue to come up very often in the everyday workplace, and certainly a large issue for any HR department to tackle. Fortunately for Quinn, there’s another secret organization around that could take advantage of her very off-kilter skill set.
Find a need to be filled in your desired place of employment: So Quinn, of all people, realizes that Charlie likes killing people better than he likes computers, and then improbably finds some information for B613 that even B613 didn’t know (Bergen conspiring with Rowan Pope). Her Huck hacker training is possibly finally cracking that glass ceiling to get her into the super-secret spy organization, which Olivia predicts will destroy her.
So there you have it: all the tools you will need to succeed in the world of Scandal. Granted, it will undoubtedly destroy your personal life, and you may never feel safe again, but such is the price of power. And protecting the republic! Whatever that is!