Scandal, Season 3, Episode 3, “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington”
Written by Matt Byrne
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
Airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on ABC
On this week’s Scandal, Olivia faces down the mother of a deceased terrorist, Fitz and Mellie fight, Huck seeks revenge, and Jake recuperates.
At this rate, Scandal will burn through all of the major political happenings possible by the end of the season; thus far in the series, there’s already been an attempted assassination, several affairs, spy drama, information leakage, a mole, and now a terrorist bombing (plus next week’s promo shows Pope and Associates handling a sexting politician). Yes, Scandal‘s always moved at a rapid-fire pace, and no, Shonda Rhimes and Co. have never given us a reason to doubt the show’s ability to deliver week after week, but still, it’s three seasons in and certain storylines are beginning to feel a bit stale.
For starters, Fitz and Mellie have been at domestic war with one another since the very beginning. We get it–they loathe each other. They really, really loathe each other. Fitz daydreams about being with Olivia, and Mellie fantasizes about a world where Olivia doesn’t exist, and her husband still loves her. Unfortunately, neither possesses the motivation to truly follow through with achieving their idealistic goals. Fitz is still too dependent on others (namely Cyrus, the entire White House staff, and even Mellie), and Mellie keeps clinging to the foolish hope that someday her husband will return to her, which only reduces one of the strongest characters on the show into a joke. Laughably enough, the only thing hindering Mellie from reaching her true potential is her marriage to the Most Powerful Man in the United States of America.
However, the pair do possess a strange chemistry–for some odd reason, their mutual hatred for one another works incredibly well whenever they’re on screen together. Despite Olivia Pope being trapped in a room with a bomber and Huck hunting down the head of B613, the most electrifying scene of the episode is still Drunk Mellie chastising her husband and celebrating Olivia Pope’s survival. Seriously, no one delivers a Rhimes-ian speech quite like Bellamy Young (aside from Kerry Washington, of course), who miraculously manages to breath sympathetic life into an otherwise vile and seemingly-irredeemable character. She’s simply stunning, and never more so than when Mellie’s come out of a battle on top.
Another standout actress in the episode is guest star Cynthia Stevenson (AKA the mother from Dead Like Me), who sells Mary Nesbitt’s grief even when she straps a bomb to her chest and threatens the life of our beloved Olivia Pope. And how sad is it when Olivia has the truth the woman so desperately seeks, but can’t even tell her? Brutal. It’s hard to make an audience feel for a character in a single episode, but Stevenson manages to make you feel for Mary every moment she’s on screen.
Lastly, how great is it to see more of Jake and David again? Too bad Jake is pushed aside in favor of an unnecessarily dramatic A-story, and David acts uncharacteristically flippant toward Olivia, who’s literally next to a woman strapped with bombs as she’s speaking to him. Only four episodes ago (in the season 2 finale), Rosen was delivering Olivia a literal white hat. Now he’s pretending he wouldn’t even be sad if she died? Not okay. And seriously, more Scott Foley please. He has too much charisma and chemistry with Olivia (and everyone, really) to shove in the hypothetical corner.
Minor flaws aside, “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington” is still a quality episode of television and a respectable addition to Scandal‘s third season.