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Scandal, Ep. 3.10, “A Door Marked Exit” balances multiple characters without skimping on story

A Door Marked Exit, Tony Goldwyn, Scandal

Scandal, Season 3, Episode 10, “A Door Marked Exit”
Written by Zahir McGhee
Directed by Tom Verica
Airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on ABC

On this week’s Scandal, Fitz holds Rowan in the Pentagon, Quinn chooses a side, Olivia seeks her mother, Cyrus and Mellie help Sally clean up her mess, and B613 gains a new commander.

So, after last week’s stunner, “A Door Marked Exit” manages to keep the storytelling momentum rolling without a single bump–seriously, this episode is good. Everyone’s at the top of their game, and it clearly shows throughout the episode–after three and half seasons, these people have obviously mastered the art of telling a great story AND delivering a tense, climactic mid-season finale.

Of all the new additions to the cast this season, Liv’s parents have proven to be the best. Storywise, it’s been wonderful watching Olivia–one of the most powerful people on this show–be undermined and emotionally unraveled by her parents’ actions. Up until now, we’ve only watched the head gladiator handle other people’s problems (presidential affair aside), so watching her deal with her own personal issues has added a whole new level of insight into her character.

Also, watching the tension as Olivia attempts to determine which of (or if) her parents are evil is endlessly entertaining and surprising. Plus, Joe Morton is, acting-wise, a one man force of nature. Watching him tear down the president as Rowan sits, stripped and tied to a chair, is breathtaking. Though still relatively new to the show, he manages to deliver a Shonda Rhimes-ian speech so effortlessly you’d think he’s been part of Shonda’s team for years. Overall, his character’s incredibly well done, so props to the excellent casting and quality source material.

Speaking of great characters, Sally Langston is undeniably a vile human being (though nowhere near Hollis Doyle levels of hateability), but she’s such an elemental member of the team that she’d be sorely missed if gone. Forcing her onto Fitz’s team is a great move on Scandal‘s part, especially considering how easily they could have just bumped her from the show. It’ll be fascinating to watch Langston, arguably Fitz’s enemy, be forced to support the people she would’ve run against, especially considering her indebtedness to Cyrus.

And Fitz, who’s always been a bit of a lost puppy, finally gaining the upper hand over his enemies is a nice bit of payoff for people who’ve rooted for him since the beginning. Considering he’s The Most Important Man in the United States, it’s also comforting to see the man is capable of taking care of situations on his own, without the help of Cyrus, Olivia, or Mellie. And teaming him up with Jake is a move as brilliant as forcing Sally onto his side–the story possibilities are going to be so, so good.

Surprisingly, one of the few characters with the least amount to do is Olivia herself. She mostly orders others around and waits for results–the one exception being her confrontation with Papa Pope. Emotionally, this is one of the best scenes in the episode, and Joe Morton patiently compliments Kerry Washington’s portrayal of a desperate Olivia who only wants the truth. After her father’s refusal to divulge anything, it’s really only a matter of time before Olivia digs the truth out for herself, right? Because Liv Pope doesn’t handle rejection very well.

For an episode as packed with storylines as this one (seriously, just about everyone in the cast is given something substantial to do, and only some of the storylines overlap), “A Door Marked Exit” does an excellent job balancing the multitude of characters and their stories. Arguably, no one is skimped on a decent story (Harrison being the exception–maybe the next half of the season will finally give him something worthwhile to do?), and the episode ends on a decent, Scandal-esque cliffhanger. 

With so much set-up, the next half of the season is guaranteed to be excellent. Of course, with this great of a team, how could it not be?

Ashley Laggan


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