Scandal, Season 3, Episode 11, “Ride, Sally, Ride”
Written by Raamla Mohamed
Directed by Tom Verica
Airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on ABC
On this week’s Scandal, Sally Langston announces her intent to run as a third party candidate in the upcoming elections while still remaining Vice President, Fitz finds a new Vice President, Olivia and Mellie make an agreement, Harrison reunites with an old friend, and Jake denies Quinn membership to B613.
Thus far, Scandal‘s go-to formula is a melting pot of backstabbing, affairs, double dealings, and constantly-shifting alliances, and, three-and-a-half seasons in, this formula has yet to fail: “Ride, Sally, Ride” shows Scandal still knows exactly what it’s doing. At this point, most ordinary shows would’ve have faltered long ago, but not Scandal–this cast and crew shows no signs of slowing down or stopping.
Every once in a while, Scandal employs a new visual technique when telling its story; for this episode, Director Tom Verica chose to intersperse action with newsy black-and-white slo-mo shots of the cast as they would appear to others (i.e. Liv and Mellie laughing over lunch, while truthfully they’re expressing barely-concealed contempt for one another). While not necessary to the story, these shots add another layer to what the audience is seeing–we’re getting both the characters’ show for the journalists and gossipers while also being privy to the truth and the less pleasant underbelly of the campaign. Again, not necessary, but still interesting and fun.
One of the lesser aspects of the episode lies (unsurprisingly) with President Grant. Despite recent progress in his character’s development, he’s taken a huge step backward by acting, once again, like a petulant child. For some inexplicable reason, he’s chosen to take up drinking (and pouting) again, while also refusing to take Olivia’s advice, despite her repeatedly proving to be the absolute best at what she does. Though normally this behavior would be expected, it’s disappointing now. And why is it happening? No real explanation is given for Grant’s regression. Also, if Sally Langston weren’t such an atrocious character, she’d probably be the preferred candidate to win the elections; Fitz needs to up his game to prove to Liv and the audience that he deserves to be the show’s (and America’s) leading man.
Everyone else, thankfully, is still behaving like themselves, and a couple of great character moments arise out of the episode. One of the most subtle comes from Quinn, who gets a brief moment to glance out the window (after helping Charlie kidnap a child to blackmail the child’s mother!) at her friends, who she’s becoming increasingly distanced from. Katie Lowes expresses so much conflicting emotion in one glance that she turns an otherwise throwaway moment into a deeply compelling one. Meanwhile, Rowan drops in mainly to deliver a long-winded but brilliant Rhimes-ian speech, which he does so perfectly. It’s hard to make speeches like those sound natural, but Joe Morton easily proves himself a pro.
Though to0 convoluted and dramatic to be realistic, the second half of the season’s plot is shaping up to be a pretty great story–hints of impending conflict are being dropped, particularly where Liv and Fitz are concerned (he doesn’t trust her, she chooses Jake as her faux-boyfriend, etc.), so it’ll be fun watching their new drama play out. Also, does anyone else miss the Liv and Mellie friendship from the show’s first presidential campaign? Honestly, they should just ditch Grant and take over the office themselves. Oh well, at least Mellie’s finally being given a love interest (!!!) of her own.
“Ride, Sally, Ride” is definitely an excellent start to the second half of season 3, with plenty of twisty turns, new players, and burgeoning new drama–AKA the perfect ingredients for an explosive seven-episode run.