Scandal, Season 3, Episode 15, “Mama Said Knock You Out”
Written by Zahir McGhee
Directed by Tony Goldwyn
Airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on ABC
On this week’s Scandal, the Grant children stop by the White House, Olivia struggles to separate her job from her emotions, Mellie gets caught on her knees, and Adnan dupes Harrison.
Though Scandal often throws humor into its episodes, rarely does the show deliver an episode that’s as downright hilarious as “Mama Said Knock You Out.” It’s a welcome relief after last week’s devastating heartbreaker, and a nicely contained hour of pure family drama.
This is the first time the audience has ever met the Grant children, and they didn’t disappoint–understandably, they’re angry at their father, the serial cheater (as the news paints him). It’s nearly impossible not to sympathize with their anger, especially when Fitz later attempts to hypocritically tear down Mellie for cheating. Added with the knowledge that she was raped by Fitz’s father (thus the reason for her refusing any and all sexual advances from her husband), Fitz’s verbal assault is almost painful to witness. Mellie’s near-attempts at finally telling the truth during the entire exchange are a brilliant character touch–it’s only a matter of time before she tells Fitz everything, and he desperately needs to know the full story.
Meanwhile, in a storyline that pairs nicely with the frontrunning Grant family drama, Olivia deals with both of her difficult parents. Now that Rowan’s on Liv’s side, their team-up should make for a nice confrontation with Mama Pope later in the season (because, presumably, that’s where the story’s headed). Too bad Mama Pope’s an underdeveloped shadow of a character and villain. She needs a bit more fleshing out to truly be a threat to Olivia and Co., especially since she seems to do nothing but lounge around a hotel room and yell (plus occasionally murder) her inferiors.
Now, onto the structure of the episode, which is seamlessly directed by none other than President Fitz himself, Tony Goldwyn. Scandal‘s had a distinct directing style since the beginning (i.e. shutter transitions, split-cut screens, etc.), so it’s hard for new directors to put their own spin on episodes. Goldwyn does a good–but unremarkable–job directing. There’s a moment where Liv and her father are on the phone, and the screen splits into fours–two black, with two overlapping shots of the duo talking–that feels awkward, but overall, it’s a decent foray into directing the show.
Oh, and there’s a particularly gross bit where Huck and Quinn swap spit–literal spit. Though the initial Quinn-licking-Huck’s-cheek moment is weirdly funny, the following awkward tongue-touching is flinch-worthy. Every storyline Quinn is involved in right now is covered in a thin coat of grime, and it really doesn’t need more.
“Mama Said Knock You Out” isn’t Scandal at it’s best, but it’s not at it’s worst, either–it’s just a decently entertaining hour of television, and sometimes that’s the best the audience can hope for with a show as consistently good as Scandal. Even great shows need to churn out an average episode or two to keep the show’s momentum flowing.