Scandal, Season 3, Episode 17, “Flesh and Blood”
Written by Severiano Canales and Miguel Nolla
Directed by Debbie Allen
Airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on ABC
On this week’s Scandal, Olivia and Co. attempt to protect the president, Jake copes with the death of B613, Mellie seeks a paternity test, and Mama Pope hides a bomb.
Remember when Pope and Associates used to handle actual cases that weren’t necessarily relevant to their personal lives? Each week a new crisis came to Olivia’s doorstep, and the team pulled together to handle it–sadly, that team spirit’s been missing for most of this season.
So, in a move that’s possibly too little too late for this season, “Flesh and Blood” pulls practically the entire cast into Liv’s place of business and puts them all to work. Just like that, the fresh and fun flow of the show’s first two seasons briefly returns, and things feel new again.
Overall, the one thing this season’s done wrong is nix the case-of-the-week formula that drew viewers in from the beginning. This flaw has led to an entire list of faults, including Liv’s gradual decline as a character and a lack of structure for the entire season (the show used to operate on a formula that mixed a weekly storyline with a several-episode arc that worked beautifully, storywise). So, while it’s nice to see everyone in the room together, it’d be even nicer to see such teamwork on a weekly basis again.
As for Olivia, she began the series as an incredibly strong character. She had flaws, of course, but she was confident and intelligent and take-charge in a very admirable away. Then her relationship with Fitz took center stage, and suddenly everything Olivia Pope stood for fell aside–she became little more than the romantic interest for the show’s much weaker male lead. Though the addition of her parents to the cast gave Olivia Pope a new layer of depth and vulnerability, it’s still been a very long time since we’ve seen (other than a glimpse or two) the Olivia Pope the audience grew to love. Olivia Pope, and actress Kerry Washington, deserve more than angsty phone calls and lovelorn bickering.
Speaking of female leads, Mellie once again is given great material in a minimal amount of time. Don’t worry–she delivers her miniscule bits with ease. (Particularly memorable is her quip “you think it’s just up there,” after Fitz remarks that “someone up there wants me dead.) Plus, her internal struggles over the identity of her son’s father are being handled very well. Mellie’s a character who’s always been careful and calculating, so to watch her gradually unravel is as sad as it is fascinating. Bellamy Young clearly understands her character very well, and it shows every time she’s on screen.
In disgusting storylines of the week, Quinn and Huck have gross sex on top of a car while Mama Pope walks by and a teenage girl sleeps with Fitz’s son just to get some “man chowder” for Leo to use for a hush-hush paternity test. Seriously, Scandal? There’s no need to stoop to vomit-inducing storylines to keep up your shock value. No more, please.
The end of “Flesh and Blood” does a nice job setting up next week’s season finale–almost all of the cliffhangers seem especially promising, least of which is the imminent bomb threat (didn’t someone try to assassinate the president just last season? Do we really have to go through this again?). Oh well, at least B613 is still dead and in the ground.
Last week’s review can be found here.