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'Scandal' Chat: 'Flesh And Blood' Was A Return To Form With An INSANE Twist

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A few weeks ago, we looked around and realized that HuffPost didn't have anybody recapping "Scandal." We are here to rectify that horrible error, just as the third season enters its wild and crazy homestretch. This week, Danielle Cadet is taking some Much Needed Time Off, and in her place is Johanna Barr, a senior editor and Scandal Addict Club Member at HuffPost. Today, we're chatting about last night's UNBELIEVABLY INSANE episode, "Flesh And Blood." Click here to read our thoughts on last week's episode. Also, duh, don't read this if you don't want the plot spoiled!

JACK:

Johanna—
First, thanks for filling in! Second, if there was any week Danielle should NOT have gone on a trip with her family, it was this one. Just when everyone was starting to wonder whether "Scandal" could pull anything off anymore, Shonda and Co. gave us a classic episode. Forgive me if I forget one of the roughly 75 plot points. Instead I'll just go through what made "Flesh and Blood" so good.

The Mellie Factor: Mellie has become my favorite character on the show — an operatic variation on the wronged wife, a combination of tragedy and steel, of brilliance and self-destructiveness, and the best damn drunk of the gang. Fitz just does not deserve her. (Or anyone, really.) Luckily for everyone who wanted Drunk Mellie to come back, our poor First Lady appears to have developed something of an alcohol problem ever since Fitz shut down the one thing in her life that was making her happy. Her scene with Olivia was perfect. Hell, everything she did in this episode was perfect.

The Evil Factor: Last week, I lamented that the show's typical moral ambiguity was beginning to harden into a kind of thudding and dull predictability. But even I was astonished when Cyrus learned that the bomb was going to be at Senator Hightower's funeral and decided he would keep that information under his hat. Turning the question of who will be affected by the bomb into a question about Cyrus's lingering threads of humanity is the kind of thing "Scandal" can do effortlessly when it's firing on all cylinders.

The Family Factor: Olivia's arc with Papa Pope was similarly satisfying. One minute, she's reeling from his cold-blooded murder of the man who cuckolded him, and the next she's desperately trying to save him after Mama Pope left him for dead. I think Joe Morton's gravitas has been overused on the show, so having him actually do something crazy and pay for it instead of delivering stern monologues on a bench somewhere was a very welcome change.

The Insanity Factor: Any great episode of "Scandal" goes for 11 plot twists when any other show would just go for one. The best parts of the show are when you think it can't escalate things any higher than it already has, and then it does. Oh, Papa Pope just shot someone in the office. Oh, now David is being threatened by Jake. Oh, now there's a paternity test happening. And then Quinn is back, and those Russians are involved, and there's a bomb, and then there's not a bomb, and then there IS a bomb, and then, and then, and then!

The Baby Bump Factor: My favorite hiding of the bump tonight? When they just plopped a television in front of it.

Of course, my biggest problem remains the B613 storyline, which defies even the logic of this deeply illogical show. The notion that Olivia, a private citizen, could "make the call" to shut down B613, or that its activities would be completely unknown to any other agency, or that Maya is still allowed to walk freely through DC and answer phone calls and appear on surveillance footage, beggars all belief. (And while we're at it, come on Harrison! Don't you know that all shadowy warehouses that are conveniently left unlocked with maps pointing to possible bomb targets are OBVIOUSLY a trap for you? I thought these people were smart!)

"Flesh and Blood" was gripping enough to make me forget that the show has made a hash of the B613 stuff, but still. Oh, and Quinn and Huck? Blech blech blech blech blech blech. Stop spitting on each other! I found watching them to be even more disgusting than when Mama Pope chewed off her own wrist, which should tell you something. I actually put the covers up in front of my face for a second!

The big question remaining, of course, is what will happen with that damned bomb. I'll leave it to you to guess. And I'm sure there are about 60 or so storylines that I didn't even get to. So have at it! What did you think?

JOHANNA:

Jack—
Thanks for having me! And I completely agree that "Flesh and Blood" felt like a return to form for the show. There were a few too many storylines, and it feels a little abrupt that the election is suddenly six days away, but I guess that's what happens with a shortened season.

You're right, Mellie was great this week. I loved it when Fitz was complaining that someone "out there" wants him dead, and Mellie snorted and shot back, "You think it's just out there?" And the Mellie and Olivia scene was one of the highlights of the episode. I’m glad Olivia saw through Mellie’s plan so quickly because it forced Mellie to come clean. I know people tend to think Mellie has the upper hand in their confrontations, since Olivia’s the one who is sleeping with her husband, but Mellie ceded the moral high ground a bit when she admitted to trying to torpedo Fitz’s campaign. “I want his head in the fire, and I want to see him burn” was a great line, and Bellamy Young’s delivery was perfect, as usual. We all knew her Big Gerry secret would come out eventually, but I thought it was interesting that Olivia was the one she told. Thoughts on whether Fitz will finally find out next week?

And like you, I was getting tired of Papa Pope’s monologues on park benches. It was nice to see him actually do something this week, and I thought his relationship with Olivia got a lot more interesting – I’d like to continue to watch that dynamic play out. Which is why I was so upset when I saw him stabbed and bleeding on the floor at the end. I really hope he pulls through, because it’d be a shame to lose one of the more interesting characters on the show. Also, after everything else she’s had to deal with, I can’t believe Olivia now has to come to grips with the fact that her mother stabbed her father. Poor Liv.

Jake is a ridiculous person, and the fact that he continues to think he has a shot with Olivia is kind of a joke. He should probably stop hounding her and focus on the fact that B613 has been dismantled. Just a thought! When he called Olivia toward the end of the episode to talk about his feelings, I loved that she basically ignored him and started going on about her parents and Fitz instead. Take a hint, Jake! It’s not going to happen! Especially not when you basically slut shame her in her own office: "All these years of thinking B613 is untouchable and all it takes to kill us is a good quick tug on a zipper." Olivia’s disdainful “Really?” in response was great. Shut up Jake.

Also, shut up Quinn! I’m totally over her at this point and I really did not need to see her and Huck have sex on a car. Whose car even was that, and is it broken now? Huckleberry Quinn should at least pay to get it cleaned. Also annoying: that scene where Quinn flounced into the kitchen at OPA and said, "It's nice to see you guys make your own coffee now." God, Quinn, even your insults are boring.

This week we met Dominic Bell, Maya Pope’s handler and also the love of her life, apparently? And then we said goodbye. Dominic, we hardly knew you! I actually sort of laughed when Eli said he was going to play Russian Roulette with him, just because the same thing happened on “Law and Order: SVU” this week. I guess all of TV’s murderers are pulling from the same playbook.

And Abby’s advice to David Rosen was kind of ironic: “As long as you’re useful, no one’s going to kill you. Stay useful, David, just stay useful and you’ll be fine.” I guess David’s going to die, then, because I’m pretty sure he’s the least useful character on the show. I feel like he just lurks in the background these days like that weird kid on “Hey Arnold” who Helga punches in the face.

Last, but not least – Cyrus Beene, what are you doing! Keeping the information about the bomb a secret was totally absurd but also completely in character. “Turning the question of who will be affected by the bomb into a question about Cyrus's lingering threads of humanity is the kind of thing 'Scandal' can do effortlessly when it's firing on all cylinders” – very eloquently put, Jack, and I don’t have much to add. I’ll just say that we’ve already seen Fitz, Eli and Jake kill large groups of innocent people for what they thought was the greater good, and they’ve all been haunted by the collateral damage they’ve caused. If Cyrus really lets a church packed with people explode just to get to Sally Langston, I’m not quite sure how he’ll recover from that.

The closing shot of the bomb counting down from an hour made me think the finale next week will unfold in real time. Maybe not, though, because then we wouldn’t see who wins the election. Unless there’s no election after all – maybe Sally will die and Fitz will just win by default. That’s not how it would happen in real life, but who knows with this show. We shall see!

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