10/17/2014 01:54 pm ET

Why Mellie's Speech About Sex Tapes On 'Scandal' Was So Powerful


This Friday's "Scandal" hangover cannot be cured with a big glass of red wine. Instead, we'd like to bask in it. Thursday's episode, "Like Father, Like Daughter," broke boundaries for a few reasons. (Spoilers ahead, but you know that by now.)

There was mention of a sex act called Eiffel Towering (we dare you to look up), a tape of said sex act and, more important, the most progressive sex-tape talk we've ever heard from a parent on network television.

To recap: Olivia was called in to pick up the first daughter, Karen, from a party and bring her home safely without any photos or videos of Karen's wasted actions leaking to the press. Olivia succeeded, of course, until a boy from the party sent Karen a video. "The dirtiest sex tape I have ever seen in my entire life," in Olivia's words.

When Fitz confronted Karen about the tape, he quickly changed his perspective and asked her if she was raped. "It wasn't your fault," he says, as if something being done to Karen was, in a twisted way, better than if she had decided to have sex with two men on her own.

Karen's response: "Dad, I cut class. I ran away from my secret service goons. I helped some girl I barely knew jack her father's private jet to go to a party. I got drunk. I smoked weed. I shot up something awesome and yet the only way you think I could have sex with two guys is if I were raped. How lame are you? What they did to me? What about what I did to them?"

Later on, Mellie, who had spent the previous three episodes depressed and dressed in a bathrobe and Uggs, grieving for her son, tried her hand at parenting for the first time all season. What resulted was an empowering, emotional monologue about grief and sexual agency with Shonda Rhimes' name written all over it. (Mark Fish was the episode's writer.) "If you can tell me you had sex with those two boys because it made you happy, because you wanted to and because you felt empowered and turned on ... I would try hard to be supportive and happy for you," she said. "But I don't think that's why you did it. I think that you were sad. I think that you were feeling numb. I think that you thought feeling something was better than feeling nothing." Watch the whole clip below.