Scandal Review: Conspiracy Theory

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And just like that, Scandal does it again. I'm sitting here, mouth open, after the last 10 minutes of an episode that, quite frankly, changes everything.

"Beltway Unbuckled" revealed old alliances while also bringing about new ones.

Fitz Worries

Let's just start at the beginning, shall we?

David and Abby's encounter last week certainly wasn't a one-off roll in the hay. They've seen each other at least eight more times since then. In last Thursday's Scandal Round Table, we asked if David was using Abby for information or if something more might be blossoming between the two. The panel thought that what may have started off as a quest for information could turn into something more and it looks like we were right.

David's phone call to Alissa, his assistant, certainly made it seem that he was using her for intel, but halfway through the episode it became clear that Abby's done a number on David. There's something about the two of them together that works and I like where this is headed.

The case this week was a particularly tricky one that forced Olivia to turn to the White House for help. And she found that help in an unexpected ally: Mellie Grant.

Mellie wants to play a more prominent political role in Fitz's Presidency. She's tired of being relegated to photo ops and tv specials. There's more to Mellie Grant than just her hair and wardrobe.

Mellie Grant has moxie.

Watching Olivia and Mellie come together to outplay Fitz and Cyrus was rather spectacular, as was Fitz and Cyrus' reactions to seeing the women work together. It's clear from Cyrus' remark about his "playbook" that Olivia learned quite a bit from him, and since Olivia is still the character about whom we know the least, small glimpses into her history are always welcomed parts of this narrative.

Which brings me to the scenes with Verna, the Supreme Court Justice.

In losing Stephen, the show lost Olivia's human, non-romantic connection. She'd been vulnerable around him at some point and he was in her inner circle. Olivia's willingness to sit with her sick friend during chemo treatments says that this is a person about whom Olivia cares deeply. This isn't just a client whose hand she's holding while they sort things out. Verna knows her and knows her history with Fitz.

A history which, at least for the time being, seems to be coming to an end.

While I appreciate their romantic conflict, and while I can see the love in the President stooping to put on her shoes, his words last week hit below the belt and sort of soured me on the Fitz and Olivia romance.

But then, here, their shared realization that this is a star-crossed love, doomed from the beginning by circumstances begun before they ever met, might've had me a little misty-eyed. As they sat there in that cafe and she asked the question "Where can this go, really?" my heart broke a little for the two of them. So much sadness! They play desperation so well. (Almost the entire scene from the cafe is recapped on the Scandal quotes page.)

And that brings us to about the last, jam-packed, story-propelling few minutes.

Huck's off the wagon. When he confronted the victim's father and tried to convince the man not to do what Huck instinctively knew the man was thinking, I thought it was perhaps part of his attempt to stay sober. That in convincing this man not to go after his daughter's murderer, he was somehow convincing himself. I didn't expect him to murder the murderer, but more than that, I didn't expect him to like it.

His speech at the recovery meeting was absolutely chilling.

Equally chilling? That final table with Hollis Doyle, Cyrus, Verna, Olivia and Mellie coming together while Fitz soared to Tokyo on Air Force One. These five people have been at work since long before Fitz became President Grant and I can't wait to find out more.

What did you think of "Beltway Unbuckled?" What are your theories about Cytron?


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (225 Votes)

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.


You write very well!


I love Abby and her snarks :)
And I would love to see a bigger SL for Harrison and Quinn, and for them to hook up. :)


A conspiracy can be good television but it often goes too far/becomes ridiculous/ruins a series. I like the new Mellie/Fitz relationship. Please keep Olivia/Fitz apart for a long time. Too much angst in that non-relationship relationship. AA woman clasped Huck's hand :) Quinn and Harrison need to do more/ get out of the office.


shock. I don't like Huck's dexter-ish SL and I hardly notice Harrison and Quinn's presence, I hope they'll play a more interesting role in all of this soon. Can't wait for the next episode!


Great show and great characters! My favorites are Olivia, Fitz, Mellie and Cyrus, they're all equally clever and powerful in their own ways and with different motives. Mellie and Fitz's marriage was over long before Fitz ever met Olivia, Mellie's cheating before the campaign killed it for good, she probably loves Fitz but she loves the power even more. So I don't mind Fitz being in love with another woman. Olivia and him totally have a future, all they have to do is to wait until Fitz is done with the presidency but Olivia is so involved in the White house scandals they can't stay apart and it makes things more difficult for them. I don't think these two can just decide to move on, they can't, that's the point of the show, I don't buy the break up. The secret meeting scene was really unexpected with Mellie and Olivia being part (together!) of a major potential scandal. Before that Fitz kept repeating "they worked together" there is definitely more to it and Fitz is about to have a big shock. How are they going to handle David's case? He's not giving up the diggings and he's teaming up with Abby and Alissa, the scandal will eventually come out. I don't like Huck's Dexter-ish SL and I hardly notice Harrison and Quinn presence. Can't wait for the next episode!


OMMMMGGGG this show just keeps getting better and better, I was like HOLY FUCK in that last scene, shonda rhimes is a freaking genius!!!!!


I don't know what to say. This show is soooo good. I'm glad Fitz got some balls though to tell Olivia it's over, but I know of course that won't last. Poor thing. He looked so sad sitting there all by himself in Airforce One while a secret meeting was going on. I like Mellie and how she stands up to him. I also like how they stopped pretending when they're together that they like each other. Great for some laughs. I don't feel Abby will really betray Olivia. She was questioning David, not giving information. So I'm invested in seeing where that is going.


Niki and Dawn, you both expressed what I was feeling about this episode perfectly! And I could totally "ship" a friendship between Mellie and Olivia, because, as you pointed out, they are two sides of the same coin, both manipulative, just one uses her powers for her own gain, mainly (Mellie) and the other uses her powers for others, (Olivia). I, too, cheered and laughed like Fitz when he noted that two women had just outmaneuvered him, Cyrus, and his staff. Oh, and I love the fact that Cyrus often gets really pithy, honest lines that are delivered with precision and guts by an amazing actor. But I have to say that the group that got together at the end sent chills of foreboding up my spine. I am also worried about Huck's sanity, and as Dawn said, his relationship to 'whiskey' and being off the wagon has become scary. Abby is also scary with her jumping to help David and basically selling out Olivia, her employer. Eeek. This show is fantastic. Excellently written and acted.


I actually disagree with those that call the President weak because his people can talk to him. We are talking about his wife and his mistress. Those people can talk to you anyway they please. You are not THE PRESIDENT when you are with them, you are the guy they had a soggy sandwich with on the day you met. Only a narcissist would expect those people to treat him like THE PRESIDENT. This President is clearly not that. Besides the minute people like Cyrus can no longer speak frankly to him, there'll be no one to tell him the emperor has no clothes when he needs it. It is not weakness when you are soft around people you care about especially if you are so much more powerful than they are. He has no need to prove he is powerful. He is THE power.


i might be one of the only few people who thinks this way what i don't really don't is how could a strong woman like olivia be weak around a weak man i just don't really buy it

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Scandal Season 2 Episode 4 Quotes

Cyrus: You can't be here.
Olivia: I wouldn't have come if I didn't I need a favor.

Mellie: I want a seat at the table.
Cyrus: You have a seat at the table.
Mellie: The kiddie table. I want a seat at the adult's table like I was during the election. Or have you forgotten how things worked back then?
Cyrus: We've all made sacrifices, me as much as anyone. That was the election. This is the White House and in the White House, this is the way things work.