Have you caught your breath yet? Tonight’s episode of Scandal did not disappoint and was filled with some huge BOOM moments. Let’s dive right in.
Instead of making us wait, the Shonda Rhimes-penned “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” picked up directly with the gunshots that ended the prior episode. The chaos and confusion surrounding the event were conveyed brilliantly with Olivia’s emotional confusion and, of course, a fab Mellie meltdown as she slaps a doctor with her bloody hand. Bless you, Mellie!
Once the docs work on saving Fitz, Olivia finds a Presidential flag pin and, if you know Shondaland, this is IMPORTANT. But, really, it is and we flashback to Fitz’s inauguration where he and Olivia (then White House Director of Communications) were already hot and heavy. We see her give him the American flag pin just before he was sworn in and we also figure out that Mellie, who is a lot sweeter in the past, doesn’t have a clue about their affair… yet.
One quick note – while some shows us flashbacks as a way to give a reprieve to the present day storylines, Scandal does it right. All the flashbacks inform our characters (some in HUGE ways) and also help the viewer get to know everyone a bit better.
One big thing I learned is that post-Inaugural ball, the President is allowed to have sex in the Oval Office. I’m speaking of Fitz and Liv, who get busy in the Oval Office with a steamy love scene. To their credit, the twosome acknowledges this isn’t really right but then Fitz says, “I can’t stop… can you?” So he does what any man (President or not) would do? He takes off Liv’s panties. BOOM!
So we can cool off, we meet up with present day, Mellie, who is mostly too busy at the hospital to be the bitch of the episode so that honor goes to Vice President Sally Langston, who sees her chance to grab the Presidency while Fitz deals with the small cast of a bullet in his head. And you gotta love Cyrus’s loyalty in ripping the VP a new one for her actions but she’s not backing down so this is gonna get good.
Oh, and Liv tells the White House staff (present day, mind you) that she’s back. We’re not sure yet what that means for the rest of her crew (who aren’t present too much outside of watching the goings on back on the office TV) but that’s for another episode.
New Prez Fitz is jogging with his Secret Service, who schools him on the surveillance cameras that are all over the White House but are not as plentiful at Camp David. BOOM! We’re at Camp David where we see past moments of Fitz, Liv and Cyrus working, Liv having a heart to heart with Cyrus telling him that everyone knows James is more than a well-dressed bestie and, of course, lots of hot and heavy scenes where naked Liv and Fitz taking turns slamming each other up against walls with appropriate moans and gasps (which may have been me watching the show but I’m still not quite sure).
And who is that long, shaggy haired and bearded guy helping Olivia? Well, flashback Huck, of course! Despite the rough appearance, he’s still Huck talking to the ground and not smiling (in other words, psycho and brilliant all blended together) and Liv needs him to look into some (gasp) voting machines in Ohio. Liv also gives him her keys and tells him he’s living with her now. Aw, Liv loves her people! (I actually appreciated that we didn’t have to go through all the current cast members and where they were. Wisely, we only see the people who were actually relevant during the past time.)
Past Prez and Liv share some passion-filled Shonda Rhimes dialogue on the struggles of their guilt-filled relationship: “I smile at her and I take off my clothes for you,” says Liv. “You control me. I belong to you,” says Prez. This doesn’t change anything but, hey, it’s nice to see they are having pangs of guilt in between romps.
Back to the present at the hospital, Liv needs someone’s help who can help keep Sally from getting hold of the Oval Office – Mellie, who snips at Liv but then gets that this is about Fitz so she agrees. Mellie needs something to wear and Liv ends up alone in The First Closet, which is bigger than most of our homes. Liv takes one of Fitz’s sweaters and crumbles to the ground. Again, while this scene could be stale or like something we’ve seen a hundred times, it really works.
Past Fitz wants Olivia to touch it. She wants to but she’s not sure. We’re talking about the Constitution, of course (what else?) And since there are no guards around to ask where their hands have been, even this feels nasty, dirty and really fun. But, the real point of the scene is they agree that they’re ‘in this together’ which makes the return to 2012 Liv crying tears into Fitz’s sweatshirt all the more poignant. An emotional BOOM moment, for sure.
Who’s that talking to the press? Mellie in full First Lady mode (pearls = sincerity mode) stressing that Fitz is still the President in hopes that Sally will ease up on her quest. (Sadly, my money is on Sally.) And, jumping back to the past at a photo opp with Fitz, Mellie gets the first inkling that the secret service may know something she doesn’t when Fitz cannot find the American flag pin. It’s a small moment but an important one.
Past Liv gets schooled by dastardly Hollis on how there’s often collateral damage when you do things like kill people for the greater good. Hollis is going to tag the blame for an explosion on a woman named…wait for it… Lindsay Dwyer… you know, a.k.a. Quinn!! (We don’t see past Quinn but another great example of feeding us delicious little origin nuggets brilliantly)
Mellie shows her first signs of being, well, Mellie. She lets Liv know that she knows all about she and Fitz getting naked together and, surprisingly, you actually feel sorry for the First Lady, which is different, right? The guilt gets to Liv and we soon find out the moment when Liv stopped working for the President when she leaves a resignation on the same desk where they recently boinked. Poignant.
And, because this is Scandal, you just know you’re in for some big end moments.
Sally Langston has gotten the support she needs to take the Presidency away from Fitz and takes the Oath of Office. BOOM!
Liv gives Mellie the American Flag pin to put by Fitz’s side as he lay motionless in the hospital. BOOM!
Now, if you didn’t notice, nobody has said much about WHO actually shot the President. The news report from guest Stephen Collins (yes, from 7th Heaven) tells us the suspect has a red hoodie, average height and build, buzzed hair cut… hmmm… we get to relive the President being shot, see the room where the shooter pulled the trigger, see the gun, see the red hoodie and, BOOM, see that it’s Huck.
End of episode. Did you see THAT coming??!!
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.