Thursday nights without Scandal are like nights without stars. Kind of dull. Luckily, Scandal was all new tonight so our Thursday night was bright.
We got a little more of Mellie's history to help inform her present day persona on Scandal Season 3 Episode 12, as well as information about Andrew and Adnan Salif.
Oh, and Quinn still wants to be a spy.
Tonight kicked off with the reveal that Fitz and Olivia meet in hotel rooms for "campaign meetings" with the Secret Service parked right outside the door. Discreet they are not.
Nor do they do anything well together except have sex, apparently.
I read commentary this week about Olivia Pope the character and how she's supposed to be this strong woman who doesn't take anyone's nonsense, but we haven't seen that side of her of late. I was thrilled to see Olivia standing up for herself against Fitz's wholly disrespectful disregard of her tonight.
I've said it before but it bears repeating in light of tonight, Olivia Pope has to LIVE. She cannot put everything on hold in the hopes that one day he'll no longer be President and he'll leave his wife and kids and move to Vermont with her to make jam. That's not living. isn't something that can last. Can they have something forever? Maybe, but we don't know that yet and neither do they.
Their relationship is built on stolen moments in coatrooms with security details who are sworn to secrecy. They don't have the mundane "how was your day" conversations around the dinner table that are parts of long-lasting relationships, and it's almost like part of Olivia recognized that she needs and deserves those moments in her life.
And before anyone goes there, this isn't about Jake and a love triangle, though I'm getting to that in a minute.
Fitz asks her to give him everything, to sacrifice everything, and gives her little in return. He tried to stop being President, sure, but if he really wanted to walk away from the Oval, he would have. And if he had, she would love him less.
If these two REALLY wanted to be together, they would be, political aspirations and high-powered D.C. careers be damned. I'm glad to see her coming to the realization that what she has with Fitz right now isn't the kind of relationship that can last forever and being aware enough while in the midst of the situation to know that this doesn't fulfill all the parts of her which are important.
That's why she said that having Jake by her side was a conscious choice. He IS there for those moments. And he challenges her in ways that Fitz often dismisses her.
Before I go any further, I feel it necessary to state - though I know the Fitz Forever Fans will gloss right over this - that I don't care who Olivia is with as long as we see 1) a woman who respects herself enough not to put up with anyone's disrespect, 2) a relationship built on mutual trust and respect and not co-dependency and jealousy. Right now that's not her relationship with Fitz.
So. Back to Jake.
He's Olivia's beard, masquerading as her boyfriend for the media and sleeping over to keep up the ruse despite the fact that he does have feelings for her. And Olivia might have feelings for him (and he knows it) which makes this...wait for it...a love triangle, no matter how many times naysayers say it isn't.
Shonda Rhimes herself has written one and that's what we're dealing with for the next few episodes at least.
And you know? It's okay with me because it creates some interesting tension and lets us see a different side of Olivia so that we can make a more informed decision about just who she should end up with at some point in the series.
Maybe that's Fitz. Maybe it's Jake. Maybe it's someone we don't know yet. Or maybe she decides she's her own hero and doesn't need a man in her life. Wouldn't that be something?
Let's stop pretending like Olitz is the only reason this show exists. There's so much more to Scandal than that and I've just spent entirely too much of this review discussing it.
So much more to it like the reveal that Mellie didn't have an affair with Andrew but she did try to kill herself several years after Big Jerry raped her.
THAT was the moment which caused the schism in Fitz and Mellie's relationship. She can't bring herself to tell him, even after all this time, because there's probably a part of her that feels complicit in the attack. She's spent 16 years burying the moment deep inside.
The one time she tells someone the truth--the whole truth--he falls in love with her. But she does not cheat on her husband, even if part of her wants to. Will she now? Maybe. She might. She might see cheating now as excusable since Fitz has been carrying on a relationship with Olivia off and on for four years or more.
That doesn't excuse her by any means, but that doesn't mean she won't see it that way. Part of me really hopes she doesn't cheat though, at least not beyond the kiss tonight. (I don't mean they go on kissing. I mean they don't have any contact.) Part of me really wants her to stay true to who she's been so far, a woman scorned by cheating who wouldn't do that just to get back at her husband.
Mellie Grant is this interesting love-to-hate-to-love her character and nights like this one make her a stronger but also more broken woman.
But what I want from Scandal is TWO strong, somewhat broken (because we're all a little broken) female characters, and there's room for both of them without pitting them against one another all the time in a battle for Fitz. Or Jake. Or any man we haven't met yet.
Elsewhere on the episode when my mind wasn't thinking all of those thoughts up there, it was paying attention to the supporting plots, like James and David planning to have Publius meet a reporter to leak the Daniel Douglas Death cover-up to the press and being saved/foiled by Abby and Huck.
Bonus from that story, David and Abby are in love.
Huck, however, is a mess. His coffee delivery and begging Olivia for forgiveness broke my heart and, once again, I just wanted to give the spy a big hug. He'd probably pin me down and rip my teeth out if I tried, but he lost his only friend because of Olivia and that kind of blows.
Quinn is a good spy but not a great spy. Olivia makes her outside the restaurant where she's having dinner with her father and tells her to come back to OPA, but she can't. She won't. After her tech-stunt with Jake in Command's office, I expect Quinn to become a B613 operative soon enough.
Speaking of B613 operatives, Secret Service Agent Tom is a card-carrying member, regularly delivering footage of the goings-on inside the White House to Command.
Jake also received a Top Secret briefcase full of ongoing operations for which he's now responsible. Part of me wonders if the briefcase is a setup from Rowan Pope since the letter in the briefcase was from him, but then I think that's too easy a guess and Shonda's better than that. The stresses and demands of this job will get to Jake and part of the story moving forward will probably be Olivia trying to help pull him back from the ledge.
The ledge which Harrison seems to have fallen completely over after a roll in the sack with Adnan Salif. She's going to finance the President's re-election campaign because Cyrus is too power hungry not to take money from a known criminal who also happens to be working for Mama Pope.
What did you think of Scandal Season 3 Episode 12? Were you shocked to learn that Mellie and Andrew did not have an affair? Are you excited by Maya Pope's return?
Here's your first look at Scandal Season 3 Episode 13:
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.