Scandal Review: Heroes and Villains

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We may have lamented the lull in the middle of Scandal season 2, but I'm happy to report that after the past couple weeks this Shondaland drama is as on fire as ever.

If the first half of this season was dedicated to Defiance, "Snake in the Garden" just renamed the back half of the season "Albatross." Tonight was a return to form for this fast-talking cast of characters and had all of the the spark of Scandal season 1.

Reflections of Olivia

To discuss the myriad of stories presented tonight most thoroughly, we'll start running things down with our own Olivia Pope.

Olivia might deserve to be nominated for sainthood after not only helping Hollis Doyle but also defending him to her team.

They're under no obligation to help those who walk through their door and are free to refuse anyone at any time. Olivia, however, doesn't see it that way. Tonight she saw a man in need of her services and she helped him. A man who nearly cost her everything. A man who definitely cost her Fitz. 

Seriously. Give the woman a medal. Or a bottle of Cabernet. Her capacity to feel for her clients, to know them - really, truly know them - is unmatched. When the team would've put Hollis out on his ears, she saw a man who loved his daughter. And even though that daughter turned out to be playing dirty, she still tried to put Hollis' family back together. She didn't succeed. But she tried.

And she did all that on the heels of being threatened by the director of the CIA after Huck and Quinn were made as her associates. First Edison and now Osborne, do not go into the home of Olivia Pope and start bandying about with threats because the verbal smackdown she will issue will be more than you can handle.

Olivia and Cyrus had some excellent conversation, particularly as it related to Jake and their secretly shared interest in the Captain and in their mutual love of Fitz. The thing about those two is that they say so much without saying much at all.

The friendship between Olivia and Cyrus is just so awesome to watch. I still fear the repercussion when Cyrus' past sins and dealings with Charlie come up again, as they surely will at some point. Until then I'll enjoy their gabbing about red wine and popcorn and how Olivia should actually go on a date.

She tried to go on a date with Jake tonight, but something in her gut is telling her that there's something off about him. And her gut is never wrong, right? That used to be the phrase, at least. But then Fitz got into her head and messed her both her heart and her instinct so what would ordinarily send her running away from Jake has her spinning her wheels in one place. She can't seem to make herself walk away, but she also can't seem to make herself stay. Which is good since Jake is maybe crazy.

Not only is he spying on Olivia for Fitz, he also orchestrated the apparent suicide of Grayden Osborne, the CIA director and supposed mole. But Jake knows he actually wasn't the mole and knew so before he broke into Olivia's apartment to steal whatever evidence she and her team had collected about Osborne. He needed to see what she had and steal that intel so that he could deliver it to the President so that Fitz would order Osborne's removal and he would be able to fake Osborne's suicide.

What, exactly, did Jake tell Olivia he did again? Because he definitely probably lied about it.

Even so, when he talks to her, when he tells her that he might be good or he might be bad but then he lists all the things he knows about her, I want him not to be such a creep. I want him to be a good guy so that first of all, she can stop falling for guys who aren't good for her and secondly, because I want Olivia to find some happiness. (Jake's awesome speech to Olivia can be found on the Scandal quotes page!)

I think what bugs me about Jake being so mysterious and probably bad is that it's just a way to drive Olivia back to Fitz now that Mellie has sobered him up. It's pandering to the shippers and while they are vicious, Fitz is married. He and Olivia can be end game but not be right now, particularly since Mellie is the one putting in the work to make him realize how terrible he's been recently.

Her speech to him that he was becoming no better than his father hit home. That's the one man Fitz never wanted to become and here he is, becoming his father. Watching him reach for the scotch and then lift his hand away was a great moment for Tony Goldwyn.

Fitz has been so troubled after learning about Defiance. After learning that those he held closest and in the highest regard didn't believe him capable of winning on his own. It's no doubt a crushing blow to his ego and heart. But it's no longer an excuse for his behavior. He can't hide behind his betrayal and pretend that he's doing okay because he's not doing okay. I want him to sober up and get his head in the game, but I don't necessarily want him to have a reunion with Olivia. A discussion, perhaps, and one wherein he doesn't resort to calling her a whore, but a conversation about why she did what she did would be good.

And finally, speaking of doing what they do, Huck teaching Quinn how to be a spy are perhaps some of my favorite parts of the past two episodes. She's so eager to learn and teaching someone to do what he does gives Huck a purpose and direction that will keep him on the wagon and out of AA. 

He told her about his family beyond just the fact that Becky killed them. He has let her inside and it's such a fun thing to watch. Her desire to find him a family and then him giving her one instead actually made me a little choked up. Those two and their friendship is just so wonderful. I am loving every minute of their time together on screen. Every minute of it. Particularly when Huck is making fun of tiny dogs as not being real dogs.

Other notes from the episode:

  • Harrison and Abby had a really nice moment at Hollis' daughter's apartment. It felt like Scandal season 1 Harrison and Abby, in the times when she wasn't fawning over Steven.
  • David Rosen at Pope and Associates. Whose hand to I have to shake at Shondaland to make this happen on a more permanent basis? He's a fantastic addition to the team. Make it so, Olivia Pope. Give the man a job and not just a place to crash on your couch.
What did you think of "Snake In the Garden"? Do you think that Fitz putting down the scotch is a sign that he and Olivia will have a reunion? Is it time to make David Rosen a permanent fixture at Pope and Associates yet? Would you have helped Hollis Doyle if he walked into your office?

Snake in the Garden Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (145 Votes)

Miranda Wicker was a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in 2017. Follow her on Twitter.

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Scandal Season 2 Episode 17 Quotes

Harrison: Gladiator?
Quinn: Suit. Yeah. Yeah, I know.

Check my file. Half my clients have your pay grade or higher which means half my clients would happily intervene on my behalf and kick your ass in whatever special way their office allows. Which is why I suggest, Director Osborne, you leave my apartment immediately.