With “Inside the Bubble,” Scandal began laying the groundwork for the season’s biggest arcs, including another round of battles between Rowan and Jake, as well as an attempt to take down Cyrus from the inside (of his throat, apparently). The love triangle between Olivia, Fitz and Jake won’t really heat up until next week, but meanwhile, there was some filler about Quinn and the remnants of her love triangle. The most promising thing Scandal has going for it this season, though, are the journeys of two women: Mellie and Abby. Both are finding their footing, and in a best case scenario, they may even become allies. Hit the jump if you’re thirsty.
“Inside the Bubble” planted many seeds of uncertainty regarding almost all of the show’s myriad plots. Cyrus has been completely distracted by Michael, his business school prostitute, who is actually an agent for Lizzie (of course, Scandal being Scandal, alliances could change at any moment). For now, Lizzie is doing whatever she can to regain control over this rogue Republican President who is appointing Democrats to offices like Attorney General, and daring to fight the NRA (who essentially put him in office for his first term). This Achilles Heel of Cyrus’ has been exploited before (by James, for instance), but what Lizzie’s end game is, and whether or not she can get there, is a new twist on it that will be genuinely interesting to watch unfold.
Far less interesting was Quinn and her reunification with Charlie. It’s almost impossible to take Charlie seriously, because he’s proven innumerable times that he can’t be trusted, and that he’ll use any method necessary to get results. When he asked Jake for Quinn and then proceeded to mumble to her in the morning about being lonely and really missing her, one wonders — like with Cyrus — what happened to melt his blackened soul so quickly. Quinn makes out with him anyway, because she’s easily confused by the suggestion of others, and then gets pissed that OPA didn’t notice she was gone. Huck telling her he would look for her next time shouldn’t have made her as happy as it did, ether. After all, she might disappear in the future because of Huck.
Speaking of poor decisions and disappearing, was Jake laying his cards out to Rowan the smartest move? Rowan is pretty much the most dangerous man on the planet, and Jake telling him that he knows he killed Harrison and the President’s son in order to manipulate Olivia and Fitz into giving him his power back (both as Command and as Daddy) is really just goading Rowan to kill him. Telling Rowan to run? Surely he jests. And surely, he needs to show that material to Olivia sooner than later, or at least have a plan in place should he suddenly disappear.
But as I mentioned before the jump, the hour really belonged to two of Scandal‘s main ladies. What the show is doing with Mellie, in particular, has been a really interesting thing. The portrait of her grief over her son’s death is admirable, not only because it has changed Mellie as a character completely, but also because it is giving real time and space to her feelings. Grief is a tricky thing on TV; if a show isn’t devoted to the subject (like Six Feet Under or The Leftovers), then it’s usually an emotion and a plot that gets put away quickly. It’s so difficult to handle well, and it can stall out any forward motion. The fact that Scandal is acknowledging Mellie’s grief in a personal way for her character, while also allowing it to be a real part of the plot (even if it is in Scandal’s typical over-the-top way) is admirable.
As for Abby, getting out from Olivia’s shadow and establishing herself in the White House has been an important but difficult thing for her to do. Though she and Olivia are feuding, it feels petty, whereas Abby being called “Gabby” and watching as David Rosen gets toasted by the President actually stung. But as much as Abby wants to be inside the bubble — as Cyrus called it — to feel as elated as David did, and get that real chance at power, there’s another side to it. What she didn’t see was how David threatened to blackmail that judge, and how that led to the judge’s suicide. She also doesn’t know the extent of what the others inside that bubble have had to do to both get and maintain their power, and their wins.
Part of what “Inside the Bubble” dealt with was a question of what is enough. What Olivia is giving Jake is not enough for him, and he uses that to toy with her and make her consider her feelings for him. Charlie thinks Quinn is enough for him, but she needs “her people” (and, apparently, to remind them that they are her people). Mellie is satisfied in one sense that she was right about the bride not having killed her husband, but it being solved has left a void she doesn’t know how to fill. David Rosen is inside the bubble, and won a huge case for the President, but the consequences of that clearly greatly diminish his elation. And Fitz can’t stay away from Olivia, because nothing is enough without her (and yet, per usual, he does nothing about it).
Scandal is all about breaking limits and going beyond (sometimes far, far beyond) to get to the truth. What “Inside the Bubble” has set up is a suggestion that this season will be exploring those limits in new ways, and hopefully more personal ways, when it comes to what our main characters want. With OPA scattered to the wind and the President about to become a lame duck, priorities may become repositioned or reconsidered. Not to mention, white hats currently aren’t looking so white.
Episode Rating: B
Musings and Miscellanea:
— “You assume that because I’m a whore, I don’t have a brain” – Michael.
— Cyrus’ hair is really out of control this season. It’s more unkempt than Corey Stoll‘s wig on The Strain!
— Lawd, Michael telling Cyrus he’s thirsty, and following that up with “there’s a dry lump in your throat I can replace with something more satisfying” …
— “Have you gotten Huck to download the cloud, or whatever?” – Abby.
— I really loved Mellie’s obsession with the potential murder, and was sad at how awkward it turned out (especially after she used the resources of NASA, and soil samples from the Department of Agriculture to prove her point). Someone get her a new hobby, please. Give her some cold case files!
— I also really loved (G)Abby calling Fitz out for being an ass (more or less). But of course his pretext for their meeting was really just to ask about Olivia …
— “You are not my girlfriend; if you were, I would meet your dad — even though your dad threw me in a hole and tortured me” – Jake.
— “Ethically? You, rigger of elections?” – Abby.
— “You owe me a buck-seventy-five for that candy bar” – Charlie. Charlie is fine, and even pretty entertaining with his one-liners and gleeful killer persona (which is a lot more fun than Huck’s intensity), but his relationship with Quinn is a snoozefest.
— Jake, I hope you have a backup plan to telling Rowan “maybe you should go to an island somewhere.” He killed the President’s son, dawg.