Q.V. Hough

‘Scandal’ Recap: Olivia Pope Needs Better Wine in ‘The Key’

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From 2006 to 2012, I worked in Los Angeles as Production Manager for the top vendor of ABC On-Air Promotions. One of the new pilots that landed on my desk shortly before my departure was Scandal, the political drama starring Kerry Washington. Although the first episode was entertaining, I remained oblivious to the sensational D.C. series until a late summer binge a few months ago. Now I’m all caught up and even more annoyed by the phrase, “I’m very good at what I do.” Scandal, you are the grandmaster of perpetuating this devastating use of American TV lingo. Still, I watch you. I’m your unassuming Gladiator.

Last night’s episode, “The Key,” highlighted Olivia Pope’s increasing vulnerability away from her bottle of red wine. It also stressed that she may not be the vino connoisseur we all thought she was. Of course, it didn’t come as a surprise that her father Eli (Joe Morton) would scoff at a bottle younger than 50 years of age. Olivia clings to her nightcap guzzle like she clings to her father’s calming power. Unfortunately, it’s the same power that makes Eli a masterful manipulator and career murderer. Heavy lies the crown.

I scratched my head a few times watching “The Key,” as Huck (Guillermo Diaz) allowed his ex-wife to walk all over him and put a verbal smack down all over his honesty. Why not enlist Olivia Pope to say a few words? That’s all it would take. Instead, Huck continues to politely stalk and freaks out when a doctor appears in place of his son. As viewers, we know that Huck has problems establishing and maintaining relationships, but Olivia’s loyalty could easily fix his family dilemma.

Overall, “The Key” produced several exceptional scenes, specifically Fitz’s (Tony Goldwyn) initial visit with Jake Ballard (Scott Foley). The plea from Mr. B-613 was emotionally raw and maybe the most honest moment of the season thus far. Fitz obviously has enough to deal with as President of the United States, but Jake not only stole his woman but also killed his son — at least according to Eli Pope. Yeah, why not believe that guy! Olivia even snickered when Cyrus Bean (Jeff Perry) offered up his thoughts on Jake’s guilt. Of course, he’s pissed because he thinks Ballard killed his husband — and he’s right. I believe this is called a “clusterf**k.”

What’s unique about a villain like Eli Pope is his physical manner of speaking and staccato phrasing. He starts off waving his left hand with a “boom-boom-boom” style of speech, switches to the right hand, leans back and slows up his verbal delivery (“He was OBSESSED…with you”) shortly before dropping the final blow. It’s great. Charlie Hunnam’s Jax Teller from FX’s Sons of Anarchy has a similar style but more contained (“I know…you killed…MY WIFE!”).

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Kerry Washington and Joe Morton

I wasn’t especially enthralled with the murderous story behind “The Key,” although I do like how Quinn (Katie Lowes) was able to “dive in”, so to speak, and find what she was looking for. The character was Scandal’s weak spot halfway through season two, but Qunn’s recruitment into B-613 gave her more to do on Scandal aside from Huck.

Next week, I’d like to see Olivia smash a $20 bottle of red wine against her father’s head and tell The First Lady to get a grip on her husband. We all know that Jake Ballard probably won’t survive this mess, as Fitz and Olivia are star-crossed lovers destined for Vermont carpet shagging, but it would be nice to see him offer some type of resolvement for either Fitz, Olivia or Cyrus. Most likely, Mr. Bean will get thrown under the bus.

The best line of the episode: “My predecessors were distinguished alcoholics.” – Drunk David Rosen (Joshua Malina) to Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield).

Scandal airs Thursdays on ABC at 9/8c.

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