Things to Do

WashingTelevision: Scandal Recap, Season Three, Episode 17, “Flesh and Blood”

The penultimate episode of the season brings out the worst in everyone.

Olivia apparently inherited her mother’s love of elbow-length gloves—but not her love of anarchy. Photograph by Kelsey McNeal for ABC.

The amazing thing about Scandal—and Shonda Rhimes shows in general—is that each episode somehow manages to be crazier than the next, and just when you think you’ve reached maximum insanity, she blows the whole thing up and starts all over again. There’s just one episode left in the third season, which, despite being cut short by K-Wash’s pregnancy, has packed in more sex, lies, murder, and manipulation than I thought possible. Heading into the season finale we’ve got [spoilers] Huck and Quinn consummating their creepy bond, Olivia still torn between two men who are both terrible for her, Mellie finally finding out the truth about her son’s paternity, El Prez’s legacy hanging in the balance, Papa Pope fighting for his life, and a bomb set to go off in a church full of people, including Sally and Uncle Andrew. This episode was so overstuffed I decided to break it down by what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what I’m not totally sure I am following. Read on, then let me know what you think—and what I missed.


Drunk Mellie. From the way she clutched her coffee cup it was obvious she’d opted for something stronger than espresso—but even sauced and lurching around, she’s a force of nature. FLOTUS for President.

Everything about the Mellie/Olivia scene. It builds and builds until you expect Mellie to explode—and then Olivia shows that rare insight that makes her (made her?) so good at her job. Also Bellamy Young consistently nails Mellie’s numerous shades of grief, rage, hurt, shame, and desperation.

Cyrus going full-on, mustache-twirling evil. Perhaps his grief over James’s death has prompted a psychotic break, but the shot of him practically skipping down the hall after failing to report the location of the bomb is one of the most hilariously twisted things this show has ever done.

Quinn dropping real talk that OPA is just like B613. Somebody needed to say it.

Also, Quinn getting things done while Huck and Charlie fight over her like teenage girls.

Harrison calling Rowan “Papa Pope” to his face.

David Rosen. When Jake commands him to use his new software to track down Mama Pope, his response is, “But I missed orientation!” He’s not even taking the death threats seriously anymore. More David, please.


Gerry Jr.’s afternoon delight. His scheming girlfriend (Juliette Goglia) was an unexpected highlight—especially all her interactions with Leo, who continues to be the best—but if I want to think about high-schoolers hooking up, I’ll watch the CW.

Huck-and-Quinn hate sex. I hate everything about this plotline. And did I imagine this, or did Huck spit on Quinn’s neck and then lick it off? Just typing that sentence made me shudder.

Olivia’s constant waffling among the men in her life. At the beginning of the episode, she picks her dad over Jake. When her dad disappoints her, she runs right back to Jake. Then she tells Jake she still loves El Prez but feels something for him, too. Take a page from Kelly Taylor’s book, Olivia—choose you!

Russian roulette with Dominick. He wasn’t around long enough to be anything more than a plot device, but his tearful pleas for his life followed by his quick, grisly end were jarring. Also everyone treated his death so cavalierly—even Olivia seemed mostly upset by it happening in her office, rather than by it happening at all.

“Bring my baby home.” Maya is—as Olivia herself points out—constantly threatening to kill her daughter, and seems to just kinda enjoy anarchy, so why would she have any qualms about letting her estranged offspring die?


The paternity test results. Abby bribes the nurse at the hospital to say the results match even though they don’t, but then Olivia tells FLOTUS they can get another test done if she still wants it? Couldn’t they have just gotten the real results from the hospital the first time?

Mama Pope and Adnan Salif’s plan. Why do they want to kill the President? What does the Russian guy have to do with anything, besides showing up to spout various “death to America” sentiments? At first I thought it was dumb that they took pictures of Defiance High School and left them in an abandoned warehouse for Harrison to find, but then when it was revealed they were playing him, it seemed kind of smart. Still, bad guys with no discernible motives are not the most interesting villains.

Why anyone still wants El Prez in office. All these people are powerless in the face of their lust for power—but if power is really what they want, why not just get on Team B613?


“Olivia’s not here”/“I’ve been a bad boy”/“I don’t like you sleeping with Jake; it makes me crazy.” Can Olivia even pretend that El Prez respects her anymore? He lies to her face, then does exactly what he wants to as soon as she’s not around, then gets jealous and possessive of both her and his wife. If only he paid as much attention to running the country as he does to how his wife and mistress spend their time.

“Do not call me when this goes south.” I’m all for people calling Olivia on her shenanigans. If only Ballard could stick to his guns once in a while.

“I’m black. Sally does not have the NAACP.” I laughed out loud.

“If we’re going to die, can we do it now so I don’t have to listen to you two?” A drunk FLOTUS is an honest FLOTUS—and a funny one.

“I’ve been destroyed, while I made him President”/“You owe me, Olivia.” Her whole speech to Olivia was fantastic.

“No one’s killing anyone,” says Abby as they roll Dominick’s corpse in a sheet of plastic. Only on Scandal can the cleanup of a murder be funny.

“My father killed my mother’s lover in my office tonight. Like it was Tuesday.” Say that sentence to yourself and tell me it doesn’t scramble your brain.

“He took everything from me, and I enjoyed ending his life.” Kudos to the show for keeping Papa Pope consistent in his scary disregard for human life. It doesn’t look like he’ll survive the season, but he was a worthy foe while he lasted.

What did you think of last night’s Scandal? Got ideas for how the season will end? Let us know in the comments.