When “Scandal” first premiered, Mellie Grant, as played by Bellamy Young, was nothing more than a Machiavellian Lady MacBeth — the cold, villainous obstacle standing between our hero Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and the love of her life, President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn). But as the series has progressed, and as Thursday’s (Nov. 14) episode made abundantly clear, Mellie has morphed into the tragic center of the hit ABC show; a woman who, if you’re not rooting for yet, you ought to be.
Viewers have always had an idea of the sacrifices Mellie has made in her life so that Fitz could become, remain and succeed as President of the United States. We’ve heard about how she gave up her career as a lawyer, watched as she stood by a man who threw his love for another in her face; but it wasn’t until tonight’s episode that the series seemed to say outright: “If you aren’t Team Mellie, what’s wrong with you?”
Sure, rooting for Olivia and Fitz appeals to the romantic in all of us, but maybe it’s time to let that go. Let’s take a look at what went down during those flashbacks to 15 years ago. A fresh-faced Mellie, full of hope for both her personal and professional lives, encounters the worst weekend in the history of weekends at her father-in-law’s (Barry Bostwick) compound in Santa Barbara.
Not only does a young Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) tell Mellie that she has to give up her partnership at her law firm, but any idea of having work of her own, but a drunk Fitzgerald Grant, Sr. drops the bomb on her that Fitz shot down a civilian plane over Iceland (revealing that Mellie’s known all about Operation Remington). All that alone might be enough to ruin a weekend by the beach, but then Mellie faces the worst: A drunk Jerry rapes her.
It’s a brutal scene, one made only more brutal by Mellie’s realization she needs to turn it into political collateral, rather than seek justice. And then the worst is hinted at: She’s pregnant. Possibly by her rapist father-in-law. Let’s say it all together now: Yuck.
It might be too early to proclaim Season 3 the Season of Mellie, but it sure seems to be shaping up that way. Bellamy Young absolutely kills every scene she appears in, something Emmy voters had better pay attention to. If this woman doesn’t score herself a nomination next year, something’s seriously wrong.
– Olivia’s still our main character, however. Tonight, she lets OPA in on the truth about Rowan (Joe Morton), Operation Remington and her mom. The team discovers Fitz’s dad led the Congressional subcommittee that investigated the “crash,” thereby proving he had a hand in the cover-up. They also discover a passenger named Omar Dresden was removed from the flight by an air marshal while the plane was on the runway. Omar’s family, however, believed he died in the crash.
– Quinn (Katie Lowes) fell for Charlie’s (George Newbern) ruse, hook, line and sinker. Her obsession with torture (a thing she pathetically tries to downplay early in the episode) leads her to inadvertently murder the one man OPA hoped to get more information from about Remington. “You belong to B613 now. Welcome to Wonderland,” Charlie tells her as he shows her the video footage. Yikes.
– Was anyone else really surprised that Daniel Douglas Langston (Jack Coleman) wasn’t exactly on the, err, straight and narrow? Sally (Kate Burton) was awfully certain that Mellie’s aide was lying, and it just seemed too easy that he’d be another philanderer amongst a series full of them. His flirtation with James (Dan Bucatinsky) was revelatory, but we should all be worried about how Cyrus plans to use his newly-unemployed husband in this scheme. No one should ever make bait of their (slightly unsatisfied) significant other. It’s just a recipe for disaster.
– Alright, now the biggest reveal: Liv’s mom is alive. It turns out Maya Lewis (Khandi Alexander) is Omar Dresden and has been imprisoned since the plane was shot down. It’s a bold move, one that could potentially resolve Rowan of some of villainous ways, but it wasn’t all that surprising. No show casts Khandi Alexander to just play a dead woman.
– “I don’t do family drama, ma’am. I have enough of that at home with my wife.” Oh, Past Cyrus. Not only were you stuck with a literal terrible beard in flashbacks, but you were rocking a metaphorical one as well.
– Adnan Salif Update: After last week’s much-needed Harrison (Columbus Short) story, involving a man with motive to kill the Gladiator re-entering the United States, there’s nary a mention tonight. Sure, Harrison thought he schooled Cyrus last week, but we know he’s still not safe. The slow burn here makes a bit of sense, as the character will never be important enough to follow up with week to week, but that was too big a story to have dropped last week only to entirely ignore it this week.
– Josie Marcus is busy writing a speech this week. Enjoy the time off, Lisa Kudrow, but come back soon, please!
– “The least you could do is be my friend, just a little bit. The least you could do is show up. Show up for me, Fitz.” All the awards for Bellamy Young. All of them.