Scandal-Ride Sally Ride-Kate Burton and Paul Adelstein

You can stop holding your breath now. The Spring Premiere of Scandal is finally upon us. “Ride, Sally, Ride” had all the potential one could dream of, with a few holes here and there. “Uncommon valor is a common virtue,” but not all of the virtuous can stay clean while achieving that title.

The Players:

  • Director: Tom Verica
  • Writer: Raamla Mohamed
  • Cast: Kerry Washington, Guillermo Diaz, Columbus Short, Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Perry, Bellamy Young, Joshua Malina, Scott Foley, John Tenney, Kate Burton, Dan Bucatinsky, George Newbern, Nazanin Boniadi, Sharmila Devar, Rebecca Lowman, Paul Adelstein, Joe Morton

Episode Title: “Ride, Sally, Ride”

In the wake of recent revelations everyone tries to gain their bearings as Sally delivers another blow to the White House.

The Good:

  • Straight White Male: The first decision made with Olivia as Fitz’s campaign manager was a point of contention between the two. That, along with his dismissal of her after their disagreement ensures this union will suffer, and provide the drama we love. Vetting Fitz’s former Lieutenant Governor was a brief testament to Olivia’s stunning abilities. With a few pointed questions, Andrew Nichols became employable thanks to his unrequited love, despite his lack of diversity. The writers stacked the deck though, because the unattainable woman Andrew missed out on is Mellie. Of course they buried the lead. Andrew’s comment on not being near her for 12 years means whatever happened occurred long before Fitz met Olivia. Does Fitz know? Is this why Mellie deals with Fitz’s betrayal, you know besides the obvious?
  • The Good Old Days: Joe Morton knows how to give a nice speech doesn’t he? Rowan/Eli’s constant refrain of, “the man that defiles you,” was unsettling, much like when your mom whispers in your ear. It’s an irritating and aggravating feeling you can do nothing about, which Kerry Washington played beautifully with. When a man like Rowan/Eli is slighted, he doesn’t make threats. He notifies the parties involved of their impending doom and sets off to make good on his promise. In case you missed it, he’s threatening death or something even worse — political annihilation. At the end of the night, a snippet of a meeting between Rowan/Eli and Leo Bergen was the only clue we have to what’s coming.  
  • Mustang Sally: Sally has already proven that she’s got moxy. Immediately turning on the administration that helped cover up her murder of her husband was the clue. Staying in office while splitting the ticket and going after the boss’s job though? That’s a beauty that surprised even us. Clearly Leo Bergen is going to do everything possible to give Sally an edge; his aforementioned meeting paled in comparison to his immediate outing (or re-outing) Olivia as the President’s mistress. He came to play people, and if this ensures more scenes with Paul Adelstein’s brand of gleeful evil then we’re all better for it. He’s the one to watch because all of Sally’s talk of the devil sneaking inside her means she might be losing it.
  • Madam Mellie: Watching Mellie bat about Olivia at lunch like a kitten playing with yarn was a joy.  This is where Mellie thrives: Putting the screws to her prey and masking her fury with a smile. Her list of men for Olivia to fake date was trumped by the ever present, always reliable Jake. Still, our hopes for Mellie to be given another plotline worthy of her could finally be rolling around. Whatever this thing was with Andrew Nichols is far from over. With any luck, Mellie is in for some well deserved fireworks.
  • The Flames: At this point it seems like an understatement that Olivia’s playing with fire. The night began with Mellie and the President’s head secretary walking in on Fitz and Mellie making out. Being that blatantly reckless is out of character for Olivia. Her attempt to quit was the real moment though. The flames were bouncing off the screen, drowning us in heat while Fitz passionately negated Olivia’s resignation with a kiss. It’s a fire that can and will consume them, but that’s why we all watch. We want to feel the flames; we want to watch them burn. Don’t be confused though, using Jake as her cover boyfriend won’t extinguish the fire. The jealousy keeps things interesting and more importantly, keeps Jake in the running. Who says Olivia’s not stacking the deck too?
  • Adnan Salif: You could waste time re-watching last night’s episode or you could trust our repeated viewings. Adnan Salif’s gender is never mentioned. It was unclear, as Harrison only spoke the name once to the woman he was holding a gun to before ripping her clothes off and slamming her on the desk. Still, the gender bending switcheroo is a classic Scandal move. The good news is Nazanin Bariadi, of How I Met Your Mother and Homeland fame is equal to the task.  The loud clamors for Harrison to be given in equal role are finally being answered. And if Harrison’s sleeping with someone he knows he can’t trust he’s really on the same footing with everyone else.

The So-So:

  • Women Folk: The elephant in the room was Olivia’s mother’s absence. The argument will be that she’s hiding, biding her time, but that can’t last for long. In the fall, the show took eight episodes to work up to two of the craziest weeks ever seen on television. This go around, we expect much less build-up, so we need to see Mama Terrorist sooner rather than later. Quinn is the real problem though: She’s now what exactly? Charlie’s assistant? Protégé? Girlfriend? It’s clear Quinn doesn’t like using children as bait, but working with Charlie all but ensures foul play. Obviously she misses the gladiators and Olivia is asking about her so why aren’t they back together? Olivia’s never been shy about charging into a room and grabbing her people, no matter how dangerous the situation. We’re in no way okay with Quinn suffering anymore consequences. Her entire life since the show’s inception has been one large penalty for being a jealous girlfriend.
  • I am Publis: If you couldn’t see that James was the press mole, then there’s this bridge we’d like to sell you. Truly, it’s ridiculous, and something Cyrus will be able to see through sooner rather than later. David played on James’ bleeding heart and won, without any scenes between him and his redheaded love we felt sad. Abby and David are the only moments of pure happiness we get on the show; it would be unwise to abandon that in these harrowing times. Especially when Abby is being bested by the likes of Leo Bergen on national television. Which, by the way, never should have happened. Abby is better than that. Now is not the time to diminish her presence.

The Quotable:

  • “Yes, my husband gave me a sweet government job. How is that any different than what he did for you?”— James

Overall:

“Ride, Sally, Ride” was more about the men Fitz trusts rather than the woman he never could. There is an obvious trend with the President’s confidants — they go after his women. Though there are a lot of grenades in the air, the Fall Premiere began in the same vein. Since the season’s been cut short due to a certain pregnancy, we’re going to need a much quicker payoff. If any show can make good on its twisty turny  goodness, it’s Scandal.

Rating: 8.5/10

Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Photo Gallery:

What did you think of this episode?