Was anyone keeping score during tonight's Season 3 premiere of Scandal? By my count, Olivia's father Rowan is ahead, but it's really hard to keep track, given all of the impassioned speeches, revelations and flashbacks that were crammed into this episode. And by "crammed" I mean stacked neatly, ordered and timed perfectly with exactly the right amount of information to comfortably whelm us and whet our appetites for whatever's ahead this season. It's as if the series took a long, deep breath at the end of Season 2, and it's been holding that breath all summer. Tonight, Scandal exhaled and out came a whole lot of drama.
Spoilers if you haven't seen the Season 3 premiere of Scandal tonight!
"I am the hell and high water."
I was actually hoping to focus this write-up on Rowan, Olivia's mysterious father. But after a truly glorious confrontation between the two characters in Rowan's airplane hanger -- I like to imagine rich people have heavy conversations in airplane hangers quite frequently -- Rowan disappeared for most of the episode, taking his next rendezvous with his daughter to a parking garage. Far less glamorous, Ro. Rowan's "I am the hell and high water" speech is a strong indication that Olivia inherited her impassioned speech-giving abilities from dear old Dad. We know there's some family history that's gone unexplored, and -- vague spoiler alert -- the episode description for next week's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" promises some flashbacks that touch on Olivia's estranged relationship with her father. So we'll hold off on any more Rowan speculation until then, but given how little we seem to know about Olivia's background, beyond her preference for older, powerful men, I'm eager to see what's revealed there.
"I know the situation is difficult, I do, and I'm so, so sorry, but we have a job to do here and in order for me to do my part effectively, I'm going to need you to refrain from calling me a whore, at least in front of my face, alright?
It was looking like Olivia and Fitz were about to tell the truth about their relationship. Well, mostly the truth. They were going to downplay the frequency ("...and then ended, and then started again, and then ended, and then started again.") to imply that it was just a two-night stand, once after the inauguration and once after Fitz got shot. Olivia seemed to think that the whole thing would blow over before the Primaries. I'm really not so sure about that, but in her mind, it would all work out.
And then Cyrus and Olivia's Gladiatiors and Mellie teamed up to pin the affair on Janine, the Communications something or other at the White House. With some emails and a video of a drunk Janine professing Fitz's hotness, the spotlight was turned on her and away from Fitz. And that's when Mellie laid into Fitz in a speech that flexed Bellamy Young's dramatic muscles beautifully. That woman sure can deliver a monologue, can't she? Dying rose on a vine, was it? Hardly! She may not be running the CIA, but Mellie's got her eye on her "idealistic, romantic, optimistic, idiotic husband" and she knows it was him that leaked Olivia's name, thinking things would work out pretty much how he and Olivia were planning to work them out. Point to Mellie! But then Fitz turned it around on his wife and said his plea for forgiveness was just an act. Thanks for that, Fitz. I still can't get the picture of your face nuzzling her knee out of my head.
So Fitz and Mellie are at war! And that should be fun to watch.
As if all of the above weren't enough to pack the episode, out comes Charlie, making us think James was dead - gasp - but no, not dead. Just drugged. Charlie snatched Cyrus and brought him to Rowan, who revealed some secret file about "Operation Remington," a mission Fitz and Jake were on. Whatever was in that file -- whatever really happened on that mission -- shocked Cyrus. What's in the file?! Another secret, that's what. And I bet it has nothing to do with shaving.
Power has the power and since Rowan seems to have a lot of both, I'm thinking he's at the top right now, which is why I want to know more about this guy and what he's up to. But I expect that information to be wagged in front of our faces for at least the next few episodes, if not the whole season. And that's not such a bad thing.
The Final Score
If tonight's episode was a monologue contest, I want to declare Bellamy Young the winner for Mellie's "Rose on a vine" monologue, but I feel like we can't overlook Kate Burton's chilling rant at Cyrus, which included calling him godless for his homosexual lifestyle and expressing sympathy for his baby son, whom he dragged into it. You go ahead and continue to keep those personal opinions to yourself, Sally Langston. And then there's Joe Morton, who not only fits right in among the other impassioned speech-givers in this series as Rowan Pope, but delivered such a mesmerizing and commanding performance at the start of the episode, that there's no mistaking his character as any one other than Olivia's father... except he's also Rowan Pope, the guy with mystery files and Jake lucked up in a bunker. And let's also throw some points to Columbus Short for Harrison's "Are we gladiators or are we bitches?" rally cry.