After season two’s one-two punch of a cliffhanger – where Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) walked out her apartment doors only to be greeted by the press all asking about her affair with President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), and then was ushered into a limousine occupied by her father, the leader of a secret government branch of secret assassins – it’s safe to say that the return of Scandal was a much-anticipated event. And it’s finally back, people.
The season three premiere starts off with the reporter who broke the story on Fitz and Olivia’s affair being interviewed on TV, while Olivia’s team frantically runs around doing what they do best – “fixing” things. By disconnecting phone lines in a panicky manner.
Back in the aforementioned limousine, Olivia breaks a twenty-two minute silent treatment to ask her father Eli Pope (Joe Morton) why he tried to have her killed. He clarifies that he was trying to have Jake Ballard killed – not her. When the limo arrives at its destination, Olivia sees where her dad was taking her: a private plane, destination Anywhere But Here.
Eli is adamant that she get on the plane, because shit got way too real and he’s supposedly trying to save her from it. He tells her all this by delivering a dramatic speech in what is apparently a Pope family tradition, and we are absolutely loving it. This guy is awesome. Terrible, but awesome.
Because her father is hella convincing and hella powerful, Olivia gets on the plane. Once on it, though, she makes one last phone call to Cyrus (Jeff Perry), who convinces her to get off the plane.
And she decides to take matters into her own hands.
Over at The White House, Cyrus’ master plan to save Fitz’s presidency involves him lying low until this blows over and having Vice President Sally (Kate Burton) make public appearances in his stead. Yeah, okay, Cyrus, that plan does not at all sound viable. Not that it matters anyways, since VP Sally outright refuses Cyrus’ request, saying that she will not support an adulterer. She makes it perfectly clear with a homophobic tirade what she thinks of Cyrus, as well.
Fitz decides to talk to Sally one-on-one. He personally apologizes to her for his behavior and manages to emotionally manipulate Sally into agreeing to the public appearances. (She seems to have a soft spot for Fitz.)
When Olivia arrives back outside her offices, the press is still parked outside and ambush the limo immediately. Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and Harrison (Columbus Short) manage to bring Olivia inside, where her team asks her what their next move is. Olivia tells them it’s being handled and to move on with business as usual, but is aghast to hear that all their clients have fired her. She immediately gets on the phone to do damage control, but it seems like too much damage has been done.
Cyrus talks to his husband and discovers that the reporter who broke the story talked to one of the secret service men – who knew about the affair – at a bar. He was drunk and ended up spilling the story to the reporter. Cyrus tells Mellie (Bellamy Young), who confronts the man and asks if he told the reporter a name. He tells her that he didn’t.
David Rosen (Joshua Malina) arrives at Olivia’s office and tells her that officially, as a U.S. attorney, he’s been asked to investigate the affair between the POTUS and Olivia, but unofficially he’s there as her friend. Aww, David Rosen.
He asks her the question that’s been on everyone’s mind – what is Olivia going to do now? Will she wear her white hat and admit to what she’s done, or will she go down the dark and twisty road?
Before Olivia can answer, her team rushes in and turns on the TV, where video has been released to the press of Fitz coming out of Olivia’s apartment. Cyrus, who is watching the same footage Olivia and co. are, resignedly tells one of his staff members to start a “kill folder” on Olivia. Whaaaaaaaaat?!
The audience – and Cyrus – learns that Olivia’s mom died in a plane crash when Olivia was just 12. After that, she went to all the best boarding schools. She never returned to the family home after her mother’s death, however (Cyrus is most shocked to learn this part). Olivia also attended Georgetown University, a fact that Cyrus already knew since he attended Georgetown, as well. Interestingly enough, there are no family photos. Cyrus is told that Olivia’s father works at the Smithsonian, which we know to be false.
Turns out that Olivia has a penchant for powerful older men. She dated numerous “silver foxes” and was a party girl for a while. Cyrus wants to play the “ambitious slut” card with Olivia, and from the look on his face, he’s not happy about doing this.
Olivia’s father pays Olivia a visit in the middle of the night. He offers to help her, yet again, but Olivia just wants to know what happened to Jake Ballard. Olivia’s father tells her that he refused an order, and he stresses that “no one refuses an order in my business.”
He also tells her that Olivia is out of options. Olivia disagrees.
Later, she ends up going to a secret location to meet with Fitz to the tune of super dramatic music. Fitz is furious, because apparently the codes she used to meet with him were supposed to be for emergencies only. Olivia doesn’t work in The White House anymore, so if Fitz were privy to information about an attack on the U.S, he would now have no way of contacting Olivia and getting her to a safe place.
Olivia coldly replies that this is an emergency, and that they all need to make a plan. “All” of them meaning Olivia, Fitz, and… Mellie. Oh man, this is gonna be good.
The three of them go back and forth on ideas for a bit (a conversation which includes some name-calling and yelling) before Olivia decides on exactly what to do – tell the truth, put their own spin on it, and hope that it’s put to bed before the next elections. Mellie is totally against it, and her speech about how tired she is of the fairy tales and the lying and of Fitz being in love with another woman is absolutely riveting.
But still, even after her blow-up and subsequent ultimatum, Mellie gives in and agrees to go with the plan of semi-truthiness, a defeated look on her face. Olivia and Mellie outline their story together: Fitz slept with Olivia only two times, once after his inauguration, and once after he recovered from his assassination attempt.
In the morning, Fitz meets up with VP Sally again and tells her that after he makes his speech, she should condemn him and use him as a stepping-stone to rise up the ranks in the party.
Elsewhere, Cyrus and Mellie make plans to stop the story of the affair from going public, and it involves the Gladiator team handing Cyrus a disc carrying footage of a drunken White House aide declaring Fitz to be “freakin’ hot.”
You guys. There is evil, and then there is EVIL. Guess which one this act was.
Now the press is buzzing with the idea that the aide is Fitz’s mistress, not Olivia Pope, and the day seems to have been saved… only not, because Olivia is beyond pissed off with her team, Fitz is pissed off with Mellie and Cyrus, and oh shit, we find out that Fitz was the one to leak Olivia’s name.
No wonder he was so calm and collected and comforting to Olivia, and so pushy about being truthful about the affair. That manipulative bastard.
Harrison tries to comfort a distraught Olivia, saying that there’s nothing wrong with self-preservation, but she obviously doesn’t want to hear it. She brushes off his words and tells him that they have a client – The White House aide – and they need to get to work.
The final heart-stopping cliffhanger of the episode, though, is Cyrus walking through his bedroom door to find his husband drugged and passed out on the bed, and Charlie – remember him? Trigger happy assassin dude? – pointing a gun at Cyrus’s head and bringing him to Eli Pope.
Eli raises Cyrus’ security clearance, and then gives him a file that details exactly what happened on a mission that Fitz and Jake Ballard did together in Iran. Cyrus skims the documents and then looks up, horrified, exclaiming “oh my god.”
And then a cut to freakin’ black. How could you do us like this, Shonda Rhimes?
A Few Memorable Quotes (because we can’t very well quote the entire episode, as much as we would like to)
Eli: You have to be twice as good – twice as good as them to get half of what they have.
Olivia: I am many things. Stupid is not one of them.
Cyrus: The people elected you to be the President’s sidekick, not the Lord. The Lord did not fill out his voter registration card, so guess what? The Lord does not have the right to vote in the United States of America.
Secret Service Agent: The President is with the First Lady. In private. Having personal… private time.
Cyrus: Fitz and Mellie. I’m sorry, you’re saying the President is off with his wife, with Mellie, having a quickie?
Secret Service Agent: They didn’t say how long they’d be. Sir.
Quinn: It’s not too late to turn back. Can’t we just kill another intern? It wouldn’t be that hard. [Gladiators give her shocked looks] What? A bad one! The worst one.
- This was such a terrific season opener! This episode had it all – tension, emotion, high energy and – of course – plenty of signature Shonda Rhime speeches.
- Olivia’s wardrobe is a huge facet of her character. Check out the white coat she was wearing in this episode here. It’s a Burberry Prorsum Caped Duchess Satin Trenchcoat.
- David Rosen wants Abby to return his calls. Do it, girl!
- He may be Satan but meeting Olivia’s dad was pretty fantastic.
- Eli’s speech about Olivia having to be “twice as good as them” was one of the best moments of the entire episode.