By the standards of “Scandal,” “Icarus” is a remarkably uneventful episode. Oh, sure, some mysterious brunet gets killed, Olivia confronts Fitz about Operation Remington and Olivia signs up to work with Josie Marcus, the single biggest threat to Fitz’s reelection. But really, the most memorable revelation in this hour is that, before she subsisted on a diet of Cabernet and popcorn, young Olivia was a fan of Fruit Loops. Shocking indeed.
That’s not to say this wasn’t a wholly enjoyable hour -- it was -- only that this episode was more about setting up all the crazy yet to come. And boy does it look like there’s plenty of that on the way.
Let’s start with Olivia, who snaps out of her semi-catatonic state to see Fitz. Her rationale? If she asks Rowan the truth about the flight that doomed her mother, he’ll have Huck and/or Jake killed. (Don’t you hate it when your parents do that?) Instead, she heads to the White House. Mellie, believing Olivia has come to tell Fitz she has agreed to work on the campaign, cheerfully greets the woman who only a few weeks ago she was calling a “whore.” (It really is impossible to keep pace with this woman sometimes, isn’t it?)
But Olivia is there on a futile mission to get an answer from Fitz about Operation Remington. Stonewalled, she asks Jake to dig up more proof of the president’s involvement. Naturally, things do not go according to plan: the “friend” he enlists to find the lost cockpit recording tries to kill him, then winds up with a bullet in her head. Jake barely escapes with his life, but given the mystery brunet’s apparent ties to B-613, he won’t be safe for long.
Meanwhile Olivia, emboldened by wine, asks Rowan if he gave the order to have her mother (played by Khandi Alexander in the flashback) killed. He says no, and also issues a bit of semi-threatening fatherly advice: “The past is the past. It’s best if you leave it there.”
But Rowan isn’t the only one who wants Olivia to quit digging. In the closing minutes of the episode, Fitz shows up at her door. She asks again about Operation Remington, this time revealing that her mother was on the flight in question. And still, he issues a blanket refusal. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Either he’s telling the truth, or he’s one scary automaton.
The tense state of affairs between Olivia and Fitz is only heightened by the fact that she’s doing a bang-up on Josie’s campaign, helping the candidate transform from Aunt Bee to Eisenhower. In the episode’s standout moment, Josie sits for an interview with James -- which, it should be noted, is so blatantly and insanely unethical it might actually qualify as the least realistic thing that has ever happened on this show. He’s expecting a softball chat, but, egged on by a fake campaign ad that Abby and Olivia somehow whipped up in their spare time, Josie goes on a tear. She accuses James and the entire news media of speaking in code about female candidates and, by interviewing her at home next to a frosty pitcher of iced tea, advancing “the idea that women are weaker than men.”
“Scandal,” for all the suspension of disbelief it requires, remains one of the most incisive shows on television when it comes to the issue of women in politics -- at its best, it’s just as illuminating as “The Good Wife” or “Veep.” And things should only get more interesting given Sally’s attempts to wage a third-party campaign, her “handsy” husband and her backfiring plan to woo leaders of the religious right.
Just last week I was grumbling that Harrison was long overdue for a subplot of his own, and my prayers have already been answered. It turns out a not-so-nice sounding character named Adnan Salif wants him dead. He’s out of the country right now, but with help from Cy, who’s angry Olivia won’t quit Josie’s campaign, he may come knocking on Harrison’s door very soon. (Whatever you do, Mr. Salif, just don’t mess with the man’s closet.)
Less compelling, to this here viewer at least, is whatever the heck is going on with Quinn. She appears to be morphing into some kind of bloodthirsty psychopath, spending pretty much the entire episode at the shooting range with that gun she bought in Montana. There, she runs into everyone’s favorite sweet-toothed assassin, Charlie. Clearly, this is not going to end well; I’m just not so sure I buy the transformation.