Hello, gladiators! Another week, another shocking bunch of events that make me question just what the Hell is going on in D.C. – and whether or not I should buy a one-way ticket there to view the unfolding drama with a front seat and some Olivia-favourite popcorn, especially after this week’s episode, ‘Boom Goes The Dynamite’.
In the beginning of the episode, David rushes out of his high school very quickly, clearly paranoid after being targeted by assassins while Olivia’s date starts off interesting when Ballard calls her out for being late, criticises the date and moves them off to sit on the Capitol steps (I think?) with a bottle of champagne. Things quickly turn into a work-date when Olivia questions him about Wendy and the ‘Albatross’. Their flirting quickly turns charged – although it’s interrupted when David breaks off their date with a worried phone call. Olivia and co. deal with their new situation – rather than David being framed, he’s gonna be targeted.
In the Oval Office, an angry Fitz is exasperated (and still drinking) as a result of the failures of the SEAL team and their failure to rescue the hostages. Mellie tries to comfort him to no avail and a new arrival interrupts her attempts at a balm. Ballard arrives, the pair sharing a friendly moment. Olivia’s two most recent lovers being all buddy-buddy? Ouch. And I thought Fitz’s moments with Edison would be awkward. They share a moment in which Fitz reveals the pressures of having too much power and Ballard reveals that he’s dating Olivia in order for Fitz to keep a track on her. Hence the literal WALL OF SCREENS. Sorry, Fitz/Olivia shippers, but that’s just too creepy for me. Getting your friend to keep an eye on the girl you had an affair with by stalking every moment she does in her apartment with hidden cameras is literally the creepiest thing you could do save for climbing into the wallspace and watching her personally. Shudder. Unless Fitz turns out not to know about the wall of screens, I’m not touching that ship anymore.
A new arrival – Senator Peter Caldwell, played by the handsome Eric Mabius of Ugly Betty fame – appears with a new case. His little brother Will, of the scandalous Caldwell dynasty, is trying to get elected governor in a Republican state but finds the rumours of him being gay are damaging his chances, especially seeing as he hasn’t dated anyone in ten years or even had sex in that long. They dedicate to get him a fake wife to help him sell his celibate self. As the team search around for a wife to fit in with the right religious ideals, Abby and David have some passionate love-making right on the team’ desk in the middle of the night – seems like they might be back on!
A hostage in the crisis is brutally slain on TV, shocking everyone in the White House and knocking Fitz’s already shaky poll points down a few pegs. He takes up Mellie (secretly Cyrus’) idea of a show of strength and it pays off. The twisted dream team of Cyrus and Mellie keeps on rolling, even though Cyrus is still pissed that he’s out of the Presidental loop. Mellie has her own plans – she wants to be part of the campaign with the SEAL team and Cyrus begins to set her up for a fall so he can be numero uno in the POTUS’ life, getting some advice from Olivia on how let Mellie trip herself up.
At the same point, Ballard – clearly gaining some feelings for an emotional Olivia – creepily calls her and asks her for a second date while watching her shaken, teary response via the screens. At least he has the decency to turn the camera off when she strips to change after shutting him down. That’s… nice? I don’t know, it’s all very creepy. At David’s high school, Huck plays bodyguard while David attempts to revive some life into his bored classroom with candy – we’ve been there, David, and there ain’t enough chocolate in the world some days. The rest of the team have been noticing Huck’s lack of cleanliness recently and it seems that his torture at the hands of the government is taking a hell of a toll on our favourite hacker. David meanwhile finds a new ally in Wendy’s BFF who sends them on the trail of a mystery man seen arguing with her.
Abby warns the girl chosen for Will’s ‘marriage’ and she backs away – Abby’s no stranger to a political marriage and doesn’t want someone else to be going through it. The plan still goes ahead with their adorable second choice, a first-grade teacher – although there’s a shocking break when information about the fake wife campaign is leaked and picked up by a DC rag. In the end, Harrison and Olivia run damage control, Harrison getting to the paper and offering them a better deal while Olivia attends Will’s campaign dinner where Fitz is attending and Will is showing off his ‘girlfriend’ for the first time. Plenty of smouldering glances and Fitz looks all kinds of conflicted and jealous as Olivia and Ballard share a flirtatious second-date convo. Now we’re getting all conflicted.
Harrison looks into the leak and Olivia realises that it’s Peter’s wife Mary who leaked it – because she’s the one who’s in love with Peter! Did not see that one coming! Will and Olivia share a conversation when she sees the pair kissing and she cuts him down because she’s been in his situation (hell she still is) and in a near-teary confessional admits that a pile of ‘secrets and lies’ are nothing on which to a relationship make. As Huck and Quinn searches for anything to help David, Quinn addresses his odour issue and he reassures her. He’s coping as best he can. Hopefully their new partnership can help bring him back into the light.
Cyrus’ plan is sprung and Mellie’s private, no-holds-barred conference with the families of the hostages is leaked by a reporter on Cyrus’ radar, destroying the recently built trust between Fitz and Mellie and restores Cyrus to Fitz’s favourite. Miaow. Olivia and Ballard continue their flirting over the phone as Will’s future-wife wins hearts across the country. Peter arrives, congratulating Olivia and admitting that he knows about Will and Mary’s decades-long tryst. Peter has set his brother up for success, allowing the affair to help his brother – but no longer.
Quinn and Huck issue their findings from a decrypted file of Wendy’s – she found a list of the hostages abducted. The secret CIA assets’ names were leaked to the terrorists by the same person who probably killed Wendy – criss-cross! Glad to see that the hostage sub-plot is tied into the main narrative. Harrison and Abby go over the CCTV with Wendy’s BFF spotting the guy who went after Wendy – and it’s CIA director Osborne, who’s just finishing up telling Fitz that the CIA is clean. Nice twist, Scandal writers.
Fitz summons Ballard to his office where Fitz demands to know who the ‘guy’ is that Olivia’s been seeing (he’s seen her smiling face on the phone). Ballard lies to his face and tells him that he’s not dating anyone. So what does this mean? Might Ballard actually have genuine feelings for Olivia? Or is this part of some grander scheme.
This week’s Scandal went back to the case-of-the-week stuff of the first season and was incredibly solid throughout – it’s always nice to see everyone get a little something to do and while Harrison was left somewhat out to the side this week, we got Abby/David action, plenty of the smouldering, moody romance between Fitz, Olivia and now Ballard (an actual interesting love triangle, nice) and some great twists. Eric Mabius was especially good in a role that has been his most interesting in years – I almost want him back in future episodes, if only because he helps make good TV.
My favourite part apart from the cool Caldwell stuff is the continuing Fitz/Mellie/Cyrus drama. Following Mellie’s manipulation last week (don’t worry guys, re-watching last week’s ep actually made more sense following your comments – I still think she has a soft spot in her heart for Fitz, but it’s still 98% Machiavelli, thanks for the new perspective), Cyrus turns on Mellie, scuppering any dreams I had for a spin-off between them where they go around and destroy people through scheming. Bellamy Young plays hurt and vengeful well as always and Jeff Perry is a pissed-off joy to watch as he wins back his President.
Maybe the MVP this week goes to Darby Stanchfield – Abby gets to do a lot of stuff this week including reigniting her sexually-charged on/off thing with David Rosen and warning off a future Abby from getting trapped in a political marriage, both of which Stanchfield plays off with panache and a great fluidity. It’s a nice callback to Abby’s past, one we’ve touched on briefly before, and it gives her a certain depth behind her sparky snark.
In short, ‘Boom Goes The Dynamite’ is a fantastic episode that follows up from last week’s big questions and provides plenty of twists in the next big story arc – who is trying to kill/silence David and who is the Albatross? Is it Director Osborne? Or is it someone closer to home?
Check in next week, gladiators and leave your comments/suggestions/thoughts in the section below!
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