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SCANDAL - "Snake in the Garden" (S2/Ep17) - 03.28.2013

NOTE: This is a commentary on "Snake in the Garden" (S2/Ep17) that aired last night (03.28.2013). If you haven't watched the show yet, then please don't read this and then complain about "spoilers."
How appropriate that the logo for Shondaland Productions is a rollercoaster, because that's the kind of thrill-ride SCANDAL's creator-executive producer Shonda Rhimes takes us on every week. The promo for next week's episode, "Molly, You In Danger, Girl" (harkening what Whoopi Goldberg as the medium, Oda Mae Brown, said to Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) in Ghost) is billed as "Twists. Crazy. Good." Isn't that every episode of SCANDAL lately?
I'm not sure what tipped it - a victim who seemed waaay too calm; beautiful rays of sunlight streaming through an open (and escape-worthy) window revealing a rather picturesque background or what - but less than a minute into Maybelle Doyle's "abduction," I was saying, "This thing is fake. This is totally bogus."
What was genuine, however, was the fact that Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) is a hoot! From the coffee order that he barked at Quinn upon arrival at Pope and Associates to how even receiving his supposedly kidnapped daughter's ear in a package failed to interrupt his lunch, had me doubled over in fits of laughter. LOL, indeed. This character that Henry plays to the hilt seems like a hybrid of J.R. Ewing and Ted Turner with his "take no prisoners" and "lead, follow or get out of the way" attitude. Five wives and eight children. It all adds up to one powerful man who controls everything and everyone around him - well, almost. The payoff negotiation scene between Doyle and his daughter was outstanding; superb writing and acting.
Talk about major "daddy issues." What a departure for Andrea Bowen, best known for her years of playing Susan Mayer's (Teri Hatcher) precocious, intelligent and mature daughter, Julie, on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.
Cute Captain Creepy, Jake Ballard (Scott Foley), has more layers than an onion. For whom is he working? What's his real mission? Is he a double-agent or a triple-agent? Is he the real mole? Or is it this new nameless and clandestine character played by Joe Morton? That secret meeting in the parking garage was a nice homage to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's Deep Throat rendezvous in All The President's Men.
Mis-information. Dis-information. Dueling secret operatives: Jake for Fitz; Charlie for Cyrus. Don't ever let Jake and Charlie come to blows on a dark, deserted street somewhere. All we need is Huck, who could wipe the floor with both of them. On the lighter side, wasn't it touching when Huck and Quinn literally went window shopping for a new family?
That just underscored one of the night's themes: the importance of family. Looking at the various dysfunctional families: Hollis and his rebellious daughter; Fitz and Mellie; Fitz and the Grant teens; Fitz and his own "daddy issues"; Quinn and her estranged dad; we see that these people are more emotionally invested in and attached to their colleagues, who - by default - become a type of surrogate "work family," filling the void exists in their blood relationships.
Obviously Ballard's absolutely no good for Olivia, but WOW - THAT KISS! HOT!!!! A kiss that leaves Olivia weak in the knees, feeling tingly all over and asking herself, "Fitz Who?" Even hotter was Jake planting THAT KISS on her and then walking away. SUPER HOT! For such an educated and accomplished woman, Olivia Pope sure has a knack for picking the wrong men, but isn't that just like real life? Smart women, foolish choices.
It's getting somewhat redundant now: Olivia's weekly sermon to the client that's really self-reflective, ex post facto advice that she should apply to her own complicated life with its tangled relationships. Enough already! We get! Actually, we got it the first four or fives times the writers employed this now tediously redundant plot- and dialogue-device.
Just when you thought they couldn't squeeze anything else into another abbreviated episode (why does ABC keep doing that to us? 48 minutes of content just isn't long enough), there was the discovery of CIA Director's Osborne's body in his car in the park. So Osborne wasn't the mole, but rather the scapegoat; nothing but a pawn who was duped - set up in some high-stakes game of political intrigue, espionage, counter-intelligence and who-knows-what-else? Totally DID NOT see that coming. Shades of Vince Foster! I alluded to this weeks ago when commenting on "Boom Goes The Dynamite." (S2/Ep15). Different park; same result. (Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster committed suicide in 1993 in Fort Marcy Park outside of D.C. only six months into the new Clinton Adminstration. Foster was Hillary Rodham Clinton's partner in the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. Rumours abounded that Foster knew the deepest, darkest secrets about the Whitewater and feared he'd be forced to testify against his friends, the Clintons, implicating them in the land deal scandal. To this day, conspiracy theorists question the circumstances of Foster's death: was it really suicide or murder?)
Just another day at the office for Pope and Associates; another wild and crazy visit to Shondaland for us avid fans, with another exciting E-ticket ride on Rhimes' rollercoaster.
Thank goodness SCANDAL isn't suffering from the "Sophomore Slump" that seems to have befallen SMASH, REVENGE and several other shows that now seem jinxed in their second seasons. SCANDAL always leaves me wanting more. The hour flies by much too fast.