Scandal 2.08 Review – “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” Indeed…

Mark O. Estes December 7, 2012 9

Scandal 2.08 "Happy Birthday, Mr. President"Due to all the steamy vapors and mind-blowing twists during my first viewing of this week’s Scandal, I had to rewatch the episode after its initial viewing out of fear that I would miss something while writing this review. Just when you thought Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington, and crew had given us their all for the first half of the season, they came out tonight guns blazing (literally and figuratively) and did not take any prisoners as they snapped the necks of viewers with their aneurysm-inducing plot twists, while simultaneously ripping out our hearts with the missing link in the Olitz (Olivia and Fitz for Scandal newcomers) romance saga.

The episode has already been hailed (starting with me) as the best episode of Scandal yet, topping earlier title holders “The Other Woman” and “The Trail.” In fact, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” could be seen as a sequel of sorts to Season One’s “The Trail” in that it continues the history of the doomed love affair between Olivia and Fitz, which gave Fitz his strength while debilitating Olivia’s stance and morals when it came to their relationship. I’ll delve more into that later. The episode also felt like a season premiere after last week’s agonizing cliffhanger with Fitz’s assassination. Can you imagine waiting three and half months after seeing Fitz get gunned down? Anarchy, I tell you.

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President” also could be seen as a ‘missing pilot’ of sorts when it comes to the flashback narrative of the episode, pretty much the positions that Olivia, Fitz, Cyrus, Mellie, Verna, Hollis, and, even from a distance, Quinn/Lindsay now find themselves in. Mellie discovering the Olitz affair and Hollis’s psychotic terrorist attack was too much for Olivia, who promptly turned in her resignation and began her quest as a fixer, starting with Quinn as her first client. She wasn’t hired by The Circle to come clean up their mess. Instead, Olivia aimed to clean up the very mess she herself had a hand in, which effectively served as the basis for the Olivia we know and met back in “Sweet Baby.” Again, the flashbacks could be seen as a pseudo-missing pilot of Scandal that answered a lot of burning questions, while simultanously laying out another stack of “WTFs?!?!?” for us to ponder over.

Now that I’ve gushed enough over the narrative and ball-busting aspects of last night’s episode of Scandal, let’s focus on some of the character arcs/plots that nearly gave Twitter a heart attack throughout the night.

Olitz – True Love Never Dies

I don’t know about you, but I never felt that Olitz were done as the last two episodes ‘wanted’ us to believe, and last night’s episode proved my point to the capital “T.”

I really don’t even know where to begin when it comes to Olivia and Fitz, because their love affair is like an intoxicating drug that we all know is bad for us, but it just feels so damn right. The Oval Office scene completely obliterates Treegate, “The Trail,” and every ‘one minute’ Olitz has ever had together. The “I belong to you!” scene was practically the two of them delivering wedding vows to each other, because that’s just how much emotion and passion was thrown into their words in that particular scene. And the scene with the two of them declaring that they were in it together over the Constitution of the United States?! Scandal 2.08 "Happy Birthday, Mr. President"Jesus, the vapors are rising again!

But while the Olitz love affair is a beast of its own, it still had to suffer with the dark cloud over its head reminding them how they simply can’t be. At least in the public’s eyes. Fitz was right in calling out Olivia for belittling the relationship, because to compare what they had to the Sally Jennings/Thomas Jefferson scandal was in fact deprecating what the two of them have. It’s as if they are soul mates (doomed soul mates, but soul mates nonetheless) and no matter how many obstacles are thrown their way, they will always eventually find themselves back into each other’s company in some sort of way. Plus, am I the only who caught how the relationship gave Fitz a sort of newfound confidence, while it became a burden to Olivia?

Also, now that the witch VP Langston as taken over the role as President, will Fitz finally be free to live his life with Olivia? That is if he makes it out of the shooting… On the other hand, can he even return to his presidency if he survives this assassination attempt? That is if he wanted to, of course…

I can go on and on about how much Olitz is the backbone of Scandal, but I would be writing all week until next week’s episode, so let’s go on to the most obvious ‘WTF?!?’ moment of the night.

What The Huck?!?/The Shooting

The sheer chaos caused by the shooting was like being in Scandal “legendary” video game mode, because there was just too much going on with the VP, the flashbacks, and trying like hell piece it all together. In the midst of all that pandemonium, you either simply forgot about wanting to know who shot Fitz, or you were on the edge of your sofas trying to figure out who pulled the trigger in order to win the bet you placed at the office last week. One thing is for sure for me and that would how no one can really sit here and tell me that they knew it was Huck before tonight. No one.

I’m still reeling from this revelation and didn’t pick up on it until noticing that Huck was noticeably absent from the episode, yet got a mention at the beginning of the hour to give him some sort of alibi. Then add in Stephen Collins’s Reed Wallace’s description of the suspect and it was clear as day that Huck was the s.o.b., who pulled the trigger. Beforehand, however, I can’t see how someone could have possibly came to that conclusion, because there weren’t any clues, scenes, or quirks to prove exactly why Huck would not only try to assassinate the President, but effectively thrown Olivia completely off her game in the process. And no, no one can use Huck’s background as a spy/trained killer to justify their argument. If that was the case, then any of Huck’s assassin buddies could have been listed as suspects.

With that said, this cannot end well for Huck. He’s shot the President of the United States and killed the press secretary at the same time, and on top of all that, he was hella sloppy in doing so, as well. So, I can’t fathom an outcome that will see Huck walking away from this unscathed. If the trained killer does miraculously receive a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, then it won’t be easy peasy, either.

Vice President Sally Langston

Scandal 2.08 "Happy Birthday, Mr. President"What can I say about VP Langston that Cyrus didn’t already educate us on tonight? That woman saw an opportunity and she took it like a skilled cat burglar with no remorse for those affected by the theft. Langston had been side-swiped left and right in the Grant Administration and practically stealing the presidency from Fitz, and technically Cyrus, was a long fought for victory for herself since she felt that she was only a pawn in the grand scheme of things. The sad part is that Langston was absolutely right about being a pawn. In the end, however, her new power might not work in her favor if/when Fitz survives this assassination and the American people will see the ambitious VP as simply an opportunist without the morals she upholds so dearly.

But I can watch Cyrus school VP Langston again and again on knowing her place, because it was that awesome. Plus, it was a great to see Jeff Perry and Kate Burton switch the dynamics of when they were on Grey’s Anatomy together as Thatcher and Ellis Grey.

Britta Kagen/Reed Wallace

Two people who seemingly didn’t have much to give to the story at first glance, yet was the unseen glue within the episode were Keiko Agena’s Press Secretary Britta Kagen and Stephen Collin’s Reed Wallace, who reported on the news of President Fitz’s assassination attempt.

Britta was one of the people who was shot by a stray bullet from Huck’s gun and died later from the injuries. Despite having what most people would perceive as a bit part in the episode, Britta was the person whose lines you really had to pay attention to, because most of the scandals that we know about today came across her desk before they were brought to Olivia and Cy’s attention. Through this, Rhimes and Keiko Agena (from Gilmore Girls fame) made you actually care about Britta in the short amount of time we knew her. If only we had of gotten to know her a bit sooner…

While Britta served to remind the audience on how to piece together the threads of the scandals to come, Reed Wallace functioned as a wrap-around narrator akin to The criminologist on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His dialogue consisted preludes to each segment, which showcased the media and America’s obliviousness of what’s really going down behind the scenes at 1600 Penn. Ave. Both roles, while miniscule, added to the entire impact of the episode and enhanced the writing/story even better.

Mini Checkpoints

- The beginnings of Cyrus and James’s relationship was very telling, especially with Cyrus being straight before meeting the man who would eventually become his husband. It was nice to see how that started and how Cyrus is a monster with a soul.

- Speaking of Cyrus, I still can’t believe that he was the last to know about Olitz since he pretty much knows about everything that goes down in the White House. I wonder if he knew all along, Scandal 2.08 "Happy Birthday, Mr. President"but played dumb to appease Fitz, who was probably more focused when Olivia was around.

- Seriously loved how Verna Thornton made it crystal clear how she was not about to sit and wait for another Supreme Court Justice seat to open after all she had done for Fitz. Every time Debra Mooney appears on Scandal, I simply wait for her to steal whatever scene she’s in. Here’s hoping to seeing more of her from here on out.

- No David Rosen in this episode, but he can’t be too far away since Huck’s now on the run.

- Seeing Mellie as a naïve First Lady kind of made me feel sorry for her, especially after she found out about Olitz. Her telling Olivia that they were a team and all wanted the same thing was mostly directed to herself than her newly realized enemy.

- The title “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” probably could be a play on Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy and their own personal love affair. Just a thought.

The bottom line is that it’s Friday morning and I’m still saying “Oh My God!” under my breath over what transpired on Scandal the night before, meaning that the show is continually kicking viewers asses across the board. And the episode wasn’t even the Winter Finale!

So what did you guys think about last night’s episode of Scandal? Who is behind Huck shooting Fitz? Will Sally Langston maintain her role as the new President of the United States? Are you still hyperventilating over what happened? Let us know below!

  • CJ

    Your recap is so good, I wouldn’t dare add to it, especially as it has helped me to finally pick my jaw up off the ground! Luv your writing style, you should go write with the Scandal crew.

    Anyhoo, I am wondering if Mellie’s prescience was just good old female intuition with some preggo hormones mixed in, or if she really knew something was about to go down.

  • TC

    Have to admit that I would love it if Huck were brainwashed and out of his right mind when he shot the President (a la Manchurian Candidate) b/c I love Huck as a good guy. A deadly assassin, but a good guy nonetheless.

  • midama

    Wow, your summary is excellent! I agree with everything you say…

  • Soshii

    My jaw is still on the floor…still hyperventilating…not quite sure my heart rate is even back to normal yet.

  • JoyHappy

    They were Meredith Grey’s parents, I remembered that too. I love Huck’s character, he turned his life around or so we thought, fell in love, etc…Can’t wait for next week’s episode.

  • deeba

    Love your writing style. And I must say that in watching movies, dvds, videos and the like for more than 50 years, I have NEVER seen anything like the chemistry build between Tony G and Kerry W. How they make viewers “feel” their love is magical. The show is addictive. Each deserves an Emmy award.

  • Mika

    I believe Mellie knew something(remember she has always been ambitious)or threaten Hollis Doyle from the who said in the previous episode He can end all of it if he wanted to remember Hollis is the ultimate person in control. I believe Huck is working for Hollis Doyle. Remember Olivia’s new Boy toy Edison said it was some issues with changes in the Oil legislation committee.(Foreshadowing) But the main question you needed to ask is WHY DIDN’T MELLIE WANT TO GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE AND HAVE AN INTIMATE EVENING SOUNDS LIKE SECOND THOUGHTS SHE KNEW WHAT HOLLIS WAS UP TO. The shot to head of the president mentally incapacitates him leaving his VP in charge just what Hollis wanted. And during the Circle episode why was Hollis seating at the head of the table…Total foreshadowing8+. Plus their are leaks of his pipeline incident. And Why highlight the issues of surveillance in the White House and who leaked Olivia and Fitz in an unmarked envelope way back when… it wasn’t Cyrus??? Ans yes Huck was the obvious suspect, the main foreshadowing for this is in all the previous episodes you learn more and more how vulnerable Huck was getting and he was the only one in the CIA episode who hasn’t turn over a new leaf like the others. And if you noticed in this episode Huck was acting as a bum after she called to fix the voting incident…WHY??? And only Huck knows of her relationship with Fitz and the Circle. Remember I believe Huck has been watching her more closely than Olivia thinks. I believe He shot the president because of Olivia knowing to much or being to close to the president. But we must remember that the theme in Scandal is Power, Privilege, and Manipulation. And that a person is not in control of the situation if someone has the means to manipulate it for their own needs. In addition, I also want to put Olivia in the pot for the shooting, but I believe she unintentionally had something to do with it. Remember in the CIA episode at the end when Huck thanked Olivia. He is also her right hand man. I forgot to add did you notice how sick Olivia looked when she let Cyrus know about Hollis and he ignored it, remember she is a fixer, that’s why she is pushing for Edison who’s honorable and has integrity to be pitted against Hollis.

  • Nisan

    Thanks so much for your reviews and recaps of Scandal. For some reason, not many people are aware of this great show. Too bad, OMG, what a great show. I was pretty sure Mellie had something to do with the assassination attempt, but if she did, HOW good of an actress is she? Olivia and Fitz, there are no words. Great performances whenever these two get together. They are the back bone of the show. The scene in the garden, when Fitz told Olivia that she OWNED him, did you see the look on his face, did you see the look on her face, these two WOW, words cannot express the chemistry. And her, just mentioning the Sally/Thomas Jefferson situation to back Fitz up, which didn’t work cause Fitz is no joke, this dude is in love and nothing will keep him from Olivia except maybe for amnesia :-). Wouldn’t it be great if when he woke up it’s Mellie he forgets not Olivia. Think about what great stories would unfold with that scenario.
    Cyrus he’s just perfection. In fact, I can’t name one person on this show that is not fabtabulously brilliant. David, Harrison, James, Hollis, Verna, and Huck :-(, btw WTH is that all about. How is Olivia gonna get Huck out of this one? Please don’t take Huck of the show; he is such a loveable character. Yeah, I know he’s a killer, but it’s like Dexter, you gotta love him. So, Huck shot the President because… OMG this show is off the hook good can’t wait until next Thursday.

  • http://Yahoo.com ScandalJunkie

    I’m still waiting for my brain to tell my heart to stop pounding. I cant wait for the Winter Finale!