By Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor
Scandal got back to basics this week with its latest episode entitled “It’s Good to Be Kink.” The episode continues David Rosen’s (Joshua Malina) quest to take down B-613 and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) continues to battle her PTSD after being kidnapped. This episode put a new spin on sleeping around in Washington D.C.
Scandal got back to basics and saw Pope & Associates tackling an interesting and provocative issue. This episode saw Girls creator and star Lena Dunham checking into Pope & Associates as a client. Dunham plays Sue Thomas, a writer who’s trying to publish a provocative novel about the kinky 50-Shades-of-Grey– level sex she has been having with political figures. Abby (Darby Stanchfield) brings Sue to Olivia’s attention when Leo Bergen (Paul Adelstein) and David turn out to be two of the men in the novel.
Dunham fits into the world of Scandal perfectly. She’s like a puzzle piece that was missing and has helped the show get back into its rhythm. Her best scene of the night happens when she first comes storming into Pope & Associates demanding $3 million to stop her book from being published. Dunham waltzes in like she owns the place and calls Olivia out on her recent subdued behavior. She says, “When did you become so weak? The power you wield in this town is a legend.” Her character allows Olivia to start to snap back into her old ways.
Dunham’s character also opens up the dialogue about sexual harassment on Scandal. Olivia finds out that Sue wrote the book because she was sexually harassed at her old job and has not been able to get a job since. Olivia doles out some of her wisdom and tells Sue, “He stole your ability to use your intellect because you would not have sex with him. That’s ridiculous and unconscionable.” Dunham and Washington play off of each other extremely well and Dunham may be one of the best guest stars Scandal has had this season.
The real person who deserves an award after this weeks episode is Darby Stanchfield. Abby has risen from a background character following Olivia Pope around to the powerful, fearless press secretary of the United States. Stanchfield has done an impeccable job and has grown exponentially as an actress, and Abby has become a symbol of feminism on Scandal. Stanchfield’s character shows that there is more to a TV character than a pretty face. Abby can have a boyfriend and a perfect complexion but still hold a powerful job.
In one of the best-acted scenes Scandal has seen in recent weeks, Abby talks to Leo about Sue’s book. She begins to draft a resignation letter because she believes she will be linked to this book somehow. When Leo says she will not be linked to his indiscretions, Abby launches into a monologue meant for the ages. She says, “It’s different for you than it’s for me… I’m good at my job. I am a lion up there, I own that room… There are articles about how well I do at my job but they will write about me. If I wear lipstick, I’m dolled up. If I don’t, I’ve let myself go. And they don’t like it that I repeat outfits even though I am on a government salary. They discuss my hair color… Every article that comes out about me has your name somewhere in it. Because apparently there is this rule that in order to mention my name they have to report to the world that there is a man who wants me. My work, my accomplishments, my awards… I stand at the most powerful podium in the world but a story about me ain’t a story unless they can report on the fact that I’m the girlfriend… It validates me, gives me an identity. A definition. Like they can’t fathom the concept that my life doesn’t revolve around you…” Shonda Rhimes and the entire Shondaland writing staff should win an award for this monologue alone because their ability to leave fans hanging on every word is not only a testament to Stanchfield’s acting but also the writing.
Mellie (Bellamy Young) also started to come back into the spotlight during Scandal this week. She proudly announces to Cyrus (Jeff Perry) and Abby with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) by her side that, “I’m running for senator of Virginia.” Mellie has become a major fan-favorite character and part of that is thanks to Bellamy Young’s incredible performance. Young took a character living in Olivia Pope’s shadow and turned her into a very likable character with major development. In the end, Elizabeth (Portia de Rossi) decides to be Mellie’s campaign manager and wants to take her all the way to becoming the first female president.
Scandal never ceases to amaze viewers and this episode was no exception. In the last ten minutes, Huck (Guillermo Diaz) kills Sue in order to prevent her from talking to the press! This was a moment that ever Scandal fans jaw promptly fell to the floor and Quinn (Katie Lowes) was right there with us. This happens after Sue has been set up with a comfortable job by Olivia and fans started to wonder if Dunham could return in future episodes. Talk about a crazy turn of events! By the episode’s end, Huck has signed an immunity agreement for the B-613 case and Olivia gets back into her old groove and takes a total stranger back to her apartment. Scandal is back to the basics and it has never felt so good.