Scandal 7×02 Review: “Pressing the Flesh”

“Evil Olivia” got a big dose of karma this week on Scandal. Her actions, which could’ve caused a nuclear war, luckily only resulted in her blackmail schemes blowing up in her face. She’s becoming reckless and it could have dire consequences. I want her to return to being the former Olivia we grew to love. But, is that no longer a possibility?

I love that the writers decided to have Olivia’s assassination attempt from last week play a part in the drama at the White House event. The decision she made to target a child’s life was not a small matter – it was so anti-Olivia that it didn’t feel like the character at all. Instead of sweeping it under the rug and moving on, the writers used it as a means for why the President couldn’t trust her or give into her blackmail attempts. Major applause to them for sticking to their actions and consequences. Olivia did a bad thing and now it came back to bite her in the end.

ABC/Mitch Haaseth

The main question I had after “Pressing the Flesh” was: Is Olivia capable of redemption? Beyond only trying to blackmail a president, she’s using her power to push people like Jake around and she’s going rogue on decisions of national security. Kerry Washington is doing an amazing job capturing the smug, power-tripping version of Olivia we’re seeing in Scandal season seven. However, the writers have moved the character so far from her previous stance that I’m not sure at what point Olivia could still even be able to earn redemption. It only takes one bad move for her to cross the line – and I understand I’m writing this after she risked a child’s assassination (I’m never letting this go). This new direction for the character is interesting to watch, but we can’t risk having our hero become a full-blown villain.

QPA got a much-needed storyline and, luckily, it didn’t feel forced. As I mentioned last week, their involvement might no longer be essential to what Scandal has become in their final season. However, they’re the perfect plot devices for solving the “challenge of the week,” which in this case was figuring out the guard was secretly an assassin.

I’m on the fence about the QPA characters’ recent developments. Charlie and Quinn pushing up their wedding seemed like a sweet plot point, and David wanting to give it another try with Abby was a gift to the shippers. However, these plots continue to be distractions. It’s clear the writers are a tad unsure of how to connect both storylines together when Olivia isn’t at the helm of the agency. She’s been the focal point for so long – moving her from the agency to the White House has shifted all the plot attention to the main location. I understand that this may sound harsh, and this is only the second episode of the season, but this secondary storyline does need to be fixed.

Who else was impressed with Mellie? She is standing her ground and showing everyone why she deserves to be president. Having her solve this week’s political problem with simple negotiation and conversation was a stark difference to Olivia’s blackmail. Mellie is the type of character who doesn’t need to do dirty tactics to get what she wants – we absolutely need more of this as Scandal progresses.

ABC/Mitch Haaseth

Let’s give a round of applause for Cyrus. He’s not my favorite character, and he’s just as hypocritical as some others, but what he said to Mr. Glacklan was perfection. The person who wrote that clearly had some political thoughts they needed to get off their chest. Mr. Glacklan is a tad reminiscent of someone we might all know. Cyrus’ speech is a quotable moment and one which needs to be shared many times in the future to people who don’t take running for an election seriously. Politics is not a game; it’s a lot of work and no laughing matter.

“Pressing the Flesh” was a vast improvement over last week’s premiere. QPA got ample screen time and Olivia’s actions came back to haunt her. She got a big dose of reality that her scheming and blackmailing could potentially be a global disaster. And with Fitz back in the picture, she is going to have a lot of explaining to do to her former love. I can’t wait to see that reunion play out.



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