Blogging Scandal: ‘White Hat’s Off’ (Season 2, Ep. 1)

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Photo courtesy ABC.

Live-tweeting has completely revitalized the TV-viewing experience. How did we ever wait 12 to 24 hours to gather at water coolers or to meet our friends over coffee and discuss all our guilty pleasure shows and their salaciousness? Shonda Rhimes shows especially lend themselves to shock-tweeting; she trafficks in big plot twists and embeds her scripts with endlessly quotable/hashtag-able catchphrases and dialogue. Consider the Gladiators in Suits thing. Or the White Hat thing. Or the #WhoisQuinnPerkins thing.

Last night’s premiere prompted the ritual briskly paced Twitter timelines filled with the #Scandal hashtag — and lots of exclamation points. If you thought we’d have to wait a few episodes to have the whole “Who is Quinn Perkins?” cliffhanger sussed out, you were probably blown away by the show’s opening.

So. Who is Quinn Perkins?
Turns out she’s actually Lindsay Dwyer (aka the “Molotov Mistress”), a young woman who, upon finding out her boyfriend was unfaithful, allegedly sent a bomb to his job and blew him and seven of his coworkers away. David the D.A. is all about mercilessly prosecuting her. In his opening statement, he minces no words: he wants to seek the death penalty. As is her wont, Olivia Pope spends most of the episode trying to get “Quinnsay” acquitted. With evidence mounting against her and her so-called alibi — she was drugged and woke up in a DC hotel, where she found a passport, a grip of money, and a chance at a whole new life under an assumed name–looking increasingly dubious, Quinnsay decides at about mid-episode to fire Olivia and get another, lesser attorney who strikes a plea deal — seven consecutive life sentences, but no death penalty. Makes you wonder: why would Quinnsay be so quick to cop a plea if she were innocent?

Olivia gives her a compelling speech about how she doesn’t have to answer to Quinnsay; she just has to produce for her, and even though it looks bleak, producing results for clients is her specialty. Quinnsay is, of course, convinced, because what would this show be if after a rapid-fire, passionately delivered, mostly smoke-screened monologue, people weren’t very easily won over? But although Olivia has Quinnsay convinced, she reveals herself to be pretty unsure of herself, and makes a phone call to a mystery recipient, saying she knows it’s been awhile but she’s fairly certain they’re going to lose the case and she needs the mystery person’s help.

If Olivia seems off her A-game, it’s due in part to the departure of Desmond Stephen (Henry Ian Cusick), her chief confidant and right-hand. He quit the job, got married, and moved far from Washington to try for a less crazed and seedy life. Olivia seems pretty bereft in his absence, and it doesn’t help that, as usual, her team is second-guessing her behind her back, unsure themselves of Quinnsay’s innocence.

If that weren’t enough, the First Lady is several months preggers with America’s Baby. During a televised nighttime talk show appearance, the gender of the baby is revealed to the world. (It’s a boy!) But FLOTUS makes the revelation political: everyone’s pressuring Fitz to declare war in Sudan, and his wife and Chief of Staff Cyrus are most fervent. FLOTUS vocalizes her support of an invasion in the same breath that she gushes over the disclosure of the baby’s gender.

Fitz is livid and tells her never to share her opinions publicly again because no one cares. As First Lady, he asserts, she’s supposed to be planting gardens, not politicizing. “You’re ornamental, not functional,” he seethes. She’s wounded and he half-apologizes.

Later, he calls Olivia on a secure line. She advises him to buy himself some time to decide if he really wants to go to war. They tell each other they hate each other, which: Opposites Day!

In the end, Quinnsay’s acquitted, David the D.A. is yet again pissed at Olivia, who clearly rigged the trial’s outcome, and in the final moments, we get yet another twist: that money and passport and new life? Huck and Liv built that.
Which brings us back to Twitter, which exploded at precisely 10:59 PM last night.

Other bits:

  • Cyrus and Olivia are coffee buddies again! They’ve kissed and made up over the hiatus.
  • America’s Baby’s nursery is going to be red. I don’t know what else to tell you.
  • Quinn has gotten even more annoying since her identity’s been revealed.
  • What hand did Olivia play in the bombing?! Why is she so invested in Quinnsay’s protection?
  • – Give Columbus Short something to do.