This episode has a really great “story of the week” and as with the previous episode, I loved how they managed to tie it into the larger story arc, not in any concrete way, but thematically. Yes, this is an ABC show. With actual themes. The theme of this episode is sort of the way we enable people that victimize us and there’s a wonderful scene where Olivia comes to a realization about Fitz that leads her to change the way she’s handling the “story of the week” case. JoBeth Williams and Michael Cassidy are a fine mother-son pair in that story as a wealthy woman trying to get her son cleared of a rape charge. And the personal drama just keeps getting better. Bellamy Young gets a wonderful scene here as we discover that First Lady Mellie may not be as in the dark as we thought she was about Olivia’s affair with Fitz. And there’s a wonderful wordless scene of Fitz listening to a politically damning recording. The great thing is that we don’t even hear what’s on the recording; we just watch his face as he listens on headphones. And Tony Goldwyn absolute nails it. Couple of great, really intense scenes between Washington’s Olivia and Jeff Perry’s ruthless Chief of Staff Cyrus. Perry is turning out to be the secret weapon of the show, really; he’s so good as the cunning, constantly harried, dangerous Cyrus and he manages to make us both see the darkness of the character and yet love him anyway. In other news, Kerry Washington in a flowing white evening gown is one of the most astonishingly beautiful things you’ll ever see. Seriously, this woman could have walked off a pedestal in a museum somewhere, she’s so perfectly sculpted. Anyway, this show is just still really exciting and interesting to me. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – show juggles a weekly story and a season-long arc as well as any show ever has; the performances are getting better as the characters get more emotionally and morally complicated. What a great show. 4 stars.