Scandal Season 7 Episode 2 Review: Pressing the Flesh

The President presses her agenda for peace in the Middle East while someone is caught Pressing the Flesh on Scandal.

This Scandal review contains spoilers.

Scandal Season 7 Episode 2

Synopsis: President Mellie Grants hosts a state dinner for President Rashad of fictional Bashranin, a first step toward peace in the Middle East; hoping to gain more high-profile clientele, the team at Quinn Perkins & Associates attends the party.

It’s every elected official’s duty to host parties and events to achieve political progress and to sign and enact laws and treaties. This task is proving difficult for the first female president who happens to be a single divorcee. Mellie wants to be taken seriously, however, the world has to catch up and accept achievements by women on all levels.

Everyone has a role to fill at the state dinner, but that doesn’t stop Cyrus from complaining about his seating arrangement. His contradictory behavior reminds Olivia he’s still the same conniving man who’s hungry for power and prestige. His job is to schmooze an intolerable billionaire rather than sit at the main table with the president and the other dignitaries.

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Mellie is a woman first, president second. The former complicates the latter because she’s admittedly libidinous. It’ll be interesting to see if and/or how her private love life will be developed in the final episodes. When Fitz was married and later divorced, his sexual desire and its fulfillment were written into the storyline. It feels hypocritical to me that Mellie’s expected to be a spinster president. Perhaps the double standard is the point that viewers are meant to process.

It’s a challenge not to hypothesize what life would’ve been like had Hillary Clinton been fairly and legally elected the first woman president, with Bill Clinton as First Man. Love, lust, and sex are normal human preoccupations and pursuits. Why then must Mellie have to sacrifice intimacy for the Oval Office? Why does it feel that the writers have chosen to make Mellie Grant a martyr instead of fully realized first woman president? As Mellie herself says in the episode, it’d be a scandal for a single woman in the highest office in the world to have a sex life.

Olivia was sometimes more bark than bite in this episode. The bathroom confrontation with President Rashad was too preachy and self-righteous. She felt like a passenger, and not the driver. Huck became an important player in the episode when Olivia and Jake’s attempted blackmail fell flat.

After the failed assassination, President Rashad is emboldened and unafraid of dying for what he believes. He and Mellie have a moment over drinks in the Oval Office, but nothing can come of it for the reasons stated above.

In keeping with the episode title, Olivia and Curtis return to her apartment for what they hoped would be a night of lovemaking only to be interrupted by Fitz and secret service hanging out in front of her apartment. There’d be no pressing the flesh for those two after the state dinner. Curtis doesn’t stand a chance against Fitz and what he means to Olivia. She’s a different woman when he’s around. Apparently, that door hasn’t been completely closed from Fitz’s vantage point. We’ll have to tune in next week to see if Olivia and Curtis walk past Fitz and his security detail and into her apartment and close the door behind them. 

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3 out of 5