From the opening moments of the "Scandal" season 3 premiere when Olivia's dad Rowan (played brilliantly by Joe Morton) gave a jaw dropping, intense monologue to his daughter it was evident that the season premiere would not disappoint. Morton's dialogue with his daughter was a fitting opening to the season which will dive more in to Olivia's past and clearly dysfunctional family.
Rowan tries to convince Olivia to leave on a private jet and start a new identity. She is convinced by Cyrus that he will "handle" the situation and not hang her out to dry. However, not long after he is shown asking one of the interns to make a kill folder on Olivia. During the background check, it is discovered that Olivia's mom died in a plane crash when she was 12 and she never returned to her family home. Moreover, she has only dated older, powerful men and now that we have met Rowan we see why she has daddy issues.
Back at Olivia Pope and Associates, Olivia tries to convince her team to focus on speaking to all their clients and ensuring them that everything will be okay. The team is more focused on making sure that someone else takes the fall for being the President's mistress because as Harrison says "It can't be Liv." Harrison begins to put a plan in motion to have someone else be labeled as the mistress and tries to get the rest of the Gladiators on board. He delivers the best line of the night while talking to the team when he says "Are we Gladiators or are we bi****s?"
Once the media shows footage of Fitz leaving Olivia's apartment, she panics and uses the password that takes her to a sealed off bunker with Fitz and surprise guest Mellie to discuss how they will handle the situation. One of the most impassioned moments of the night is when Fitz tells Mellie that he is in love with Olivia. He wants to tell the truth about the situation and is not open to any other solution. Mellie makes it known that whatever the solution is it can't just serve Fitz and Olivia but must work for her as well. Olivia lets Mellie make the decision on the affair scenario that works for her. Once the meeting is over, Olivia reluctantly breaks down for a few seconds in Fitz's arms. The moment was one of the more emotional scenes of the night.
Cyrus teams with Mellie and the Gladiators to turn the spotlight on a Communications intern as Fitz's mistress shortly before the President and First Lady are set to give a press conference to acknowledge the accusations. The switch not only catches Olivia off guard who confronts her team but it sets the stage for a powerful confrontation between Fitz and Mellie. During the argument, it is revealed that Fitz is the one who leaked Olivia's name to the press through his Secret Service agents. Mellie discovers it and chides her husband for his idealistic view that the public will one day accept Olivia as First Lady. Fitz counters that he released the information because as long as Mellie had Olivia's name she would always hold it against them and now Olivia is "free." Their tense standoff is concluded with Fitz telling Mellie that they are at war.
In the closing moments of the show, Rowan has Cyrus brought to him to read over the notes on a top secret mission that Jake and Fitz worked on while in Iran 20 years ago. Cyrus reads the notes and is in shock. This top secret mission will clearly be this season's mystery to determine what the big deal is about the mission. It also sets the stage for Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) to return.
This season premiere picked up right where Season 2 left off in terms of intensity and edge of your seat story telling. Although it remains to be seen how long Rhimes and company can keep up this pace, audiences should enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. The ratings for the series are at an all time high thanks to social media and Netflix and BET streaming past seasons which allows fans the opportunity to catch up on the action. There are so many opportunities for drama this season that audiences should look forward to including the "war" between Fitz and Mellie, Olivia's past, and of course the ever complicated relationship between Fitz and Olivia. Based on the scene in the bunker, it looks as if Olitz fans will have quite a few scenes to look forward to this season as Fitz's love for Olivia seems stronger than ever.
What did you think of the season premiere? Do you think the mission in Iran has something to do with Olivia's mom? Sound off in the comments section below.
"Scandal" airs on Thursday nights on ABC, Cox Cable channel 5.