Shock Value: Scandal “YOLO” Review
By Chelsea Hensley
Scandal prides itself on being shocking so in an episode titled “YOLO” (“You Only Live Once”) it threw every shocking thing it could at the audience. If you know how to watch Scandal – simply accepting its more ridiculous elements and enjoying the hyper state of reality in which all the characters exist – it made for an enjoyable hour of television. If not then “YOLO” probably looked something like a weird mess.
Quinn is naked and duct taped and being tortured by Huck? Of course she is. Huck licked her face? Why wouldn’t he? “YOLO” kicked off with a terrified Quinn staring up at a wild eyed Huck and listening to him wax philosophic about all the fun he’d have in torturing a member of his “family.” From here on Quinn was almost – almost – interesting. Her escape attempt alone elevated her to a new levels of fun, and being tortured is bound to have an effect on her especially when her torturer was someone she’s considered an ally for so long. It looked like Quinn was going to cope by diving headfirst into Wonderland (and Charlie) and allying herself with B613.
Quinn lost her slippery grasp on intrigue with the revelation that she hadn’t really gone bad. It’s only temporary, just until she captures (kills?) Rowan. Presumably her relationship with Huck has changed after he gleefully ripped out a couple of her teeth, despite the deal they made, and she and Charlie do have a weird attraction to one another so maybe Quinn’s trip to the dark side isn’t going to be as fleeting as it appears.
Maya’s actually a terrorist named Marie Wallace? Of course she is.
As far as shocks go, Maya being a terrorist and not the victim of Rowan’s own diabolical schemes wasn’t a big one. If Scandal was going for shocks, then making Maya the villain and flipping the season’s running line of Rowan being the problem is the natural path to take so this twist, meant to be the episode’s biggest, was the most predictable.
Last week we watched Maya eat her wrists and escape her prison which didn’t exactly scream average woman. Following that, everything Maya did put up a red flag. She casually reentered Olivia’s life and took to calling her “Livvy,” behaving as though there was nothing unusual about their reunion. With the heavy-handed warning signs, Olivia’s revelation about Maya’s identity didn’t pack the punch it was supposed to.
Though this plot may not be able to get any more shocking (but it’s Scandal so maybe it can), hopefully next week’s episode will pick up on the emotional material. Though Scandal lives for a good “OMG” moment it also does well with emotions. However for Olivia and Maya the feeling was missing. The episode was so jam-packed that all the emotions of the reunited mother and daughter got lost somewhere. After Olivia adjusted to Maya’s presence, the two spent most of their time surrounded by Olivia’s staff and even those scenes were few and far between. Their single one-on-one in which Maya told Olivia about her dream of seeing her married to a dentist and with a son was sweet, but with the knowledge that Maya isn’t who she says, it throws into question the nature of Maya’s feelings for Olivia. With more time spent with the two of them, it would be easier to connect to Olivia’s own feelings about Maya’s return. Throughout the episode it was difficult to determine what Olivia was feeling while her mother was back and more screen time for the two of them would have made it easier to follow that path to next week’s episode. However, their hug on the tarmac set the stage for what will surely be an emotional episode for Olivia.
Where emotion didn’t quite reach Olivia and Maya, it was all over Cyrus as he dealt with James’ infidelity. Though there were some moments of humor with James’ dangling Daniel and their encounter in front of Cyrus and both of them waiting for the other to confess to their wrongdoing, it quickly became serious when they finally confronted one another. Jeff Perry and Dan Bucatinksy did great work portraying Cyrus’ and James’ respective sadness and anger and brought real tension to their exchange which ended with James demanding a divorce and Cyrus threatening to expose the photos of him and Daniel.
But the best moment came in Cyrus’ scene with Mellie in the Oval Office. When he broke down in front of her, Mellie quickly realized what the source of Cyrus’ anguish was. Throughout Scandal’s run Cyrus has treated Mellie’s own position outside of the Fitz/Olivia relationship with very little sympathy, but Mellie was moderately sympathetic and understanding about it though she encouraged Cyrus to continue with their plans despite his pain. They’ve had their moments of alliance before, always in service of Fitz, but now they’re linked by something much more personal, and it could mean a real change in the way they interact with one another or at least in the way Cyrus responds to Mellie regarding Fitz and Olivia.
Finally, Sally Langston, God-fearing Christian and hopeful presidential candidate, killed her husband? Of course she did. After her presidential ambitions became such an important part of this season, it was good to see them moving forward. Her confession to Fitz about her plans and her refusal to give into Cyrus’ blackmail did great things for Sally’s character. For the first time she was – dare I say it? – likable. Perhaps it’s because Cyrus has for so long gotten by on doing terrible things to secure Fitz’s presidency, and perhaps it’s because Fitz has done hardly anything to secure his presidency and has allowed everyone else to do it for him, but the idea of Sally moving forward and causing trouble for Team Fitz was an exciting one though it’s probably not likely to continue since she killed Daniel.
The winter finale event continues with next week’s “A Door Marked Exit,” and hopefully Scandal will explain the mysterious woman Harrison was making eyes at (Kelly McCreary) who told him about Adnan Salif’s return, and maybe we’ll actually find out who Adnan Salif is.
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