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TV REVIEW: Scandal Flip Flops with “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”

By on March 21, 2014

(ABC/Richard Cartwright) KERRY WASHINGTON

By Chelsea Hensley

Last week, I wrote that the worst-case scenario after the collective decision for characters to stop pretending not to be terrible, would be that it would all be turned on its head this week, and we’d return to Scandal‘s flip-flopping on the morality of its characters, particularly Olivia. After she asked Rowan to be her dad and explain to her what the point was to a world where everyone was evil and no one was worth saving, he reminded her that her purpose has always been to find the people worth saving and you know, save them.

This is all well and good. The savior Olivia is the Olivia we know and love and were first introduced to, but in the time we’ve known her since she’s not that person anymore. She is trapped in a world full of evil people who manage to wriggle out of consequences and stack the odds against the less powerful. That’s her life, and it would be nice if Scandal would  decide what that means. It was refreshing last week to see Olivia accept her moral greyness because we’ve watched her go back and forth saying she wears the White Hat while rigging elections and ruining people’s lives a little bit each day. It’s been clear for a while that Olivia does not wear a White Hat no matter how badly she wants to. But now she’s back to wanting that White Hat again, feeling it’s her duty to have it, and while I’d like to believe this is the beginning of Olivia going after that White Hat with a vengeance, I also thought last week was the beginning of her letting it go. Scandal continues to prove itself caught in just as endless and tiring a cycle as Olivia Pope, and it no longer matters if we get the heroic Olivia or her more villainous counterpart, as long as the show makes up its mind.


(ABC/Richard Cartwright)

Thankfully Jake’s role in James’ murder wasn’t kept under wraps for long, and the knowledge of his actions led Olivia to her father who reminded her that Command is an especially harrowing position, and Jake didn’t do anything Rowan wouldn’t have done. Naturally, the focus now shifts to B613 as Olivia and David team up to take down the entire organization because B613 is apparently the root of all evil. That’s a valid opinion seeing as how many of the show’s more terrible things can be traced back to B613 in some way, but dumping all the blame on an organization run by people and skirting around actually blaming any of said people is a massive oversight. Though Scandal‘s characters often dance around deluding themselves, this is ascending to new heights. Sure Jake’s pretty decent when he’s not gunning people down in the street, but he did kill three people.

James’ death had about the effect one would expect.  Everyone kept saying they were very sad. Mellie and Fitz were sad, Andrew was sad, Olivia was sad, and Rowan was indifferent which may have been the more accurate reaction. Despite claims to the contrary, James wasn’t that important to anyone but Cyrus and David, and he and David were on shaky ground at best. Scandal‘s good at pushing buttons that at first glance don’t even appear to exist, but there’s little that could have been wrung from David dying (Abby would have been distraught, but would anyone really care?) so course it was James who caught a bullet because that provided plenty of material for Cyrus.

While multitasking with Fitz’s campaign, Cyrus recalled the beginning of his and James’ relationship in flashbacks that could almost make one forget the mess their relationship devolved into. Seeing their initial flirtation and Cyrus eventually coming around to accepting his sexuality and James into his public life was nice, but it’s not as if Scandal can shake the reality that Cyrus had been a terrible husband to James for most of the time we’d known them, and his manipulation indirectly led to their present state. While Jeff Perry brought his A-game, especially to Cyrus’ breakdown during the press conference, it’s hard to set aside sympathy for a relationship that should have imploded long ago.


(ABC/Richard Cartwright)

Finally I’ve tried hard to avoid devoting too much space to Quinn, but it can no longer be avoided. The show seems to be in a constant state of grasping for straws with her, and even when there seems to be a meaning to Quinn’s madness,  the sense of trying too hard permeates everything about her current story. The further we delve into her new career at B613, the worse it gets. Quinn’s an ineffective spy/assassin/torturer, and her attempts at intimidation usually lean on the side of pesky annoyances. Still confusing is how someone thought Charlie and Quinn making out made for compelling television, but even more confusing is how someone thought Huck and Quinn making out was better. After spitting in his face (and Katie Lowes went all the way with that spit) they proceeded to lock lips? Why? I’m convinced Scandal‘s writers are playing a game to see in just how absurd a direction they can take Quinn’s character, and I don’t know what happens when the game is over, but fingers crossed it ends soon.

Stray Observations

  • It was pretty much an afterthought, but Mellie and Andrew slept together. Even though it will probably blow up in Mellie’s face later, it was nice to see her being able to let loose with Andrew and actually have some fun because she deserves it.
  • James was totally right about Cyrus’ neck beard. It was extremely unattractive.
  • Jake essentially threatened to kill Olivia if she didn’t accept that James died in a botched carjacking, and I don’t know about you guys but one half a ship threatening to kill the other doesn’t really do a lot for me. At least not in this show.

Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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