Last week, I was underwhelmed by Scandal until the very infamous end. One reason is that I'm really irritated with what's happened to Olivia Pope & Associates. In order to accommodate all the White House drama, the Associates have been pushed to the side, getting 5-10 lines per episode and barely serving anything resembling a purpose. Quinn's only featured because she went rogue, started working for B613, and became a mini-villain.
In the desperate attempt to keep this show afloat and keep people talking, the original, unusual, and often amusing premise has been abandoned. We've gone from watching a smart, educated, powerful Black woman - emphasis on "woman" - run a business to watching an emotional, damaged, unhappy Black woman (with serious lapses in judgment) spend all of her time taking care of a selfish, impulsive, immature white man. Emphasis on "man".
Last week's episode showed Fitz slightly growing up, debating competently and refocusing his attention - finally - on reelection. We saw him, his new VP, and his wife actually working together as a well-oiled machine. Finally. But then...James Novak and his crew of wannabes kept digging into the murder of Danny Douglas, Quinn kept badgering Jake for a "real" mission, and Sally Langston kept steadily going off the deep end. The episode ended with Fitz having to deliberately screw up his debate in order to make Sally think she'd finally received a sign from God that she was meant to be President (and thereby NOT confess to murder on national television). Quinn went stealing from Pope & Associates, and Jake took matters into his own hands to clean up Jake Novak and said wannabe crew "to protect the Republic."
And Fitz - friggin' Fitz - is left looking and feeling like the only sane person left in the White House.
And here's where I'm really getting annoyed with Scandal. We took a diverse main cast - Olivia, Harrison, Abby, Huck, and Quinn - and replaced them with Olivia cleaning up after all those white people in the White House, while pretending to date the new Command of B613. Harrison, Abby, Huck, and Quinn were all very interesting characters, with different personalities and abilities, and they could've made a great show for years and years to come. But now, we can't have that because all roads lead back to the White House, and the show is now all about Mellie, Fitz, Cyrus (whom I do love), Sally, Andrew the new VP, and friggin' Jake from B613, now that Daddy Pope got dethroned in record time. I mean, what happened...did white audiences stiffen up and start sending in hate mail to ABC because they didn't like the idea of a Black man playing Command?
And speaking of B613, if this were Star Trek: Voyager, B613 would be the Borg, showing up every other episode because the writers are clearly running out of things to write about.
This week's episode was okay because the writers really did try to get the two premises to mesh. James Novak is being mourned by the White House (Shonda Rhimes really killed him!!!), and we're treated to flashbacks of how he and Cyrus fell in love (as Cyrus himself slowly deteriorates). Mellie and Andrew, the new VP, head over to Houston to trying to woo the gun votes, and end up drunk and screwing on the hotel floor (let's see Mellie on her high horse now!).
Distraught, Olivia meets with her father to find out what's the point of fighting when everyone around her is a lying, cheating murderer. Her father explains that everyone - including the monsters and demons - is worth saving, and that that's her role as a White Hat. Of course, coming from Daddy Pope, the speech is a lot more intense than it sounds. He talks about how being Command of B613 is like being the Hand of God - you decide who lives and who dies, and it's the worst punishment on earth.
Meanwhile, Huck realizes B613 took out James and his crew because of the intel Quinn stole. He goes to Quinn's apartment to kill her, but instead they (finally) end up making out up against the wall. Yes. You just read that.
The real scene-stealer last night was Mama Pope. She explains to an equally well-dressed Adnan Salif that she's not a terrorist; she just makes money. When Adnan reminds her of the plane, Mama Pope shrugs it off and replies, "That was personal." They then set up a meeting a with a couple of Russians. Of course, they're not the Russian Mama Pope wanted to meet, and she caps one of them promptly to make herself clear. That's when the dreaded Adnan Salif realizes she may be in over head with this one, and goes to Harrison for help. Yeah, you read that too.
Abby, Harrison, and Huck each run to Olivia with their piece of the puzzle. Abby knows B613 killed James Novak and left David Rosen alive to arrest and imprison a fall guy. Harrison knows Adnan Salif is in trouble, and it can't be a coincidence. Hucks knows Quinn is way in over her head and needs to get out of B613 right the hell now.
The old Olivia seems to emerge; she approaches David and tells him to go through with B613's plan. He needs to lose this battle so they can "win the war". B613 is the problem, she says, but once again...they're only a problem because the writers suddenly decided to make them THE problem. Viewers will recall there were problems aplenty looooong before they became regulars on the show. B613 didn't rig the election. B613 wasn't sleeping with everything that moved and creating scandal after scandal. B613 didn't try to assassinate Fitz or publicly divorce Mellie. B613 didn't murder Danny Douglas. B613 didn't unleash Mama Pope.
So making B613 Public Enemy #1 is yet another shift in the show's premise, which tends to set off alarms with me. It just screams "inconsistency". The showrunners obviously have no idea where they want to go with Scandal, and I'm no longer feeling my old excitement and eagerness for this show.
Which is probably why I forgot to post last week.