Scandal Season 3 Episode 12
That’s what we were supposed to say about some of the developments in this episode, right? Snapping our wrists in surprise and delight? It’s not like they were lacking in number or in juice but…I didn’t exactly feel like I’d been taken on the ride they wanted me to be.
Maybe it starts with James. I’m not sure the show has what they want in him. There’s an inside source in the White House who’s working to take down Cyrus – in fact, he’s the only one who can. Except that he’s a sniveling anxious stressball who folds at the first sign of trouble. This is the guy we expect to take down the most calculatedly ruthless person inside the White House? They’ve joked around a bit about how “Publius” is a stupid name, but if it’s going to get us the same old confrontation between Cyrus and James, then it’s hardly interesting -- and if they’re subverting our expectations and something’s actually going to happen, then kudos, but it doesn’t feel like we’re supposed to feel misled.
It also feels like we’re supposed to be all “holy sh*t” about the revelation that Harrison’s Adnan was allowed back into the country and now is going to help Liv’s mother exact her evil, dastardly plan… but we knew that, right? You didn’t think they were going to invite her mother onto the show and make such a huge deal of her, only to have her disappear again. I’m willing to give the whole “women scorned are extra interesting” thing a little time, but they’re a little too obvious with their tiny bodies and pretty dresses belying the evil inside. We get it – women can also be evil. But so far, these two are only evil for evil’s sake.
In fact, I’d say that’s Scandal’s biggest weakness. There are a lot of secondary and tertiary characters we’re supposed to love but we don’t get to see inside of them to understand why they’re so good or bad. Even if good is the default – David Rosen seems to fall into this category – we don’t know a lot about it. This is more annoying because the show is so fond of its “white hats” language. That part is fine. But the other stuff gets murkier and murkier.
B6-13 surveils the president without his knowledge. Sure, I guess, but why exactly?
Liv’s father is consorting with Sally’s second-in-command. Fine, and we know he has an axe to grind, but is it really as simple as that?
Quinn is somehow, inexplicably, more talented than everyone we know at being a crazy badass, despite the fact that she’s kind of a hapless puppy. Yes, okay, we saw her pursue the same things Huck did, but he was turned and manipulated. Where did we ever see Quinn get the same level of true thrill from killing? We didn’t, right?
It seemed like an amusement park for her (admittedly, it also does for Charlie) and now she’s just somehow the greatest at it?
Harrison is still limited to six lines per episode?
All this would be fine, I think, as decoration to Olivia’s world but the fact is that Olivia is becoming wildly myopic and uninterested and – I cringe to say it – uninteresting. The amount of time she has spent screaming at Fitz in the last couple of episodes, coupled with the shouting at Jake, is not what we signed up for. This is a woman who is involved in yelling at the men she’s romantically entangled with, not a powerful in control individual who handles her romantic life in between her assignations. It just doesn’t feel like the same woman. If she’s losing her perspective, that’s fine, but I’d love to see that from someone’s perspective besides hers. And I really, really didn’t buy Olivia spitting out Mellie’s word “whore”. Seriously, even if Fitz is a Republican?
Even the strongest stuff – Mellie’s story – is being seen through a filter of a looming election that isn’t really there. There are nods to it (“The only thing harder than running for President is doing it while already President”) but the fact is that this show has never excelled at showing us the political world in which Fitz has to operate. We’re best when we’re confined between classified walls, not when we’re trying to convince ourselves that Fitz matters to the people. Ultimately, though, he and Olivia and Mellie are going to ruin themselves, and each other.
And then I get excited all over again, because if they can pull off a show where this is the endgame, where the presidency really is brought down from inside and nobody is the winner and they all realize – too late – that they should have played it completely differently, then I’m totally down. Completely. If Olivia Pope is actually the architect of her own demise…
Did Olivia not used to drink coffee?