Scandal Season 4 Episode 2

Okay, so. Nicely done. That’s saying something because I thought an elementary-school shooting premise was going to be far more mawkish. Scandal made it not about that, which is impressive and also somehow made the death of Fitz & Mellie’s son Jerry into something relevant, and not just a ridiculous plot twist. Scandal hits the notes you want to see hit and humanizes Grant and everyone’s emotional centre, Mellie, at the same time.

The First Lady Is Grieving, Not Crazy

It makes it real. It makes all Mellie’s blitheness and potato chips and one-upping Cyrus on who is feeling more bereft into something actually relatable and it also shows that the nature of grief is not linear. Forward, back, sometimes a little self-mocking, sometimes receptive, sometimes utterly broken. It’s not a continuum.

There was a nice counterbalance with the saintly gun control couple who hated one another, which, as I said above, is the only way to acknowledge that school shootings happen without being maudlin.

Olivia Pope, Neutral Personage

And it’s ushering in a new era for Scandal, somehow. Mostly because Olivia is…neither biting her lip nor struggling. She’s…functional? In the beginning of the episode, it’s not the first time we’ve seen Olivia in the sun, but it’s something close. At least until it turns into evenly-lit greenscreen. She debates at length about where and when she might booty-call Jake, and I wish we could come up with a different phrase for the act of having sex with someone you’re not living with, but at the end of the episode, the woman is functional and happy and also the other thing that was a correct typo when I first tried to type “functional”. 

I liked it – especially because what else is Jake supposed to do anyway? He’s not scary, nor was he when he was in B6-13. He’s not that worried when he sees Charlie in a diner or, if he is, we’re not meant to be that worried. It’s fine, because it’s Jake, and even though he’s supposed to be scary or tough, he was on a beach. He is Noel even when he doesn’t want to be.

I decline Quinn & Huck

When and if these two get a proper storyline, fine. Currently they are behaving like eleven-year-old vampires who have just discovered what happens after dark, and I can’t deal. I suspect I’ll be more amenable by episode 5.

David Rosen Is Not Threatening

But they want you to believe that he is and I will accept because “I like to think of it as winning” is an excellent line. 

Abby is coming into her own, too. She’s not just a sassy redhead, and that’s good. If the show’s going to have legs, especially now that Olivia’s crew is getting slimmer, they need to have skills of their own, not just piggyback on being Olivia’s people.   Not anymore. I didn’t necessarily buy her Mellie lecture, but I liked that it was issued. So  - will these two be the we-are-but-we’re-not this year?

Cyrus Is Lonely And Vulnerable

Not a complicated story, but an effective one, made more effective because Portia de Rossi is so understated about being poised to manipulate him. We’ve seen him go crazy heart-attack and so much Machiavelli that even your aunt who makes terrible puns is like “enough already” but I appreciate this. Vulnerability.  

It’s like a theme for this week. Fitz got there, possibly for the first time in the series.   It’s not going to stick, but it gives us somewhere good to go.