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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Scandal falls back into its worst habits in a disappointing winter finale

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Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • We all had so much hope in this season. Remember the premiere? It was so great! It finally felt like the show found the right balance between soap and political intrigue. Tonight’s winter finale felt like a monument to Scandal at its worst. All we’ve ever wanted is for the show to pull itself out of the hole that is B613, but “Something Borrowed” doubles down on B613's legacy within the show. It will always be a part of Scandal, for better or worse.
  • But the real problem is that Olivia Pope is no Eli Pope. Papa Pope is a terrifying figure. He shot a president-elect. He is the show’s biggest villain. Olivia just doesn’t have the credentials to really seem terrifying when she comes for her father. Yes, Olivia has also done horrible things (she killed a vice president) and went through some major experiences that changed her, but Eli has been doing this for decades. It doesn’t help that they’re arguing over dinosaur bones. The stakes just aren’t there.
  • Because, hey, guess what? Quinn is not dead. Quinn Perkins, a quintessential part of Scandal since its premiere, did not just die off-camera in a winter finale. That the show thinks they can make us believe Quinn is dead for even one second is a testament to the lack of believability in “Something Borrowed.” This is a show that had a major character get shot and locked in the trunk of a car that was pushed into a river. He still survived. Eli’s gunshots don’t fool me.
  • The fact that Olivia hasn’t considered whether Quinn and Eli are working together to “save” Olivia is so silly.
  • Even Huck is afraid of Charlie right now. George Newbern was amazing in this episode. This may have been Charlie’s best episode.
  • Mellie felt sidelined again this week. She’s the president and she’s never been so unnecessary to the show’s plot. I know she has to be kept out of the loop, but could they just give her something to do? That isn’t just praising Olivia?
  • I hope Cyrus is scheming. His conversation with Jake was amazingly tense.
  • Oh, cool, Olivia’s mom. Fine. I guess they had to bring her back for the last season, but I agree with Liv: “This was a waste of time.”
  • The moment between David and Abby was really great too. It’s nice to see David be honest about the danger they constantly face. Abby’s last boyfriend was tortured and she doesn’t see why David is a little hesitant?
  • Well, that’s the winter finale. Mellie is about to sign a treaty that seems like a big deal, but we don’t even get to see her sign it. Fitz is useless. Olivia is so caught up in maintaining her power that she’s not listening to her gut. Rowan is obviously scheming with Quinn. And the rest of QPA is just...fine, mostly. It was just an entire episode focused on the same argument Olivia and Rowan have had for seven seasons now.
  • “Want to see the body?” YES, ROWAN, I DO. I DO WANT TO SEE THE BODY.

Ashley Ray-Harris is a Chicago-based pop culture expert and freelance writer. Her work looks at the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and modern culture.

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