Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Scandal considers its legacy and pulls off an exciting twist

Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington
Photo: Richard Cartwright (ABC)
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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.

  • This episode tried really hard to be interesting. We got the story of a young black girl who followed in Olivia’s footsteps, leading to tragedy. There’s awkward sexual tension between Mellie and Jake. It all works as an episode of Scandal, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. This is the final season and the episode lacks any momentum.
  • Cyrus is the villain who brings everyone together this season. Oh yeah, he did that last season. Also, the season before that.
  • Cyrus has never had a believable redemption arc, so it’s never a shock when his inevitable betrayal is revealed. Mellie just looks like an idiot trusting him.
  • For one brief second, I thought, “Ok, Mellie, steal Olivia’s side dude” and I hate that about this episode. Mellie and Jake should never happen. Their “teamwork” as a political duo isn’t even believable.
  • I’m not sure what to make of that conversation between Olivia and Fitz. Criticism of Scandal has always included the power imbalance between Olivia and Fitz. However, that imbalance has pretty much morphed in nonsensical ways and disappeared. Their conversation about the start of their relationship felt like the show’s attempt to jump into the #MeToo conversation.
  • Olivia has been on the “Good Deeds” tour this entire half of the season, but it really doesn’t absolve her of what she did wrong. I want to feel empathy when she tells Abby she’d always answer her calls, but Olivia has manipulated way too many people.
  • Cyrus and Olivia don’t really make compelling foes because they’ve both proven themselves to be such thorough villains. Making Charlie the target of Cyrus’ actions definitely makes things interesting, but it also feels like we’re losing focus at a critical part of the season. There’s already Mellie and Jake vs. Cyrus and Olivia and Cyrus vs. Jake and Olivia vs. Quinn and....at some point, it’s just like...why do any of these people still trust each other?
  • But seriously, Charlie better be okay because Charlie and Quinn are the best thing on the show. They’ve really put the two best characters on the line this season. They know we still care about them.
  • It’s interesting to think about the metaphor for Olivia as a role model. It’s a clear reference to Scandal’s overall legacy and what the show has accomplished while on the air. Sure, it’s been great for representation, but is that really enough? In the end, Olivia isn’t a role model and she shouldn’t have to be. That’s Scandal’s best gift to television: it told the story of a messy, complicated black woman and it did it the way it wanted to, even if that didn’t always make sense.

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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