This was unlike any other episode of Scandal. And I loved it.
Shonda Rhimes has made it clear on countless occasions that she’s a huge fan of Alias, one of my absolute favorite shows of all time. The similarities were beyond noticeable in Scandal’s third season (with Olivia’s spy-fam troubles), and Run was an even bigger homage to the spy thriller. The in-media res opening, the fake prisoner, the last-second location reversal – the entire episode was very Alias, and it made Scandal all the better for it. This is not a show that needs love triangles and random melodrama to sustain it; it needs constant thrills and a kickass protagonist.
And let’s be clear, Run was a fantastic showcase for Olivia Pope. In the span of one episode, Kerry Washington managed to remind me what a great heroine Pope is. The past few seasons have done a bang-up job of reducing the show’a central character to a reactive entity who’s constantly bogged down by tiresome relationship dramas. I’d actually forgotten what a capable and inspiring protagonist Olivia Pope could be. Watching our gladiator hatch numerous escape plots while resourcefully thinking on her feet proved to be incredibly satisfying, and it reminded me that Scandal does indeed have the potential to be a very special show when its priorities are in place.
And then this midseason return did something insane: it had Olivia kill a man. As gratifying as that was after everything the character endured, it’s bound to have extreme ramifications going forward. I for one can not wait to see Olivia deal with the aftermath of her actions. Well done Shonda.
Run is also a bonafide success from a technical standpoint. Under Tom Verica’s superb direction, every shot was framed with a single-minded purpose. I particularly loved the sound editing, with Liv’s run to freedom punctuated by various unforgettable quotes from the show’s past (Rowan’s infamous “twice as good“ speech, the bitch baby line, and a host of other gems).
And then there’s that dream sequence. I always wondered if we’d ever see Liv’s Vermont dream come true (I don’t feel like Scandal will ever end on a happy note), so it was wonderful to see her, Fitz and the “White Hat Jam”. Liv’s subconscious was also stunningly brought to life through Tom’s sudden appearances (he obviously represents the evil in her life), and then finally Abby, who predictably berated Liv before triumphantly encouraging her to save herself. Just phenomenal.
And finally, although I predicted that Ian was a plant the moment he was introduced, the final twist with Liv being held on a soundstage (instead of an “Islamic country”) was a genius one. It provided a captivating and mysterious ending as the voiceovers escalated culminating with one prophetic statement: “You are on your own.” Wow.
– What an insane teaser with a crazy-haired Liv running through the prison with a gun in hand. That’s certainly how you start your episode with a bang!
– How brilliant was it show us the kidnapping several times from different perspectives? The fact that Liv was ACROSS THE HALL the whole time pretty much blew my mind. Other epic details: the fake car that Jake followed, Liv’s neighbor getting shot, and the kidnappers escaping as paramedics with Liv in the body bag. Freakin’ masterful.
– I’ll never get tired of the shot of that wine spilling on Liv’s couch.
– My reaction to Olivia angrily insulting the kidnappers in the ambulance? Dayuuum.
– Spectacular detail: Liv putting toilet paper on the disgusting toilet seat.
– The entire episode, I had a feeling that sleazy guard would try and rape Liv at one point. Thank God that did not happen because this hour was stressful enough.
Olivia: It’s not bad.
Ian: It’s not good, but…
Olivia: Not bad. Right.
Ian: I can’t believe I’m about to string these words together to form this ridiculous question, but who do you hope put a tracking device in you other than your father?
Olivia: If I’m missing… If I’m missing, the President of the United States is looking for me. He’s looking for me everywhere, and he will not stop until he finds me. Someone will find us.
Abby: Do you know how to use a Dutch oven? Do you know how to turn on a regular oven? And what about Huck? You leave Huck and get a dog, and Huck’s, what, in a pound somewhere?
Abby: Look at me. Jake and Fitz can’t help you. There is no man to rescue you. Do you hear me? No one. No one is going to help you. You are the only gladiator in the place. You are all you’ve got. You have to rescue yourself!
A bold, game-changing hour of Scandal. Simply first-rate.