I used to love Scandal. But every season kept getting more and more ridiculous culminating in my losing interest in reviewing the show last year. But this is Scandal‘s final year, and I can’t ignore a show that once was so good (think back to season two’s incredible peaks). Perhaps the show can go out with a bang and not a whimper?
The biggest change to the show is Olivia Pope’s bold brand of villainy. It’s not out of left-field, as Scandal has steadily built her up over the course of the past few seasons as becoming increasingly volatile and “dark”. But Watch Me really runs with the idea as she threatens an ambassador’s child with a sniper and manipulates everybody in sight (including new bff Mellie). Although jarring, it certainly makes for gripping television, and Kerry Washington is evidently having a ball with it all. Say what you will about Shonda Rhimes’ onslaught of TV shows, but the woman knows how to write complex characters (especially when it comes to her leading ladies). This has never been a one-dimensional show.
I honestly found the case of the week (the missing professor) pretty dull, but it was a hoot watching Quinn Perkins and Associates try to carry on Liv’s legacy. Moreover, it’s a treat to see Abby reunited with the gang like the old days; keeping red isolated in the White House got old very quickly.
And then there’s Olivia’s love life. Fitz is nowhere to be seen, Jake is nothing more than a sleepover buddy (and I did love how she put him in his place at the end), and we’ve got a new love interest in the form of primetime host Curtis Pryce. Jay Hernandez has immediate chemistry with Washington as they clash on live TV, and their final scene before heading to the hotel is rife with sexual tension. Color me intrigued.
– Just to be superficial for a second but Kerry Washington looks more gorgeous than she’s ever been. The long hair, the strut etc… it’s all very badass.
– The new title card is especially ugly. I appreciate the thought behind it (honoring every cast member in the show’s final year), but why is it so cheaply done?
– I definitely get what the show is going for with Liv turning into her father, but I don’t buy how scared he is of her at dinner. Something about that scene felt really forced.
– Terrific twist with Olivia sending the senator to test Cyrus and make sure he’s on “Team Mellie”. Or is he playing her?
– How epic is Liv’s final monologue to Mellie? Read it in its entirety below.
Senator: This is blackmail, and I-
Olivia: Before you asked “In what world” I’m answering “Mine” in my world. This is my world. You’re in my envelope-filled world. Mine.
David: The only problem in need of fixing here is that you decided to change the name of this place. It’s one letter. Olivia Pope and Associates is legend in this town. You trust OPA. Quinn Perkins and Associates What is that? QPA? It’s a babysitting service. Or cupcakes. It’s cupcakes delivered by babysitters.
Rowan: You cannot have it all, Olivia.
Olivia: Watch me.
Quinn: After his wife died, he even took little Madeline on some of his expeditions.
Charlie: Aww. Daddy-daughter trips to all the hot zones.
Olivia; There’s three things you need to know about me that you should already know, but I clearly need to reiterate. One, you do not ignore me. Because, two, I am right, always. It’s frustrating get used to it. And, three, there is only us. You and me That’s all there is. We have it all the people, the pulpit, the purse strings, the guns, all of it. Everything ours to deploy in the defense and betterment of the people and office we serve. But the men outside these oval walls? They want to take it all away from us. Because they are terrified. Because they are outraged. Because they have come to the realization that all those centuries of misogyny and privilege and status quo are finally over. That is why you never listen to a man over me. Your success as President is my only agenda. I, alone, have your back always! You want to keep the barbarians at the gate? You want to hold these walls? You want to keep having it all, reverse the tides of injustice, redraw the map, flood the darkness with light, earn our place, and make it so that a woman holding this office is no longer a novelty but the norm? Then you have to stop thinking of me as an employee and start thinking of me as what I am.
Mellie: And what is that?
Olivia: The boss. Put your faith in me, and me alone, and you will become a monument. Ignore me, allow them to come between us, and you will become an asterisk. So, you tell me, which one do you want to be?
Mellie: A monument. I want to become a monument.
An entertaining season premiere with a fresh twist on our antiheroine. Here’s hoping Shonda can salvage Scandal‘s legacy with a reinvigorated season.