“I can’t have a soul. If I had one, I’d never accomplish a thing.”
Sure, that may be largely a politician thing, but it’s also indicative of a bigger problem in the Scandal universe: its characters are not so much fleshed out characters as they are contrivances, plot points that constantly exploit others’ secrets and look to deliver the next big Shonda Rhimes speech. This type of broad characterization only works, however, when there’s a clear and focused arc tying everything together; without that, it’s just a bunch of writers writing themselves into circles and squares and ellipticals and obtuse angles. Because their characters don’t really have souls, they can be maneuvered wherever is most convenient, and it gets pretty grating to watch at times.
This is a show that does a fine job of building up hype and conversation, but the payoffs rarely reach the heights of, say, season two. The B613 plot is already vague and scattered to begin with, but throw in the entire grand jury plot in the finale and you’ve got yourself one overstuffed, artificial hour of television. The list of names is already nonsensical–why do they even need the names if the murders are going to go down like that?–but to make matters worse, they don’t really add anything compelling to the B613 storyline. It’s just another plot point jammed into the show in order to contrive some conflicts.
Of course, this is all a vehicle for the Rowan storyline, which is one that has long overstayed its welcome. There’s no denying that Joe Morton sells the hell out of the character, but it’s fairly disappointing to see the script write him into an unsatisfying corner. I’ll give the writers this, though: they do hit the point they want to hit about Eli Pope being not quite as powerful as he wants to believe, about Eli Pope coming “back down to this planet” and seeming more fallible than not. This is Olivia finally taken the initiative and making a move on her father, and it takes her out of the suffocating influence of her father and back into her independent, assertive Olivia Pope mode. “I’m sick of being comforted,” she says. “I’m sick of being the victim…for once in my life, he’s the scared kid and I’m Command.”
The problem, however, is the fact that I feel like I’ve seen this arc before. Rowan just seems to be popping up at convenient times to throw a wrench into a stumbling storyline, but instead of fixing anything, he only becomes more exasperating to watch with each multi-episode arc. And for all the time we spent with him, is it too much to ask for at least a satisfying ending to his storyline? Apparently, it is, as he ends up behind bars, just one move away from breaking out and causing havoc for Olivia yet again.
For now, Olivia’s back to making out with Fitz, and it looks like “Here Comes the Sun” is a symbol for the sun once again shining on these two lovebirds’ perpetual bullshit. Just a few minutes before, Fitz is back to being a hypocritical jackass, apparently overlooking his history of letting violence go to get what he wants; so, he kicks Mellie out of the White House and fires Cyrus, and we’re left wondering how long it’ll take before Olivia gets a paper cut and Fitz bombs the shit out of a third world country. It’s not a surprising ending for the show–it’s going back to what it knows–but it’s certainly disappointing. Scandal is floundering, and it’s far from the fun, propulsive, and entertaining series it used to be.
GRADE/SEASON GRADE: C+
-Please just get rid of Huck and Quinn already. Just pull the goddamn trigger, Quinn.
-I’ll still probably watch season five, but my interest has been dwindling by the episode recently.
Photo credit: ABC, Scandal