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Scandal “You Can’t Take Command” Review (4×22)

15 May

SCANDAL - "You Can't Take Command" - Everything comes to a head in the shocking season finale when Olivia and the team finally make some big moves to take down Command, and Mellie's fate is sealed as the election results are announced, on the season finale of "Scandal," THURSDAY, MAY 7 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Nicole Wilder) SCOTT FOLEY, GUILLERMO DIAZ, JOSHUA MALINA, KATIE LOWES, KERRY WASHINGTON

“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.

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Scandal “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia” Review (4×01)

25 Sep

136514_0592_preOlivia Pope is the machine that makes everything run, but in reality, many of the problems that pop up around this environment are the result of her actions; she’s a fixer, but as much as she’s the glue that holds everything together, she’s also what will rip it apart. Take “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia”, for example, which brings with it a new status quo–Abby as press secretary for Fitz, Huck as Randy the tech guy, Jake and Olivia hanging out on a beach–that is immediately shaken up once again when Olivia returns to D.C.

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Scandal “A Door Marked Exit” Review (3×10)

13 Dec

822x“You. Are. A. Boy. I’m a man. I have worked for every single thing I have ever received; I have fought, scraped, and bled for every inch of ground I walk on. I was the first in my family to go to college; my daughter went to boarding school with the children of kings. I made that happen! You cry yourself to sleep because daddy hurt your feelings, because Papa banged his secretary, because it hurts to have so much money, you SPOILED, ENTITLED, UUUUUUNGRATEFUL LITTLE BRAT! You have EVERYTHING handed to you on a silver platter, and you squander it! You’re given the world, and you can’t appreciate it because you haven’t had to work for ANYTHING!”

A round of applause for Joe Morton, please. I took down most of this speech because it is an absolute masterpiece of writing, and it’s extremely satisfying to see Rowan absolutely rip Fitz to shreds here. Yes, it’s so on point because Rhimes knows the character, but it’s also on point because everyone sees Fitz for who he really is. Everyone sees the boy in him, the spoiled kid who leeches off of others for personal gain, the kid using Olivia Pope as an escape from his past. Continue reading

Scandal “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie” Live Blog/Review (3×07)

14 Nov

scandal_bellamy_young_2All times Central.

9:02-Ah, hopefully this is a Mellie showcase. She’s wonderful.

9:05-“I love you.” “So what?” Here we go!

9:10-I’m enjoying these flashbacks. First of all, Cyrus and the facial hair. Second, it’s a nice complement to the action taking place in the present, filling in motivations and backstory that help us understand Fitz and Mellie as naive, ambitious youngsters.

9:13-Also, I’m happy Olivia is blowing Fitz off. She’s come so far that there’s no way she’s going to take his crap anymore. She’s strong, but he’s always been her flaw; it’s good to see her putting her mind on something else.

9:25-That’s a fantastic acting moment by Bellamy Young, composing herself at the door of the Oval Office. It really goes to show you how trying being the president’s wife is and the acting you have to do to hold up your reputation.

9:28-That really goes to show you how the dynamic has changed over the years; Mellie used to have a lot of influence and control, and the two partners understood each other. Now, she isn’t even sure if Fitz will “show up”.

9:35-Jerry Grant is pretty despicable; he seems to project his problems onto his son, and although that certainly is hiding some deep emotional trauma, there’s still no excuse for rape. Man, that is terrible.

9:41-“Let’s get some estrogen on this SEAL, see what happens.” I love you, Mellie.

9:43-Mellie’s still clinging to some ounce of hope that someone, anyone, is there for her; understandably, it’s to her husband. However, at this point, I’m also wondering why it’s still happening. While Olivia’s pushing him away, he’s gravitating back toward Mellie.

9:45-Once again, another great Young acting moment; you can see the fear in her eyes as Fitz is wrapping his arms around her; it reminds me of the Walter White-Skyler moment recently. Although Fitz disagrees with his father most of the time, he certainly has inherited traits; it’s almost as if Mellie’s recoiling from Jerry as she’s held by Fitz.

9:46-Now that is why. Fitz always has a big moment that gets him back in Mellie’s good graces; still, I can’t help but feel like they’re facades. Fitz has always and will always love Olivia. Still, it’s nice seeing him reiterate his fault on live TV; Mellie really shouldn’t have to be scrambling to bolster her approval ratings.

9:47-I’m not sure how to feel about this whole Quinn situation. It feels a bit rushed; I understand that she’s had Huck-like tendencies, but this whole plot is moving forward a bit quickly, especially considering this all happens in one episode. Seeing Quinn go down that spiral is a potentially interesting topic, but it could’ve been much more interesting before this big “plot twist”. Still, it looks as if the Remington storyline is in full gear.

9:53-Now this is interesting. While I’m sure Mellie wants to slug Jerry in the face (I know I do), she instead twists the situation to Fitz’s advantage. Still, it’s a sad reminder of the stranglehold politics has; if this were anywhere else, Jerry would be off to prison by now.

9:57-Aw, James was fired.

10:00-Hey, it’s LaDonna from Treme! Next week looks to be intriguing, throwing the mother into the mix. Khandi Alexander is a wonderful actress (everyone needs to catch up on Treme before the final season airs in December), and she’ll add a lot to the show.

GRADE: B+

This is yet another fantastic Bellamy Young episode; it really piles on Mellie and reveals some painful truths, and it reveals her more vulnerable side through the dynamic with Fitz and Jerry, both past and present. It’s obviously the focal point of the episode, and it’s naturally the best part. Another strong outing for Scandal.

-Also, it’s a bit strange seeing Josie Marcus pushed aside this week. There’s a mutual respect between her and Mellie, and I would’ve liked to see that play out this episode instead of the middling Quinn storyline. I understand it’s mainly a three-character episode, though, and hopefully we see people like Jake integrated more next week.

Credit to ABC and Scandal for all pictures. I own nothing.

Scandal “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” Review (3×03)

11 Oct

627-1

Huck and Olivia. Olivia and Eli. There’s an interesting dynamic going on here that’s based upon trust: Eli’s the person who Olivia should be able to trust; he’s a dad, and dads are supposed to care for their children. Now, I have no doubt that he cares about Olivia, but his way of caring for her is pretty much emotionally abusing her and using her career as a justification. He probably has some kind of endgame here, and he’s definitely her biggest enemy because he knows how to hurt her: hurt those around her. He’s the kind of guy that always gets what he wants. On the other side, we have Huck, someone who someone like Olivia shouldn’t need to trust. Yet, she’s able to relate with him more so than anyone else, and she needs him as much as he needs her.

Huck finding out about Liv’s father blows up this whole situation. Not only is it detrimental to Olivia, but it’s sure to leave deep and painful marks on Huck’s psyche. What else, really, is keeping him going aside from Olivia and his job? He’s lost his wife. He’s lost his son. He’s now lost Olivia. You can see the pain in his eyes in that parking garage, and it’s heartbreaking because we know what this will do to him.

That sense of loss is contrasted with the events surrounding Jeannine. In a sense, everyone wins here: Jeannine’s going to make a ton of money, Olivia gets Jake back, Fitz gets to be the hero, and Cyrus and Mellie are successful in pinning the affair on Jeannine. In a sense, everyone loses here. Olivia has to endure so much and agree to so much, all just for Jake, Fitz doesn’t get to reveal to the world his love for Olivia, and Fitz and Cyrus are set to be under Eli’s manipulative net.

Speaking of Fitz, he’s now starting to take back the power a bit. Cyrus has held off because he knows that he’s on thin ice, and Mellie isn’t really adapting to Fitz’s slight personality change. As Fitz continues to feed his delusions, he’s gaining power. Yet, we know that he could come tumbling down any second, presidential balls or not.

The episode as a whole seems quieter, but it really moves the plot forward while filling in the blanks of the past. Everyone’s losing something and gaining something, and this constant cycle doesn’t bode well for our characters in the future. Maybe that suicide bomber will blow everything up next week, and Harrison will be left standing there, not knowing what to do with himself. Maybe he’ll eventually find some farm animal somewhere to become completely devoted to.

Other thoughts:

-Joe Morton’s killing it as Eli; his interactions with Washington are thing of beauty. Even if the plot and the character shifts are a bit too fast at times, the actors make it work. Also, I’d watch a whole episode of him giving intense speeches.

-David Rosen’s flashback goatee.

-The show should get Toby Ziegler to rant and point out everyone’s flaws.

Credit to ABC and Scandal for all pictures. I own nothing.

Scandal “It’s Handled” Review (3×01)

4 Oct

627In just one season, Scandal managed to transform itself into one of television’s biggest shows, delivering the twists, the juicy characters, and the ratings that have also transformed it into one of television’s best shows.

The premiere picks up right after last season’s finale, immediately throwing us into a conflict between Olivia and her dad, Eli Pope. The two are very similar in mannerisms, and it seems as if her own father is her greatest adversary. Yet, he’s also her greatest ally. He doesn’t back down, he doesn’t take BS, and he truly cares about his daughter. In a moment of brutal honesty, he remarks that she’s “twice as good, and half as far.” It’s a surprising and insightful comment on race relations, and it has a profound effect on Olivia; she’s always been brilliant, but the fact is, she’s still a black woman in a white world.

Everything is closing in around her; her clients have all fired her, Cyrus is putting together a kill file, and the press is hounding her everywhere she goes. This is an Olivia that’s been backed into a corner, trapped, much like Fitz and Mellie. She decides to call both of them into a bunker to discuss strategy. That scene is absolutely phenomenal, really showcasing these actors’ talents and bringing that tension through the roof. Everything is on the table here, and it is just cold and brutal all the way through, clearly reflecting the toll this has all taken on everyone. The negotiation over the number of times Fitz and Olivia had sex is hard to watch. It is classic Scandal.

The members of Olivia’s team recognize that she’s losing hold of who she is, so they decide to shift attention to an intern. It’s a move that reminds us, and Olivia, what this is all about: saving others’ lives. She takes this intern on as a client because that’s who she is. She’s Olivia Pope, and the white hat’s on even when it’s off.

GRADE: B+

Other thoughts:

-I didn’t talk much about Fitz in the main part of the review, so here goes. He’s a frustrating character to root for, because although his love for Olivia is genuine, he’s a guy that’s had everything his whole life. He’s used to getting his way, and he expects everything to turn out just the way he wants it to turn out. Fitz, for this reason, comes across as manipulative; take, for example, his hug with Olivia in the bunker following that secret meeting. It’s a genuine hug with underlying emotion, but you can tell he enjoys being that savior.

-Fitz and Sally’s scene is well done. I like the mutual respect there, and it’s a moment of vulnerability for the president. Yet, once again, there may be some hidden motivations there.

-Bellamy Young deserves an Emmy. Fitz vs. Mellie should be awesome to watch.

-“I am the hell AND the high water!”

-“Are we Gladiators or are we bitches?”sss

Credit to ABC and Scandal for all pictures. I own nothing.

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