This Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder crossover review contains spoilers.
Scandal Season 7 Episode 12
How to Get Away With Murder Season 4 Episode 13
The crossover event between Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder was one for the record books. The once-mighty Olivia Pope has fallen from her high perch and has taken refuge as a lecturer at nearby Middletown University in Philadelphia. In her previous world of power brokers, B613, and as the former mistress of President Grant, this would qualify as a step backward. As luck or the clank of a writers’ keyboard would have it, Annalise made her way to the Crisis Management seminar.
Viewers have to suspend disbelief that these two influential and manipulative women would ever trust each other for a cause that’s bigger than both of their already outsized egos. Annalise has to put aside the chaos that regularly brews in her life and prepare for a longshot in front of the Supreme Court. Olivia must abandon any hope that she’ll soon be lunching and partying with international leaders and decision makers. It ought not to be a Herculean feat to leave one’s baggage with the coat check attendant before heading into a conference room.
Successful people sometimes have difficulty lowering their guard and asking for help, and usually lick their wounds a bit longer than most. Olivia’s not built to sit on the sidelines, and Annalise can’t seem to avoid being front page news. Both women must negotiate parts of themselves to make this union meaningful, or a large swath of incarcerated minorities will continue to waste away in prison.
Wounded parties and sore losers are commonplace on the timelines of people like Annalise and Olivia. Their singular focus and determination don’t include pep talks with cookies and tea. Stand in their way and be trampled underfoot. Olivia has her former colleagues and the current female president gunning for her, while Annalise has to juggle her parents and wrangle her previous law students and associates. No one wants to be forgotten, and forgiveness is long overdue.
Shining stars are magnetic personalities despite their shortcomings. They always have an entourage who can’t shake their addiction to the bright and scandalous light of the three-ring circus. When two meteors are brought within orbit of each other collisions and recriminations are inevitable. It’s human tendency to pick at each other’s wounds and scabs to reassert previous power or standing, even if it was mercurial. This double-header had a few memorable ‘Who are you? Who do you think you are?’ scenes. Can Olivia live up to and outrun her tarnished reputation? Will Annalise be able to overcome her demons, if only temporarily, and try this historical case?
I realized what has bothered me about Olivia’s character without Annalise. I don’t like Olivia when she’s around Fitz and Mellie. She acts as if she has something to prove, and as if she doesn’t belong in the same room. That might be a product of the directing and or actor’s choices. Olivia relished dismantling or attempting to do so, Annalise, in stark contrast to how she deals with The Grants. Apart from the intended fireworks of two African American women going after each other, I’d have rather Annalise and Olivia worked together than have the kitten fight in the hair salon. Speaking of the hair salon scene, I think it would’ve worked better as the opening scene rather than sandwiched midway in the episode.
Jake and Mellie were two petty peas in a pod. Petty in the face of the monumental class-action lawsuit. I understand that the writer’s room has to maintain the conflicts without Annalise’s case, however, I wish more time was devoted to the case and less on the previous grievances. I also didn’t like how easily minor bumps knocked Olivia off-course, only to have her white knight, Fitz, remind her of who and what she was. Scandal is a nighttime soap opera, and without sufficient suds throughout the show, loyal viewers would feel chafed.
Trumpets blare, confetti is strewn about. Annalise’s case makes it onto the Supreme Court docket. Obvious signs of the psychological toll of her life back in Philly and the importance of this case are apparent. Annalise is close to realizing a childhood dream, and can’t allow herself to be distracted because several people and their families are counting her on to keep it together long enough to present her case.
Nerves and anxiety once again get the best of Annalise and Olivia in the hallway of their hotel a day before the trial in a well-acted and directed scene between Viola Davis and Kerry Washington. Kerry rose to the challenge of being in an intimate frame with Viola without resorting to the oft-used lip quiver and pout. Bravo.
Game Day. Morning of the class-action lawsuit and everyone had to put on their big girl pantsuit while ignoring the beating butterflies’ wings in their stomach and throat. I felt the enormity of the occasion during the signing of the ledger, but did Annalise need more distractions to overcome minutes before walking into the courtroom? Someone in Annalise’s shoes might suffer from stage fright, however, I could’ve done without the obligatory Annalise snot-and-cry wall slide. Granted, the audience needed to feel the anxiety of the ticking clock, and if she’d get up and check this item off of her bucket list.
The ladies’ room scene between Annalise’s mom played by the wonderful Cicely Tyson, and Olivia, tugged at my heart. On close viewing, I felt the history and the weight of her words, not so much as an actress, but as an African American woman who had lived the life she recounted. Bravo, again, to a scene that Kerry Washington realized the stakes of being able to work alongside Ms. Tyson.
The truth of Annalise’s Supreme Court statement, “Racism is built into the DNA of America,” is a painful reality we all must deal with that hasn’t been solved in hundreds of years, and won’t be anytime soon. Annalise spoke the truth that touched the soul, nerve, and bones of this country. I experienced her rebuttal as an African American man, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I ugly-cried. I wiped my eyes, stood up and applauded at scene’s end. It wouldn’t be a leap to think that the Supreme Court would’ve returned with a verdict for the plaintiffs, but we’ll never know. In the world of make-believe, Annalise won her case. The writers didn’t want to wade into those deep, murky waters.