This Scandal review contains spoilers.
Scandal Season 7 Episode 15
Tonight’s episode continued the narrative of Cyrus versus Olivia, with everyone else in the middle trying to find their footing. One recurring theme on Scandal is Cyrus’ desire for power and others thwarting his efforts with varying degrees of success. When Fitz was president, Cyrus routinely undermined his authority, and it’s no different with Mellie in office. He’s that character on television viewers immediately form a love-hate relationship with. His arrogance is both envied and feared. When he’s temporarily toppled or incarcerated, there’s a collective sigh because we learn from his mistakes if we’ve been paying attention.
Olivia is less villainous, but not completely innocent of similar ego-driven power campaigns. Thinking back to the show’s origins, she was the wearer of the white hat, a modern-day heroine who set out to right wrongs. Several seasons later, she was revealed as being less angelic and a relatably flawed human, like most of us on the planet. If we pull the camera back for a panoramic view for purely academic purposes, did this help or hinder the evolution of her character and the trajectory of the show?
Cyrus isn’t the best villain on primetime television because he’s too easily foiled due to his predictability. Olivia couldn’t, or didn’t want to, maintain her role as the founder of OPA. The white hat became a heavy, smudged burden. She wanted to live, love, and conquer her adversaries. Miss Pope’s delineation between right and wrong blurred over time, and thus her problems began. Had the battles pitted “real” evil, Cyrus, versus “obviously” flawed, Olivia, it would’ve made for more interesting episodes throughout the years.
I would’ve enjoyed seeing Cyrus do something more than to emotionally manipulate the special prosecutor and Jake for his ill-conceived White House bid. While the current government is no laughing matter, I grimaced a few times during the opening search and seizure sequence. The logistics of securing warrants makes for uninteresting programming. The social and political commentary isn’t always smoothly interwoven into the show, it sometimes appears beneath a neon arrow.
We know that one person can’t wield such power in real life, he needs accomplices and foot soldiers to execute the diabolical plan, obligatory mustache-twisting optional. Jilted lovers do numerous vengeful things to the person who broke their heart. America’s in the midst of a renewed gun control argument, the motivation for the special prosecutor. The math doesn’t add up for me. Mellie will be the collateral damage if Cyrus is successful. It feels like men attacking powerful women for no other reason than reminding them of their perceived place. I thought the master assassin, Jake, wouldn’t have been so easily swayed.
What do most women do when they’re confronted? They call a temporary truce, in the case of Olivia and Quinn, and set about the business of the day. Scandal’s remaining viewership, as it packs the suitcases and heads for the nearest exits, knows what to expect from the writers. It’s too late to deviate from the script. The show at its core is about women and the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. This would explain why characters on the show can’t or don’t seem to trust their own instincts because rely on each other as sounding boards. Make a choice and live with the consequences.
Mellie needn’t have been an unfeeling, hard-driving shrew to be successful as the first female television president. I’ve always been at odds with how she was written. Americans have an identity problem with women in politics, just look at the November 2016 election. Until such time we have a female president, everything will be conjecture. We had black male presidents on television before Barack Obama, which no one thought would happen, twice. Perhaps Mellie Grant will be a precursor for our first female president.
Will Olivia once again get what she most desires – power, prestige, revenge, a coveted assignment in the White House? The episode preview places her firmly back in the problematic moral space she recently abandoned. Tune in next week for the answers!