Scandal Season 7 Episode 16 Review: People Like Me

On the heels of her commitment to turn over a new leaf, personal turmoil strikes Olivia once again on Scandal's People Like Me.

This Scandal review contains spoilers. 

Scandal Season 7 Episode 16

Are we more alike than we’re different? If given an opportunity to right some of our perceived wrongs, would most of us do the “right” thing? “People Like Me” felt like a placeholder because we weren’t presented with any new information. We’ve known for several weeks that Cyrus faked the Air Force Two hijacking with the help of a hacker, the special prosecutor, and Jake.

I wonder if the point of the entire hour was to create anticipation for the final two episodes that are billed as an explosive and memorable end to Scandal’s seven-year run. The writers couldn’t have killed Cyrus this close to the end. Who else would fill the void of his corrupted soul and evil deeds? Maya? Rowan? Neither had political aspirations, and it’d be a false note to suddenly use them in that capacity.

Cyrus is needed as the moral villain. The question then was which secondary character was most dispensable, and perhaps provide a slight shock with their demise? An occasional on-screen spouse was the sacrificial lamb. No use in discussing couple dynamics of a pair rarely together and what one murdering the other means for the survivor. The writers took a moderate marriage disagreement to the extreme for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of viewers and signaling that the survivor was as heartless as Cyrus.

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Who are the people like Olivia Pope? It’s no secret that Marcus, Quinn, Abby, and Huck are different aspects and desires of Olivia. If she were more like Huck, or even Quinn, she wouldn’t have had an issue exterminating Cyrus. In those scenes, she was more like Abby, the one-time bleeding heart before she tripped and fell down her own rabbit hole. Olivia has always lacked her parents’ personal commitment to complete a questionable project. Does not getting her hands dirty make her smarter or weaker than Maya and Rowan? I’ll leave that to you to decide.

My main gripe with Scandal is its gender portrayals that have always aimed to satisfy the viewers’ needs for couples, heterosexual, gay, or somewhere between. I get the human quest for companionship, I just wish that Olivia and Mellie’s romantic and emotional desires weren’t such an Achilles Heel that colors many of their decisions. It’s a different take on characters with a drinking or drug problem as an obstacle, which isn’t as daunting, but just as stereotypical as a character with a childhood history of sexual abuse.

I know it’s a losing battle to argue for single heroes and villains. Who wants to deal with that as a writer or actor, not to mention the social media backlash and live-tweeting accusations and assertions that the character in question is bitter and lonely as justifications for their behavior? Who are we in the real world and on television without a lover, significant other, or spouse? Barbra Streisand’s “People” comes to mind.

People like me who hunger for power and prestige, and once it’s achieved, it goes straight to my head, and creates an insatiable thirst that continues gnawing at me. Is that a fair assumption about both Olivia and tonight’s episode? I think so. Once such power is earned or manipulated, one might feel invincible and do foolish, irreversible acts only to be taken down publicly.

Scandal can’t possibly end with its two leading female characters at war. It’s better to put the bad blood behind them and realign forces to counterattack the male villains. This makes sense in Shondaland with their philosophy of women united in sisterhood and against a common foe. As with other shows heading towards the exit signs on the studio lot, corpses begin piling up closer to the end. We’ll have to wait until next week to see if there are additional casualties. I don’t envision bloodshed and mayhem will be the manner in which the series ends.


3 out of 5