By Arturo R. García
Finally, the chickens came home to roost on Scandal‘s penultimate episode of the season.
Unfortunately, they came for the writers.
While it’s natural for this episode to serve as the introduction for multiple points of tension heading into the finale, the whole turned out more overcooked than the sum of its parts. And for this show, that’s saying something. Let’s take each of them one-by-one.
1. It’s six days before the election!: As we’ve talked about in the past, the lack of attention to any notion of a campaign (past dramatic speeches every now and then) during this stretch of the season made hearing this the biggest surprise of the episode. (So much so that the writers apparently felt the need to have everybody remind us over and over). Nobody’s asking this show to turn into a documentary, but the campaign process literally takes years. So setting this episode so close to the election felt like an albatross trying to fly its way to plausibility, not knowing the eight-episode structure for this arc clipped its wings from the outset.
2. Sally and Leo have an evil plan!: The lack of an actual campaign also undercuts Sally’s sudden attempt at an underhanded Hail Mary. Viewers barely saw her get over killing her husband, and now she’s trying to land the killing blow on Fitz’s campaign? Her candidacy barely has a reason to exist at this point. Also, it would’ve been nice to see how Leo set up his deal with the Evil High-Schooler; nobody on this show is exactly a good person, but one hates to think he’s like a political Woodeston when he’s off the clock.
3. Maya has an evil plan!: This was actually the highlight of the episode. The feint — tricking everyone into thinking she and Adnan wanted to blow Fitz up at his campaign stop — was well-constructed, the revelation that it was her who killed Senator MacGuffin felt earned, and Khandi Alexander more than delivered in her spotlight moments. Not only that, but the shot of Maya sneaking into the OliviaCave while Huck and Quinn were en flagrante crassus — some super-spies they are — was a rare moment in this episode where the show’s style outshone its attempt to pile on narrative substance.
4. Olivia and Fitz and Jake and Olivia!: At one point, Jake served as a serviceable counterpoint to Fitz. But since becoming Command, he’s devolved into the other side of the melodramatic coin. It’s not even clear anymore whether he has a real reason to want to be Olivia besides, she’s there and she was there and she won’t ditch both of them altogether. And now, instead of one lovelorn argument per week, we get two. That’s screen time that, to put it mildly, might have done more service to other characters.
5. Harrison’s trapped! Rowan is dying!: If I had to guess, I’d say both will pull through — after all, if Rowan were going to die, he would have done so at the end of this episode. But we’ll see how that all plays out.
Meanwhile, Racializens, what’s your predictions for next week?