I considered starting this earlier in the series, but, to be frank, after watching episode 1, as I expressed in my post stating some concerns I had for the show, I wasn’t quite sure of how it would evolve and progress over the next several episodes.
And now, after 4 episodes, and watching them all (I just watched episode 4, the latest, yesterday, finally), and feeling far more confident about the series than I was initially, I figured now would be a good time to start a weekly S&A Scandal Talkback Session; I usually like to give new shows 3 episodes before deciding on whether I’ll continue watching them or not. And, obviously Scandal has passed my discriminating tests, since I made it to episode 4 :)
We could say it’s the *hottest* show on TV right now (both network and cable) with a black character leading it (although it’s not like there are many of them anyway, unless you watch TBS often), and it’s also, by the way, created by a black woman writer/producer, who also happens to be one of the most powerful showrunners in TV right now.
And, the icing on the cake is that it’s actually a good show!
Throw all those ingredients together, and you have enough food to feed the S&A Scandal Talkback Session, which I’ll make a weekly event.
So, let’s go!
WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead… for those who aren’t up-to-speed…
I’ll start by saying, the series has definitely grown on me, despite early concerns, notably Kerry Washington as this firebrand of a human being, and whether she had the ability to give this character life and be believable. I initially felt that the role needed to go to an actress I’d consider more of a force, given the woman she portrays (and I’m going based strictly on descriptions here; I’ve never met the real Olivia Pope/Judy Smith).
I also expected an older actress, given the real-life character’s age, her achievements, etc.
But those early concerns are no longer concerns. I believe her now. I watch Kerry speak, move, her mannerisms, all as Olivia Pope, and I’m buying what she’s selling, even though I wasn’t entire sold after the first episode.
I also wasn’t a big fan of the rapid-fire dialogue, but this really is the first Shonda Rhimes show that I can say I’m watching religiously, so I wasn’t already fully aware that this was just her style. And I can say that it’s grown on me. I’m not rolling my eyes as I was during episode one, when it felt somewhat forced and self-conscious, and I wondered if maybe it was just the delivery by the actors that wasn’t working for me, and less Rhimes’ writing. But, for whatever reason, I’m just not bothered by it as I initially was. In fact, I’d even say that some of those monologues are just so geniously written and delivered! It seems like you can count on Olivia to give one every episode; but the soliloquy given by Cyrus to the President, in the White House, in the middle of episode 4, was wonderfully hilarious.
It’s singular moments like that one, which one remembers, and words that one recites. They become embedded in the public’s concsiousness and soon are catch-phrases. Even something as simple and tame as “it’s handled,” or “gladiator in a suit” – which were at first mocked by some – are now being used more casually, and with purpose.
It’s interesting to observe these progressions over time.
I’m glad we no longer have to hear about just how good Olivia Pope is at her job anymore, or that she’s the best at what she does – whether from her, or from her employees, or from people she’s worked for. There was a lot of that in episodes 1 and 2, and, as I expressed previously, one of my concerns was that it would continue. I wanted more show and less tell, and, without a doubt, Shonda has done just that with these last 2 episodes.
However, like I said, I’m definitely engaged, and I want to see more; I hope it only continues to get better from here-on. I like that it’s not as predicatable as I thought it would be after the first 2 episodes, and I’m curious to see where Shonda Rhimes will take these characters and their individual stories; I like the ongoing challenges the firm faces that carry over the episodes, more-so than the individual per-episode cases they tackle, which they continue to handle almost too efficiently for my liking. But that’s not enough of a distraction for me.
The supporting characters are all interesting enough that I’d actually like to see episodes that focus on each of them a bit more – maybe cases that they are somehow caught up in, and we learn a little more about each one than we know currently. But I like how we gets these bits and pieces of information scattered about each episode that reveal bits and pieces of each character.
And speaking of monologues/speeches, I particularly loved the scolding Abby Whelan gave Olivia in episode 4, shaking her out of whatever psychological prison she was in leading up to that moment, which was influencing her decision-making. It both displayed a side of Abby we hadn’t quite seen yet, and we learned a bit more about the history between the two of them. Also, in a way, it humanized Olivia, who, much of the time, operates almost machine-like. It was good to see her have this emotional breakdown in that last episode. It’s almost like she’s been this balloon that kept expanding and expanding, as she worked so hard to keep all that agitation contained inside of her through the first 3 episodes, and then, boom, the bubble burst. It’s like she needed that form of catharsis, leading up to Abby’s wake-the-fuck-up call to get her back on track.
I’m also glad that Olivia didn’t do something reckless like get back involved with the president again; instead, given episode 4’s progression, I’d say the opposite of that is happening. As I said in a Facebook post yesterday after watching that last episode, shit just got real!
TOOOO real! Seriously, in the end there, when Amanda Tanner is injected with some fluid that instantly knocks her out, and is carried out/kidnapped by some unknown dude covered in all black, I thought, damn, where is Shonda going with this?
A war is brewing apparently, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. I just hope it doesn’t get too soapy and melodramatic.
Worth noting however… keep in mind though that there are only 7 episodes this first season. That’s right – this is all going to come to an end in 3 weeks! And I’m sure a lot of you are going to be suffering from Scandal withdrawal until the next season, whenever that will be. It’s telling that ABC hasn’t renewed it for another season yet; the numbers, which aren’t mindblowing, but, from all I’ve read, are steady: roughly 7 million viewers, taking the number 2 spot during that Thursday 10pm hour, behind CBS’ The Mentalist, with about 11.9 million. Compare that to Shonda Rhimes’ other ABC series, Grey’s Anatomy, which comes on the hour before Scandal, with 9.7 million viewers.
I’m definitely curious about the audience make-up and how much cross-over there is; or how many Grey’s Anatomy watchers are sticking around for Scandal right afterward.
But, by all accounts, Scandal should be in a good position for a renewal, as long as it remains steady throughout the rest of the season, with 3 episodes left. But ya never know, do ya?