Where on earth is Olivia Pope?
That’s the question that we’ve been asking ourselves since we saw Olivia hop on the plane with Jake at the end of last season. As season four opens, we find a curly headed Olivia frolicking on some private island with Jake. She has not one care in the world, she’s not at all the Olivia that we know and love. In fact she’s Julia.
(For those of you who did not catch the reference, Julia Baker was the name of Diahann Carroll’s character in the television show Julia (1968-1971) Prior to Scandal’s start in 2012, Julia was the last primetime television drama with a Black female lead.)
Though Olivia and Jake have seemingly dropped off the face of the earth, someone has figured out where they are. Their red wine delivery brings with it the news of Harrison’s death. And just like that their island paradise bubble is popped.
I must say that I wasn’t too torn up about Harrison’s death. Columbus Short’s personal life aside, I was increasingly irritated by his lack of back-story and I couldn’t understand his unwavering loyalty.
Back in D.C.
Olivia and Jake arrive back in Washington to a now defunct Pope and Associates. Shockingly, it’s Quinn (or Superfreak as Abby calls her) who lured Olivia about of paradise. (Last time I checked she wasn’t even a member of OPA anymore, but I guess that’s all forgotten.) Even still, Quinn seems to be fairing better than the members of OPA.
Huck has completely fallen apart. Unable to cope with Olivia’s “abandonment” he’s assumed a role as Randy the IT guy. (Obviously, reuniting with his family went poorly, but I guess we’ll have to wait to hear more about that until later in the season.)
Abby has taken up residence in the White House, literally replacing Olivia, but abandoning Quinn and Huck in the process. Despite her new position, Abby seems miserable. We discover that she and David are no longer together, (apparently he abandoned her for his obsession with B6-13 when she needed him the most) and she gets no real respect at 1600 Pennsylvania. No one even knows her name, they insist on calling her Red.
The White House
The White House itself is in a precarious state. As a result of his son’s death, Olivia’s disappearance and learning about Mellie rape, Fitz has thrown himself into work. Perhaps for the first time, he’s become the president that Cyrus and Olivia knew he could be, the man they stole the White House for. It’s the era of Fitz 2.0.
Mellie on the other hand has fallen apart, no longer the put together sharp-shooting Southern Belle. Mellie wanders through the White House in her robe and Uggs, drinking herself into a state of numbness. Interestingly enough, Mellie and Fitz seem to have come to some sort of a truce, an understanding that had been severely lacking prior to Fitz 2.0.
Jake uses his time back in Washington, to check on David ‘s investigation into B6-13. (If your recall at the end of the last season, he supplies David with all of B6-13’s classified documents and case files.) Jake is annoyed to discover that David has done nothing with this information.
Too afraid blow the whistle; he’s crammed the files into an undisclosed storage facility. Irritated Jake tells him to either shit or get off the pot. David may very well get the opportunity to do something as shortly thereafter he’s offered the position as U.S. Attorney General.
As we already know, nothing gets past Papa Pope, he’s waiting for Olivia in their usual spot. Olivia asks her Dad if he has anything to do with Harrison’s death. The blue ribbon liar that he is, Rowan of course tells her he had nothing to do with it. Olivia also believes that it was her mother who killed Fitz’s son. However, we all know that Rowan is actually the one killed Jerry Grant. If you recall he told Harrison, “He took my child, so I took his.” (Now that I think about it, is Harrison really dead, or is he chillin in some B6-13 hole with Maya? We never did see a body after all.)
Cyrus discovers Olivia is back in town and he quickly runs to tell Fitz, who in turn tells Mellie. Mellie is not playing any games this season, she tells Fitz that when she he sees Olivia she wants to know. She wants some sort of heads up. Fitz feebly assures Mellie that he won’t see Olivia but as Cyrus says, “We all know what happens next, we’ve seen this movie a hundred times.”
Though, Olivia is adamant about remaining in Washington only long enough to bury Harrison, the universe has other plans for her. She’s quickly called to the scene of a sexual assault. As much as she gripes about standing in the sun, it’s so easy for her to slip back into “it’s handled mode.” She’s rattled only momentarily, sickened when she discovers that the senator she’s working for has used her staffer for bait for her own political agenda. However, that moment is brushed over quickly.
Which brings me to this. I don’t think that Jake and Olivia’s relationship works in Washington. As one person said so eloquently on Twitter, she treats him like Rhianna treats Drake. Even Jake seems to recognize it. “As long as we’re back its his turn, ALWAYS.” And yet, he tells her in no uncertain terms that despite the fact that her heart may be with Fitz, he puts it down in the bedroom. (Ummm….pineapples.)
I appreciated the fact that Shonda brought forth real issues in this episode. Last season, I was really missing the actual cases that Pope and Associates dealt with in the first two seasons. Sexual assault, harassment in the work place and equal pay for women are very real issues that the country is currently dealing with today.
As expected, Huck, Abby and Quinn all turn up for Harrison’s funeral. If only for a moment, it seems that the bad blood between the members of OPA is forgotten. (Aretha Franklin’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” will get you through anything.)
In the end, Olivia remains in Washington. For her, standing in the light has always meant wearing the white hat (or white pantsuit in this case.) She’s had her mental health break so its time for her to return to her Gladiators and to the mess that she left behind.
But I still have some questions.
What does Cyrus have on his head? Is it a toupee? Is it a lacefront? Honestly it was so distracting that half the time I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying.
How does Portia de Rossi’s character Lizzie fit into all of this? I read up and figured out that she’s the Republican National Committee Chairman. Obviously the Republican’s don’t trust Fitz when he’s left up to his own devices. (They clearly aren’t going to take him nominating a Democrat for Attorney General lightly.)
Are Abby and David done for real? That would be sad because I rather enjoyed them together.
Can Olivia and Fitz be done for good? I’m SOOO OVER OLITZ. (Well 85% over them.) I spent the majority of last season nauseated when they were onscreen together. Obviously I won’t get my wish if their phantom pinky hold and sexy smirks in the final scene were any indication of what’s to come.
Are we going to find out more about Fitz’s attempted suicide?
I must admit that I found this season premiere of Scandal a bit lackluster. The pacing just seemed a bit off for me or maybe it was because there was no real cliffhanger last season. Either way, I’m sure Shonda will be putting us on edge soon enough.
What did you all think? Are you still a Gladiator?
Aramide A Tinubu recently finished her Master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema at Columbia University in Film Studies. She’s a Black Cinema geek and blogger. You can view her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.co or tweet her @midnightrami