The Queen doesn’t get it. I really don’t get it.
Warning: Graphic images of violence in post.
When you’re building a fan base…why save all of your best stuff for last? Why save your master stroke of storytelling until the end?
Nonetheless, that’s what Shonda and the Producers (sounds like the name of a Doo Wop group) did. And. it. was. brilliant.
This episode moved faster than the Queen at a 70% Off sale at Barney’s. And for this episode it truly worked. Firstly because the writing was crisp,concise and predicated on action instead of dialogue–nothing extraneous to be seen. And secondly because we knew (and cared about on some level) all the players. You can’t do that in the beginning of a series unless you establish an emotional connection with the viewers.
In the beginning–without any information–Quinn was just a flighty girl who was our chaperon into the world of Olivia Pope. Now that she is our friend we can share her horror as she walks through the door to find Gideon choking in his own blood as he desperately clings to life. And major kudos to Katie Lowes for a masterful acting lesson in how to play shock. The Queen desperately wanted to hold her as she worked through the stages. Incredible. And this was Olivia at her best: obviously affected, but using the adrenaline to assess the situation and adeptly take control. One of Washington’s best moments so far.
And what a great villain Billy Chambers is. Again, master work watching actor Matt Letscher navigate through Billy’s own shock at what he’d done. And director Roxann Dawson’s decision to linger on his process was a brilliant way of shining a light on how we all rise to the occasion when we need to. We watched a man become a murderer.
And so Billy sets all the logistical marbles into motion. All the steelies, cat’s eyes and aggies roll across the White House table. First at the morning Press Corps briefing, then towards Cyrus and finally Mellie. We finally get to see why Fitz got elected. He becomes the Commander-In-Chief before our eyes–telling Cyrus that it was he who got himself elected, letting Sally know in no uncertain terms who is in charge of his Administration. Willing to play out his own version of Edward VIII leaving the throne for his Chocolate Wallis Simpson, Fitzgerald Grant proves that he’s not screwing around (pun intended).
And what delicious fun watching the Mistress and the Wife figure it all out. Bellamy Young is a revelation. This Diva has got it going ON. Everyone has their job to do. What a classy and chilling bit of writing on Rhimes’ part. It reminds us that Politics is a chess game. From Hilary Clinton, to the late Elizabeth Edwards–hell, to Michelle Obama: everyone knows how the game works. You just have to figure out how you want to play it. The solution? Highly implausible in the Queen’s opinion. But if ANYONE can pull it off–it’s Mellie Grant.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not a total convert. The cast is still uneven. Unlike Grey’s Anatomy, the group hasn’t found their rhythm. And as the hub, Washington falls short a good deal of the time. And while the script is often witty and compelling, it is also inconsistent from writer to writer.
That said, the Queen will keep watching. Since ABC has picked it up for next season, it stands to reason that Scandal has found an audience. And since there was a very nice blend of what Shonda chose to tie up in terms of plot (the details of Amanda Tanner’s part in the story–including the Cheney-esque role Cyrus played, and a plausible coda to this particular movement of Fitz and Olivia’s symphonic relationship); and what was left unresolved (who really is Quinn Perkins, and why does Washington DC seem to be comprised only of monuments, Georgetown and Capitol Hill?), there is still much to look forward to.