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‘Scandal’ Review: ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’

ABC/Richard Cartwright

Last night, Scandal skillfully brought the fallout of “Who got shot” by Jake front and center and then proceeded to rip viewers’ hearts out.

In “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” Jake demonstrates he’s no longer wearing a white hat, Olivia begins to remember who she really is, and Cyrus struggles to deal with losing the love of his life. Let’s jump into it.

Jake ain’t such a squeaky clean guy after all

Jake really did kill James and the two women present at that meeting. While not shocking, it did launch some of the best emotional fallout of the season thus far. Jake is head of B613, so by definition he’s going to do horrible things and although this was to cover up Daniel Douglas’ murder, it’s still evil.  And while some think it was disturbingly sweet for him to stay with James while he slowly and excruciatingly died, let’s not gloss over that Jake did this to James. Jake took him from his husband and daughter. Period. So no, staying with James and apologizing for killing him doesn’t make him a stand up guy.

Jake’s dark turn actually levels the playing field when comparing him to Fitz.  Both are murderers, liars, and god knows what else. Jake isn’t the good guy up on the pedestal that can save Olivia from the turmoil her life, he’s the guy who needs to now be monitored. Case in point: Jake threatening Olivia with, “Bad things happen to good people all the time.” This is up there at the unacceptable level alongside Huck putting his hands on Olivia’s throat.

Cyrus deals with losing James

The best part of this episode rests at the feet of Jeff Perry and the fantastic flashbacks that finally tied this season to the original show everyone loved. Leading with James’ death is a sucker punch to Cyrus and viewers alike, but the flashbacks to their love story were perfectly woven to show that Cyrus the monster really was in love with his husband. Yes, this is the same man who was willing to have James sacrificed to cover up Defiance, but this is also a man who made the grand gesture of acknowledging his love for James by bringing him to the center of the state dinner dance floor to waltz with him.

Fitz trying to get Cyrus open up about his love for James, and the original argument that Olivia overheard on election night between James and Cyrus reminded viewers of who these characters really are again, something sorely needed this season. In the end, Cyrus throws himself back into work to cope, and accepts that James was murdered by a carjacker. Consequently, the most heartbreaking scene of the episode was when it finally hits him that James is dead as he’s giving the press conference on the suspect captured. His breakdown in front of everyone is viscerally raw and excruciating to watch because now it’s real to him.

David Rosen realizes how gray life is

Because Jake lets David live, he’s not only plagued by survivor’s guilt, but also inner turmoil of doing the right thing. David has always been the moral compass of the show. This show needs his morality to ground the crazy background of terrorism and spies that have taken over and tie it back to the heart of characters, namely Olivia Pope. His dilemma of whether to let an innocent man take the fall for James’ death or expose the truth of Jake’s involvement is what this show does well. All solutions are equally sucky, but is it better to cut off the tail of the snake or the head of it? In the end, and more importantly with Olivia’s help, he chooses to go after the head.

Olivia Pope starts to remember who she is

Let’s face it, season three Olivia Pope is a shell of who she really is. She’s floundered and stumbled and had the bottom drop out of every aspect of her life. Last night there were overdue glimpses of Olivia slowly gaining her footing.  The conversation between Olivia and Rowan is the light bulb moment she needed to remember to start her rebuilding process. When Rowan says, “Everyone is worth saving. In the face of darkness, you drag everyone into the light. THAT is the point, at least I like to think that is the point of YOU,” Olivia realizes there is still a white hat to wear and her brokenness doesn’t own her, it’s just a part of her that makes her Olivia.

On the flip side, it’s obvious why Olivia feels the weight of the world on her shoulders, because quite literally, Rowan puts it there. The crucial scene of her gladiators coming to her for directions hints that maybe she’s starting to run things again.  Also, it was nice to Olivia get back to her roots and NOT be tied down romantically to either Fitz or Jake for an episode. First and foremost, Olivia Pope is a badass political asset and it was nice to see the show remembered that as she worked side by side Fitz and Cyrus in the Oval again.

No to Quinn and Huck. Just no.

While passion is necessary for any good relationship, spitting in someone’s face doesn’t rank up there as a major turn on, but hey, different strokes for different folks, right? Or not. Huck and Quinn finally have a face to face meeting where apparently Huck thinks hand to hand combat is foreplay.  Quinn is still stuck in her feelings over her banishment from OPA, although Olivia has asked her to return and she stubbornly refused. Deep down, however, she’s remained the gladiator that Huck trained and he now wants to protect her? Honestly, it’s confusing and not quite an attention grabber.  Huck is all over the place like a rabid dog on the hunt for anything to attack and while technically loyal to Olivia, it seems like it’s only because his interests match Olivia’s.

Mellie forgets to keep her knees closed

Mellie and Andrew are sent to court the gun lobby for Fitz’s reelection campaign and they can’t resist each other a moment longer. In all seriousness, Mellie and Andrew are refreshingly cute. Once again, the parallels of these two falling for each other while debating gun control versus season one Fitz and Olivia falling for each other while arguing over the state of the union is clear as day. On one hand, Mellie deserves some loving because god knows Fitz hasn’t touched her since Teddy’s halfhearted conception.  One the other, the fallout of Olivia learning about these two getting together is what will be must see. Olivia needs to practice letting the word “whore” roll off her tongue in preparation for her chat with Mellie because karma is a bitch. And no doubt Fitz will let his XY chromosomes take over and act some sort foolishness where he needs to be slapped when he learns about Andrew and Mellie. Bring in on, Olivia Pope can multitask.

Thus far, this is probably my favorite episode of season three because although this is fallout from a B613 plotline, (and I’m pretty tired of B613 and the “republic” running this show,) James’ murder was grounded in original Scandal characterizations. These are the fictional people I’m starting to remember. That isn’t to say this show isn’t losing its pace. Hell, Mama Pope shot someone, is making a deal to murder someone else, scaring the bajeezus out of Adnan and is generally up to no good and she was on for approximately 3 mins the entire show.

What worked in this episode was remembering the real moments like Cyrus trying to come out to Fitz, or the gladiators of OPA seeking instructions from Olivia who was actually in her office or even Abby and David arguing like a real couple worried about each other and Fitz and Oliva working side by side.  The emotional tug of this episode makes me want to invest in these characters again, because for a hot minute, no one was worth rooting for (Of course, this could all be thrown out the window next week).

What did you guys think of the episode?

Angela Romack
Angela Romack is writes what you’re thinking about when it comes to your favorite TV shows. If you don’t agree, that's fine. She's okay with being right. Follow her on Twitter at @AngelaMRomack.

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1 Comment

  1. The Cyrus & James flashbacks were the best parts followed closely by Cyrus’ breakdown with Fitz helping him out of the press room and David dealing with survivor’s guilt.

    I’m glad James heard Ella was safe. As far as Jake, I don’t know if we’re supposed to feel good about him. For me, that scene was an example of how Rowan explained what’s it’s like to be in command. Even Rowan remembered every name and family.

    I’m terribly heartbroken that James died. I’d rather have seen James live, get brought into B613 and get a glimpse of the dark side of politics that Cyrus has been a part of. I’ll watch the next episode and just decide week to week whether to continue watching the show without my favorite character.

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