Scandal has officially returned! In the fourth season opener “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia,” Fitz begins his second term with a plan to make positive changes for the nation. Meanwhile, Mellie has trouble dealing with her son’s death; and Olivia’s absence leaves a void on her team.
As I wrote in my recent article, I really needed the Season 4 premiere to reset of a lot of the wrongs we endured in season three. Granted, Scandal has a ways to go before I trust that things are turning around permanently, but it was progress nonetheless.
Olivia Pope, is that you? | So the plane that Papa Pope tricked Olivia into getting on landed, in some remote island off Zanzibar. Turns out, Liv and Jake have been living on this isolated nirvana for two months, cut off from all forms of communication. Olivia, or Julia Baker (nice homage to Diahann Carroll and Julia) manages to get the newspaper clippings that Quinn sent her and returns to Washington – for a few days (right) – to plan Harrison’s funeral. Of course, while Olivia is home she gets sucked into a case involving a female senator (guest star Jessica Tuck), who claims to have pushed a male senator off the second story after he sexually assaulted her.
In reality, the male senator didn’t attack the senator, he attacked her assistant after she basically sacrificed up her to the male senator. Yeah, super disgusting. However, the most important aspect of this case? The fact there is a case. Yes, Olivia Pope, actually used her brain (and gut instinct) to figure out what the hell was going on here. And she made a pretty great speech about victims of sexual assault. This small positive development is what makes all other questionable ::cough::Jake and Olivia::cough:: storyline decisions bearable.
As far as Jake and Olivia goes…I guess “blah” sums up how I feel. This questionable storyline has Jake happy to be with someone who still loves another man, and Olivia is just fine with substituting someone else for Fitz. Except she’s not, and neither is he because he wants to return to the island immediately. As he points out, Washington will always be Fitz’s pull over her. There was more passion in the almost finger touching between Fitz and Olivia in the hallway, then the bedroom scene where Jake let his mouth override his behind yet again. Olivia shouldn’t look bored or distracted in bed, and yet she did. Anybody remember when he choked Olivia in her office? Or put her in the hospital with a concussion? We’re just gonna forget all that happened? Oh. Ok. And what exactly does Jake do now? Besides Olivia. I have more questions than answers for this character.
Pour one out for Harrison |Harrison is deader than a doornail and Olivia wants to give him a proper burial with the gladiators, except her gladiators have scattered to the wind after she left and Harrison died. Abby is holding down the white House as the press secretary, Huck’s name is now Randy and he basically on a geek squad, and no one knows/cares what Quinn is doing as usual. Also, none of them are really thrilled with Olivia’s previous decision to leave so her welcome home moments include a dressing down from Abby and a dismissal from Huck, both well earned by Olivia. She left her people and ran, there are consequences for that. Eventually, Olivia gets pissed off and pushes back at both of them, which was also necessary and beautiful to see. She’s fighting her way back. Everyone ultimately shows up for the graveside service, and by everyone I mean Olivia and her gladiators and for some reason Jake, who just hovers in the background like always.
The funeral was a straight up throw back to original the Olivia Pope & Associates, perfect song choice of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Aretha Franklin included. It felt like a reset button was being pushed, because although Harrison is gone, he managed to get everyone to remember that OPA existed and that they are a family no matter how messy. In related news, Papa Pope remains Satan and continues to pull the wool over Olivia’s eyes, especially as it concerns his involvement in Harrison AND Jerry’s death. Just once I want her to school him. Just. Once.
F%&@ It Mellie | The only thing better than “Drunk Mellie” is this new “F%&@ It Mellie.” When your t-shirt is only two days old and you’re eating fruit loops on the Oval Office couch, you have won the “F%&@ It” award of the year. Mellie has buried a child and there is nothing worse than a parent having to face this tragedy, so she can wear, say, and do anything she damn well pleases. This also includes personal grooming choices, since she’s singlehandedly bringing back 1976. Bellamy Young deftly plays the heartbreak and anger of losing a son so well, it’s kind of impossible not to feel for Mellie when she lays down on Jerry’s grave in the cemetery.
Fitz is functioning | Fitz has thrown himself into working on her presidential agenda as he tries to heal from Jerry’s death and his attempted suicide, and that’s just fine. He’s taking care of Mellie, as much as she lets him anyway, and he’s generally just trying to survive. He learns of Olivia’s return and decides not to contact her. Cue applause. Fitz needs to stand on his own two feet without throwing himself into Olivia’s arms any time soon. To be honest, Olivia is the one who needs to make the first move this time, but it’s too soon. Both need to stay in their own lanes for a while and work on themselves before they even attempt talking to each other. Did you notice those small smiles on their faces in the hallway when everyone disappeared around them as they passed each other, though? Yeah, they’re not over.
Odds and Ends | While Olivia and her gladiators are dealing with Harrison’s death, Cyrus is trying to manage Fitz and Mellie and “Lizziebear” (Portia di Rossi), a new thorn in his side a la a liaison to the Republican party. Meanwhile, David Rosen is still trying to tie together the evidence Jake left him to bring down B613. To his surprise, Fitz appoints him as Attorney General, so maybe he’s finally in a position to blow everything out in the open.