Well, it’s been 84 years and Scandal is finally back with “Run.” I have no idea what I was expecting for the winter premiere, but I can assure you this was not at all what I pictured. That isn’t to say that I hated it, because I didn’t. I actually really loved the Olivia-centric episode with Kerry Washington showcasing that she can own scenes when the writing is there. I’m just confused as to where this is going long term – because this episode was a phenomenal stand-alone episode, but as it relates to season four or even the history of Scandal? I’m still trying to make it fit. But before I get into my existential thoughts, let’s talk about what happened to Olivia after she’s snatched out of her house.
Turns out, serious professional thugs snuck into Liv’s apartment and whisked her away…all the way across her building’s hallway into her neighbor’s place. Meanwhile, Jake the Super Spy, who hears nothing and is literally four feet away from Olivia, can’t stop it from going down. He’s too busy trying to figure out how not to fall off the piano during sex. Anyway, he goes chasing after Olivia outside and falls for the decoy car the kidnappers have set up, while they actually sneak her out via a fake ambulance and under her now dead elderly neighbor. Surprisingly, the kidnappers don’t notice that Olivia hid her ring under the rug, so hopefully that means that someone from OPA will find it and realize that Olivia is in some serious shit right now.
Olivia wakes up in a cell, with the call to prayer being announced “outside” and a cellmate named Ian. From the minute I saw Ian, I didn’t trust his pigpen behind, but for some reason Olivia has verbal diarrhea and proceeds to tell him about how Fitz would be looking for her. Rookie mistake, Olivia. As the days pass by, Olivia’s inner Macgyver comes out and she tries to escape by opening a window with the underwire from her bra, proving that men still don’t understand bras’ importance. She gets busted by the kidnappers, and they realize the best way to punish her is to kill Ian because Olivia’s savior complex is her greatest and only weakness. Olivia starts to hallucinate/dream about being rescued by Jake, but living happily ever after in Vermont with Fitz.
I’m not even gonna lie, that Vermont cuteness was everything it should be and I’m always here for Olitz shower sex. My only issue is that Olivia Pope is not meant for canning jam, she’s meant to run Washington, D.C. and the symbolism that Fitz and Olivia can only be together in a dream, where she’s given up everything to be with him, and she’s isolated in Vermont is not lost on me. I don’t understand why the idea of Olivia and Fitz and Olivia remaining Olivia are mutually exclusive, but that’s for a different article. On the other hand, Olivia literally dreams of a life with Fitz, even after being rescued by Jake. So that’s something, I guess? Also, notice that Tom was there in Vermont to “protect him [Fitz] from her [Olivia].” So even in a happy hallucination, Olivia still carries the guilt of being the root cause of Jerry’s death and Fitz’s consequent pain. What I did love was Abby being the voice of reason in this hallucination to tell Olivia to pull herself together and figure out how to escape on her own two feet. That’s the first rule of being a best friend: telling the harsh truth.
Of course, Olivia wakes up from her dream and is still stuck in this cell. Asking to go to the bathroom, Olivia loses her mind when she sees that they have bricked over her previous escape window. She does realize, however, that the object Abby had shown her in her dream was actually something in the bathroom that could help her loosen a pipe. She consequently knocks the tar out of one of kidnappers, and honestly, she should have gotten a couple more solid licks in there in retaliation for when he knocked her off the sink, but that’s me and I tend to hold grudges. Anyway, she shoots the other kidnapper in his large forehead and gets through all 17 locks to finally break through the red doors…to find it’s a sham and actually in a warehouse with ambient noise made to trick her into thinking she’s in Sudan. Out comes Ian from the shadows – I told you that ass wasn’t to be trusted – to make her realize that her real life nightmare is just beginning because he is the guy in charge. He’s definitely the one with whom she should negotiate.
Overall, this episode was fantastic if you treat it as a stand-alone Scandal special, the beginning of a new Amazon series, or a new pilot that’s a cousin of Alias, because the similarity is way too close to deny. I enjoyed that Olivia Pope isn’t a withering, stuttering mess that she has been of late, she’s instead taking charge and trying to find another option to escape. She isn’t backing down an inch as she deals with the kidnappers and that’s lovely to see again. Also, Washington, under the direction of Tom Verica, knocked it out of the park by flawlessly conveying each passing emotion of Olivia: her constant assessment of her surroundings, her palpable fear, and her underlying hope that she’ll survive this with just her facial expressions. It’s the best writing for her thus far into the season and should definitely be an Emmy submission because she got to bring her range of acting, not just whimpering in a corner *coughseasonthreecough*. Also, as much as the supporting cast brings layers to the show, this Olivia-centric episode is good reminder that Washington is the backbone of Scandal…just in case people forgot.
What has me scratching my head, however, is the U-turn this show has taken with this kidnapping storyline. I fell in love with a show about political fixer who had a messy personal life. The insidious use of B613 in season three and four coupled with Olivia’s kidnapping has turned this a completely different show and I’m not sure if I like it. On one hand, I’m more than ok with Olivia Pope getting her voice back, but on the other, I’ve already watched Alias, parts of Homeland, and just recently, The Honourable Woman. Those shows are perfect because they told their own stories in their own voices. It feels like Scandal is trying to reboot itself and morph into this new and improved show to run with those shows, and it’s not really necessary. Granted, it was one episode. I may be jumping the gun on my alarm, but about halfway through this episode I took a step back and asked, “what show am I watching?” because this isn’t Scandal. Or maybe it’s just the new Scandal.
What did you think?