Scandal has been… ridiculous… for a couple seasons now. Absolutely unwatchable levels of ridiculous as Olivia has gotten darker and darker, Quinn’s fake-out death, and long-winded (barely interesting) speeches. Every word has been enunciated for dramatic effect. Air Force 2 had significantly less speeches. I think it had 1 or 2 that were gruelling, and then the surprisingly impassioned speech from none other than Cyrus Beene.
I’m usually not faked-out by bait and switch plot points. I see them coming, I cringe, and I cover my eyes and wait for the inevitable plot twist. I’ve got to say, for once, I thought Scandal might actually be trying to redeem Cyrus – we are getting close to end game, after-all. Maybe there’d be hope for our power-hungry, semi-evil, VP. I mean, if Charlie can become a good guy (perhaps even the best good guy), then there’s hope for everybody.
In a toxic political climate, hearing Cyrus’ speech touched a nerve. I might be Canadian, but the passionate, well-spoken speech was something that I haven’t really heard lately. The world stage has become more and more polarizing. The thought of sacrificing yourself for your country in a world where globalization has been either causing countries to have less of an identity, or become radically nationalist (Brexit, anybody?), it was a breath of fresh air. The speech touched me. I cried. I really did. I felt intense emotions for the first time in ages on Scandal. I usually laugh in the face of danger on this show – literally laugh, as it’s become more and more absurd as the seasons go on.
This episode felt stronger than most episodes of Scandal in recent years. It felt emotional, and it felt gut-punching. When Olivia puts together that it was Cyrus that staged the attack, I felt a little burned – but not in a bad way. It made sense. Cyrus is a monster, but I was willing to trust him (albeit briefly) because of his speech. I think I would have voted for him for a minute there. Which is a perfect political commentary. Politics, when it shouldn’t, becomes about feelings. Voting comes down to the best press tour, the best fixer you have. Scandal finally has a message. It’s not just Rashad being blown up and B6-13. There’s some real world truth to Scandal. Politics is a smoke screen.
As wrong as this sounds, the episode seemed to be good because Olivia finally wasn’t the center. Olivia has been a trainwreck lately. I’m sick of her. I’m sick of the redemption tour. I don’t think she can be redeemed. There’s nobody to root for anymore, and I think Scandal (before it flips and tries to make Olivia the heroine, had something to say here. Trust nobody in politics. Not your gut. Not the news media. The real story is more complex, more complicated than you could ever know. Sometimes the Russian hackers are your own VP.
I gotta say, this will probably be the last episode of Scandal that I truly enjoy, but I am hopeful for a bit more. Watching Mellie be president, strong-proud, feminine, and seeing the world of Scandal in all its grey felt right. Except that heartless to heartless exchange between Liv and her evil mother. I could do without that. Seriously.