By Alex Intner , For the Daily
Published October 7, 2013
Over the course of its second season, “Scandal” grew from a mediocre procedural to a great serialized series, as its focus changed from “client of the week” stories to longer story arcs. The writers tightened up the show’s storytelling and used it to build tension. And just like that, it elevated itself to one of the best dramas on network television.
Thursdays at 10 p.m.
More like this
The self-proclaimed “Gladiators in Suits” return for their third season in an episode that highlights “Scandal” at its best. This season’s premiere contains exactly what makes this show great. The rapid-fire, almost Sorkin-esque, dialogue is extremely well performed by the show’s cast. Structurally, it has both the great montages and the fantastic scenes, the kind where they just leave great performers in a room and let them act. The twisty and creative plotting also adds another layer to the show, helping to elevate it to a higher level.
The series follows Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington, “Django Unchained”), whose job is to help the Washington elite fix their problems, her clients and her associates as they go through their lives and their work. The premiere, specifically, deals with the truth about the relationship between Olivia Pope and the President of the United States being revealed to the press. At the same time, Olivia’s father decides it’s time to pay a visit.
One of the elements that really makes “Scandal” work as well as it does is the performances. At the center of the ensemble is Washington, an Emmy nominee, giving a fantastic, layered performance. In this episode, she shows a wide range of emotions, displaying Olivia at her highest and her lowest, and Washington handles this task well.
It doesn’t hurt that the cast surrounding Washington is working at, or even sometimes above, her acting level. Bellamy Young (“Mission: Impossible III”), in particular, gives a great performance. When she’s on the screen, she commands it. Her character, the first lady of the United States, is forced to deal with the revelation of her husband’s infidelity and she does a great job with that. She has one major scene in the premiere with Washington and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn, “The Unknown”), and she owns it. Joe Morton (“Eureka”) is fantastic in a guest role as Olivia’s father. He plays angry and intimidating very well, which is a big change from his role on “Eureka.”
This was Olivia’s episode, which unfortunately means that the rest of the ensemble didn’t get to do a lot. Each had a standout moment or two, but none get more than that. As last season unfolded, the writers gave the supporting cast quite a bit to do, leading to their characters being more than just Olivia’s employees. Hopefully, this season will do the same thing, continuing to develop and expand the role the ensemble plays.
Like every good episode of “Scandal,” this episode ended on a great cliffhanger (with the President’s Chief of Staff looking at a piece of paper containing classified information), hinting that the show is going to begin to reveal information about the President’s past. This reveal sets up a great arc that should carry the show through its third season.
If one cog in the machine stops working, the entire show can fall apart. “Scandal” ’s premiere showed no signs of slowing down and sets up what looks to be a great third season for the series.