'Scandal' can't escape the prison of its plot

ABC

By Chloe Gilke, Managing Arts Editor
Published May 15, 2015

“You want to get out of here? Just say the word.”

“Scandal”


D-
Season 4 Finale
ABC


Jake Ballard stares at me with his baby blues — those eyes that contain the ocean, the sun and the benevolent ghost of those beautiful moments we spent hiding out on the beach together. I can tell he aches to go back to that beach, but I have to set him straight.

“It doesn’t matter where I go or what I do. I’m still trapped, I’m still his prisoner.”

I turn around and step back into the elevator, my agile brain reminding me in the most stressful of moments of another prisoner I know. My mother. She’s the only person who has overcome Command before, and she might have some advice on how I can stop my father for good and finally escape from his clutches.

I am Olivia Pope, the star character of ABC’s megahit series “Scandal,” goddamn it. I am the most powerful woman in all of Washington D.C. The political tides shift course at my command; no one is elected without being counseled and groomed and shaped into exactly who they need to be — to win. I am Olivia Pope, and I decide who wins.

But after three seasons of wielding my agency and whirling around D.C. in a Prada capelet like the formidable superhero I am, someone has taken away my wings. Some almighty group of writer-gods (and Shonda Rhimes), sitting in a room somewhere and eating stale donuts, have erased my power with the stroke of a keyboard. Try and think of the last time my associates and I have actually succeeded in finding justice for any of our clients. Footage not found. Remember when Lena Dunham came to my office seeking my help? She’s dead now.

The heart of “Scandal” is the fact that I am such a compelling and active heroine. My methods may be unconventional, and I’m not afraid to step on a few people to do what has to be done. But I always end up wearing the white hat, taking comfort in the knowledge that I have achieved justice.

Not anymore. My impact has gotten lost in the mess of a B613 conspiracy that just won’t end. After a year of being a pawn, shoved into captivity and driven to fear and despair by my father, I have only a shred of dignity left. I have to do what I can to eliminate my father for good — exposing B613 would land him powerless and in jail, which would be as effective as putting a bullet in his brain. My story should be mine, not bending at the will of the pair of men dueling for my devotion and affection. Rowan and Fitz, Command and the president. I am Olivia Pope, and I am nobody’s pawn.

I need to kill my father, but I somehow let him escape. After I’m done, B613 is apparently dead to the world, the files burned and all the players knocked temporarily off the chessboard. My father, the king, is in jail — but his chains aren’t as strong as mine. Those writers who took away my power are content to let Rowan boil under the surface, ready to come back and haunt me at their command. They’ll keep him just in case, maybe let me solve a case or two until Rowan comes back to wreck everything I’ve built. He won’t take me down immediately. I am Olivia Pope, and I will never break. However, he will stick around for far longer than he should, siphoning my independence and dimming “Scandal” ’s vigor with each stale plot twist.

Now that Jake is out of the picture and his “mission” of delivering me safely home is complete, I am theoretically a free woman. But I’m only free in the sense that I am available for Fitz’s pleasure. He throws his wife Mellie out of the White House for inadvertently causing the deaths of the B613 jury members (which I find to be a little hypocritical, considering Fitz once suffocated a Supreme Court justice on her death bed), then comes over to my apartment for a booty call. I’m not home. He goes back to the White House, content to mope around on the porch — until I make a flirty remark from the shadows.

I step out into the porch light. We share a kiss that is supposed to be passionate. But after an entire season spent writhing away from Fitz’s codependent desperation and trying to stay out of his bed, here I am, making out on the porch while a soul cover of “Here Comes the Sun” plays over the soundtrack. The porch railing and white windowpanes in the Oval Office surround us on both sides, imprisoning me yet again.

It doesn’t matter where I go or what I do. I’m still trapped. I’m still his prisoner — and sadly, so is “Scandal.”