'Scandal' mid-season finale shows an evolving Olivia Pope

ABC

By Hailey Middlebrook, Daily Arts Writer
Published November 23, 2014

If there’s anything more indulgent than getting in on a secret, it’s finding out how the secret stayed hidden for so long. In 1998, when Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky scandal leaked, the real dirt wasn’t found on his intern’s infamous blue dress, but on the hands of those who covered up the mess — the staffers who quietly moved Lewinsky from the White House to the Pentagon when they saw she was getting a little too cozy with the president.

Scandal


A-
Season Four Mid-Season Finale
ABC
Thursdays at 9 p.m.


In ABC’s “Scandal,” Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington, “Django Unchained”) combines these two roles — the president’s mistress and the head of Olivia Pope & Associates, a high-profile crisis management team — and the result is nothing short of a smoking time bomb, in the best way possible.

After debuting in the spring of 2012, the political thriller’s first three seasons were a sudsy whirlwind of action: Season one introduced Olivia and her steamy relationship with President Fitz Grant (Tony Goldwyn, “Ghost”), as well as the members of her brilliant team as they tried to crack the mystery of Amanda Tanner; season two focused on Fitz’s nail-biting run for reelection and introduced his wife, Mellie (Bellamy Young, “CSI: Miami”) as a central character to clash with Pope; season three brought Olivia’s powerful father, Rowan Pope (Joe Morton, “The Good Wife”), into the picture when he revealed incriminating war details involving Fitz, adding to the leaked details of the President’s relationship with Olivia. The third season concluded with Olivia following her father’s advice to board a plane with her partner-with-benefits, Jake (Scott Foley, “Grey’s Anatomy”), leaving Fitz alone to face the wrath of Papa Pope.

Season four, which premiered this September and recently aired its mid-season finale, brings the show’s core characters to the forefront. After hiding away with Jake for two months on an island off the coast of Zanzibar, Olivia returns to a very different D.C. than the one she left behind. Jerry Grant, Fitz’s son, has died and Jake is arrested based on Rowan’s accusation that Jake was behind the murder.

Torn between loyalty to both her father and Jake, Olivia doesn’t know whom to trust. Her lingering feelings for Fitz complicate matters as well, because the president is at once grieving for his lost son and seeking revenge on Jake, whom he believes stole not only Jerry, but also Olivia’s heart.

Olivia must also deal with the consequences of abandoning her friends, since Olivia Pope & Associates has been shut down and her coworkers have jumped ship. Abby (Darby Stanchfield, “NCIS”) is the new White House Press Secretary, battling to earn respect in the Oval Office, where Fitz and his Chief of Staff, Cyrus (Jeff Perry, “Grey’s Anatomy”) refer to her as “Red” instead of Abby. She holds her own, but when her abusive ex-husband, Chip, is nominated for Virginia State Senator, Abby concedes to ask for Olivia’s help to stop the election by taking charge of Chip’s opponent’s campaign. Huck (Guillermo Diaz, “Weeds”) now works in an electronics shop, but spends most of his time obsessively trying to connect with his young son, Javi, via video games, because his estranged wife has forbidden all contact between the two. Quinn (Katie Lowes, “Super 8”) stays in touch with Abby and Huck while working on a case with Catherine, Olivia’s friend from law school, involving Catherine’s daughter’s murder.

In typical “Scandal” fashion, the mid-season finale was TV’s equivalent of a D.C. Fourth of July firework display: big, bright and banging. Olivia teams up “Twilight”-style with Fitz and Jake to take down her father, who was revealed to be behind Jerry’s murder and has his sights set on killing the rest of Liv’s posse. This season marks the end of daddy’s little girl — a new, tougher, even more badass Olivia has taken over, and she wants the kill shot.