Thursday, April 17, 2014

REVIEW: 'Scandal' - The Bomb Goes Off as Olivia Tries to Step into the Sunlight in 'The Price of Free and Fair Elections'

ABC's Scandal - Episode 3.18 The Price of Free and Fair Elections

Election Day has arrived and nothing is off limits as the candidates try to capture votes. Meanwhile, Olivia tries to understand Maya's motives and Charlie makes a very surprising move.

When Olivia and Cyrus are sitting together in shock over the loss of the President's eldest son, they pondered when they stopped being people or if they ever were people. Are these people bound to be miserable and monsters because of the life of "public" service they chose for themselves? Is it possible at all for any of them to leave this life behind them? Those are the questions that Scandal set out to cover in its third season. Its finale doesn't set out to give any concrete answer to any of those moral questions. It just makes them even more complex. To the point that it thrusts a handful of characters into making life-changing decisions.

The second half of the third season has been building up to the bomb that Maya has acquired and is set to blow up sometime before the National Election that will decide if Fitz will be in office for another four years. And that bomb does go off - in the very first Act too! And that happened to be one of the more low key developments to occur during the finale. The show has written itself into such a mess this season. Those plot complications have led to some interesting character based moments. Other times it felt like there was way too much plot happening for no reason why.

"The Price of Free and Fair Elections" works because of how it just completely blows everything up - both literally and figuratively. This season forced us to see sides of the characters we have never seen before. We saw everyone become a monster this year. The show was telling us that everyone is a monster in this world. Some monsters are meant to be together while others are monsters but don't want to be monsters. Olivia and Jake spent a lot of time talking about going into the sunlight together. It always seemed like a fallacy. Something that they both wanted to happen but would almost never happen. And yet, they are both given the opportunity to leave this world behind and get that clean slate. Season 3 has been about the path of destruction Olivia is on. She didn't want to get on that plane in the premiere because she still needed to work and be a gladiator and help people. By the finale, she's defeated. She sees the darkness in this world. She believes that her own mother caused the death of the son of the man she loved. She just can't look past that. She's pushed onto that plane once again by her father. But now, she's more than willing to leave this entire life behind. Moreover, she choses Jake to accompany her. He's the one connection to this past that she wants in her future.

But everything that happened to Olivia in the finale that made her get on that plane was orchestrated by her father in his power grab to once again be Command. It's devastating. Of all the monsters on this show, he is the biggest one. He is the devil. He ruthlessly kills a child to manipulate the people around him to do what he wants them to do. He retains a President in the office that he can control. He gets his daughter out of the way as well as protects her from the evil truth of what he has done. He even gets Maya back under custody but B613 are the only ones who know she's still alive.

So then, what has changed this season? The Grants are still in office. Eli is Command. Maya is secretly being held captive. And Olivia is on that plane with Jake. What's changed is the mood that they feel. There are no good guys left on this show. David is still hopeful that the evidence he gets could possibly bring everyone to justice. But even that feels like a pipe dream. Additionally, there's this overwhelming sense of loss. The Grants lost their son. The one child they wish they could have been closer with. OPA has lost Olivia and now they have no idea what direction any of their lives should take. And Olivia is losing the man she loves and the entire life that she's known. The plane ride is what she wanted. But that look on her face in the closing minutes seems like she may not be so sure about standing in the sun as she was before.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Price of Free and Fair Elections" was written by Shonda Rhimes & Mark Wilding and directed by Tom Verica.
  • Huck also found his family - after having sex with Quinn on the OPA table of course. His speech about how leaving them was the best thing for them fuels Olivia's decision to leave too. And yet, he ends the hour on his wife's doorstep - more proof that Olivia may be regretting that plane ride.
  • I'm about 99% sure that Harrison is dead. A miracle would have to happen in order for the show to explain his continued presence. He simply knows too much about what Eli did.
  • With Fitz winning the election, that means we'll probably be seeing more of Andrew next season, right? But that also means less Sally. Boo!
  • Because it doesn't hurt to wonder, I'm curious how this season would have been mapped out if Kerry Washington's pregnancy didn't force the episode order to be cut from 22 to 18 episodes.
  • That's it for now Gladiators. Season 4 is all but a certainty. See you all again in the fall.