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Monday, June 18, 2012

Scandal - Both of us are finally caught up/finished with season one

One of us was caught up a while ago and freaking out that the other blogger couldn’t talk about the developments on this show since we last covered it because they were substantial. They were, to use the hated phrase, game changers, both plotwise and regarding our opinion of the show/whether we are going to watch season two. We were only behind on four out of the seven episodes and here’s what we thought of them.

"Enemy of the State": Olivia gives Amanda Tanner pregnancy tests and they are positive. Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene declares war on Olivia when he finds out that she intends to back her client, Amanda, in a public takedown of President Grant. While Cyrus digs into the personal lives of Olivia’s team, Quinn goes out with a reporter, Gideon, who wants to know more about Amanda Tanner. The client of the week is a dictator with a missing wife and children. He is on American soil and feels he will get no help from American authorities, since he is as despised as Castro. It turns out that his wife was leaving him, and Olivia helps her do it.

Comments: Well, we still hate Abby and seeing a backstory where she was a beaten and abused wife doesn’t help us like her much. She’s just too holier-than-thou. We did like that she forced Olivia to step up and be a good guy. By this point, the show had pretty much eliminated the moral ambiguity we mentioned before. It’s a good thing, since we aren’t confused anymore, but it’s also bad in that there were interesting grey-area aspects to the show that could have been explored more. It seems they have been abandoned. As we will see, the show even eliminated much of the moral problem with having Olivia sleep with President Grant. 
Episode grade: B-

"Crash and Burn": Pope & Associates must defend a dead pilot from media accusations of incompetence and drunkenness on the job after a plane she is flying crashes, killing everyone onboard. They succeed. Amanda Tanner is killed and Huck tortures the man hired to kill her for information. Her body is found. We meet Vice President Sally Langston and President Grant goes to Olivia’s apartment to assure Olivia that he didn’t kill Amanda Tanner.

Comments: Here’s something we don’t like - the vice president. We know a ton of Republicans and a ton of fundamentalist Christians, judgmental and perfectly nice alike. We know a ton of creationists. None of them speak the way she speaks. None of them come across that way. The way she mentions God’s plan seems forced, not fundamentalist. Maybe it’s the performance and maybe it’s the lines, but it’s not believable. The character seems to exist only to make these kinds of people look like stupid, hypocritical dinosaurs. She’s a clichĂ© and a stock character. What we do like is that President Grant seems to be some sort of progressive, competent Republican who doesn’t base his political career on religion. Usually, the honest, sympathetic politicians on TV are Democrats, and we like to see a break from the usual (especially since we tend to think both parties are equally messed up). This is where the show started to feel less like a Grey’s Anatomy that takes itself even more seriously than Grey’s Anatomy and more like 24 and The West Wing. We liked the "just like 43" line. It does seem like George W Bush to try to escape and run around the real world, haha. 
Episode Grade: B+

"The Trail": It turns out that Amanda’s baby wasn’t President Grant’s and he only slept with her once, out of grief over Olivia leaving him. We get to see flashbacks from two years ago showing us Olivia’s work on Grant’s campaign and the start of their relationship. Olivia worked to make Grant’s marriage look warm and alive. We find out that Mellie cheated on Grant and that she’s a huge liar. Olivia is the person on the tape sleeping with Grant and someone is blackmailing him with it, even though the blackmailer thinks the girl is Amanda. Gideon finds out that Billy, the VP’s number two, was Amanda’s secret boyfriend who impregnated her. Gideon confronts Billy and Billy stabs Gideon in the neck with a pair of scissors. Billy is the guy who had Amanda killed.

Comments: We both hate and love this episode. We hate it because Shonda has used this same formula to justify an affair before. Because Addison slept with Mark on Grey’s, it’s okay for Derek to sleep with Meredith and have it end up the show’s best romantic relationship. Because Mellie cheated first, it’s okay for Fitz to cheat. Shonda wants us invested in the love between Grant and Olivia and it feels like she’s taking a shortcut and making it too easy for us to get there. If you're going to set up a shady love story, do it. Don't rehash a Grey's convenience. We also hate that Mellie is so unsympathetic and coldly ambitious. She’s like Michelle Palmer on 24. It’s just all too easy. We love that we got to see the backstory of why Olivia and Grant even slept together. At this point in the show, it was essential that this be explained. We also love that we get to be invested in this relationship now that we know he isn’t just a serial cheater and total scumbag. The Amanda thing was one-time and he really loved Olivia. His marriage is beyond dead and reconciliation is impossible since Mellie is pretty much a monster (an awesome monster whom Leeard loves, but a monster nonetheless). Since President Grant and Olivia’s forbidden love is the center of this show, it’s good that we can kind of root for it now. We also liked the state attorney’s assistant who failed the bar and loved the line, “All lawyers pass the bar. That’s what makes them lawyers.” 
Episode Grade: B+

"Grant: For the People": Quinn finds Gideon, still alive, and pulls the scissors out of his neck. He bleeds out and dies. Quinn calls Olivia and Olivia has the team cover for Quinn. Quinn has a secret identity and is wanted by government authorities for some reason. If she is fingerprinted or booked, or if the cops investigate her fully, her identity will be revealed. The state attorney eventually figures out who she is. We don’t get to know. The episode ends on that cliffhanger. Billy gets on TV, resigns, and confesses to his affair with Amanda, but he also tells the media that President Grant slept with her, driving her to suicide. Cyrus contacts Olivia and gets her help with the crisis. President Grant wants to come clean about the affair and live a normal life with Olivia, but Mellie and Olivia work together to make Grant’s denial of the affair plausible. Cyrus reminds Olivia that Grant is a great man whose administration should continue for the good of the country. And besides, nobody wants a President Sally Langston.

Comments: This was a really good finale. Ern is livid that Quinn pulled the scissors out of Gideon’s neck. What an idiot. Didn’t that girl go to law school? If you further hurt someone when trying to help them, you can be sued for it anyway. Leeard maintains that Gideon would have died anyway, but Ern isn’t so sure. He was alive for that long. (We don't actually know how long he was alive for. She only went to get bagels). The right thing to do was to not cause more damage or faster bleeding, but to call 911 asap. Anyway…we liked Grant’s desire to tell the truth. It made us like him more. We also liked Olivia’s unselfish decision. It’s cool that Quinn is finally becoming useful as a character. We don't really care about her, but if she gets some backstory, we might. We think she might be a child who was kidnapped and doesn't want to be reunited with her family. We don't know how we feel about the team defacing the crime scene and making sure Billy would never be convicted in the process. Mellie was entertaining in this episode. Maybe she's too one-side, but she's sure fun to watch. She doesn't love her husband. She was mad at Olivia for leaving him, dropping the ball, and making him depressed enough to sleep with Amanda. Mellie thinks her husband is a good president, but most of all, she just wants to keep being first lady. Keep conspiring, Mellie. Olivia and Fitz have real chemistry, but is he a master manipulator or a victim who is denied love by life's circumstances? Probably the latter, because this is Shondaland. 
Episode Grade: A-

We have heard that Henry Ian Cusick (Stephen Finch and Desmond Hume on LOST) won’t be returning as part of the main cast. This is a huge loss for the show, but we've heard it's basically because Shonda thinks he's too good for the show, which we can't really argue with. Shonda Rhimes said that the second season will likely have 13 or fewer episodes. The show is good enough now that it deserves more episodes. We will definitely be watching season two. The show really grew into itself, gave us people to root for, and became faster paced in the last couple of episodes. It did a lot in seven episodes. There’s nothing else on TV quite like it. If it sounds interesting to you, watch it. We’re onboard. 

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