Fug File: Scandal

Fug the Show: Scandal recap, season 4, episode 13

This episode was better. It could not have gotten WORSE than the last two, but still. We left off with Olivia being sold for an undisclosed cash amount to Iran. Everyone — including me — thought Iran was going to turn out to be somebody covertly bidding for Olivia and then spiriting her out of there and buying her an untainted-by-kidnapping coat.


Nope. It was Iran. Which sent a really posh, well-dressed woman and a couple of cohorts to pick up their BILLION-PLUS-DOLLAR cargo. There is something I appreciate about Scandal having Iran’s representative be a foxy woman, but I wish she had turned out to be a smarter foxy woman.


Because, see, Olivia speaks fluent Farsi. (Of course she does.) So she pulls a scam: She convinces her captors that this woman is saying, into the phone, that this is an ambush and they’re all going to die. Then she says, in Farsi, essentially the same thing to Iran, and that as soon as they take her EVERYONE is going to get extremely murdered. So Iran panics and calls off the deal, and her captors smuggle her out of there — thinking they just skirted an ambush themselves — and toddle back and fire up sheBay.com and send out the word that bidding can resume. No guns are drawn, and presumably, neither side had any actual backup. Hold up there, pals. Do you mean to tell me that IRAN was going to BUY A PERSON WHO CONTROLS THE PRESIDENT for BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, and just send like two people and a pistol to pick her up? Iran must have blown its entire budget on the asset and left nothing for personnel and planning. Oh, Iran. Iran, so far away.

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Fug the Show: Scandal recap, season 4, episode 12, “Gladiators Don’t Run”

Let me first say: I know it’s exhausting when the person covering a show really dislikes the show. And I’m sorry Scandal has gone that way. I really am. But if it helps, I do at least find it fascinating how far this show has plummeted, in addition to finding it frustrating, so… I guess let’s just continue to hold each other. It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better, if indeed it ever gets better.


We open on Abby sitting in front of a green-screen so that someone can turn L.A. into Washington, D.C. Were you aware that this show, which features the president, takes place in our nation’s capital? Somehow, yes, this has not escaped anyone. Was it this one shot that really tipped you off? No. So I think maybe they need to stop being so slavish with this stuff, because you can see the special effect so clearly around her hair that she might as well be a colorform of herself.

She is waiting, coffee in hand, for Olivia. The two of them must have a standing caffeine date. How long has Olivia been gone, that she’s only just noticing? I think this storyline might have been more effective for me if the show played on how many days missing she is. The problem being, in the last two episodes, I think they have played it so unrealistically with the timeline that they basically CAN’T talk about it.


Olivia isn’t answering her phone, and her mailbox is full, so Abby uses her key to get into Olivia’s house. She sees the Red Wine Stain of Doom, taunting her, making a mockery of the tub of OxyClean that’s probably sitting under the skin just waiting to be used. Jake Ballard is going to be in SO MUCH TROUBLE for not handling this. I hope this is the final straw that pushes Olivia out of his bed: “If you don’t understand how deeply a winesplash cuts me then YOU UNDERSTAND NOTHING. Go stand in the shade.”

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Fug the Show: Scandal recap, season 4, episode 11

Let’s begin this recap with a pressing question I saw mentioned on Twitter. Has Fitz been dipping into the Just For Men?

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It DOES resemble an After shot in a commercial where he runs his fingers through his hair and smiles like he’s in an ’80s sitcom’s main titles. I think this is just a very fresh job, and that Tony Goldwyn has ALWAYS been dipping into the Just For Men — and I say that without judgment; I myself am not immune to washing the grey away. Also, I suspect ABC wants him to seem younger than 54. The hiatus between airings does not correspond to a hiatus in production (it’s more of a necessary breather so that post-production can keep working without bumping up against air dates, which you catch up to surprisingly quickly in TV), so he wasn’t off at a spa for two months or anything getting a full reboot; he just would’ve turned up at work the day after wrapping episode 10 and been like, “Hey, Team Fitz, my rinse has expired.” I don’t have a clean shot of him from the previous episode but I do have one from Episode Four in which his color seems a wee lighter. Also, he just two seconds ago found out that Olivia has been kidnapped by his vice president’s shadowy team of warmongers. If he needs to cope with that by youthanizing himself, well, it wouldn’t be the worst thing he’s ever done as president, given that he is a VERY BAD PRESIDENT INDEED.

I’m glad we worked through that together. Now let’s see what’s been happening during Olivia’s ordeal. Because I have questions, and suspicions that Fitz remains THE WORST at being president.

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Fug the Show: Scandal recap, season 4, episode 10, “Run”

So, this episode was “intense.” I put it in quotes because I personally wasn’t into it, but you can tell the writers wrote the word INTENSE on the whiteboard and underlined and circled it three times. It has all the hallmarks of someone doing their Most Intense Work Ever: dirty fingernails, tears, big hair, a prison, heavy breathing, and some kind of cous cous. It’s probably Kerry Washington’s Emmy episode, because it’s 43 minutes of Olivia being Super Intense, suffering and lecturing through fear and then lecturing through bravado and then crying and then so much running. But Scandal is nothing if not overly enamored of itself, and in its rabid self-fancying, it gave the game away too early for any of this to feel like anything but filler.

Point 1: We don’t know who took Olivia precisely, but we do already know who is behind it, more or less — war-mongering and power-mongering Jon Tenney and Portia de Rossi, although I’m sure there’s another shadowy higher power who will betray them when this all spins out of control – and we also already know Fitz is aware of it. All of that knowledge took most of the scary out of this. We know it’s not random. We know she’s a bargaining chip. We know she’s only been missing for one episode and there are eleven more of the season. We’re not that worried about her. Not yet. While there’s validity to showing what she went through, and making it all about her experience does give you the sense of how isolated she is, it’s hard to go there with her and be scared for her.

Point 2: The episode began with a scene of her running, running, running, down a dirty hallway, toward a red door…

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and again, Scandal is never fonder of itself than when it’s playing with time and space, so this is clearly from the end of the episode. Showing it to us at the top of the hour deboned about 41 minutes of the show, because I was just like, “Okay, we get it, we know she ends up running with a gun, so obviously she overpowers these guys,” and we had to tread water waiting for the show to get there. Between that and the show’s MADDENING recent crutch of twisting the plot and then three seconds later flashing back to lay out EXACTLY what led us there — rather than letting you realize it in an actual suspenseful way – Scandal cuts itself off at the knees. The episode already had a hook. Olivia was taken. It didn’t NEED this extra bell and whistle. We were already worried for her. It could’ve just opened with the ensuing scene, which is the abduction, told from Olivia’s point of view. Instead, it essentially spoiled itself.

Okay, rant over. Honestly, I understand from a storytelling point of view — and editing, and directing — that sometimes you get excited to do an episode that has a different feel to it. And for budget reasons, shooting 90 percent of it in one location is way cheaper (they call those Bottle Episodes, and most series have at least one per season, and this had to be one of them). But I just wish it had shown more confidence in its own story. Most people tuning into Scandal would have stayed even without the promise of an action sequence.

Shall we delve in? Good:

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Fug the Show: Scandal recap, season 4, episode 9, “Where The Sun Don’t Shine”

So, apparently, now that the sun isn’t shining and thus no one can go stand in it, Shondaland needs to make a new phrase happen. Unfortunately, they chose “little bitch baby,” an epithet Connor spat at Michaela in episode two of How To Get Away With Murder, and which Olivia Pope picks up here and she and Cyrus use it in one scene approximately eight hundred times (give or take), always at top volume. I want to scream. Do the writers of those shows work in the same building, as with Vampire Diaries and The Originals? Because this feels like the most obnoxious inside joke. Why are you people so proud of “little bitch baby”? Are you twelve?

We begin with the fallout from Rowangate:

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Special Forces has located the torture hole. Or, in clickbait terms, “When One Man Decided To Shut His Hole, You Won’t Believe How He Meant It.”

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You’ll be pleased to know that Mama Pope looks exactly the same as the last time we saw her, despite spending so many moons living underground in a box. I would be SCREAMING for my prison-issue bologna sandwich, but then again, Rowan Pope probably poured $30-a-glass wine down a tube into her mouth, because to him that’s the cheap stuff. So she probably ate low-level caviar down there. And now she’s happy because she’s just sure Olivia will tell Fitz and Jake that they can’t keep her because she hasn’t been charged with anything.

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Olivia’s response is basically, “Okay, then charge her, lock her up, and then KILL THE HELL OUT OF MY FATHER.” Mama Pope seems surprised by this. I can’t think why. Perhaps there were some ill-effects of Torture Hole, like common-sense erosion.

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Fug the Show: Scandal recap, season 4, episode 8, “The Last Supper”

Just for fun — as an experiment — I’ve decided to do this recap as a ranking, somewhat a la The Good Wife. In this case, it’s a Suck Index, although that’s rather blunt so maybe it’s just a Worst of the Week scale. Because everyone is bad, but who is just meh, and who is SINCERELY THE WORST? Let me tell you, it was a tough call. I may have punted.

15. Mellie


Mellie is not as rotten-to-the-core as she’s been in previous seasons — although she’s a bit put-upon for someone who has authored some of her own personal demise, like faking a miscarriage for PR reasons — and this week, she is Taking Action, as you can see by her power-red outfits. They are red like her beating heart and the heat of her lust. Mellie is going to SEX YOU UP. If you replace the word “you” with “Jon Tenney.”


See, Jon here was finishing up at a function when his car blew up, which the government suspects to be the West Angola Liberation Front (not to be confused with the Liberation Front of West Angola, which prefers to threaten people with uncomfortably long hugs and a relentless stream of clickbait titled things like, “Someone Told This West Angolan That He Couldn’t Sing. His Reaction Will Make You Applaud”). Mellie was so scared that he’d been blown to unhumpable smithereens that she had to run to see for herself — and then she clears the room and jumps his relatively intact bones.


Later, right when you think he’s going to tell her it’s Too Late, or Not A Good Idea, Mellie tells him that she pulled away from him because he chose the vice-presidency over her — I believe this refers to him dumping her at Fitz’s douchey behest — and then when Jerry died she recoiled from everything and everyone. She tells him that she’s experienced losing someone prematurely,without getting to say and feel and do everything you want to, and that it sucks. “When that bomb went off, I woke up. My body woke up,” she says. Translation: She wants to reap the veep. And I for one think Mellie deserves a harvest.

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